In what area of Goa is better to go on vacation.
The expert on where the best beaches, hotels, food and nightlife in Goa.
Mass Russian tourists have appeared on the beaches of Goan in the early noughties, after the launch of the first charter. Over the past 15 years, local businessmen have become so accustomed to our tourists and female tourists, that now it is difficult to find a restaurant on the beach, called here “chek”, which would not have a Russian-language menu, and the waiter did not know a set of ten words – “well, the bill, pour. Nevertheless, the question of where to go and where to rest in Goa – in the North or South – is still relevant. HotLine.travel special correspondent Yuri Bolotov, who has been working in Goa since 2003, tells about the differences.
Beaches and hotels in Goa: Where is the best?
In the past, tourists coming out of Dabolim airport were divided into two groups – those who were met by travel agents and those who went to a cab rank. The former went to Kavelossim, Benaulim and Varka, the latter went to the northern beaches: Arambol, Morjim or Ashwem. In South Goa they went “to the sea” for a couple of weeks, in North Goa – often for several months, to forget about the autumn and winter slush, the lunch break at McDonald’s and wool sweaters. Now it’s almost impossible to distinguish between these streams. And the rhetorical question of which area of Goa is better to go – North or South – has dissolved like sugar in a cup of masala tea after tour operators began to put up hot tours in Aramboli and Mordjim new-fangled “two-bedrooms” for 15 thousand rubles. And then, like hippies in the 1960s in search of a break from reality, our package tourists, lovers of budget holidays, moved here in a simple “break.
If you take the length of the coastline of South Goa on the coastline, it turns out a little less than 70 km, a decent portion of which are excellent sandy beaches. Velsao, Kansaulim, Arrosim, Utorda, Majorda, Betalbatim, Colva, Benaulim, Varka, Kavelossim, Mobor, Kola, Agonda, Palolem, Putnam, Talpona, Rajbagh, Galjibaga, Polem. The list alone does not leave the North a chance in the beach competition with its 27 km of coastline, much of it riddled with cliffs. On the southern beaches sand of sunny shade, fine, bringing tourists delight with unusual “starchy” crunch underfoot. The northern vis-a-vis the quality of the beaches differ depending on the location – from Sinkerim to Anjuna coarse grayish-yellow sand, then to Arambol dark volcanic. To the minuses can be added stony formations, which are a danger to swimmers at high tide, when they are not visible under water. For example, on the beach of Ashvem the sea is calm in the south, but has an undercurrent in the north, and moreover, the bottom with razor-sharp stones. It is not surprising that the most prestigious and expensive hotels are built in the south – the Hyatt, Leela, Taj Exotica. It was in these hotels that the presidents stayed during the BRICS summit in Goa. Except for a couple of beaches, Colva and Palolem, the southern beaches are more sparsely populated than the northern ones. Colva is a pilgrimage destination for Indian tourists, while Palolem has fallen victim to its image as a “paradise” beach. In the north, the most crowded are Candolim, Calangute and Baga, occupied by both foreign packers and Indian vacationers. Slightly calmer will be in Anjuna and Vagator.
Where to eat borscht in Goa?
Once abandoned by the Israelis Aramboli beach came to life with the arrival of Russian vacationers, and the shouts: “Anya, did you get the sunscreen?” and our all-knowing grandmas with bags of sprouts and exotic fruits sticking out of them have become a sign of the time. The locals quickly adapted to the changes, the “sheks” rewrote the menu from Hebrew into “the great and mighty”, and our craftsmen began to sell belyash and cabbage pies.
There are enough restaurants with various cuisines in the North – Tibetan, Italian and even Georgian, but how can you not drink cool kvass and taste “Russian salad” in the heat – isn’t that what the holiday-makers go to far away lands for? In this respect, the opportunities of the southern gourmet patriots have long been disadvantaged. But in recent years, thanks to the international marriages of our girls and here you can find a decent Russian cuisine with borscht and no pineapples in the olivier – “Simple Place” in Colva or “Temple Three” in Kavelossim. Although the majority of visitors still prefer seafood – the lack of lobster, shrimp and snapper is not experienced by any beach restaurant.
Nightlife in Goa: Which clubs to drink in and where to dance in
The ideology of “shanti-shanti” (stay calm no matter what – Ed.) can be found not only in the former Portuguese colony. Entire Russian communities have settled on Koh Phangan in Thailand, in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, and even on Philippine Boracay. Ex-advertisers, programmers, TV people. “Thinking reeds,” as one poet called them – wherever the wind blows, that’s where they lean. In North Goa, the wind usually blows closer to sunset toward parties and patios. The clubs that play the Goa trance born here, Hilltop, Vagator, Curleys, Anjuna, West End, Saligao, Nain Bar, Vagator, Primrose, Vagator, Shiva Valley, Anjuna, are well known to regulars. Package tourists are more likely to prefer the mainstream: “Titos” and “Mambos” in Baga, “Shanti” in Ashwem or LPK in Candolim. But especially appreciated is “Cabana” in Arpora – for alcohol there is a favorite system of All inclusive. On their background quite modest looks the list of clubs in the South, which only confirms the rule that people go here not for beach rest, but for partying: the franchise “Titosa” in Kavelossim, “Margarita” in Colva and “Zoya” in Benaulim. So if you’re young at heart, like to party and meet unusual and famous people, you have to choose the North. Although there is a know-how in the South – you can attend a “silent party” at Palolem Beach.
According to the law after 10 p.m. you can not turn on the music loudly, and partygoers, not to provoke the locals, found an original way out of the situation. To the casual onlooker it may seem wild when all you hear is the noise of the waves, but all around are wriggling in the rhythmic steps of hundreds of people. Only after a closer look, you realize what it is all about: each dancer wears a remote headset, and at the console played by three DJs – each can choose their own music.
Rest with children in Goa: Russian kindergartens – it’s real.
In what part of Goa is better to rest with the child? India can not yet, like Turkey, claim to be a destination ideally suited for children’s holidays. Animation and infrastructure, which are in their infancy, do not leave a wide choice of entertainment for children. Although in recent years timid progress has been made, there are water parks in Goa, first in the North: Splash Down between Anjuna and Arpora and Melange in Baga, and then Froggiland in the South. In the South you can also go to the local zoo, which is in Bondla, or a small entertainment center with a scare room and a collection of marine life on the way from Margao to Panjim. In the northern part, Russian kindergartens “Romashka” and “Zernyshko” open in the fall, where you can leave your children with the possibility of staying 24 hours under the supervision of a Russian-speaking nanny. For couples with toddlers, Mandrem Beach is the best choice for a vacation.
In the South and with nannies and kindergartens are much worse, there are Indian “Kidzi” or “Eurokids” with teaching in English and a stay of 3.5 hours a day. Ideal for a vacation for the whole family is a quiet beach Agonda, where kids can quietly pick at the sand, and parents can afford a little relaxation – the waves here are not as big as on other beaches, and not as noisy as on Palolem.
Goa’s best markets and stores
No matter how you look at it, in terms of shopping and markets, South Goa loses out to its northern cousin. On Saturdays, Arpora hosts the famous Night Market, a night market. On this evening, judging by the traffic jams, the entire population of the state comes here. Of course, this is not the case – only tourists and “longstayers” go to the night market. Someone for the souvenirs, someone – to see the iconic place, where in addition to trade concerts, performances of fashion designers and sword-swallowers. You can meet veterans who came to Goa in the distant 70’s, and various northern freaks in the trading rows. In general, this is one of the must see places in Goa.
Another market, called Flea Market, takes place in Anjuna on Wednesdays from morning until dusk. If you need to buy a lot and inexpensive, you should visit it – the night market is always overpriced. Also in the North are the so-called “Tibetan” markets, where refugees from this now Chinese province trade. In the south of Goa, an attempt once to open an analogue of “Night Market” in Colva ended in failure. But there will be no problem with souvenirs here as well – there are shopping streets on the way to almost every beach. The main ones are on Palolem, Colva and Kavelossim. Food and thrift stores can be found everywhere, there are even decent supermarkets, like Oxford and Newtons in the North or Sho Faz or Watson in the South. Branded items are worth looking for in the towns of Mapsa, Panjim and Margao.
So, where to live in Goa?
There is a lot of debate as to which part of Goa is better to stay in, the South or the North? Holidaymakers in the South need to try hard to find evening entertainment, and in the North – on the contrary, peace. If after 11 months of hard work you and your family can relax, sunbathe and go for Ayurvedic massages, then you should definitely go to the South. Tourists who go on a Saturday excursion to the North with a visit to the “Night Market”, on their return usually say: “North – is, of course, fun, but one day was enough for us quite, noisy, and I would not live there. And we have better beaches”. And young companies looking for new experiences, and just “forever young” do not need the “retirement” South, they just find everything they’re looking for in the North.
The 16 best beaches in Goa
Fine white sand, coconut palms along the coast, lonely sun loungers, endless ocean and luxury hotels with excellent service – perhaps, this is how many imagine a perfect holiday. Where to go for it? In a small Indian state of Goa. Totally different from this country, but in its own colorful and interesting. By the way, there are places for revelers and for extreme tourists, and for all other tourists who have their own idea of recreation. Let’s talk about the best beaches in Goa.
South Goa is a respectable vacation. The coast here is not crowded, the prices are quite high. There are virtually no nightclubs. But there are elite restaurants overlooking the sea and numerous spas. Most of the beaches in the region resembles a picture from a bounty ad – the perfect place for a quiet, carefree relaxation.
It’s a favorite place for romantics and honeymooners. It seems as if everything is in moderation here: there are enough hotels of different levels – from luxurious five-star to quite democratic bungalows, a good choice of cafes and restaurants, not disturbing the peace of holidaymakers. As for service on Varque, everything is as it should be – it’s there, but it can’t be called intrusive. A pleasant addition to all this – fine white sand, warm water and the opportunity to see dolphins, sailing by boat very close to the shore.
Located away from the bustle of the city, 12 kilometers from Benaulim. It attracts guests not only by its cleanliness and excellent infrastructure, but also by its fantastic scenery. The coast, covered with fine white sand, surrounded by black rocks – such a panorama looks spectacular and fascinating. Unlike Varka, Kavelossim is not a peaceful place.
There are boat rentals and water activities, where guests are happy to offer water sports and, if necessary, instruct beginners. In the surrounding area you can find local markets and stores, shops of Indian craftsmen, many cozy cafes and restaurants.
Quite a long idealistic stretch of coastline located between two other famous beaches of South Goa, Majorda and Arrosim. A wide expanse covered with silky white sand is separated from the bustle of the resort by a palm alley. A small river runs through the area, which divides the land and forms small natural islands. It is an ideal place for a quiet holiday with the whole family, walks along the water’s edge and peaceful relaxation on the warm sand. There are almost no active entertainment. But enough of the cozy cafes, where they offer national cuisine, fresh seafood and juices from exotic fruits.
This is a 30-kilometer long sandy coastal strip, surrounded by palm groves and fruit groves, indented bays and lagoons, along which found a place and colorful local villages, and five-star luxury hotels, and democratic bungalows. Despite being one of the most popular beaches in Goa, it is always clean, quiet, and peaceful. Entertainment options include a small number of cafes and restaurants serving seafood specialties, and water sports equipment rentals.
Of course, southern Goa is not the best place for party goers and partygoers. But even in the midst of this tranquility and serenity, there’s a beach where nightlife aficionados congregate – it’s Colva. It is famous for its parties on the sand, numerous bars and a special atmosphere, serenity and carefree. In addition to partying Colva is loved by locals and fishermen – you can see many boats and colorful huts on the coast. Several colonial-style villas are built for guests.
Cola is considered the most uncivilized in all of southern Goa. Indeed, the infrastructure is poorly developed here. Lack of amenities fully compensated by the natural beauty – the reddish sand looks especially striking against the background of bright green palm trees and the clearest endless ocean. This is the perfect place for those who want to enjoy the peace, listen to the sound of the waves alone and, perhaps, to forget about everything in the world for a while. But for a family vacation Colva is not too suitable. The entrance to the sea here is quite sharp. In addition, the water can meet sharp rocks that are dangerous.
Another famous beach in southern Goa, which civilization has not had time to reach. However, unlike Cola, it is an ideal place for a family vacation under the sound of waves and the rustle of palm trees. If you want to stay here for a long time, you can rent a bungalow on the coast and even put up a tent. Of entertainment in Agonda – only boat trips, during which there is a high probability of meeting with dolphins.
One of the most popular in the entire state of Goa. This is a tropical paradise, as it is portrayed in brochures and postcards. Picturesque bay, fine white sand, colorful palm trees. Not far from the coast is a small uninhabited island, which is often visited by tourists. Going on a boat ride, you can admire the dolphins – they are frequent guests in these parts.
Near Palolem has no hotels, shopping malls and stores – here there is peace and tranquility, which gave the world its own nature. If you want to enjoy the world of tropical beach to the fullest, you can stay in one of the bungalows in the palm grove. Although Palolem is incredibly popular with vacationers, it is never too crowded.
A small secluded beach unlike any other in Goa. This is a place of lovers, which is associated with a beautiful legend (though the villagers surrounding villagers assure that this is a true story) – about the daughter of the local governor (it’s easy to guess that her name was Dona Paula), fell in love with an ordinary poor boy. Her father was against this relationship and the girl, unable to withstand his pressure, committed suicide – she threw herself into the sea from a cliff, where she had often been with her chosen one. Local fishermen assure that the image of the white bride with a pearl necklace around her neck hovers in these parts to this day, and some have even met her. Whether to believe in mysticism is everyone’s own business. Dona Paula is indeed beautiful and worthy of attention.
If South Goa is a serene relaxation, North Goa is an endless holiday. As the sun goes down, life here begins to play with new colors, numerous bars open their doors, everywhere you can hear the incendiary rhythms. Not surprisingly, the beaches here are a bit different than in the south – not as clean, and the pictures from the advertising bounty on them do not come to life. But every night the guests, ready to rock right on the sand under the open sky, meet world famous DJs and bartenders ready to work till morning.
One of the liveliest and most multifaceted. It is a sunshine destination for the creative types, the informal crowd, the world-beaters, and the hard-core party-goers. On the outskirts of Arambol there are nooks where devotees of all kinds of spiritual practices live on a permanent basis. As for infrastructure, it is really well developed.
Along the coast there are many hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, souvenir shops. From time to time concerts and outdoor shows are held, and parties are organized. All this is quite affordable, as it is mainly aimed at young people.
Not as lively and noisy as Arambol. A few years ago it could even be called poorly developed and even wild. However, the tourism industry “got here” rather quickly – today Baga boasts a large number of cafes and restaurants, located along the coast of modern hotels. In addition, the hallmark of Baga – numerous sun loungers and umbrellas, under which you can take cover from the scorching sun. Lovers of nightlife and rocking parties after the sun goes down can stop by one of the famous nightclubs – Titos or Mambo. Both are located near the coast.
A continuation of the famous Baga beach. There is no formal boundary between the two, the differences are rather atmospheric. Calangute is positioned as a place for an elite vacation. It is cleaner, quieter, but the prices are much higher. This is the perfect place for those who vacation with the whole family. An oasis of tranquility on the party coast of Goa.
Another tranquil place on the northern coast of Goa. It seems that nature itself has taken care of that to protect it from the influence of civilization – before you find yourself at the shore, you have not only to walk through the city streets with old buildings, but also to overcome the steep slopes. The infrastructure here is not very well developed. Of entertainment – only a few picturesque cafes serving dishes of national cuisine, seafood and freshly squeezed juices from exotic fruits.
This is the center of cultural and party life. Here 24 hours a day, there is some movement, constantly organized, including completely spontaneous, all kinds of noisy and fun events, and on Wednesdays and even opens flea market. All in all, vacationers in Anjuna will not be bored, exactly.
One of the best in North Goa, he regularly takes a leading place in all sorts of ratings. It is popular among young people and partygoers – here are constantly held fiery events, creative meetings and even concerts in the open air. A nice addition to them – beautiful natural scenery. In addition, nearby is the picturesque Fort Chapora, built back in the 17th century.
Cozy and tranquil, separated from the village of the same name by a palm grove. Despite its small size, it boasts an excellent infrastructure – guests are always welcome in the colorful cafes, there are rental shops for water sports equipment. Sea turtles are a local attraction, and love the stretch of coastline.
A beautiful place with white sand, which is separated from the urban bustle of the resort by a small river with places thrown over it, wooden and bamboo. They are a local landmark in their own right. Old, broken in places, but still reliable. Once on solid ground waiting for guests numerous bars, walking along the coast you can come across colorful fishing villages (Mandrem is long enough). After sunset, the bars turn into DJs and the coast is an open-air dance floor.
Another popular beach in North Goa is Ashwem. It is the mecca of kite surfers as well as other water sports enthusiasts. There is a lively street with numerous bars and nightclubs nearby. Ashvem is also famous for its beautiful natural pools.
White sand beaches
It is with the legendary white sand from the brochures many people associate Goa. Soft, warm and pleasant to the touch. It is not surprising that many people plan their vacation so as to be on the beach, where there is this natural wealth. In Goa, both in the northern and southern parts, there are enough of them. Traditionally, the lively and bustling Arambol tops the ratings of white sand beaches. However, many people are deterred by the fact that it is always crowded and hectic – after the sun goes down life just begins.
A great alternative for those who are not a fan of partying, but still prefer to relax in North Goa – the quiet Calangute, Morjim or little-known Kerim. Fans of active recreation can take a closer look at Ashwem. The rating of white-sand beaches in South Goa, as a rule, heads Benalium. It is a place that reminds many of heaven on earth. And some believe that this is where they filmed the commercials for bounty (although this is certainly not the case). Coconut palms, small cozy gesthouses, colorful cafes and fine white sand – what else do lovers of quiet rest, dreaming of a break from the urban bustle?
Located nearby Colva, the oldest and very respectable resort in South Goa, can easily compete with Benalium. If you want to forget not only about the hustle and bustle, but also civilization in general, enjoying the warmth of the white sand, you can go to the picturesque Palolem. Putnam, also located in South Goa, is not popular among tourists. In addition, it is considered one of the most isolated in the region. Those who did manage to get here, can fully enjoy not only the white sand, but also the colorful bungalows with thatched roof, local cuisine and low prices.
What to choose for a vacation with kids
Going on vacation with children, you need, first of all, to consider the peculiarities of Goa. Naturally, the southern part of the region is more suitable for this. Here you can choose any beach except Colva and Palolem (they can not boast a smooth comfortable entrance to the sea, and thus there is a question of safety). The only downside – it’s pretty high prices. If the budget does not allow to go to the south of Goa, the family vacation can choose more budget resorts in the northern part of the region. In this case, you need to pay attention to the quiet places: Kerim, Morjim, Ashvem or Mandrem.
Hotels with its own beach
One of the main features of Goa’s beaches – they all belong to the state. That is why even in the best hotels no one can prohibit access to the coast for locals, merchants and tourists vacationing elsewhere. How is the “hotel beach” (if it can be called so in India) different from the others? First of all, that on the coast only the guests can use a number of services – free umbrellas and deckchairs, sometimes a cafe.
Choosing a hotel with its own beach, you should keep in mind that as a rule it is only expensive “five” and “four”, located on the first coastline. In South Goa there are more of them (it is considered that this is where the best hotels are located), in the northern – less. In terms of infrastructure almost all of these hotels are the same. Any wonders, even from the best, do not wait. If a cheap 3 star hotel a kilometer away from the coast declares it has its own beach, it is most likely a deception.