10 Best beaches in Goa

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 06.07.2023

Boasting a 105 km coastline — from spectacular 25km sweeps of impossibly soft sand to secluded palm-backed coves — it’s clear why Goa has attracted beach-loving travellers for centuries. That said, these days, the beaches of North Goa and those in the South deliver very different vibes, so you’ll want to choose your base wisely. To help you do exactly that, read on to find out about the best beaches in Goa. 

These are the 10 Best Beaches in Goa

Located halfway down India’s southwest coast, Goa has been a popular holiday destination since colonial times. Back in those days, troops used to travel here from across the country for a spot of R&R.

Skip forward to the twentieth century, and hippies first came to the region shortly after its “Liberation” in 1961. At this time, travellers fell in love with small fishing- and coconut-cultivation coastal villages.  By the nineties, the rave scene saw Goa's trance transformed into a fully-fledged musical genre, with crazy full-moon parties taking hold. 

These days, Goa attracts some two million tourists each winter, with budget air travel options making it a major package tour destination for Europeans. 

Planning a trip to India? Perhaps our local experts in India can kickstart your experience. 

Colorful bungalows on the tropical beach of Palolem, South Goa, India  © Dan Baciu/Shutterstock

Colorful bungalows on the tropical beach of Palolem, South Goa, India © Shutterstock

Best South Goa Beaches 

Backed by a lush band of coconut plantations and green hills, Goa’s south coast is fringed by some of the region’s finest beaches.  

Just arrived in the region? Benaulim, 6km west of the state’s second city, Margao, makes a great first base   The most traveller-friendly resort in the area, it stands right in the middle of a spectacular 25km stretch of pure white sand. Although increasingly carved up by Mumbai time-share companies, low-cost accommodation here remains plentiful and of a consistently high standard.  

In contrast, nearby Colva, is best avoided. It’s degenerated over the past decade, and is frequented by huge numbers of day-trippers. Meanwhile, in the far south, the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary affords a rare glimpse of unspoiled forest and its fauna. 

With the gradual spread of package tourism down the coast, Palolem, a ninety-minutedrive south of Margao along the main highway, is Goa’s most happening beach. Set against a backdrop of forest-cloaked hills, its bay is spectacular. That said, the crowds can feel overwhelming inhigh season. 

For a quieter scene, try Agonda, just up the coast, or Patnem, immediately south of Palolem.  Among the possible day-trips inland, a crop of Portuguese-era mansions at Chandor and Quepem are your best options. 

Not sure where to base yourself? Browse the best beaches in India for inspiration. 

The Saturday Night Market in Arpora © Shutterstock

Saturday Night Market in Arpora, Goa, inland of Anjuna beach © Shutterstock

#1 Palolem

Nowhere else in peninsular India conforms so splendidly to the archetypal image of a paradise beach as Palolem. This is, undoubtedly, one of the best beaches in Goa. 35km south of Margao, and lined with a swaying curtain of coconut palms, the bay forms a perfect curve of golden sand. This arches north from a giant pile of boulders to a spur of the Sahyadri Hills, and tapers into the sea draped in thick forest. 

That said, over the past decade, Palolem has developed into the most popular resort in Goa among independent foreign travellers. From late November, visitor numbers become positively overwhelming. But simply, Palolem in full swing is the kind of place you’ll either love at first sight, or want to escape as quickly as possible. If you’re in the latter category, try smaller, less frequented Patnem beach, a short walk south around the headland. More on that later.

How to get there by bus 

Regular buses run between Margao and Palolem, stopping at the end of the lane leading from the mainstreet to the beachfront. Frequent services also run between Margao and Karwar (in Karnataka) via the nearby market town of Canacona/Chaudi (every 30min; 2hr), 2km southeast across the rice fields. 

How to get there by bus 

Canacona/Chaudi is also the nearest railhead to Palolem. The station lies a short way north of the main bazaar. 

India, Goa, huts and palm trees at Palolem Beach

Palolem — one of the best beaches in South Goa © Shutterstock

#2 Colva beach, Benaulim

Scattered around coconut groves and paddy fields 7km west of Margao, the fishing village of Benaulim lies in the dead centre of Colva beach. It is breath-taking, particularly around sunset, when the brilliant white sand and surf reflect the changing colours to enchanting effect. While the settlement had barely made it onto the backpackers’ map two decades ago, today it attracts affluent holiday-makers from metropolitan India. 

At the same time, long-stay British pensioners and thirty-something European couples make up the bulk of the foreign contingent. While Benaulim’s rising popularity has slightly dented its charm, if you time your visit well (avoid Diwali and the Christmas peak season), it’s still hard to beat as a place to unwind. 

Beach aside, the seafood is superb, and accommodation and motorbikes are cheaper than anywhere else in the state. 

How to get there by bus

Buses from Margao run every 20min or so from the Kadamba bus stand to Benaulim's Maria Hall crossroads. To get the beach (1.5km west), there’s a taxi and auto-rickshaw rank at the crossroads.

How to get there motorbike or bicycle

Signs offering motorbikes forrent are dotted along the lanes off Maria Hall crossroads. If you're planning to continue further south, note that motor-bikes are much cheaper to rent here than in Palolem. 

Benaulim Beach, a popular destination in South Goa, India © Jim W Kasom/Shutterstock

Benaulim Beach, South Goa, India © Jim W Kasom/Shutterstock

#3 Agonda

10km northwest of the market town of Chaudi (known to outsiders as Canacona), Agonda comes as a pleasant surprise after the chaos elsewhere in Goa. The village deserves to be high on the list for travellers seeking somewhere quiet and wholesome. The surrounding hills and forest are exquisite, and the sand is super soft and clean.

In addition, Agonda offers enough amenities for a relaxing holiday and plenty of local atmosphere. Accommodation in this predominantly Catholic fishing village is in small-scale,family-run guesthouses and upper-end hut camps, with a largely easy-going, health-conscious clientele. Agonda beach is also known for its Olive Ridley Sea-Turtles.    

How to get there by bus 

Agonda is served by four daily buses from the nearest market town, Canacona/Chaudi (20–30min). Two run to Margao (2hr). Most services stop at the junction on the main Palolem road, 1km east. From here you can usually find a rickshaw for the trip into the village.

Sunset at Agonda beach in Goa © Shutterstock

Sunset at Agonda beach in Goa © Shutterstock

#4 Patnem

With a string of hut camps and shacks lining the beach, Patnem is one of the mellower spots in these parts. It's one of the best beaches in Goa. Curving 1km to a steep bluff, the beach is broad, and shelves quite steeply at certain phases of the tide. That said, the undertow rarely gets dangerously strong.  

Alongside soaking up the chilled vibes, visitors come here to enjoy the likes of yoga, reiki, pilates and massage classes. 

How to get there by train 

The nearest railway station is Canacona/Chaudi.

How to get there by bus

Patnem’s bus stop is 1km or so closer to Canacona/ Chaudi than Palolem. Buses start at the Kadamba bus stand at the north end of Chaudi’s bazaar and drop passengers at the end of the short lane leading to Patnem beach.

Another possibility is an auto-rickshaw from Canacona/Chaudi. Auto-rickshaws and taxis for the return trip hang around along the beachfront lane. 

Fishing boats kept in Patnem beach in Goa, India © Saurav022/Shutterstock

Patnem beach in Goa, India © Saurav022/Shutterstock

#5 Rajbag and beyond

To enjoy another kilometre-long sweep of white sand, at low tide, you can walk around the bottom of the steep-sided headland that divides Patnem from Rajbag. From there, you could press on further south by crossing the Talpona Rivervia a hand-paddled ferry. This usually has to be summoned from the far bank.

Once across, a short walk brings you to Talpona beach, which is beautifully backed by low dunes and a line of palms. From here, you can cross the headland at the end of the beach to reach Galjibag. This gorgeous remote white-sand bay is a protected nesting site for Olive ridley sea turtles. Note that a strong undertow renders it unsafe to swim.

How to get there by train 

The nearest railway station is Canacona/Chaudi.

How to get there by bus

Patnem’s bus stop is 1km or so closer to Canacona/ Chaudi than Palolem. Buses start at the Kadamba bus stand at the north end of Chaudi’s bazaar and drop passengers at the end of the short lane leading to Patnem beach.

Most beaches can also be reached by auto-rickshaw from Canacona/Chaudi.

Olive Ridley Turtle hatchling, (Lepidochelys Olivacea) Playa Coco, Nicaragua

Head to Galjibag to see Olive ridley turtles © Shutterstock

Best North Goa beaches

Markedly livelier and more nightlife oriented than the South, development in North Goa is concentrated behind the 7km strip of sand that stretches from Fort Aguada to Baga Creek. 

Just like the South, the Nort hosts some of the best beaches in Goa. Encompassing the resorts of Candolim, Calangute and Baga, this is Goa’s prime charter belt. As such, it’s an area most independent travellers choose to avoid. 

Since the advent of mass tourism in the 1980s, the alternative scene has drifted progressively north away from the sunbed strip to Anjuna and Vagator, which are among the area’s best beaches. 

Further north still, Arambol has thus far escaped any large-scale development.  

Aswem and Mandrem, just south of Arambol, are this stretch of coast’s hot tips. Though rapidly filling up, they’re still reasonably off-track.

#6 Morjim

Relatively isolated, the village of Morjim was where Goa’s first Russian tourists headed in the early noughties. These days, it tends to attract more of a mix of Brits and Indians than Russians.  

Morjim Beach itself is dramatic and well worth walking in the early morning, when you may see teams of fishermen hauling giant handnets from the surf. The spit at its southern end, opposite Chapora Fort, is also a great birding hot spot. In addition, cruising the Chapora River also affords good wildlife-watching opportunities. Back on the beach, this is another hotspot for Olive ridley turtles.  

How to get there by bus

Half a dozen buses a day skirt Morjim en route to Panjim, the first at 7 am. Heading the other way, you can pick up a direct bus from Panjim at 5 pm, with hourly services from Mapusa via Siolim after 11 am. They’ll drop you on the main road, a 5min walk from the beachfront area at Vithaldas Waddo.

Morjim beach, North Goa, India © Andrei Bortnikau/Shutterstock

Morjim Beach, North Goa, India © Andrei Bortnikau/Shutterstock

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#7 & #8 Calangute and Baga

The number one beach destination for Indian visitors, Calangute is unquestionably the state’s busiest resort. It also attracts huge numbers of Brits who come for the beautiful beach, busy bars and extremely lively nightlife. 

For a touch of tranquillity, the south end of the beach around Maddo Waddo is more mellow. Meanwhile, Baga is basically an extension of Calangute, though the scenery in the far north is more varied and picturesque. Overlooked by a rocky headland draped in vegetation, a small tidal river flows into the sea at the top of the village, where brightly coloured fishing boats are moored. 

Though this was still a small fishing village in the early 1990s, today the development is more like a small-scale resort on the Spanish costas. That said, beyond the rowdier bars, you’ll find a crop of excellent restaurants. 

How to get there by bus 

Buses from Mapusa (every 30min; 30min) and Panjim (every 15min; 45min) pull in at the market square in the centre of Calangute. Some continue to Baga, stopping at the crossroads behind the beach.

Calangute Beach in Goa © Shutterstock

Calangute Beach in Goa © Shutterstock

#9 Vagator

Barely a few kilometres of clifftops and parched grassland separate Anjuna from the southern fringes of Vagator.  Known as one of the best beaches in Goa.

Spread around a tangle of winding back lanes, it’s a more chilled, undeveloped resort that appeals, in the main, to southern European beach bums who return year after year.  With the red ramparts of Chapora fort looming above it, Vagator’s broad sandy beach — known as “Big Vagator” — is undeniably beautiful.  

That said, if you’re looking for a place to find peace, this isn’t it, being a prime stop for bus parties of domestic tourists. For more seclusion, head to the next beach south. Backed by a steep wall of crumbling palm-fringed laterite, Little (or “Ozran”) Vagator beach is actually a string of three contiguous coves. 

To reach them, you have to walk from where the buses park above Big Vagator. Alternatively, drive to the end of the lane running off the main Chapora–Anjuna road towards the Nine Bar.

From here, footpaths drop sharply down to a wide stretch of level white sand — look for the mopeds and bikes parked at the top of the cliff.  The southernmost – dubbed “Spaghetti Beach” – is the prettiest, with a string of well-established shacks. 

How to get there by bus

Buses from Panjim and Mapusa, 9km east, pull in every 15min or so at the crossroads on the far north eastern edge of Vagator. From here, it’s a 1km walk over the hilland down the other side to the beach.

Vagator beach in Goa, India © Shutterstock

Vagator Beach in Goa, India © Shutterstock

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#10 Mandrem

The last unspoiled stretch of the north Goan coast, Mandrem has — so far at least — held its own against developers. For the time being, nature still has the upper hand here. Mandrem is a splendid, largely empty beach that stretches north towards Arambo from the far side of the creek that bounds Aswem. 

Olive ridley marine turtles nest on the quietest patches, and you’re more than likely to catch a glimpse of one of the white-bellied fish eagles that live in the casuarina trees. 

How to get there by bus 

Connected by regular buses from Mapsua (9 daily; 1hr 30min), the market area at Madlamaz is easy to reach by public transport. Note that getting to the beach area is trickier as auto-rickshaws are few and far between, so ask your guesthouse or hut camp for help.

Resort huts on Mandrem beach in north Goa, India © saiko3p/Shutterstock

Resort huts on Mandrem beach in north Goa, India © saiko3p/Shutterstock

Where to go: North vs South Goa Beaches

In short, for extravagant nightlife and busy beaches with a party vibe, North Goa — especially Baga and Calangute — will be your cup of Goa chai. 

North Goa is also known for its shops and boutiques. Partying and splurging aside, you can also get your adventure on in North Goa. We’re talking the likes of paragliding, parasailing, kayaking, scuba diving and whooshing through the water on banana rides.

If, on the other hand, you’re seeking a more blissful beach experience, shimmy your way to South Goa. Its beaches are quieter, with a more away-from-it-all vibe, though you can still enjoy plenty of water sports, and top dolphin-watching trips. South Goa is also ideal if you want to mix a scenic beach break with some inland adventures, including jungle trekking. Or how about getting an awe-inspiring bird’s-eye view of the area on a hot-air balloon trip? 

In summary, North Goa’s beaches are best for party animals, while South Goa’s beaches suit travellers seeking some seclusion. 


Goa, India © Shutterstock

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Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 06.07.2023

Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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