10 Best Sights in North Goa, Goa

Ashvem Beach

Fodor's choice

The white sands here are perfect for uninterrupted lazing. Sandwiched between Morjim and Mandrem beaches, Ashvem has a fair number of hippie beach shacks, but it still manages to hold onto its air of deserted idyll. Between September and February, this is a nesting spot for the olive ridley turtle, and you just might spot a few. No longer off the beaten track, the areas around the beach are now full of thatched beachside accommodations, like Yab Yum Resorts. And in season it's also home to some of Goa's best seasonal eating, notably at upscale La Plage. It's not as much of a destination for partyers as some of its neighboring beaches, and just a hop and a skip away from the beach are lush paddies and coconut groves. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: solitude; sunrise; sunset; swimming; walking.

Anjuna Beach

This is Goa's original hippie haven. Those full-moon parties, now so synonymous with this beach state, first happened on the sands of Anjuna in the 1960s, and even today this northern beach is home to modern-day flower children, international travelers keen on sampling some of that hippie stardust, and everyone looking for a party. It's definitely not one of Goa's most beautiful beaches, but the steady influx of people means that it's got restaurants and bars galore. Anjuna's busiest on Wednesday, when the famed weekly Anjuna Flea Market takes place. The water is safe for swimming and you'll find lots of sunbathers and souvenir vendors year-round. Amenities: food and drink; water sports; parking. Best for: partyers; sunset; swimming; walking.

Arambol Beach

Perfect for those keen on sampling a taste of the 1970s hippie trail, and still a favorite with Goa's free spirits, this lovely and rugged North Goan beach has long, wide swaths of clean sand and shallow water that's great for paddling. During the day it's quiet and relaxed, but come evening, the beachfront restaurants transform into informal nightlife venues, with some blasting music well into the night. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: parties; sunrise; sunset; swimming.

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Baga Beach

This long, narrow (at high tide) beach is one of Goa's most popular, and Baga is where you'll find nonstop action, cocktails around the clock, innumerable water-sports vendors, as well as some of North Goa's best-loved party spots like Tito's and Cavala (a short walk away from the beach). In the winter months this beach is filled with package tourists, so although you won't find peace at Baga, you will find everything else. Amenities: food and drink; water sports; lifeguards. Best for: partyers; sunset; windsurfing.

Calangute Beach

Crowded and sometimes dirty, particularly in the high season, Calangute Beach is the main destination for many package tourists in Goa. The rampant commercialization means that visitors can take their pick of activities, from water sports to shopping, but space and quiet are harder to find. The beach is accessible by concrete steps. There's a fairly strong undertow here, making swimming here dangerous. Amenities: food and drink; water sports; lifeguards. Best for: partyers; windsurfing.

Fort Aguada

Perched high on a hill, with wonderful views west across the Arabian Sea and east across Aquada Bay to Panaji, Fort Aguada was built in 1612 and named for the natural springs that supplied not only the fort but also passing ships. Surrounded by wild grass, the fort is in excellent condition. Inside, you can take a good look at the solid stone architecture and the old lighthouse. The fort's defenses actually enclosed a much larger area than the bastion at the top of the hill; a seaward bastion still juts into the Arabian Sea on Sinquerim Beach, near the Taj cluster of hotels. If you only have time for one of Goa's many forts, hit Aguada—it's the best preserved and most magnificent. Hire a taxi if time is a constraint; it's not an easy walk, as it's 4 km (2½ miles) south of Sinquerim Beach and at least half the way is a fairly steep uphill.

Mandrem Beach

This quiet hideaway in North Goa has the advantage of not being a popular destination on the tourist trail, which is why it's a top pick for honeymooners and for couples looking for a quiet getaway. There are a few beach shacks and the odd guesthouse in season, but you really have to make your own entertainment on this deserted stretch. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; sunset.

Morjim Beach

Best known as a home to olive ridley sea turtles, serene Morjim Beach is popular with those keen to see a nesting site of the species. Known to be quiet and peaceful, it is easy to see the attraction for these endangered marine creatures. In recent years, however, the village of Morjim has also become home to most of Goa's Russian expatriates, earning itself the title of "Little Russia," and this influx has brought with it a less peaceful atmosphere. Although the beach is still quiet during the day, it now has a thriving nightlife. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: swimming; walking; partyers.

Sinquerim Beach

Close to Panaji, Sinquerim is a quiet, well-kept beach and, with some of Goa's most expensive resorts in the area—including the Vivanta by Taj–Fort Aguada and the Taj Holiday Village—it tends to be a destination for well-heeled local tourists and older international travelers. Having said that, pockets of vendors and tourists can gather around some of the more populist beachfront hotels. Visitors can try their hand at water sports such as windsurfing and snorkeling, and while the water isn't crystal clear, it is clean and makes for a lovely afternoon of paddling about; consistent waves make for good bodysurfing. Amenities: lifeguards; water sports. Good for: snorkeling; sunrise; swimming.

Vagator Beach

The dark sands of Vagator Beach lead on from the red cliffs that line it. Vagator is popular with both local and foreign tourists; as a result, there are many vendors and stands catering to visitors, selling snacks, sliced local fruit, trinkets, and souvenirs. Plenty of bars and shacks are on hand to meet the needs of this mixed crowd, and in the high season most bars reverberate to the sounds of electronic music and reggae. Vagator's waters are choppier than some of North Goa's other beaches, which is why this beach isn't a top pick for swimmers. Amenities: food and drink; parking; toilets. Best for: sunset; partyers; walking.