Beaches in South Goa
Palolem beach is probably one of the most famous beaches of South Goa. At one time, Palolem beach was a quiet deserted place but in recent times it has become quite popular with tourists. In those days there were a few shacks and a couple of resorts but over time the place has blossomed and now there are numerous shacks, hotels, restaurants and shops dotting the entire stretch of the beach. However, despite the flurry of activities taking place here, this beach is quite an enjoyable place to be in. No wonder this beach is much preferred by the foreign crowd and at any point of time you can see a large number of foreigners milling about the place. The northern portion of the beach is a lot quieter than the southern part, hence if you want some peace of mind you can head out to the northern portion of Palolem beach. A shallow river bounds the northern portion of the beach during high tide and at low tides you can walk over to the island located in the midst of the river. The waters of this beach are good for swimming and sometimes you can also spot a dolphin or two cavorting in the waters.
Colva is a very famous beach of south Goa, almost the equivalent of Calangute beach in the north. At one time this was a very beautiful beach with white silvery sands and clean surroundings but rampant construction and over-exploitation of the area has dented its beauty. It is very close to Margao and that is the reason why people visit it in droves. Shacks and restaurants line the beach and hawkers make life miserable by their constant pestering, so if you are after a beach paradise this is not the place for you. But the place pulsates with life and activity and if you prefer a crowded beach with all the amenities, then Colva beach meets your expectations. The local fishermen frequent the beach for their trips out to sea and even use the beach for drying fish and nets. Hence, if you are looking for some atmosphere then this beach amply provides that. A tiny rivulet runs along the beach and merges in the sea. To reach the beach you have to cross a little bridge built across it. However, more often than not this place is littered with garbage and the stench that it emits is sure to turn one away.
Agonda beach is simply one of the best beaches of Goa. Wild and hugely romantic, Agonda beach encapsulates the beauty of Goa and shows what a beach should be like. While pine and casuarina trees frame the beach and give it a picture perfect look, a hillock on the southern end of the beach adds further to the beauty of the place. A climb to the top of the hillock offers one a glorious view of the sea and the countryside spread out below. The beach is a great nesting ground for Olive ridley turtles who visit here every September to lay eggs. There are many restaurants and souvenir shops lining the beach thus catering to every demand of tourists visiting the place. This beach is however not suitable for swimming as the surf here is quite rough and the beach also shelves very sharply at high tide. But this large beach is probably the best place for a long romantic walk or spending a lazy day under the trees as the Arabian Sea shimmers in the sun.
North of the popular Majorda beach is situated the not so popular Utorda beach. Located at a distance of 10 km from Margao, Utorda beach is however a nice place to spend a lazy day. Though not as popular as other beaches, Utorda beach has its own charm. The waters are perfect for swimming and this is what draws tourists to this beach. People planning to stay in the vicinity of Utorda beach will be disappointed as there are few options but there are plenty of hotels in Majorda and Colva which cater to every type of clientele. A couple of sand dunes are a prominent feature of this beach. As with Velsao and Arossim, here too, you can view the Zuari chemical plant which kind of spoils the scenic beauty but ignore that and you get long stretches of sand that slope gently towards the Arabian Sea. The approach to the beach is fairly interesting, where first you step over sandbags and then cross over to the beach by means of a shaky bridge.
Hollant beach which is situated at a distance of 7 kms from Vasco is quite a popular beach with tourists and residents alike. The water being shallow and there being no undercurrents, this beach is an ideal one for swimming and as a result is very popular with families. Many a times families can be seen enjoying themselves at this beach, but in spite of this, there doesn`t seem to be too much development in this part. This however is a good thing as it helps maintain the exclusivity of this place. A few shacks serve food and drinks but there are no big restaurants around. Further, there are no hotels but accommodation can be found in the houses and villas of friendly locals. The beach slopes down to the sea and during low tide the area of the beach increases considerably. Although this beach is well connected to the main road, still no buses ply this route. To reach here, you must travel on your own. Bogmalo beach and Cansaulim beaches are located nearby.
Located about 26 kms from Panaji, Velsao beach is a large but secluded beach located near the village of Cansaulim. The beach is quite famous with tourists for its soft sands that stretch on endlessly and the picturesque views of the sunsets that can be obtained at this place. The beach is dotted with numerous palm trees which further enhance the beauty of this place. There are numerous restaurants and beachside shacks that rustle up some awesome food. Accommodation options are limited at Velsao beach but if you head further on to Colva, Betalbatim or Arossim, you can get decent accommodation options. The path to the beach is very scenic as it winds its way through dense coconut groves where old bungalows slumber peacefully. The beach is never crowded as some of the beaches of north Goa and at the most you can find a few tourists and the occasional lifeguard who keeps a sharp eye on the proceedings. A drive through this stretch is extremely invigorating as one gets some lovely views of lush paddy fields, lakes and coconut groves stretching out to meet the sea.
Cabo de Rama Beach
Cabo de rama beach is one of the beautiful beaches of Goa. The waters here have a lovely greenish blue tinge. To the north of the beach is a small river which can be crossed on foot. Palm trees line the shoreline giving shade to people who turn up at the beach. Because of its remoteness from the city, this beach remains secluded and not many people visit it. Just behind the beach is a steep cliff with a flat top which can be reached by a series of steps. Inside the sea is a rock with a solitary tree growing on it. This rock can only be reached during low tide as the rest of the time it is surrounded by water on all sides. To the south of the beach is the cabo de rama fort which offers great views of the beach and the sea. This beach is safe for swimming but swimmers are warned to be careful as they might encounter sharp reefs. Plus the fact that there are no lifeguards on the beach means one has to be extra careful.
Majorda is a lovely beach located close to the city of Margao. Majorda beach is a hip and happening beach which comes after Palolem and Colva in terms of popularity with a young and happening crowd. There is a lot of significance attached to the beach and the town which also carries the same name. It is believed that when Lord Rama came in search of Sita he had stopped over at Cabo-de-Rama which lies near Majorda beach. Majorda is also famous for entirely different reasons. It was here that Jesuits had discovered toddy which was the best in Goa and which they used to bake their bread with. Even today, Majorda village holds the proud distinction of producing the best bakers of Goa since they learnt the art of baking bread directly from the Europeans. There are numerous shacks on the beach which serve delicious seafood specialties. As regards accommodation, there are resorts and hotels catering to both budget travelers and luxury seekers. The beach is known for hosting every year the popular Goa Christmas Carnival which is a huge hit both with the locals as well as tourists.
Situated to the north of Colva beach, Betalbatim beach is known for its golden sands and pristine surroundings. While most of the beaches in Goa are framed by palm trees, a unique feature of this beach is that there are pine trees in the background. Colva beach is quite a crowded beach what with the number of tourists thronging it and the numerous shacks that line it. Those tourists who prefer a relaxed experience generally move on to Betalbatim beach which is far peaceful as compared to its raucous neighbor. One can easily walk down from Colva to Betalbatim and tourists discover to their infinite pleasure that as they move away from Colva, not only the atmosphere gets quieter but also the sands become cleaner. This portion of the sea is frequented by many dolphins and for a price; fishermen can take you out to sea to view the dolphins from a closer angle. There are a few resorts in the vicinity of the beach and guests looking to spend a tranquil holiday should stay at Betalbatim for the serenity and tranquility that it offers visitors.
Just 3 kms from the city of Vasco lays the clean, beautiful and pristine Hansa beach. A long stretch of sand constitutes this beach but it is almost deserted as tourists are not allowed on this beach. Being located to some of the major naval installations in the region, Hansa beach is off limits for regular tourists and is open only to the family of navy professionals. The navy is responsible for the maintenance of the beach and regular cleaning by the navy has ensured that Hansa beach is able to maintain its pristine condition. Entry to the beach is possible only through INS Hansa Naval base which is located besides the Naval Aviation Museum.
Situated at a distance of 16 kms from the city of Margoa, Cansaulim is a lovely beach surrounded by swaying palm trees and boasting of clear pristine sands. Situated at the northernmost tip of Velsao beach, Cansaulim beach can be regarded an extension of Velsao beach. Vast stretches of sand give this beach a deserted and silent look. To the right of the beach, rising starkly from a hill can be seen the Zuari industrial estate. The long beach stretch comprises of Arossim, Velsao all the way till Mobor making it the second largest beach stretch in India. Buses ply regularly from Margao and Vasco to Cansaulim making for easy accessibility. Food options are aplenty at Colva and Majorda. There are plenty of accommodation options at Cansaulim. Day travelers can partake of food at the many beach shacks lining the beach which serve delicious homely food.
Situated between Utorda beach and Bogmalo beach, the Arossim beach is a long stretch of sand that comes within kissing distance of river Sal. Arossim beach is one of the most picturesque beaches of Goa surrounded as it is by swaying palm trees and the golden sands of the beach glistening under the sun. The blue waters of the ocean are in striking contrast to the golden sands of the beach. Little wooden boats moored on the beachside complete the picture perfect look of the beach. The beach is perfectly safe for swimming but tourists are advised to venture into the sea only during the non-monsoon months. From October to the middle of April, visitors can indulge in a host of water sports activities like jet skiing and parasailing. Apart from a single shack serving refreshments and a couple of sunbathers sunning themselves on the beach, there is not much activity on the beach thus giving it a deserted look. Buses from Margao and Vasco regularly stop at this beach.
Surrounded by hills on both sides, Baina beach is a large beach in the manner of a crescent. To the right of the beach lies Zuari Nagar where residential colonies are being built for factory workers. To its left is the Dabolim plateau which houses the dabolim airport. However, this beach is more famous or rather infamous for the reputation it once had of being the red light area of Goa. In 2004, the government demolished the flourishing prostitution trade. Though there are still prostitutes in the area, however, today things are much better and the beach is in a much better state. From Baina beach, one can view the bat island which is located about 1 km inside the sea. The island which rises out of the sea was once a popular tourist destination with visitors to the beach but recently this island has been taken over by the Navy thereby restricting entry for tourists. Baina beach is located 1 km from Vasco and buses regularly ply on this route making access to this beach very easy for tourists.
Mobor beach is a lovely beach located at the southernmost point of the Velsao beach stretch. It’s difficult to state exactly as to where Cavelossim beach ends and Mobor beach begins but as you move down you will find things becoming quieter until you reach Leela hotel which marks the boundary of mobor beach. Access to the beach is through this hotel and tourists often mistake it for being a private beach but in actuality this beach is open to all. Just opposite the beach is a road that which leads to the Sal river and the point where it meets the sea.
Varca beach that lies to the south of Benaulim beach is famous for its soft white sands and relaxing atmosphere. This endless white beach fringed by palm trees is the ideal place for relaxing and unwinding. Except for a few luxury resorts scattered here and there and the one-odd church there are not many buildings in the area. The fact that this beach is not frequented by hawkers means you can have the entire beach to yourself without any intrusion on your privacy. Certain activities you can indulge in when at Varca beach is going for fishing expeditions, dolphin sightseeing or even paragliding. You can reach the beach by taking a bus from Margao or arrange a private vehicle. A couple of restaurants and shacks are located on the beach which serve excellent seafood delicacies and Goan specialty food.
Save for a few shacks and a single lifeguard tower and a few fishing boats standing abandoned on the shore, Zalor beach is by far one of the cleanest and quietest beaches of Goa located next to Varca beach. Zalor beach is frequented by the local fishermen as it is a great place for fishing. To view the locals in action, you must head there early in the morning when you can get some live shots of these men in action. The area around the beach is a major center of catholic worship and therefore you can find numerous chapels and churches scattered across the beach. Zalor is a great place to be during the daytime when it is all quiet and peaceful but it is even better by moonlight when the entire beach takes on a surreal quality. At the beach entrance is the parking lot where you can park your vehicle and just near the parking lot is a restaurant cum bar which serves decent food. This beach may not be that popular with tourists, but if you prefer quite, undisturbed patches of sand then this is the place for you.
Consua beach, situated 7 kms from Margao is a pretty quiet beach that sees few travelers frequenting it. A unique feature of Consua beach is that while one half of the beach is lined with pine trees the other half has palm trees. Although the popularity of Consua beach is slightly overshadowed by its more famous neighbors - Colva and Majorda beach, still Consua has its own charms. The odd visitors who can be seen frequenting this beach can be seen lounging here on sunbeds or quietly riding bicycles. No buses travel to this beach; hence if you would really like to visit this beach, then you will have to arrange your own accommodation. Apart from a few shacks and a couple of tourists sunbathing, much of this beach remains empty and deserted. Those travelers who are in search of some peace and quiet can definitely visit Consua beach. Tourists can even walk down from Majorda beach to Consua beach as both of them are situated very near each other. The walk from Majorda beach towards Consua is quite pleasant as you get to encounter some interesting bird species on the way.
Grandmother’s Hole Beach
The Japanese garden beach also known as Grandmother’s Hole beach is a pristine little beach near Vasco about which few people are aware of. The beach derives its name from a cave located nearby. The beach consists of a tiny stretch of sand surrounded on both sides by hills. Located about 3 kms from Vasco city, the beach can be reached by public transportation. The entry to the beach is through the Japanese garden which is located among the cliffs. Unlike its name, however, there is nothing Japanese about this garden. The only thing that can be said about this garden though, is that it is quite clean as compared to other gardens. To reach the beach one has to take a flight of steps and along the way is a temple dedicated to Shree Durgamata Shiv. Save for a lone coconut vendor you won’t find any restaurants or food joints so if you plan to stay for a long time at this beach, you must get food and water with you. A few huts belonging to laborers are the only habitation nearby.
Situated at a distance of 31 kms from Margao, Kakolem beach is a small cove located to the south of Cabo de Rama beach. Kakolem beach ranks as one of the most beautiful as well as one of the most secluded beaches in Goa. Kakolem beach is as secluded as can be for no buses ply on this route. To visit this beach you must arrange your own transport. The area around the beach is also not well-developed. No proper roads lead to this beach; a tiny path serves as the only route to access this beach. After taking the tiny rugged path, you will have to descend quite a few steps to reach the beach. But once you reach it, you will be awed by the stillness and peacefulness of the place. Save for a house nearby, there is nothing around, making this, one of the special beaches in Goa. A small stream that runs down the side of the hillock to meet the sea makes for a very pleasant sight.