As promised, I am back with another installment of my Goa series. The first part can be found here.
Goa and its beaches are largely divided into two parts – the north and the south. The beaches in the north are considered to be more vibey with more pubs and party places while the southern beaches are known to be quiet and more relaxed. However, this is not always true. A lot depends on which beach you choose to visit and stay at. And there are more than a dozen to choose from!
When to go :
The best time to visit Goa is between November to March. The climate is cool and comfortable and the temperatures are moderate, making it ideal to spend more time on the beach without getting burnt! Personally, I avoid going to Goa in December as Christmas and New Year bring thousands of visitors to this beach state and it gets really busy and crowded. However, if it’s the parties you are headed for, then make sure to get your flights and hotels booked way in advance.
Mid-March to June is the low season as it gets really hot and humid. The only times you can safely walk on the beach is before 8am and after 6pm, once the sun sets. The rest of the day is better spent indoors. A lot of the trendy retsurants and cafes usually shut shop during this time as well.
July to October is one of my favourite times to be in Goa. This is when the monsoons hit Goa and the region is awash in beautiful colours. Everything is lush and green and the rains are beautiful to watch. The sea maybe too rough to swim, with fewer dining options available, but Goa has its own charm at this time. Its quiet and beautiful.
Where to go in North Goa
Beaches in this area stretch all the way from Fort Aguada (Sinquerim) upto to Arambol near the Maharashtra border., encompassing around 11 beaches in total. Here is a list of the quiet and unspoilt beaches of the north.
Candolim: despite its proximity to Calangute, which is one of the most crowded beaches in Goa, Candolim is quiet and clean. As with all beaches, there are a large number of beach shacks to choose from, with most serving fresh and yummy sea food. You can also take a nice leisurely stroll along the beach all the way upto Calangute and back.
Anjuna and Vagator: these two beaches are known more for their rave and trance parties than for their beaches, which are unusually rocky. Club 9 Bar and Hilltop in Vagator, and Curlies in Anjuna are some of the popular hippy party haunts. Some of the best sunsets can be viewed from these beaches.
Away from these beaches, if you were to move towards the hinterland, you will find a treasure trove of eateriers and cafes. In the last few years, a number of quirky restaurants have set up shop in Assagao and Siolim, and offer delectable food, set in charming surroundings. Places worth checking out are Gunpowder, Ciao Bella, Villa Blanche and Anand Bar & Restaurant (authentic local Goan fare).
Ashwem and Morjim: Further north of Anjuna, lie the secluded and tranquil beaches of Ashwem and Morjim. Narrow, winding roads make the drive to these beaches very pleasurable and the beaches themselves are quiet, with fewer tourists than the others. Morjim is also famous for the Olive Ridley turtles, the smallest of the sea turtles, that nest on this beach.
These beaches are less commercialised, with fewer shacks and hotels. Evenings are quiet as well and perfect for people looking for some peace and tranquility, away from the maddening crowds.
Arambol: A little ahead of Ashwem & Morjim, lies Arambol with its eclectic and hippie crowd! Most people come here to check out the market which sells some very quirky and bohemian stuff. The long sandy beach is beautiful and you can spend the day lazing on one of the beach beds with a book and cold beers.
Where to eat
There is no dearth of eating places in Goa, whether you are walking along the beach or along the streets inside; whether you choose to dine in one of the many five star hotels or a shack; Goa offers something to suit all budgets and all travellers.
Hundreds of beach shacks dot the numerous beaches and are the most popular dining options during the day, when people like to laze on the beach. Most serve the standard fare – fresh sea food (grilled or fried) with some Goan/Portuguese flavours thrown in. Its best to choose the one that looks slightly bigger, with clean and comfortable loungers or chairs. Its also fun to try a new shack everyday as its gives you a chance to find the best one.
Among the restaurants, recommending a place is very difficult as I find that Goa is in a constant state of flux. New eateries seem to come up every year, while old favourites lose their shine and disappear. It’s best to use TripAdvisor, Zomato or local guides for options.