A small state located on the western coast of India in the coastal belt known as Konkan, Goa is famous internationally for its white sand beaches, which are among the most popular in local and foreign tourists alike in India.
In the last year or so Goa has also been gaining even more popularity or notoriety as the site for hedonistic and bacchanalian pleasures through the frequent and very much in vogue trance parties by the sea.
Parties and wild nights aren’t all that Goa is all about though. It actually can be quite considered a vacationer’s haven. Here you can go scuba diving, snorkeling and sunbathing in the different beaches of Goa to your hearts content.
You’ll find mountains, beautiful landscapes and quaint paddy fields just a few minutes walk away from the shore. You could also choose to walk, laze around on the sultry sands of Goa beach or just simply explore.
Goa’s over 100 kms long coastline is studded with some of the world’s loveliest beaches – Calangute, Colva, Baga, Vagator and Miaramar.
Golden beaches, blue skies, pale green hills and silvery sand fringed with palms – this is Goa – the land of Paradoxes, the land of Fun and Frolic, of calm and tranquility.
The beaches are speckled with quaint little beach shacks that serve ice-cold beer and spicy Goan cuisine.
Most likely a result of the relaxed surroundings and eclectic mix of people both transients and settlers, the people have adopted the more or less bohemian culture – relaxed and very friendly.
Apart from the natural beauty, the fabulous Goa beach and sunshine, travelers love the laid-back, peaceful, warm and friendly nature of the Goan people. After all, more than anywhere else on planet earth, this is a place where people really know how to relax.
Many consider Goa to be the best entry point to India as it is also very well connected by rail, road & air.
It’s best to come to Goa in winter or early spring. During the rainy season, which stretches from the end of May to Sept, most beach-shack restaurants close due to heavy winds & violent surf. November, December and January are the best months for lolling around on the Goa Beach. If you come in early February, you’ll experience the added excitement of Goa Carnival.
Christmas and Easter are celebrated with crowded church services, the former with a midnight mass that continues almost into the morning.
Anjuna Goa, 18 kms from Panaji is a popular beach area adjacent to Chapora fort- it was the haunt of the flower generation in the sixties – and is still popular with the younger generation. In Anjuna there is magnificent Albuquerque mansion built in 1920, flanked by octagonal towers and attractive Mangalore tiled-roof. The Anjuna band plays for the beach party at night.
Of the fishing settlements dotted along the north coast, only Arambol 32-km northwest of Mapusa, is remotely geared to tourism – albeit in a very low-key, low-impact fashion. If one is happy with basic amenities, the village offers two very fine beaches and a healthy dose of peace and quiet. Parties are occasionally held here, drawing revelers across the river from Anjuna and Vagator, but these are rare intrusions into an otherwise tranquil, out of the way enclave.
A mere 45 minute bus ride up the coast from the capital, Calangute is Goa’s busiest and most commercialized resort, and the flagship of the state government’s bid for a bigger slice of India’s package-tourist pie. In the 1970s and early 1980s, this once peaceful fishing Village epitomized Goa’s reputation as a haven for hedonistic hippies.
A hot season retreat for Margao’s moneyed middle classes since long before Independence, Colva is the oldest and largest of South Goa’s resorts. Its leafy outlying ‘Vaddos’, or wards are pleasant enough, dotted with colonial style villas and ramshackle fishing huts. The beachfront is a collection of concrete hotels, souvenir stalls and fly blown snack bars strewn around a central roundabout.
At the place where two of Goa’s famous rivers meet the Arabian Sea is the secluded Bay of Dona Paula with a fine view of the Marmagao Harbour. 7-km from Panjim, nestled on the south side of the rocky, hammer-shaped headland that divides the Zuari and Mandovi estuaries, this former fishing village is nowadays a commercialized resort. This is an idyllic spot to relax and sunbathe. Water scooter facilities are also available here.
On the way to Dona Paula, 1-km ahead of the confluence of the Arabian Sea and Mandvi River, under the palm shade, is “Gasper Dias” or Miramar Beach and is just 3-km away from the capital city of Panjim.
Situated on a good location for evening walks, the coast is spread up to 2-km, having a fine silvery sand bed. From here one has an excellent view of the Aguada fort just across the Mandovi River.
Palolem, 2-km west of Chaudi, pops up more often in glossy holiday brochures than any other beach in Goa; not because the village is a major package tour destination, but because its crescent shaped bay lined with a swaying curtain of coconut palms, is irresistibly photogenic. Hemmed in by a pair of wooded headlands, a perfect curve of white sand arcs north from a pile of hug boulders to the spur of Sahyadri Ghat, which here tapers into the sea.
Barely a couple of kilometers of cliff tops and parched grassland separate Anjuna from the southern fringes of its nearest neighbor, Vagator. A desultory collection of ramshackle farmhouses and picturesque old Portuguese bungalows scattered around a network of leafy lanes, the village is entered at the east via a branch off the Mapusa Road, which passes a few small guesthouses and restaurants before running down to the sea.
Goa also has several wildlife sanctuaries: Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Catigao Wildlife, Sanctuary, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary and the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary.
Visitors can also visit several forts in the area: Aguda Fort, Cabo Raj Niwas, the Cabo Palace, Chapora Fort, Mormugao Fort and the Teracol Fort
For those wanting to do some shopping, try out the flea markets in Anjuna Flea Market and Mapusa Goa