8 best beaches to visit in Goa, India
The Indian state of Goa, which was ruled by the Portuguese until 1961, is home to some of the world’s greatest Euro-Indian cuisine, distinctive colonial architecture, and azure blue seas, making it the ideal beach holiday destination.
On India’s West Coast, just to the east of the Arabian Sea, sits the beautiful paradise of Goa, India’s smallest but richest state, owing mostly to its tourist sector. Why Goa, you may wonder? It’s an unique jewel of India that has been unspoiled by British colonial impact, with a distinct, peaceful, and religiously tolerant society in which Christians, Hindus, and Muslims coexist together. Tourists travel to the coastal resort year after year to enjoy the vast wildlife, multiple world heritage sites, and Portuguese-influenced architecture. (While England never made the conquest, the Portuguese did in fact colonize Goa in the early 16th century, which lasted until 1961.) However, what people really come to Goa for is the wide variety of beaches. To find out which beach might be right for you, read on for our ultimate roundup of the best beaches in Goa.
For total peace and quiet, visit the secluded Cola Beach (shown above) in Canacona, a township in Goa’s South District. There’s a lush environment here, with tanned beaches and a peaceful, fresh water lagoon encircled by swinging coconut trees. Tourists who have visited say it’s one of Goa’s most picturesque spots, but because it’s so far off the main route, getting there may be difficult—most prefer to motorcycle down a secret trail, as scooter rentals are both widespread and affordable in most regions of Goa. There are two primary lodging options: Cola Beach Resort and The Blue Lagoon.
Despite being one of Goa’s most beautiful and popular beaches, Agonda Beach manages to avoid the crowds that other famous beaches, such as Baga and Candolim, have been accustomed to. Local fisherman will take guests out on their boats to view dolphins for a nominal fee, and there are lots of eateries and coastal taverns. Agonda is also a popular location for Olive-Ridley turtle nesting, which occurs throughout the peak season, from October to May.
Arambol Beach & Sweetwater Lake
Originally a fishermen’s community, this long length of beach has recently become a tourist destination, yet its bohemian vibes remain strong. (The beach first acquired prominence in the 1960s as a refuge for wandering hippies.) Today, you’ll see tanned bodies on colorful towels, kiosks offering anything from handcrafted jewelry to leather products, and sports like yoga and paragliding. The actual highlight of this beach, though, is the isolated Sweetwater Lake, which is concealed in the bush and only a short walk to the north.
Ashwem Beach is arguably best-known – and best-loved – for its absence of hawker stalls, which provides tourists with a sense of quiet and seclusion. Its seemingly endless beaches and pristine white sand make it an ideal choice for anyone wishing to kick back and relax under one of the many straw umbrellas that line the beach. Head to La Plage, a restaurant-boutique hybrid that routinely earns rave reviews for its French food and seaside vistas.
This one is for the partygoers and travelers out there. Vagator Beach, located in Goa’s Bardez Tuluka area, is another hippy hotspot famed for its red cliffs, laid-back atmosphere, and shacks selling great seafood, beer, and wine. Vagator, while quieter than many of Goa’s other beaches, becomes extremely crowded—and a little rowdy—during the peak season, when the beach stages several parties. Between October and May, you’ll see both Western and Indian visitors wearing neon bikinis, smoking hookah, and dancing to techno music. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the neighboring Anjuna Beach, which lies to Vagator’s south and is equally known for its scenic beauty and numerous trance parties.
Any traveler who has gone would tell you that Mandrem Beach is a good place to start. This beach is a must-see for its clear blue seas, colorful beach huts, and spiritual vibe, which is only enhanced by the presence of yogis and tranquil waves. Head to Banyan Tree Yoga Eco Resort for a genuine, back-to-basics experience, where you’ll stay in sustainable huts, eat fresh, handmade cuisine, and maybe indulge in some massage therapy. After all that yoga, a little deep tissue is probably just what the doctor (or guru) ordered.
Butterfly Island & Beach
North of Patnem and Palolem Beach lies Butterfly Island, which is only accessible by boat, but offers visitors a secluded and sometimes even completely empty experience. You won’t find any beach huts or snack shops here, so be sure to pack a picnic, and enjoy the translucent water, white sands, and oft-reported sight of dolphins on this butterfly-shaped island, where it gets its name from.
Patnem, Goa’s quietest southernmost beach, is an excellent option for people seeking the colorful beach huts and seaside snack shacks that adjacent beaches, such as Palolem, provide. (They’re so near that you can easily visit both in a single day.) Local favorites like Jaali Boutique and Café provide great tapas, drinks, and fresh fruit. After you’ve finished your meal, visit the store to pick up some one-of-a-kind keepsakes.