Beaches at a Glance (From North to South):
ARAMBOL This is Goa's northern-most beach in Pernem taluka. It has a few budget hotels and shacks and several lost foreigners in search of alternate living. However, its highlight is the pretty little Paliem Beach and a freshwater lake at the bottom of a hill. Swimming is advisable in the lake rather than the sea; and climb up the hill if you want to see astounding views.
MANDREM If you crave solitude, this is the beach for you. It has a quaint choice of resort and small hotels and dolphin spotting is a highlight here.
VAGATOR A broad white-sand beach with the ruins of the Chapora Fort. This is a favourite of hippies and backpackers you will get budget accommodation and many eating shacks catering to foreigners here.
ANJUNA This notorious beach is the hippie hotspot with rave parties, happening beach shacks and the famous Wednesday flea market where you can get second-hand imported clothes, and handicrafts from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Visit it for the thrills of nightlife.
BAGA This is the beach to stay at if you want to avoid the crowds of Calangute. You can also dip into the excitement of Anjuna and Vagator from here.
CALANGUTE The happening beach of Goa, you will find everything here - great food, shopping, entertainment and a wide choice of accommodation. But it's definitely the choice of the extrovert, and not the peace-loving soul.
CANDOLIM This beach offers you a wide variety of staying options and is a good base to explore the rest of Goa from.
AGUADA/SINQUERIM A beautiful, exclusive beach mainly known for the Taj luxury resorts.
MIRAMAR This is the seafront of Panaji city where you can drive along and admire the grand mansions, watch the sunset and have fast food.
DONA PAULA This small romantic beach is an ideal base for those who want to be near Panaji. It offers a variety of water sports as well as delicious seafood under the starry skies.
BOGMALO This is a peaceful beach conveniently close to the airport (2 km). You have a choice of accommodation, water sports and beach cafes, but all on the expensive side.
MAJORDA This is another exclusive beach dominated by a luxury resort.
COLVA This is Goa's longest beach (25 km) and the happening spot closest to Madgaon. You can wander away from the main tourist hub to explore secluded coves, fishing hamlets and coconut plantations. Again, you have a wide choice of accommodation, food and activities here.
BENAULIM This peaceful beach, 2 km south of Colva, has several small guesthouses, beachfront shacks and bars. It caters to the spillover from its larger neighbour.
VARCA Large and busy resorts now dominate this beach, once a fishing village. Check out the highs and lows from our ratings and make your choice with care.
PALOLEM Goa's southern-most beach this is secluded, peaceful and safe for swimming.
Parasailing: You are either launched from a boat or directly from the beach for a 3 to 5 minute thrilling aerial ride. You should be gutsy and comfortable with heights for this adventure sport. Landing on the beach can be a bit tricky and the operator has to handle it with expertise, so that you don't break a limb.
Jetskiing: is truly for speed junkies - make sure you have an instructor with you on the ski.
Speed boat rides: An enjoyable group activity - you can explore the coastline of Goa and spot a dolphin or two.
Banana rides: Fun activity for kids who are made to sit on an inflated rubber cylinder and tugged along by a boat over the waves.
Catamaran rides: Some fishermen will take you on a cruise in this traditional sea vessel.
Water-skiing: Needs a bit of training, after which this sport can be fun.
Wind-surfing: Needs a lot of training and skill.
Best Beaches for water sports: The entire stretch from Calangute to Sinquerem has many professional water-sports operators. Dona Paula, near Panjim specialises in these services. For a more peaceful location try Arossim and Mobor.