Back in 2013, I visited Goa to spend two week’s beach hopping from the north of Goa down to the south coast. It was a great opportunity to see how the north and south differ so much, and of course, all those places in between!
This was my first trip to India, and I couldn’t wait! We started off in the north at the hippy town of Armabol, before heading south for a few nights of madness in Baga. We then travelled further south in seek of fun in Palolem, with a final few nights staying along the gorgeous Agonda Beach a short distance away.
In this post, I thought I’d summarise each of the beaches to give you a better idea of how they differed, and what to expect in each place.
Best For – Relaxed bohemian backpacker vibes
It’s interesting to do some research to read how Arambol appears to have slowly become more of a tourist getaway from the busy beaches of the south, however at the time of our visit this was a real gem of a find. We loved our stay in this quiet, super relaxed town which had a cool and relaxed bohemian feel.
We spent a relaxing few days on the beach, soaking up the sun as we sipped our cold beers (that were cheaper than bottled water FYI). Our evenings were spent mooching in the market stands that were located just behind the beach, before we settled down for a relaxed dinner followed by some drinks to one of the endless hippie bars playing nothing other than Bob Marley or other reggae beats.
I really enjoyed our time in Arambol and would love to visit there again. I hear the cliffs above the beach are one of the prime spots in Goa for paragliding, however with my accident prone track record, perhaps that isn’t such a wise move for me to consider!
Our accommodation, The Surf Club, was at the very south end of the beach towards the quieter Mandream Beach, and our room was a steal at £8 per night. Although we were a short beach walk away from Arambol’s restaurants and markets, we preferred being that little bit further out, as we pretty much had the beach to ourselves each day!
Best For – Nightclubs, Shopping and Partying
Well there are few words I’d use to describe Baga, and those would be mental, nuts and crazy. Baga is extremely built up, overcrowded, noisy, with a very congested beach – basically everything we would usually detest from a holiday! However, on this occasion we decided to mix up our trip and spend a few nights there to see just how mad it was. Well it was an interesting few days, that’s for sure!
This was our least favourite beach that we visited in Goa, due to how busy and hectic it was. Baga beach was very much a family beach, so expect the majority of visitors to be locals with their extra-large families. There was an abundance of water sports and beach bars too, however this wasn’t really what we imagined the glorious Indian beaches to look like.
In the evening’s we ate out locally (when there wasn’t another power cut), ventured through the shops (loads of places to get custom made clothes and handbags), and sampled what some might call the highlight of Baga – Tito’s!
Cafe Mambos, Tito’s Bar Academy, and The Bollywood Club are all owned within the Tito’s chain and are located along Tito’s Lane. Many of the clubs host ladies nights where it was not only FREE entry, but FREE drinks too. As you can imagine, this comes with a price, and that would be the boggling eyes of the local men. We are two savy travellers with our wits about us, but you do need to be careful in places like this.
We made a brief visit to the neighbouring twin towns of Calanguate and Candolim, which mostly attracts package holiday makers, and with this comes very little authenticity. We had gone out to dinner in Calanguate, in Goa, in India, and yet we genuinely could not find an Indian restaurant to eat in! French, English, Italian, Irish, Spanish, Chinese, German – but no Indian! We settled on an Asian restaurant that was the best of a bad bunch. Seriously, we’re in India and can’t find Indian food!
We stayed in The Nazri Resort, a large hotel centrally located to Tito’s Lane. Rooms were clean, there was a nice large pool, staff were attentive, and we were even upgraded to a super-sized penthouse room. I wouldn’t recommend Baga to anyone else thinking of visiting. If you are picturing perfect white sands, scrummy local dishes, and a restful stay, then look elsewhere as you definitely won’t find that here.
Best For – Partying, Cooking Classes and Shopping
Sitting within the curve of the bay, Palolem has had backpackers and expats flocking to it’s white sands for years, and it’s no surprise. The beach is predominantly lined with colourful beach huts and low rise bungalows that seep back into the palm trees, along with a scattering of water activity stands and market stalls too. The road adjacent to the beach is where you’ll find most of the market stalls, so make sure you venture down there too.
There is loads to do around here – anything from cooking classes to yoga, water sports to kayaking, and of course there’s great nightlife on Palolem beach too. Make sure you head over to Neptune’s Point for the weekly Silent Disco, which is not to be missed.
Our accommodation, Fern Gardenia (which looks to have been renamed as Stark Gardenia), had a number of small wooden eco bungalows set around a pretty lush pool with a swim up bar. The resort was lovely, and a great compromise to stay in Palolem, but just a short distance away from the busy beach, however on reflection we would have preferred to have been along the beach front and not dependant on tuk-tuk’s to travel back and forth from the resort to the beach.
Best For – Perfect white sands, amazing sunsets and relaxing
Literally the most perfect idyllic beach imaginable, and our favourite stop in Goa. The next beach along from Palolem, this was without a doubt my favourite spot along the coast. This wide, pristine beach with soft white sand, stretches 3km along the coast. Whilst there was accommodation and a few restaurants along the beachfront, there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of businesses that would overcrowd the beach.
Hawkers are not permitted on this beach, so this will be one of the most peaceful beaches you’ll find in Goa. Whilst the beach might be perfect, the waters aren’t always, so be careful at high tide when the surf can get a little rough. Other than that, sit back, relax, grab a cocktail and enjoy one of Agonda’s amazing sunsets. Don’t miss the turtle centre at the northern end of the beach.
We stayed at Agonda White Sands, a small hotel located at one end of the beach in a shady coconut grove. 12 detached cottages stand around the one main thatched restaurant / bar, each cottage built with an amazing outdoor bathroom allowing you to shower under a palm tree as the sun sets.