Goa, located on the west coast of India, is more than just a beach paradise. Whether yoga or party, colonial history or culinary specialties – Goa has all the ingredients for the perfect vacation! This is a list of the best beaches in Goa: from Arambol in the north to Agonda in the south of Goa!
Goa – Palm Trees and Party, Hippies and Luxury
The name Goa can evoke the most diverse associations. Perhaps one thinks of wild full moon celebrations, perhaps of relaxed beach vacations; of luxury resorts or beach huts, of churches or temples. And yes, all this can be found in Goa!
Until 1961 Goa was a Portuguese colony. This can still be seen everywhere today: in the names of the locals (which e.g. are Vasquez or Fernandez), in the many churches, in the architecture and cuisine.
Since the 60s, the smallest of the Indian states has been considered a Mecca for hippies and dropouts. These days, families, pensioners and young backpackers have also discovered the beautiful beaches of Goa. There is an international airport, numerous luxury accommodations and first-class restaurants. But the alternative charm has remained – especially in the north of Goa!
The Best Beaches in Goa: North Goa
Anjuna – Hippies and Techno Freaks
When the first hippies came to India in the late 1960s – after they had travelled the long overland route via Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan – two groups soon formed: some sought spiritual teachers in the holiest places in India or retreated to small Himalayan villages; others, however, were mainly in search of a more material peace. And no place is better suited for this than the beaches of Goa. Especially the fishing village Anjuna became known as the hippie paradise par excellence. For the inhabitants of Goa it must have been a considerable culture shock: the beaches, otherwise only used by fishermen, suddenly became the scene of long hippie nights, fueled by guitar music and cannabis.
Today there is little of this left in Anjnua. The scene has changed a lot in the last decades. The children of the hippies of Goa soon found the guitar music of their parents boring, and created their own and completely new music style, which is simply called Goa: electronic, psychedelic dance music. Anjuna, with its two world famous clubs Curlies and Shiva Valley, is the capital of Goa music. Neo-hippies and techno fans come from all over the world to dance on the beach of Anjuna.
But the older generation is still there. Especially on Sunday, when the Anjuna Fleamarket takes place, you can see them: Old hippies with their wild beards and pacifist smiles, with necklaces and Grateful Dead tattoos.
Anjuna is without doubt one of the most interesting and beautiful beaches in Goa. Especially fans of electronic music and people with a more alternative attitude will enjoy themselves here. Because even today you can understand why Anjuna was and in a way still is a hippie paradise!
Arambol – The New Hippie Be-In of Goa
In the past, Anjuna was the Mecca of hippiedom; today it is Arambol. In recent years, this once small fishing village has developed into one of the hot spots of the backpacker scene in India. In the many vegan and very trendy cafés of the village, musicians and artists, Reiki healers and fortune tellers, jewelry makers and jugglers sit side by side. In the evenings you can listen to live music in the beach cafés – there are no techno and Goa parties here.
Meanwhile, the alternative atmosphere of Arambol has become famous, and many package tourists and seniors from Russia are increasingly shaping the scene. The Indian waiters and cab drivers often even speak a few words of Russian. This influence has led to the fact that even on the formerly so quiet beach of Arambol there are now restaurants and cafés stretching for miles. But Arambol has kept its hippie charm and is therefore without doubt one of the best beaches for vacationers of all kinds! Only a few minutes further north is the virtually untouched beach of Querim, behind which there is also a small freshwater lake. If from there you walk for about an hour through the jungle, you will reach the Banyan Tree, well known in hippie circles, where the Banyan Baba lives. At any given moment, a few dozens of foreigners flock around the tree to smoke cannabis with the Hindu saint.
Baga – The Party Capital of Goa
Yoga, drum circles, guitar strumming – you won’t find that in Baga! Baga is mainly frequented by young and party-hungry Indians, which are also joined by young Europeans and Americans. Countless clubs and pubs line the beach of Baga, tempting the many party people with extravagant cocktails and cheap Kingfisher beer. The two towns of Baga and Calangute are only a few kilometers apart and have almost grown together. Calangute, however, has remained a little quieter and more relaxed.
The beach of Baga is also known for its natural beauty, more precisely for its backwaters. This network of waterways extends for a few kilometers inland. For little money you can rent a boat and glide through the beauty of nature, watching water birds and the daily life of the locals.
Baga is therefore only recommended for a special audience or for a short period of time. On New Year’s Eve, for example, Baga transforms into a single party mile. For the days between Christmas and New Year, however, you should look for accommodation a few months in advance. Baga therefor is the Party Capital of Goa – if wild nights is what you are looking for, then you won’t find a better place in all of Goa!
The Best Beaches in Goa: South Goa
Palolem – One of the Most Beautiful Beaches in Goa
Palolem Beach is certainly one of the most famous beaches in Goa. It is popular with Indian and foreign tourists alike; especially British people enjoy the many beach cafes and restaurants selling excellent fish and cheap beer. One of the best restaurants in Palolem is Magic Italy. As in the other restaurants, you choose the fresh fish yourself, which is then served as a typical dish of Goan cuisine.
On the beach of Palolem you can swim better than almost anywhere else in Goa, thanks to its soft sand and calm sea. The tall palm trees and colorful vacation homes that line the beach lend Palolem the perfect image of a vacation paradise.
Palolem is home to the Lost Hostel, which is one of the best hostels in India. With so many people of all ages and nationalities coming to Palolem, it is a great place to make new friends!
Colva – One of the Best Beaches in Goa
Six kilometers from Margao – the second largest city of Goas – lies one of the oldest and most beautiful beaches of Goas: Colva. Already for the Portuguese colonial masters, Colva was considered the pearl of Goa. Its clean sand, clear water and high palm trees are today as beautiful as ever. The richest among the Portuguese colonialists built large villas and luxurious vacation homes. Some of them are now rented out as tourist apartments.
As other beaches of Goa, Colva offers various water sports – paragliding, windsurfing, water skiing and others. Afterwards you can enjoy an excellent and relatively cheap meal with a beautiful view of the sun setting in the sea. This mix of luxury and serenity, pleasure and leisure activities makes Colva one of the best beaches in South Goa!
Agonda – Holiday for the Soul
Only a few kilometers from Palolem is the beach of Agonda. It is much more untouched than the touristic Palolem: there are only a few restaurants, some beach cafes and cheap accommodation (but also one or two wellness resorts). In Agonda there are also some restaurants where live music is played in the evenings, as well as a yoga studio and boat tours which one can do for little money. The beach of Agonda experiences a more agitated sea than Palolem or Arambol: the waves and currents can sometimes become so dangerous that the lifeguards forbid swimming. But it is precisely this wild unspoiled nature that attracts more and more people. They seek and find in Agonda what has been mainly lost in the rest of Goa: tranquility. Let your soul dangle, do some yoga, watch the enchanting sunset – and enjoy excellent food in Agonda! La Bella Vita is one of the best Italian restaurants in India, and has been run by Romans for two generations. Don’t miss the homemade Tiramisu!
From Agonda (one of the most southern beaches of Goa), Gokarna can be reached in only three hours by bus. Gokarna is an important pilgrimage site of Hinduism and one of the holiest places in South India. The Mahabaleshwar Temple attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over India throughout the year, especially devotees of the God Shiva. Gokarna is also home to some old Hippies who try to escape the hustle and bustle and the parties of Goa. Especially Om Beach is one of the central meeting points of the alternative and Hippie scene in India.
Agonda is one of the quietest beaches of Goa and therefore the perfect place to relax with a book in your hand! (Some book recommendations can be found here: The Best Books on India)
Other Places to Visit in Goa
Old Goa: Velha Goa was one of the richest cities in Asia four centuries ago – then malaria struck. What remains today are a few decaying churches which crumble lonely in the midday heat. Very worth seeing for all those interested in history! By the way: The best book about the history of India – from the first civilization until today – is India: A History by John Keay.
Panaji (Panjim): The new capital of Goa. As so often in the big cities of India, modernity and tradition coexist side by side. The architectural remains from the Portuguese colonial period are lined with new office buildings, expensive apartment buildings and a few old mosques or temples. The city is noisy and chaotic – but maybe after days or weeks of beach vacations just this is what one needs!
Dudhsagar Falls: These waterfalls located in the south of Goa are among the most spectacular in India – especially during the monsoon season! They are located a little inland, 60 kilometers from Panaji, and can be reached by a train that slowly snakes up the jungle-covered hill.
Mangeshi Temple: One of the most famous and important temples in Goa. The Mangeshi Mandir is an important pilgrimage site of local Hinduism and also open for tourists. It is the proof that Hinduism is colorful and alive even in the mainly Christian Goa!
Chapora Fort: The Portuguese built numerous fortifications in Goa – one of the most impressive is Chapora Fort, located in northern Goa. It dates from the early 16th century and is still in relatively good condition. From the old walls of the fort there is a great view of the sun setting in the sea.
Summary: The Best Beaches in Goa
- 1. Anjuna
- 2. Arambol
- 3. Baga
- 4. Palolem
- 5. Agonda
- 6. Colva