Beach hopping in Goa: The best beaches, restaurants and boutique hotels

02.08.17

Goa is one of the most popular tourist spots in India, and for good reason. Beautiful beaches, a friendly-laid back hospitality, warm sunshine during the northern hemisphere’s winter months and delicious food. It’s no longer the hippy-paradise it used to be: many of the beaches in the centre of the state have succumbed to mass-tourism and are crowded and over developed. So, we think it’s best to head to either to the far north or south of Goa to find those beaches that you’ve been dreaming about. We spent a happy week or so working our way down from the north to the south with a few stops along the way for good measure...


Doris and Dicky Best Beaches In Goa Mandrem

Doris and Dicky Best Beaches In Goa Mandrem 2

1. Mandrem

Starting at one of the most northern beaches, our first day was spent wandering the shores of Mandrem - a long, wide beach with a decidedly mellow vibe. The beach here is effectively an island – separated by a small lagoon to the back – so you’ll need to cross one of the small rickety bamboo bridges unless you want to wade across. There are huts spread out along the beachfront, with plenty of little bars and restaurants along with loungers and a couple of good yoga places too.

 

Doris and Dicky Best Beaches In Goa Aswem

Doris and Dicky Best Beaches In Goa Aswem La Plage

2. Asvem

Wandering south the next beach along from Mandrem, past a small rocky headland is Asvem. Another pretty beach – Asvem is the slightly quieter cousin to Mandrem. There’s a cluster of beautiful beach-hut hotels set amongst the palm groves at the northern end of the beach and a short walk down from here you’ll get to the popular La Plage restaurant - which pulls off a Goa-meets-balearics vibe with flowing fabrics, paper lanterns and delicious food. The menu offers a mix of Indian and European dishes – vegetable tempura and biriyani were particularly delicious.

 

3. Anjuna and Vagator

Anjuna and neighbouring village Vagator were the original beating heart of Goa’s 1960’s hippie scene. Today the vibe is less-idyllic - with considerable development and the implementation of strict controls which limit all night raves on the beach. It’s not as chilled out as Aswem here, but the beaches and coastline are pretty and there are some fun bars and cafes to visit. There’s also a thriving flea market at Anjuna each Wednesday (October to April) where you can pick up everything from spices to textiles.

If you fancy a stay inland during your visit to north Goa then the bustling village of Siolim could be a option. There’s not a huge amount going on in the village itself – there’s a large whitewashed church and a bustling village market. But the great benefit of Siolim is its location – more or less equidistant from Mandrem, Aswem, Anjuna and Vagator (each about 15-minutes' drive). It’s also about 20-minutes' from Mapusa – where we spent a morning wandering through the huge local market.

 

Doris and Dicky Best Beaches In Goa Palolem

Doris and Dicky Best Beaches In Goa Palolem 2

4. Palolem

Heading to Southern Goa, we decided to stop off a couple of times on the way. Old Goa is probably the most impressive historical site on Goa – having been the home of the Portugese during their colonisation of Goa from 1510 to 1835. Today the only remains are a series of huge, restored churches – which offer a fascinating glimpse into Portugese life in Goa. It’s a very popular spot with tourists, so we’d recommend getting there early to try and avoid the crowds.

About 2 hours' drive south from here you’ll reach Palolem – one of the most beautiful beaches in Goa. South Goa is calmer and, in general, less developed than the north - that being said, Palolem has seriously grown in popularity over the last few years with rows of huts built up all along the beachfront. The sea is generally calm here and you can’t walk more than 25 metres without being offered a paddleboard, kayak or boat trip and the sunsets are rather special. Given the restrictions on late night music in Goa, Palolem has developed a rather innovative “silent disco” scene – which means you can enjoy raving to the tunes of your choice.

If you feel like a trip inland, then then spice farms are worth a visit. Located about 30 minutes by car – [details]

 

Doris and Dicky Best Beaches In Goa Agonda 2 

Doris and Dicky Best Beaches In Goa Agonda Fatimas

5. Agonda

A little further north of Palolem is the beautiful stretch of beach at Agonda. Probably our favourite beach in Goa, it has the feel of Palolem before it hit the big time. Huts roll out along the beach but the vibe is certainly more chilled and there are far fewer people about though a few more cows. There are some great yoga and Ayurvedic massage places to choose from and some excellent restaurants. We particularly loved the local favourite Fatimas (pictured) which makes up for its less impressive location (opposite the ATM) with delicious, well priced Goan dishes and very friendly service.

Doris and Dicky Best Beaches In Goa Agonda Boat Trip

We took a fishing boat out one evening and enjoyed a swim in the deep green waters in neighbouring Butterfly Bay before following a school of dolphins on our way back home. If you’re keen to explore a little further there are mopeds for rent on the main strip for about £5 per day. We drove along the beautiful 20km or so stretch of road to the north of Agonda – stopping first at the charming Cola Beach and then onto Cabo to Rama, where there’s an old fort and small church. If you fancy lunch – the pop into VA at Cabo de Rama – it’s built into the cliff, with uninterrupted views out over the sea.

 

Where to stay in Goa

Anahata Retreat, Ashvem – Beachside huts, set amongst the palm trees with yoga lessons and a great restaurant.

Casa Colvale, Bardez - Recently renovated riverside villa set well away from the crowds.

Mariposa Beach Grove, Agonda – Dreamy beachside huts with views out over the beautiful Agonda beach.

Siolim House, Siolim – Charming hotel set in a restored heritage property, with an inland village location ideal for exploring Goa’s beaches and beyond.

 

Getting to Goa

Goa Dabolim Airport is set around 25km southwest of the area's capital near Vasco di Gama. Whilst direct flights are available, most pass via Mumbai. If you are arriving in Goa by train, the main entry point is Madgaon Junction which is set around 35km south of Panjim.

 

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