My stay in Goa remains incomplete without a visit to the beaches (but obviously). Here is my favorite list of top 10 North Goa beaches.
My first spot was Miramar beach, a kilometer away from Dona Paula. As I was approaching the soft sand of Miramar beach (that also houses memorial to Goa's first CM), I saw a Goan brotherhood beach statue. Miramar beach has been hosting the colourful Kite festival since the past three years. I missed it!
How to reach: Miramar beach is just 3kms from Panaji, which is 30 kms from Dabolim airport. Karmali, 15 kms away from Miramar beach is the nearest railway station. You can also get down at Thivim, which is 26 kms away from Miramar beach.
The bustling Calangute beach was next, which is known for its array of restaurants, clubs and watersports. I was stunned by the Calangute beach market that houses numerous handicraft shops from different parts of the world, including India. Calangute beach is preferred by families and though visitors avoid it during July to September, locals believe it is best during monsoons.
How to reach: Take a bus or a taxi from Panaji and a cab from airport to reach Calangute beach. It may burn a hole in your pocket, but why worry if you are vacationing? If you are coming by train, get down at Karmali or Thivim. There are also bike services called ‘pilots’, but you got to bargain with them.
If you are a nightlife person (unlike me), head to Baga beach, which is next to Calangute beach. I went there in the evening for which I could visit the Arpora night market. Though not a shopaholic, I was bowled over by the almost rare collection. Baga beach is also known for Tito’s, a tiny one-room club that runs from 10 pm to 3 am.
How to reach: Calangute beach and Baga beach are just a kilometer away from each other. Hence one can follow the same route as mentioned for Calangute beach. Café Mombo’s or Tito’s are the two reference points.
Clean, less crowded, adjacent to Taj Vivanta and an awesome view from the Aguada fort, Sinquerim Beach is ideal for an introvert traveller, like me. Safe for children, the Sinquerim beach shacks are all so well maintained. Keeping the magnificent 17th century fort at the backdrop, I had opted for the well-arranged two-hour Sinquerim Beach dolphins watching trip.
How to reach: Sinquerim beach, located some 13 kms from Panaji, is in the same line as Calangute beach and Baga beach. If you are visiting during Christmas or New Year, ensure you have your vehicles booked.
Heard of the famous electronic music extravaganza Sunburn? Vagator beach, the red-cliffed beach hosts that. Divided into three parts - Big Vagator, Little Vagator and Ozran, Vagator beach is famous for Chapora Dil Chahta Hai Fort. I also came across several fresh water springs in Vagator beach that are hard to find.
How to reach: I took a bus from Mapusa to reach Vagator beach. Buses are available from Panaji as well. Karmali or Thivim can be your choice of train stations. From airport, the directions remain the same.
So many couples, is what I thought when I reached Anjuna beach. They were all atop the mysterious rock formations in Anjuna beach for clicking pictures. Anjuna beach is known for Wednesday Flea Market (just lap up the Goan apparel, funky jewelry, mementos there) and water sports. DO NOT miss the Anjuna beach full moon trance party and Shiva valley.
How to reach: Buses from Mapusa or Panaji or hire autos, bikes and taxis are available to reach Anjuna beach. Karmali (again) is the nearest station.
A not-so-popular beach, Ashwem beach is serenity redefined. I loved it as I could hog on some beach food at one of the famous beach shacks. The rocky Ashwem beach is ideal for yoga and surfing.
How to reach: Ashwem beach is 45 minutes ahead of Calangute beach and since not many visit there, bus services would be sparse. Car, autos, bikes, etc are always available though. If you are driving, you have to reach Chopdem panchayat and drive for 2 kms before you can reach Ashwem beach.
Care to catch some endangered Olive ridley sea turtle? Morjim beach offers those. Noted for a sizeable Russian presence, Morjim beach in Goa is counted as one of the desolate beaches. September is the nesting period for the Morjim beach turtles, so do not go that time.
How to reach: Take a cab from Thivim on sharing basis or a bus to Mapusa or then another bus to Morjim. Pernem station is also close, but the connectivity is sparse.
Infamous for its nudity, Arambol beach hippies has made a permanent spot in Goa’s map and heart. Strikingly, Arambol beach in Goa has 34 yoga training centers. The Arambol beach freshwater lake is a must-go place.
How to reach: Arambol beach is an hour’s drive from the airport. Nearest station is Pernem, but prefer Margaon or Vasco-da-Gama. You can also avail bus services from either Panaji or Mapusa.
After all the tiring travel, I wanted some therapy. I went to Mandrem beach, famous for its beach restaurants, spirituality and meditation. I hit one of the Mandrem beach Ayurveda centers, got rejuvenated and told bye to Goa.
How to reach: If you are visiting Arambol beach or Ashwem beach, you can just take a boat for Mandrem beach. For train stations, opt for Madgaon.