North Goa Beaches and Beyond – Everything You Need to Know
A detailed guide to the beaches of North Goa. You think North Goa is full? Yes, it is full but only if you visit the likes of Anjuna, Baga, Candolim and Calangute areas. Those who wander beyond these beaches will fall in love with this wonderland. Yes, I have visited South Goa also and just like North, there are some crowded as well as empty beaches.
Goa will always hold a special place in my heart. The vibes, the people, the energy, the beauty, the food, and even the roads – there is magic in everything here. Goa is not a city but it’s a state (province) and it’s massive! No matter how many times I visit, I always end up discovering a new spot here. Yes, I love Goa.
As Goa Gil once said “Goa is not a place, Goa is a state of mind.” I’m in Goa state of mind right now, hence I have decided to write this guide. To make things easy for you, this guide is ONLY about North Goa, i.e., the top half of Goa. You can find information about North Goa’s beaches, including some hidden spots that only a few people will want to tell you about. Keep an eye on my website for a detailed guide about South Goa too!
The beaches of Candolim, Calangute and Baga are the most popular beaches in North Goa but I discourage my readers to visit them. Why? Because they are crowded and dirty. Moreover, they have an un-Goa-like vibe. (Yup, I’m a Goa snob)
Oh and if you’re wondering how I know Goa so well, it’s because I have visited it close to 20 times and San & I am now living here. We love this place so much that we decided to move here for a few months.
For your benefit, I will divide North Goa in 5 zones –
- Zone 1 – from Terekhol to Kalacha Beach
- Zone 2 – from Arambol Beach to Chapora River
- Zone 3 – from Chapora Fort to Anjuna Beach
- Zone 4 – Baga river to Fort Aguada
- Zone 5 – Nerul river to Dona Paula beach and beyond
- Where to go after Goa:
Here is a list of North Goa beaches starting from extreme North to South:
Zone 1 – from Terekhol to Kalacha Beach
This zone starts from Terekhol River, which is at Goa – Maharastra border. The end point of this zone is at Kalacha Beach. These beaches are secluded and are perfect for spending an entire day if not more.
01 | Keri Beach (or Querim beach)
Querim beach, also known as Keri beach is on the North most tip of Goa and is quieter than even the so called quiet beaches of Goa. This is on Maharashtra – Goa border which is separated by Terekhol River.
The beach is of course beautiful but for me, it was the drive from Arambol to Keri which was special. There are many spots where one can stop to appreciate the beauty. In fact, there is two points on this way where you can see an amazing view from a higher level.
The best part: At the entry of this beach, there is Ajoba temple. This temple is round, colorful and looks very psychedelic. Many people claim that there is a small tunnel through the hilly cliffs which will take you to the other side, but I have never seen it. If you find such a tunnel, then please let me know.
What to do at Querim beach / Keri Beach: Explore the rock formations. If you’re lucky, you will find a little cave. Hop on a ferry boat to visit the nearby Fort Terekhol (or Fort Tiracol) and enjoy the excellent views.
Recommended places to stay in Querim / Tiracol:
02 | Kalacha Beach
Perhaps my favorite beach in this list, it cannot be reached by a road. It can only be reached by walking from Arambol beach and crossing the market area along the cliffs. It is possible to paraglide here.
The best part: It has a sweet water lake opposite the beach where it’s a pleasure to swim. This lake is commonly known as the “sweet lake”. Even though it is technically opposite Kalcha beach, the lake is commonly known as “Arambol Sweet lake“. I think it’s beautiful! Where else will you find a beach and a lake that’s walking distance from each other?
What to do around Kalacha beach: If you walk from the sweet lake to the direction of the jungle along the stream, you will find a few spots where it’s possible to take a mud bath. As you walk further, you will reach an old Banyan tree. Under this tree a baba sits who lives here during winter months.
Zone 2 – from Arambol Beach to Chapora River
This zone has a few hippie villages, yoga communities and artists from all over the world who call this place their home. Find a place to stay on these beaches so that you’re away from the main crowd but not too far from night life.
03 | Arambol Beach
Arambol village is a little disconnected from most of the North Goa, because of it has maintained its low key charm. Many people say that the hippies who came to Goa back in the 1960s and 1970s all moved to Arambol village from their original place – Anjuna.
This village has evolved into a self-sufficient are where you can find almost anything. Finding budget accommodation here is never a problem and I have never seen a resort here. This beach is much bigger than the nearby Kalcha beach and has plenty of shacks where you can chill over a pint of King’s beer.
It is usual to see a musician or two on the beach making music around the as the sun sets. Arambol has a very active Yoga community with multiple workshops. So if you like keeping fit while traveling, Arambol is the place for you!
The best part: Arambol has the most interesting street market where you can buy a variety of things for a bargain. The narrow lanes of Arambol will give you sensory overload because the shops have everything – spices, bed sheets, lamps, clothes, jewelry – sab kuch milega!
What to do in Arambol: Walk around on Arambol village’s inside lanes and visit some interesting cafes (or bars). Visit the beach during sunset and watch the famous Arambol Drum Circle and beach market. Walk from the northern end of Arambol beach to enter Kalacha beach and to the famous “sweet lake”.
Recommended places to stay on Arambol Beach and around:
Hostels in Arambol
04 | Mandrem Beach
This beach can be accessed crossing a small bridge to over a narrow canal. This beach is beautiful but strangely not many people visit it. Compared to the nearby beaches, this beach has very few shacks which is what makes it so special.
The best part: There is a cliff opposite this beach across the road which offers a good view. Climb on this cliff for a spectacular sunset experience.
What do do in Mandrem: Sit at the End of The World beach shack and enjoy the view.
Recommended places to stay in Mandrem:
05 | Ashwem Beach
Ashwem is perhaps the most scenic beach of Goa because of the river flows into the sea dividing this beach into two. It is not as crowded as Arambol or Anjuna, but has a lot more shacks as compared to the nearby Mandrem beach.
The best part: Depending upon the weather, the river forms a shallow fresh water lake and a small sand spit on the extreme right side. This sand spit and a little river island appears or reappears depending on the tide and the weather.
What to do on Ashwem beach: try to get inside the lake or the river if you can. It’s fun!
Recommended places to stay in Ashwem –
06 | Morjim
Morjim is the best and the cleanest beach of North Goa. This beach has a sandy triangular area with waves on two different directions. During low season, this beach is usually empty but I have seen a few kite surfers here when the season is high.
The best part: This beach has an area that is dedicated for nesting Olive Riddley turtles.
What to do on Morjim beach: Swim. This beach is perfect for a swim and is clean so enjoy your time in water here or just kitesurf! Drive around Morjim and explore the nearby village – Siolem. Siolem village is very green and it’s always easy to find a few family run restaurants here where you can eat a delicious fish curry thali.
Recommended places to stay on Morjim Beach:
Hostels in Morjim:
Places to party in Morjim: Tesso Waterfront and Marbella Beach are two famous clubs in this area. Both of them play Techno music.
Zone 3 – from Chapora Fort to Anjuna Beach
This is the party area of Goa where it’s possible to find a good PsyTrance party every day. From underground psychedelic parties to commercial techno parties – this area has it all. Moreover, you will also find some of the best restaurants of North Goa here. Although it gets crowded during the peak season here but if you know your way around, you will surely find many empty areas.
07 | Big Vagator
Unlike most of Goa beaches, this beach can be accessed by climbing down a cliff. This beach is rocky beach and is frequently visited by cows.
The best part: This beach is divided in a few small parts because of the rocks. Some people call the first part “Chapora beach”. The bigger part is called Big Vagator, which will further lead you to the next beach in this list.
What to do on Vagator beach: Vagator beach is next to Chapora fort which offers stunning views of this beach on one side and Siolim river on the other side. Visit this fort around sunset to make the most of it. Moreover, it’s a 2-minute climb which can be painful if the sun is strong (mid day) or can be pleasant as the sun begins to set.
Recommended places to stay in Vagator:
Naked Space Boutique Hotel: High end – Read reviews on TripAdvisor
Hostels in Vagator:
08 | Small Vagator or Ozran Beach
Small Vagator is a tiny beach as the name suggests. This beach is perfect for watching sunsets as you sit on the rocks and sip Kings beer. This is my favorite place to stay in Goa during mid season. I highly recommend you stay at Cochichos Resort if you’re looking for a place to stay in this area.
The best part: As you walk along the end of Ozran beach, you will notice a carving of Lord Shiva’s face on one of the rocks. This carving was done in the 1990s by an Italian traveler.
What to do in Vagator: Vagator has some of the best bars and party areas of Goa. Try to attend a typical old school Goa trance party in 9 bar or Hill top.
Recommended places to stay on Ozran Beach: The best is Cochichos Resort but it gets sold out very soon. Ozran and Vagator beaches are together, so I have combined the hotel / hostel list. Please refer to the recommended places to stay in Vagator.
09 | Anjuna Beach
While Anjuna area is good for parties, the beach is bad for a swim because it’s very rocky and the water doesn’t feel clean. At the end of this beach, you will find Curlies shack which is perhaps the most famous shack in all of Goa.
The best part: The best part of Anjuna is not the beach, it’s the back lanes! While most of the beaches have straight back lanes where it’s easy to keep a track of the direction, Anjuna’s roads are more like a maze. There is one straight road which has a few ATMs and a hated Domino’s pizza point which goes to the beach and connects to a many other small streets.
What to do in Anjuna: Back in the 1960s and 70s, many hippies visited Goa and did not leave. Anjuna was their home and they often sold their belongings on the streets. Soon artists from all over India joined them and started selling their handicrafts. This is how Anjuna Flea Market started and has evolved over the years. It’s a must visit for any traveler.
Also, Anjuna is famous for its parties so check out places like Curlies, Shiva Valley, UV Bar or Pirate bar (it was earlier known as “Hippie bar”) for a psytrance beach party that usually goes on till early morning. If you’re not into psytrance, you may want to check out Liliput cafe.
Places to stay in Anjuna:
Hostels in Anjuna:
Bollywood Backyard Hostel: Read reviews on TripAdvisor
Zone 4 – Baga river to Fort Aguada
This is perhaps the most crowded part of Goa. These beaches are frequently visited by Indian families. Sadly, this part of Goa gets more visitors than it can handle, which is evident from the amount of traffic jams that one has to bear.
These beaches are connected and you can reach from one to another by just walking on the sand. Please don’t completely write off this part of Goa because of my post. If you visit Goa during low season, then I recommend you make a day visit to this part of Goa to visit some famous restaurants and Fort Aguada.
These beaches also have many water-sport options available, such as jet ski, banana boat, para sailing, etc. Of course by now you know that this is my least favorite part of Goa and I don’t recommend you visit this are if you’re visiting Goa during peak season.
10 | Baga Beach
This beach is very popular among young Indians. This beach starts at Baga river and ends at Calangute beach. The beach is dotted with many beach bars and shacks. The most famous restaurant in this area is Bittos. If you visit, do try their seafood platter, which is surprisingly affordable for the amount and quality. One of the most famous street of Goa is here and is called “Tito’s lane” which has been named after the famous nightclubs of this area – Club Tito’s. Other party areas are Club Mambos and LoungeFly.
Things to do in Baga: Visit the nearby village – Arpora. The location of Goa’s famous “Saturday Night Market” in Arpora. This market is a lot of fun to visit because of live music, performances, good food and of course a fantastic market. Saturday night bazaar takes place on Saturday nights from November to February every year.
Places to Party in Baga: Club Cabana in Arpora where there is a ladies night every Wednesday and it’s an open bar with unlimited drinks for women. Men can pay INR 1000 to enter and also drink unlimited drinks. Other party places are Club Tito’s, Mambos and LoungeFly.
11 | Calangute Beach
Perhaps the most crowded beach of Goa, this beach will offer you sights of families fully clothed and in water. You will also spot many newly wedded couples wherein women are inside the water wearing expensive gold jewelry and high heels. This beach is what I had in my mind when I wrote this post about what not to wear on the beach.
Recommended restaurant: Souza Lobo
Recommended place to stay: None. Please do yourself a favor and don’t stay here.
12 | Candolim Beach
Candolim is one of the better beaches in this zone. It is definitely not as crowded as the above two beaches and if you’re lucky, you may find yourself a decent shack with good reggae music and King’s beer. This beach is frequently visited by retired English couples and you will find that most of the bars play “The Beatles”. In fact, the first time I ever saw a beach in my life was Candolim!
Recommended Restaurants: Bob’s Inn, Santana Beach Shack, Bob Marley Beach Shack.
13 | Sinquerim Beach
This beach is further south of Candolim and is home to a few high end resorts, including the famous Taj. This is the most peaceful beach of zone 4 and has only 2-3 beach bars (shacks). Do visit the nearby Fort Aguada while you are here. Right next to Fort Aguada is Central Jail of Aguada, Goa.
Zone 5 – Nerul river to Dona Paula beach and beyond
This zone is the remaining part of North Goa which is beyond Fort Aguada. It has some of the smaller beaches of North Goa. This part of Goa gets fewer visitors as compared to zones 3 and 4. It is mostly inhabited by locals with fewer accommodation options for visitors. I have limited knowledge of these beaches but here you go:
14 | Coco Beach
This is a small and rocky beach with almost nothing on it except a place that you can rent on AirBnB called Ahilya by the Sea. This little property is new but it’s already a favorite of travel writers from Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and India Today.
15 | Miramar Beach
I have visited this beach only once with a local. I like how things are affordable on this beach because it is frequently visited only by the local Goans. I ate a memorable meal of sorpotel (Goan pork delicacy) in a local restaurant near the beach called De Silva’s.
On the way to Miramar beach from Panjim road, there are many river side casinos where you can try your luck. As you drive on this road, you will notice a row of casinos next to Mandovi river. One casino that stands out is Casino Royale.
16 | Dona Paula Beach
This beach is on a triangular part of Goa, so can be called a peninsula with a smaller Dias beach on the other side. A jetty connects to a spot in the middle which is called
“Dona Paula viewpoint”.
17 | Bambolim Beach
Perhaps it was Grand Hyatt North Goa which put this beach on the map for most of the non Goans. They say it’s easy to find oyster shells here. Let me know if you ever find any!
18 | Siridao Beach
This is a long strip of fishing beach that is divided in a few parts by rocks. At the extreme south corner is a Chapel of Jesus Nazareth.
Where to go after Goa:
South Goa can be reached by a scooter, car or a bus. Travel time can be anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending on how far you want to go. Watch out for my guide to South Goa’s beaches which will be published soon.
Hampi can be reached by an overnight bus from Goa or an early morning train. Hampi is a unique destination with ruins of an ancient civilization and weird geology which will make you feel like you’re a part of Star Wars movie. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. Read my guide to Hampi here.
A little beyond South Goa is a hippie destination called Gokarna, which can be reached by a 3 hour train ride or car ride from Goa. Gokarna is famous for its “OM” beach, which is in the shape of ॐ (Om). Watch out for my guide to Gokarna which will be published soon.
Have you been to North Goa already and have a few tips to add? Let me know in the comments section. If you enjoyed reading this guide to North Goa beaches and beyond, please share it with your friends on Facebook.
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