The predominantly Catholic fishing village of Benaulim lies in the dead centre of Colva beach, scattered around the coconut groves and paddy fields, 7km west of Margao. Two decades ago, the settlement had barely made it onto the backpackers’ map. Nowadays, though, affluent holiday-makers from metropolitan India come here in droves, staying in the huge resort and time-share complexes mushrooming on the outskirts, while long-staying, heavy-drinking Brit pensioners and thirty-something European couples taking time out of trips around the Subcontinent make up the bulk of the foreign contingent.
Benaulim’s rising popularity has certainly dented the village’s old-world charm, but time your visit well (avoiding Diwali and the Christmas peak season), and it is still hard to beat as a place to unwind. The seafood is superb, accommodation and motorbikes cheaper than anywhere else in the state, and the beach is breathtaking, particularly around sunset, when the brilliant white sand and churning surf reflect the changing colours to magical effect. Shelving away almost to Cabo da Rama on the horizon, it is also lined with Goa’s largest, and most colourfully decorated, fleet of wooden outriggers, which provide welcome shade during the heat of the day.