India’s Sunshine State is a small destination with a big personality. Goa is India’s top holiday spot, and it’s easy to see why. Made up of a string of palm-fringed beaches along the Arabian Sea, lined with casual beach shacks serving up fresh seafood and cold beverages, Goa is a place where you can laze on a sunbed with a book, head out on a kayak or paddle board, or try a round of parasailing. Whether you’re an active or a relaxed traveler, these are the best beaches in Goa where there really is something for everyone.
With a long, wide stretch of white sand, calm waters, plenty of dining options as well as water sports, Benaulim in South Goa is a beach everyone can enjoy. There are casual spots with sun beds and cocktails, lively places where you can dance after sundown, plus a whole host of dining options serving up Goan classics and global eats. If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, jet ski rentals and paragliding operators are happy to set you up. Benaulim is definitely not as quiet as other South Goa beaches, but there’s ample space and privacy to still have that relaxed Goa vibe.
The star of South Goa, Palolem is a quiet two-kilometer stretch of sand framed by coconut palms and brightly-colored beach huts. This picturesque beach is best for swimming, sunbathing, and kayaking adventures on the water. A handful of low-key shacks pop up along the waterfront during high season, offering Goan curries and drinks that you can sip on a sun bed in the sand. Boats regularly head out on the water on dolphin-watching tours, so you can join in for a chance to spot these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.
Laid-back Arambol is the northernmost of Goa’s popular beaches, with an alternative vibe best experienced at its beach shacks and cafes. Live music, community workshops, and healing therapies can all be found along this stretch of sand, along with impromptu drum circles and poi artists. Sign up for a surfing lesson, take a yoga class, or just sit back on the sand and enjoy Arambol’s creative vibe. Along its northern edges, Sweet Lake is an alternative and off-the-radar swimming hole shrouded amidst coconut palms and low hills.
On the northern end of Goa’s coastline, Anjuna was once the haunt of backpacking hippies and long-staying travelers in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Though the hippie trail is long gone, Anjuna still retains its bohemian vibe, with a string of cool cafes serving vegan eats and beach shacks playing trance music. Anjuna is best known for its relaxed, come-as-you-are spirit. You’ll find yoga shalas and experimental therapies, independent design stores, the famous Anjuna Flea Market on Wednesdays, and a lively party scene that extends well into the wee hours of the morning.
Just north of Anjuna, Vagator Beach is defined by dramatic red cliffs rising against the swirling Arabian Sea. The beach is divided into two sections: North Vagator and Little Vagator. Both offer relaxed, palm-fringed strips of sand to take in the sunset. By day, Vagator is a quiet spot for chill lunches with sea views. As the sun lowers, sleek bars and high-end restaurants dotting the cliff draw a hip crowd in search of sundowners and experimental cuisine, while lively party spots like HillTop pulsate through the night.
Mandrem & Ashvem
North Goa beaches may be loud and busy, but there are quiet pockets with fewer shacks and more privacy too. Ashwem and Mandrem are two adjacent beaches that offer a more peaceful vibe. Soft white sands are perfect to stretch out on, the calm waters are ideal for a dip, and there are some sunbeds and shacks where you can grab a juice or a salad—not to mention ample opportunities to treat yourself to a foot massage. You’ll find boutique stays tucked into the greenery, a peaceful creek at Mandrem, plus a surf and SUP school for some active adventures.
Baga & Calangute
The adjoining beaches of Baga and Calangute are undoubtedly Goa’s most popular beaches. With long uninterrupted stretches of sand, gentle waves, and palm-fringed shores, it’s no surprise these spots are known to get crowded. You’ll find beach shacks and trendy restaurants, laid-back bars, all-night party spots, water sports, and sun beds in this vibrant area, plus a whole range of accommodations and shops in the narrow lanes leading up to the beach.
This low-key beach is a clean and quiet spot to take in a slice of local life. Pack a picnic, stretch out on the sand, and watch fishermen haul in their daily catch. The more adventurous can also sign up for a kayaking trip in Bambolim, where you’ll either wind through backwaters in a dense mangrove forest or head out into the sea at golden hour.
While South Goa beaches draw tourists with their golden sands and tranquil vibes, those in search of serious quiet time head further afield. Patnem remains low-key, with a handful of beach shacks for food and drinks, plus bamboo huts on the sand to stay in. Head to Patnem to laze, swim, eat, and be away from the crowds. You’ll find yoga retreats, experimental eateries, and design shops tucked away in the lanes behind the beach.
Close enough to Baga and Calangute to be in on the action and yet just far enough to retain that susegad Goa vibe, Candolim in North Goa offers the best of both worlds. The beach is wide and relaxed, with plenty of shacks for seafood and western classics alongside the usualwater sports offerings. Go slightly inland and the leafy streets are lined with hip cafes churning out cold brews and wood-fired pizza. Nearby Fort Aguada abutting the sea is a historic Portuguese-era site from the 1600s, so you can add a touch of history to your Goa beach itinerary.