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It’s fair to say that Goa’s beaches are not top draw when it comes to having blue water and white sand, but what they do offer is a charm, character and an experience not found elsewhere in India. If you want a LOT more info on Goa then check out Deepti’s guide here.

Each beach in Goa offers travellers something different, from sandy shores to rocky cliffs, strong waves to calm seas. Here we are then, my top 5 beaches in Goa (in no particular order):



Situated in north-central Goa, this narrow beach has rocky cliffs and black, volcanic rocks and is frequented by European backpackers and Indians alike.

There are actually 2 sections to the beach: Little Vagator (or Ozran) Beach and Big (or North) Vagator Beach.

At one end of Little Vagator is an impressive carving of Lord Shiva, hewn from the rocks and still in good condition.

Vagator is known for its trance party culture (at Nine Bar and Primrose in particular) though it has slowed down significantly in recent years.

More laid back than its neighbours Anjuna and especially Baga, Vagator offers a range of food and accommodation options, complemented by palm trees silhouetted against stunning, golden sunsets.

For swimmers, Vagator has a slightly choppy sea, making it good for wakeboarding but bad for drunk tourists.


Ashwem / Mandrem

Still one of the few beaches in north Goa to have escaped the tourist masses, with some small, chilled-out hotels and restaurants, though these seem to be increasing and getting busier year-on-year.

A creek runs parallel to the beach and swells up during high tide making access tricky in parts, though there are plenty of access points off the road and through the restaurants.

The long stretch of golden sand  here makes it a great place to enjoy an early morning or evening run, a game of cricket or just a long stroll (50 mins if you go all the way up to Arambol).

The sea is fairly calm and has a gradual decline for at least 50 metres making it a good spot for swimmers, just watch out for a few small hidden rocks at high tide.



A pristine, relatively undeveloped beach in Canacona, south Goa, lined with budget beach shacks and bamboo huts.

This is a place mainly for backpackers but still great for a day visit and especially pleasant early in the morning when you can see the local village fishermen bringing in their catch.

The beach is crescent shaped and quite small, stretching for just 1km and known for its silent parties.

Catch the sunset in the evenings, when murmurs of conversation float from beach shacks on the gentle breeze.


Baga / Calungute

For most tourists, a trip to Goa is incomplete without visiting both these popular beaches, which connect to each other and form one long stretch that must be the most populated tourist spot in the state.

There are lots of cheap hotels, restaurants, clubs and pubs, and in the daytime the beach is covered with beach chairs and sun-loungers.

Baga hosts a great many watersports providers – jet-skiing, para-sailing and so on – and the gradually sloping sands make it ideal for swimmers.



Mostly surrounded by luxury resorts, this beach has managed to remain untouched and does not get frequented by hawkers.

Not being a part of the commercial circuit has helped Varca remain beautiful and untouched; there are a few beach shacks and local vendors but the sands remain pristine.

There is limited water sports activity and there is no real nightlife here other than at the resorts and casinos nearby.

Dolphin-viewing trips start from Varca.

Read more tips on Goa in Deepti’s guide to Goa here