An international tourist destination, Goa is fondly called the fun capital of India. A small state in Western India and lying in the Konkan region of the Western Ghats, this place is blessed with exotic biodiversity. From beaches to places of religious significance and to flea markets; Goa has it all. Every aspect of this party hub effuses the attributes of a perfect tourist destination.
Bestowed with moderate climate, the weather in Goa is another major attraction for being salubrious for most times of the year. Live entertainment on the beach, at shacks and on docked ships are perennial features. Music and merriment are a part and parcel of everyday existence.
Some of the best beaches to visit in Goa:
1. Baga Beach
One of the most sought after beaches in India, Baga Beach is the centre of tourist attraction in Goa. Situated in North Goa, pleasant ambience, scenic views of the shoreline and plenitude of things to do makes this fishing village one of the finest places to visit in Goa. On any visit to this sandy retreat, you can witness innumerable fishing boats docked by the shoreline.
Unlike most of the Goan beaches, Baga is secluded from the outside world. Well, this has contributed a lot to its charm and appeal of this beach. Salubrious atmosphere all through the year, the quiet and calm atmosphere, plenty of water activities and the beach shacks on this holiday destination entices visitors from different parts of the world.
Amongst all the activities, dolphin spotting, parasailing, banana boat rides and sun-basking are highly enjoyed at this beach. Though you can visit this sandy paradise at any point of the year, November to March is considered as the ideal time to make it to the Baga Beach.
2. Aguada Beach
Known for its Aguada Fort, Aguada Beach is among the places to visit in Goa. The seashore is positioned in North Goa and is perfect to bask in beachy allures. This destination stands apart with the many historical attractions. It also allures with pristine landscape and the background of ancient citadels. Thanks to the great settings, the beach is also a favourite among honeymoon goers.
3. Arambol Beach
Permeating a distinct bohemian vibe, Arambol Beach is said to be the most beautiful in the state. It lies on the north of Keri Beach and south of Mandrem Beach. This is also a traditional fisherman hamlet.
The sandy shore is considered safe for swimming and hence attracts several family goers. It also lures many foreigners especially during the months from November to March. The accommodation provided is simple in the form of homestays and beach shacks and relatively cheaper. Over here, one can indulge in adventure sports such as paragliding and kite surfing. Those who are interested can also avail of courses in yoga, meditation, Odissi Dance and more.
4. Palolem Beach
Placed in Canacona, Goa Palolem beach offers serene and soothing allures. The beauty of the shore lies in it being mostly untampered. People who reside here include fishermen and foreign tourists.
Such is the exquisiteness of this beach that it was featured in The Bourne Supremacy as the Goan home of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). Each season, bamboo-hut stays and restaurants are opened up by the beach for travellers to get a true experience of the sun, sand and sea.
5. Calangute Beach
One of the captivating tourist places in Goa, Calangute Beach is constantly bustling with tourists looking for some relaxed and good times. It is located about 15 kilometers from Panaji. The largest beach in north Goa, this place especially gets flooded during winter and summer months. There are several accommodations available here. This is where one can dabble with some water sports such as parasailing and water skiing. With Baga Beach just a hop, skip away, you can reel in some vibrant nightlife too.
6. Butterfly Beach
A delightful little sandy cove north of Palolem Beach, Butterfly Beach beckons with silver sands and lucid waters. Not accessible by road, you would have to embark upon a trek of around 2 hours through woody areas to get here. You can even take a ferry ride from Palolem Beach to reach this place. Needless to say, the beach is not crowded. The hills and thick vegetation fringing the sands further add to the allure. It is among the offbeat places to visit in Goa.
Famous islands in Goa:
7. Bats Island
Also referred to as The Pequeno Island, the Bat Island is ideal for adventure seekers. About a kilometre from Baina Beach of Vasco-da-Gama, the delight has a little beach and tiny green stretch. This is where one can enjoy snorkelling or simply spend a lazy day soaking up the charms of the setting.
With snorkelling, you might be able to get a glimpse of star coral, brain coral, sea fans, sea whips, parrot fish, angel fish, squirrel fish, butterfly fish, sea cucumbers and many other denizens of the water world.
8. Divar Island
Lesser known than its famous counterparts, Divar Island is huddled away across the Mandovi River. At this place, you can unravel the appeals of old Goa countryside. Enjoy a pictorial drive amidst paddy hills and woody hillocks. The place was once popular among Hindu pilgrims where several ancient temples existed. They were destroyed by the Portuguese and the main Ganesh idol had to be replaced in Khandola hamlet near Marcel.
When at the hilltop, you can soak in sweeping sights of the surroundings as well as Old Goa and meandering Mandovi River. The island especially comes alive during the Bonderam festival that is held with great gusto during the monsoon.
Historical places in Goa:
9. Bom Jesus Basilica
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the oldest churches in the country, the church of Bom Jesus Basilica was formally consecrated in 1605 and is amongst the top places to see in Goa. This church is considered to be one of the finest representations of Baroque architecture. An important pilgrimage for the Christians, it is here where the body St. Francis Xavier is kept. Aging over several centuries, the mortal remains of his body are still preserved at this church – an astonishing fact indeed.
Located near Gandhi Circle, Old Goa Road, Velha Goa, the best time of the day to visit is 9:00AM to 6:30PM on all days; except Sundays when the church opens at 10 am. Every day mass is held from 7:00AM to 8:00AM. The Sunday mass is held from 8:00AM to 9:15AM. Whether an architecture enthusiasts or a history worm, amongst all the best places to visit in Goa, this ancient landmark with all its glories, will surely keep you stunned!
10. Fort Aguada
This fort is amongst the many preserved places to see in Goa and essays an era of yore filled with events. A Portuguese fort overlooking the Sinquerim Beach and the Arabian Sea, Fort Aguada was constructed in 1613 and since then it has become a prominent landmark or a reference point for ships visiting the Goan shores from Europe.
Apart from being of navigational assistance, this fort was also of strategic importance for the Portuguese as centuries ago, it added to the defense line of the Portuguese from the Dutch and Marathas. Located in the Candolim Beach, Goa, and at the shore of the Mandolim River, it remains open on all days of the week from nine in the morning to six thirty in the evening. In addition, even one can have many more best happening things to do in Goa during the visit with family and friends.