Lying on the west coast, Goa is one of the smallest states in India known for its brilliant beaches, scrumptious food and Portuguese heritage. Panjim, the capital city located in the centre is well-connected with an international airport and roads and trains run from North to South part of Goa.
With a coastline stretching for over 100 kilometres, Goa has numerous beaches that attract millions of visitors. While Baga and Calangute are more popular among the Indian family crowd, Anjuna and Arambol draw a lot of foreign tourists. The beaches in South Goa are relatively lesser explored, but some of them like Agonda and Palolem are more beautiful.
A former Portuguese colony, Goa also boasts of beautiful architecture from the colonial era with many churches and old-style bungalows. The people are quite friendly towards tourists and celebrate many festivals throughout the year. While the seafood is excellent, Goa has one of the best nightlife in the country with trendy bars, beach shacks, elegant cafes and many clubs and discotheques. Thanks to lower alcohol prices in the state, Goa is also great for younger tourists with relatively tighter pockets.
Situated 15 km from Panjim, Calangute Beach is the longest beach in North Goa, stretching from Candolim to Baga. Due to its sheer size and popularity, it is a hub for tourists and backpackers from all over the world.
Popular as the “Queen of Beaches”, the Calangute Beach of Goa is among the top ten bathing beaches in the world. Being one of the busiest and most commercial beaches of Goa, it is swarming with eating joints, shacks and clubs serving cocktails, beer and seafood. The Calangute Beach is also known for its water sports activities like parasailing, water surfing, banana ride and jet-skiing. While the days here are filled with beach fun, nights call for upbeat parties and letting your hair down. Calangute is also popular for staying in Goa as it keeps you well-connected to the other beaches in the north such as Baga, Anjuna, Candolim, Aguada and many more.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
The Basilica of Bom Jesus church is one of a kind in India and is known for its exemplary baroque architecture. Built in the year 1594 and consecrated in 1605, the building of this church coincides with the beginning of Christianity in India. The church is located in Old Goa in Bainguinim about 10 km away from Panjim. The oldest church in Goa, Basilica of Bom Jesus holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier, a special friend of St. Ignatius Loyola with whom he founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Even after 400 years, the remains are in a good condition and are taken out once every decade. A site with rich cultural and religious significance, the Basilica of Bom Jesus has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Literally translating to ‘Holy Jesus’, the basilica of Bom Jesus is the only church in Old Goa that is not been plastered on the outside. The facade of the church has a triangular roofing which is delicately carved with the initials ‘IHS’, which is an abbreviation for Jesuit emblem meaning ‘Jesus, Saviour of Men’. Inside, the floor of this church is made of marble mosaic with precious stones, giving it a solemn appearance. The interior is embellished with a screen that runs from the floor to the ceiling and has the image of St. Ignatius Loyola protecting an infant Jesus. Above all is the image of the Holy Trinity, which is the most sacred symbol in Christianity. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is over 408 years old and is open to the public every day.
Water Sports in Goa
Water Sports in Goa have always seen its fare share of excited tourists and adventure seekers. The beach capital of India enjoys a long and uninterrupted coastline with relatively calmer waves and even sea floors. While water sports in Goa can be enjoyed at any one of the beaches in the north or the south, they are more popular and draw huge crowds at Baga, Calangute, Benaulim, Candolim, and nearby beaches. While here, you can choose from a number of water sports activities such as kneeboarding, kite surfing, snorkelling, parasailing & paragliding, diving, kayaking and many more. If you prefer so, you can engage in your preferred activities through quite a few vendors of these water sports on the beach. Alternately, you can also engage in your favorite activities through a number of licensed water sports package operators such as Atlantis Water Sports, Aqua Sports Goa etc. The cost of these packages ranges between INR 2000 to 4000 or more, based on the activities chosen.
You need not worry about being a pro at adventure and having a lot of training or experience because water sports in Goa have been devised to cater to every traveller’s need. You can be a complete newbie and still experience the adventure of a lifetime, or you can be a pro and yet manage to get the most fun out of these experiences. There are numerous water sports operators in Baga, Calangute, Benaulim and Colva beaches. Try paragliding in Anjuna or Arambol beach.
Fort Aguada is an epitome of Portuguese architecture built in the 17th century. Its lighthouse and the fort itself have braved the ravages of time and stand like silent sentinels on the Sinquerim Beach, approximately 18 km from Panjim. Built-in 1612 as a protection from Dutch and Marathas, it was the most prized and crucial fort for the Portuguese and covers the entire peninsula at the southwestern tip of Bardez. The view from the fort is breathtaking as it overlooks the confluence of Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea.
The fort is so named after the Portuguese Word for water i.e. ‘Agua’ and used to be a replenishing source of freshwater for sailors. In fact, it has the capacity to hold 2,376,000 gallons of water and was one of the biggest freshwater reservoirs of Asia.
Fort Aguada has also been used as Aguada jail. A statue in front of the jail salutes the freedom fighters, giving the fort a touch of patriotism.
One of the most popular beaches in North Goa, Baga Beach is located close to Calangute beach, around 30 Km North of Panaji. It is so named after the ‘Baga creek’ which flows into the Arabian Sea. Baga is the perfect destination for you if you wish to witness the excellent nightlife of Goa as signature places such as Britto’s, Tito’s and Mambos have made their mark in their hearts of party-goers. The shacks come to life in the late evening with some pumping music and mouthwatering food.
It is also famous for its designer stores as well as its street-side markets where you can shop till your feet ache and your wallet grumbles! Being one of the most visited beaches in the North, Baga also has a vast range of water sports that you can try your hands at. Grab a sumptuous breakfast at Infantaria – a highly recommended eatery, relax by the beach all day, and in the evening let the party animal in you come alive – it’s all possible at Baga Beach. Baga Beach is considered to be the extension of Calangute Beach itself since both of these lies on the same stretch of the shore.
Lined with an array of tattoo parlours, tarot shops, palmistry shops, spas, sun decks and some legendary shacks, it gives you a chance to live out your perfect beach holiday. If you are not a party person, you also have the option of starting your mornings with some beach Yoga, having a nutritious breakfast by the sea, and then just spend the day reading quietly on beach recliner. There is something for every kind of traveller in Baga!