Goa: The Beach Paradise and Beyond

By StampedMoments | Dec 4, 2022
Asia > India > Goa

Goa is among the most visited places in India. Its gorgeous beaches, vibrant nightlife, endless options for recreation, and rich culture attract millions of tourists every year. Goa has a long history since the prehistoric times. Goa was under various Indian dynasties: starting from 3rd century BC under the Mauryan empire to the early sixteenth century under Adil Shah of Bijapur. The Portuguese who discovered sea route to India in 1498, annexed Goa in 1510 by defeating Adil Shah. It remained with them till 1961 when India annexed Goa from the Portuguese again. Owing to its long history of various rulers who brought in their own religions and traditions, Goa today is a multicultural society.

On 3rd December every year, Goa celebrates its most important festival- the Feast of St. Francis Xavier (Goincho Saib or the Lord of Goa) to commemorate the death anniversary of the saint. Christmas and New Year are also celebrated in December/ January when all of Goa looks like a party destination. Goa carnival is celebrated in February. So, December- February are best months to see Goa in its colourful and celebratory best.

From a traveller's point of view, one can divide Goa into three distinct regions- North Goa, Central/Old Goa and South Goa. However, Central/Old Goa is rather congruent to North Goa; so, it's generally taken as part of the North. North vs. South Goa is a big dilemma in travellers' mind, especially when people travel in groups, because different individuals have different choices. Besides, first time travellers also have this dilemma, largely because of lack of appropriate information.

Coco beach_North Goa

Coco beach_North Goa

Best time to visit Goa


Weather conditions don't vary too much in Goa through out the year. Average maximum temperature hovers around the low-30s (C). Neither summers are too hot, nor winters are too cold. So, Goa is pleasant through out the year. However, November to February are the best months from weather point of view.

Glimpses of major attractions of North Goa


Best beaches:

1. Calangute beach and Baga beach: These are two adjacent beaches, and the most commercial ones. They are great for water sports and popular among tourists for night life.
2. Candolim beach: Another beach popular for water sports and parties, not far from the Calangute beach.
3. Anjuna beach: A rocky beach popular for watching sunset. At some point of time, it was the center of Bohemian hippie culture.
4. Vagatore beach (near Chapora fort): A thick layer of vegetation near the beach adds immensely to its beauty.
5. Arambol beach (favoured by foreigners): Situated in the far north of Goa, it has become popular among the foreigners.
6. Morjim beach (Little Russia): Great music and dance vibes right on the beach.

Night life:

1. Tito's lane and Mambo's bar (Baga- Calangute beach): It's so popular that it's synonymous with Goa's nightlife!
2. Curlies beach shack (close to Anjuna flea market): Great views and delicacies
3. Casinos by the Mandovi river: Deltin Royale, Casino Carnival, Casino Palms, Casino Paradise, Majestic Pride, Deltin Jaqk
4. Club Cubana (on the Arpora hill, between Anjuna and Baga): neon-lit night club, and a spacious outdoor with pool
5. Loeki cafe (Arambol): true-blue Goan shack with relaxed ambience

Heritage sites:

1. Basilica of Bom Jesus: Built in 1605 in Baroque architectural style, this monument is among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Goa.
2. Se cathedral: Built in Portuguese Gothic architectural style, and opened in 1640, this white cathedral is still functional. Watching a wedding solemnized at the cathedral was a nice experience for us. This is situated just beside the Basilica of Bom Jesus, and is another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Church of St. Cajetan, also known as Church of Divine Providence; opened in 1661. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage
3. Church of our lady of immaculate conception; built in 1541 in Baroque architectural style. The Church conducts a mass everyday.
4. Fort Reis Magos, and church; erected in 1551: Interesting history, and great views of the Arabian sea and river Mandovi.
5. Fort Aguada: Constructed in 1612; on the Sinquerim beach overlooking the Arabian sea.
6. Fort Chapora (famous for the bollywood movie “Dil Chahta Hai“); built in 1617: Great view of the Arabian sea and landscape.

Fort Aguada

Fort Aguada

Other interesting places:

1. Take a walk around the Fontainhas: Panjim's Latin quarter; colourful Portuguese buildings, lovely narrow lanes with shops
2. Mandovi river cruise (starts from Panjim
3. Take a picture at Parra coconut grove road, made famous by instagrammers
4. Mayem lake; a fresh water lake and picnic spot in lush green environment
5. Divar island; for a peaceful day; made popular by the bollywood movie “Dear Zindagi”
6. Dolphin sighting boat-rides (starts from Coco beach): can actually sight dolphins, though for a few minutes; enjoyable boat-ride in the Arabian sea

Glimpses of major attractions of South Goa


Best beaches:

1.Colva beach: Great base location for enjoying both north and south Goa. Close to Margao.
2.Benaulim beach: A lovely fishermen's hamlet by the beach; great for photography.
3.Cola beach (beach and a lagoon, where Khol river meets the sea): small (only one shack) but clean beach with a backdrop of forested hills
4.Agonda beach (a classy, unique beach): 3 km long white sandy beach; no sunbeds, no umbrellas on the beach! How awesome! And if you are lucky, may come across turtles on the beach!
5.Butterfly beach: A little adventurous! A secluded beach; ride up to a point in the forest, and then trek 1-2 kms in the forest to reach there to view the most scenic beach in Goa.
6.Palolem beach: South Goa's most popular beach. It's a crescent shaped beach, and is very photogenic. Another beach for turtles laying eggs.

Butterfly beach_South Goa

Butterfly beach_South Goa

Night life:

1. Full Moon Parties on Colva beach (like on Anjuna and other north Goa beaches)
2. Leopard Valley; south Goa's biggest outdoor dance club (Agonda road, Palolem): groove in a forest under the night sky.
3. Neptunes; a silent disco (near Palolem beach)
4. Leda lounge and restaurant (Colva beach): try their blueberry cheese cake
5. Riverside bar and restaurant (Agonda beach): eatery with a riverfront patio; popular for Thai food.

Heritage sites:

1. Cabo de Rama fort; built in 1679 by king Shivaji, it's one of the oldest forts in Goa. It gets its name from Lord Rama. Mostly in ruins now, but offers great views.
2. Mormugao fort; built in 1624 by the Portuguese. Situated on the southern tip of the mouth of river Zuari.

Other interesting places:

1. Dudhsagar Waterfall: Goa's only great waterfall. Most wonderful views of the waterfall especially when a train passes across the hills in front of the waterfall. There is a natural pool for swimming as well. It's great to spend 3-4 hours at the waterfall.
2. Spice Garden: It's great for a guided tour around the farm learning about spices. After the guided tour, they offer you traditional food at the farm. You can buy some organic fresh spices from the farm for your home.

Palolem Beach

Palolem Beach

Both north and south Goa are very much enjoyable in their own ways. Both have lovely beaches and other attractions. It depends on your personality, interest or mood. If north Goa is a superb party destination, south Goa is serene, classy and subtle. In this article, I have just tried to solve the “North vs. South Goa” dilemma for choosy travellers with specific expectations, and not at all saying one is better than the other in general.

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Written by StampedMoments
We, Suvendu and Parina, were destined to travel together. Perhaps that’s the reason we became life partner in 2009. Since then, we have been travelling with our full time jobs. We are not back-packers, nor are we luxury-seekers. We like simple comfortable travels; stay at modest hotels, or homestays/ Airbnb accommodations and eat simple food. We love all aspects of travel- places, history, heritage, architecture, nature, people, culture, traditions, food, etc. Travel has taught us huge lessons in life, and has given us immense joy and happiness. It has enabled us to become a better human being, have empathy for others, and be respectful to... Read more

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