Goa Guide — Beaches, Yoga Retreats and Wellness Resorts

Goa Guide — Beaches, Yoga Retreats and Wellness Resorts

By CarolUpdated Oct. 19, 2021

Goa is one of the smallest states in India and is well-known for its brilliant beaches, delicious seafood, and Portuguese heritage. Some of Goa’s best beaches include Querim, Arambol, and Sinquerim where travelers can indulge in many activities such as sunbathing, swimming, water-skiing, parasailing, fishing, and scuba diving.

Aside from its beaches, Goa is also famous for being a spiritual center and is a great place to calm your mind by trying yoga or traditional Ayurvedic treatments. There are several resorts in Goa that provide their guests with relaxing yoga sessions as well as spa and Ayurvedic treatments. Some of our favorites include Ashiyana and the Little Cove Yoga Holiday Retreat.

Highlights

  • Panaji is the capital and third largest city in Goa and is surrounded by green terraced hills that overlook the Mandovi River.
  • Old Goa was once one of the most populated places in the state before disease and epidemics forced people to move out during the 17th century.
  • Swimming, water-skiing, parasailing, fishing, and scuba diving are some of the activities available for travelers in Goa.
  • If you are interested in yoga or spa and Ayurvedic treatments, you can consider staying in resorts such as the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa and the Leela Goa.
  • The three main festivals celebrated in Goa are the Goa Carnival, Procession of All Saints, and the Feast of Three Kings.

Panaji: Goa’s capital

Panaji is the capital and third largest city in Goa. This city is a charming blend of modern and classic India surrounded by stunning views of green terraced hills that overlook the Mandovi River.

Originally, the city was called Panjim but it was officially known as Nova Goa by the Portuguese when it was the capital city of Old Goa. The city was then renamed Panaji by the Indian Government in the 1960s and has kept that name ever since.

With a population of only 115,000 people, Panaji feels like a charming small town and is full of Colonial-era buildings, churches, and temples. The narrow cobblestone streets of the city are best explored on a walking tour or by renting a bike.

The floating casinos and night cruises are some of the main attractions in Panaji. You can easily find them by following their bright neon signs that glitter along the Mandovi River.

Another popular place to go in the city is Miramar Beach. The clean and soft sand of this beach makes it the perfect place to hunt for seashells in the early morning or to go for a sunset walk in the evening.

Goa is famous for its incredible food and the city of Panaji is no exception. Some of the most famous restaurants in the city include The Fisherman’s Wharf, Ritz Classic, The Black Sheep Bistro, Wok and Roll, and Barrel and Bones.

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A Walk Through Old Goa

Old Goa is commonly referred to by its Portuguese name, Velha Goa, and is a deeply historic city that is located only 10 kilometers from Panaji.

Panaji was built in the 15th century by the rulers of the Bijapur Sultanate. Before it was taken over by the Portuguese, Old Goa was one of the most populated cities in Goa. Unfortunately, disease and epidemics forced people to move out during the 17th century.

Visiting this city today feels like exploring a time capsule as you walk through streets that are filled with Colonial-era churches, convents, monuments, and forts. The Church of St. Francis of Assisi is a beautiful abandoned church that was built in the 17th century and contains striking paintings and sculptures.

After exploring the streets of Old Goa, you can head to Carambolim Lake which is about two kilometers southeast of the old town. Carambolim is a man-made freshwater lake that was originally built to increase the irrigation of nearby fields. Now, it is home to several species of birds including egrets, ospreys, eagles, and India’s famous kingfishers.

Beaches in Goa

There are many beaches you can visit in Goa. Some of these beaches are perfect for people looking for a relaxing day full of sunbathing and some are perfect for people looking for an adventure.

 
Beach Location Features Preference Main Activities
Querimr Pernem, North Goa White sandy beach dotted with clear waters, tropical pine trees, and a few houses and beach shacks Honeymooners and people searching for solitude

Sunbathing and visiting the Tiracol Fort

Arambol Arambol, Goa Rocky and sandy beach with jungles on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other People looking for a peaceful vacation Visit Sweet Water Lake, go paragliding and dolphin watching
Anjuna Goa Between the bright blue water of the Arabian Sea and rolling hills Backpackers or budget travelers Jet skiing, paragliding, yoga classes, reiki, and Ayurvedic massages
Baga and Calangute Goa Encircled by palm and coconut trees People looking for an adventurous vacation Kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling, and waterskiing
Sinquerim Candolim, Goa Endless golden sand lined with lush greenery People looking for a peaceful vacation Waterskiing, parasailing, fishing, scuba diving, and windsurfing
Bogmalo Near Vasco da Gama, South Goa Surrounded by coconut palms and fishing villages Honeymooners and families Swimming, windsurfing, and waterskiing
Colva Goa Covered with fine powdered white sand and lined with palm trees People looking for an adventurous vacation Jet skiing, speed boat rides, snorkeling, swimming, banana boat rides, motorboat rides, and parasailing
Palolem Canacona, Goa Enclosed by a thick forest of palm trees For those who are active and adventurous Scuba diving, trekking, cruises on the backwaters, dolphin tours, and canoeing

Querim

Querim Beach, also known as Keri Beach, is a white-sand beach that is not as developed as other beaches in the area and offers a quiet and peaceful environment. This beach is great for couples, especially honeymooners, and those who are looking to escape the tourist areas of Goa.

This beach has tropical pine trees and clear waters with a few houses and shacks nearby. There are no major hotels near the beach, but accommodation can be found in guest houses and or in the homes of locals. The beach is also accessible by car from other parts of Goa.

The most popular activity on this beach is relaxing in the sun and if you want to you can join a cricket game with the local boys. From Querim, you can take a ferry to visit the nearby Tiracol Fort. While here, don’t miss out on famous local dishes including Fish Fry, Vindaloo, and Sorpotel.

Arambol

Away from the bustling tourist area of central Goa, Arambol Beach is among the best beaches and is relatively unexploited by commercial tourism. This beach is framed by jungle on one side and the sea on the other. The soft white sand and the clear waters of Arambol makes this the perfect place for sunbathing.

Sweet Water Lake is one of the main attractions in Arambol. The lake is located at the end of the beach and is accessible only by foot. Once you reach it, the shallow waters are wonderfully calm and fun to swim in.

The cliffs near the beaches are popular for paragliding and dolphin watching trips. There are also a few shops near the beach selling clothes, jewelry, and handicrafts. Tourists can stay in nearby resorts such as JP Resort, Nanu Resort, and Lotus Sutra.

Anjuna

Located 18 kilometers from Panaji, Anjuna Beach was once known as the hippie beach of Goa. Anjuna is surrounded by the bright blue water of the Arabian Sea and rolling hills making it a paradise for beach lovers.

People who love water sports can try out jet skiing and paragliding here. Yoga, reiki, and ayurvedic massages are some other activities visitors can enjoy at Anjuna.

Baga and Calangute

Calangute beach is one of the three most popular beaches in North Goa. It is the busiest and most commercial beach where kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling, and waterskiing are all offered.

Baga Beach starts right where Calangute ends. It is a bit less crowded and better developed than Calangute. Parasailing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, kite surfing, and jet ski rides are some of the popular water sports available here. For people who want to head out to sea, Dolphin spotting trips and island hopping trips are also available.

Sinquerim

Sinquerim is located on the north side of Baga beach and boasts endless golden beaches lined with lush greenery. This is one of the quieter beaches of North Goa and is the perfect place to swim, walk along the sandy shores, and enjoy the sea in all its beauty.

At Sinquerim, visitors can also enjoy water sports such as waterskiing, parasailing, fishing, scuba diving, and windsurfing. Next to the beach is a 400-year-old Portuguese fort which once defended Goa from the Dutch and Marathi invaders.

Some great resorts on this beach include Vivanta by Taj, Aguada Anchorage, and Seabreeze Sinquerim. There are also many restaurants in the area offering delicious food including Banyan Tree, Sweet Chilli, Earthen Oven, and Tuscany gardens.

Bogmalo

Located near the port city of Vasco in Goa, Bogmalo Beach is a perfect blend of commercialism and serenity. The beach is surrounded by palm trees and rustic fishing villages. It is a beautiful place to take a long walk with your loved ones or to swim in the Arabian Sea.

Bogmalo is often considered to be one of the safest and cleanest beaches in Goa. The most popular activities here are sunbathing and swimming. When you want to take a break from relaxing you can participate in some of the beach’s water sport activities such as windsurfing and waterskiing.

Colva

Colva Beach is one of the largest and most striking beaches in South Goa and is part of a long stretch of sand from Betalbatim in the north to Benaulim and Varca in the south. This beach is covered in fine white sand and lined with palm trees.

The main attraction at this beach is sunbathing, but while here you can also indulge in water sports such as jet skiing, speed boat rides, snorkeling, swimming, banana boat rides, motorboat rides, and parasailing.

Palolem

Located in South Goa and enclosed by a thick forest of coconut palms, Palolem is one of the area’s most picturesque beaches. The beach is shaped like a crescent moon, creating a small bay with calm waters and a quiet and relaxing environment.

Scuba diving, trekking, cruises on the backwaters, dolphin sighting tours, and canoeing are some of the activities offered here. This beach is also known for its nightlife and “silent discos” where everyone wears headphones and dances to different music.

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Yoga Retreats and Wellness Resorts in Goa

The best way to experience yoga, spa, and Ayurvedic treatments to help calm and rejuvenate the mind and body is to stay at a yoga retreat or wellness resort. These resorts are a great way to escape and just relax for a few days. They are also willing to cater to their customer’s dietary needs including making food that is vegan or gluten-free.

Name Location Features Treatments and activities
Ashiyana Junas Waddo, Mandrem, Goa Goa’s only self-cleaning swimming pool and a steam room Spa and Ayurvedic treatments, yoga, and meditation
Little Cove Yoga Holiday Retreat Little Cola Beach, Canacona, Goa Double beach-front cottages amidst coconut palm trees on a semi-private beach Yoga and Ayurvedic massages and treatments
Little Cove Yoga Holiday Retreat Little Cola Beach, Canacona, Goa Double beach-front cottages amidst coconut palm trees on a semi-private beach Yoga and Ayurvedic massages and treatments
Kranti Yoga Village Beach Resort Kranti Yoga Beach Resort House No 135 Patnem Beach, Canacona, Goa Situated right on the beach overlooking the Arabian Sea Structured and well-organized yoga classes
Bamboo Yoga Retreat Patnem Beach, Canacona, Goa Open-air yoga sessions are held with a view of Patnem beach Yoga, spa, and Ayurvedic treatments

Ashiyana, Mandrem

The Ashiyana Spa and Treatment Center offers luxury services with a unique mixture of informality and intimacy. Their facilities include a sauna and Goa’s only self-cleaning swimming pool. Meditation and contemplation sessions are held in the beautiful gardens around the pool.

This resort focuses on making their guests feel like family and wants visitors to experience a feeling of comfort and being at home. Here, people practice yoga, chant, and meditate together all while supporting one another and allowing each other space when it's needed

Little Cove Yoga Holiday Retreat

Little Cove Yoga Holiday Retreat is a breathtaking beach-front yoga resort that offers Ayurvedic massages and treatments as well as dolphin-watching and fishing trips. They also provide organic vegetarian Indian meals and hold complimentary cooking classes.

Customers will experience total relaxation when staying at this resort. In addition to Ayurvedic massages and treatments, guests can also enjoy the fully equipped beach-front cottages that are set amidst coconut palm trees on a semi-private beach overlooking the Arabian Sea.

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Kranti Yoga Village Beach Resort

Located in the very heart of Patnem, the Kranti Yoga Village Beach Resort provides yoga sessions in a vacation environment. All yoga classes are taught in a fun and progressive manner and allow time for visitors to take full advantage of staying in Goa.

Travelers who stay at Kranti Yoga Village will have a full yoga experience with courses that are structured and organized. Between classes, customers can head to the beach where they can enjoy swimming and maybe even dolphin spotting.

Bamboo Yoga Retreat, Patnem

Yoga at the Bamboo Yoga Retreat is done in two places, at Bamboo Beach and Bamboo River. At Bamboo Beach, Yoga sessions are held in open-air ocean shalas that provide views of Patnem Beach. At Bamboo River, yoga sessions are held spacious yoga shalas and eco-bungalows set on the bank of the Talpona River.

Here, yoga teachers with vast experience and expertise bring passion and knowledge to your classes. This resort allows customers to design a personalized program of treatments to work on their health and well-being.

Holiday Resorts in Goa

These holiday resorts in Goa are perfect for a family or honeymoon trip. They offer a peaceful and beautiful environment and deluxe facilities for their guests.

Name Location Features Activities
Taj Exotica Resort and Spa Calwaddo, Salcete, Benaulim, Goa The grounds contain over 56 acres of lush greenery and overlook the Arabian Sea Swimming, badminton, tennis, golf, and cricket
The Leela Goa Mobor Beach, Cavelossim, Goa Spread across 75 acres of beautiful land with freshwater lagoons and tastefully planned blocks of suites Spa, a golf course and a children’s club, multiple sporting facilities, bar and lounge, and two swimming pools
Alila Diwa 48/10, Adao Waddo, Majorda, Goa Located near train tracks and in a large green field

Infinity pool, spa, library, movie theater, gym, yoga studio, salon, and children’s section

Ahilya by the Sea 787 Nerul - Reis Magos Rd, Nerul, Goa A beachfront property shaded by palm trees and overlooking Coco Beach Two pools, deck chairs in relaxing nooks, a library, board games, and musical instruments
Coco Shambala Patrimonio, Nerul, Bardez, Goa A private retreat in the middle of a jungle-style garden tucked away on Coco Beach Swimming pool and a private therapy area in the garden offering massages, body wraps, facials, and traditional medicine treatments
Neemrana’s Arco Iris Noble Home House No 1384, Sinai Bagh, near Carmel Chapel & High School, Curtorim, Goa A 200-year-old restored Portuguese bungalow that is fairly removed from the typical tourist circuit Leisurely walks, bird watching, fishing in the lake, and exploring nearby historic and cultural sites
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Taj Exotica Resort and Spa

The Taj Exotica Resort and Spa is a five-star resort located in Benaulim on the southwest coast of Goa. This resort provides deluxe and luxury suites as well as villa rooms which are created with old-world architecture. This hotel also offers flower-lined patios and a sunshine-filled atrium.

Here, visitors can enjoy a wide range of sports facilities which are perfect for families including swimming, badminton, tennis, golf, and cricket. As for dining, the Lobster Village serves fresh and delicious seafood dishes and also offers breathtaking views of the ocean.

The Leela Goa

The Leela Goa is one of the oldest five-star resorts in the state. This resort offers 206 rooms which have a theme of calming earthy tones that can be seen in the woodwork, carpeting, auburn drapes, and crisp white bed linens. Every room is also fully equipped with television, telephones, a safe, ironing board, and a minibar.

The resort has an award-winning spa where customers can go to relax. Other facilities include a golf course, a children’s club, multiple sporting areas, a bar and lounge, and two swimming pools.

Alila Diwa

Located near train tracks and within a large green field, Alila Dawa is a five-star hotel that contains 153 spacious guestrooms and suites that are decorated to make customers feel that they are surrounded by tropical luxury. Each room has dark wood furniture, a balcony with outdoor seating, and a large tub.

The resort also offers an infinity pool that overlooks the green fields that are surrounded by a rim of coconut trees in the distance. The Edge Bar by the pool is a good spot to have a drink after a swim. Guests also can enjoy a spa, library, movie theater, gym, yoga studio, and children’s section.

Ahilya by the Sea

Just an hour’s drive from Goa’s Dabolim Airport, Ahilya by the Sea is a waterfront property that is shaded by coconut palms and overlooks Coco Beach. The resort has nine rooms that are spread across three elegant wooden villas.

Here, guests can enjoy the two pools, deck chairs, a library, and board games. For couples, a romantic candle-lit dinner under the stars with a selection of local and European dishes can be arranged.

Coco Shambala

Coco Shambhala is a private retreat that is located in the middle of a jungle garden that is tucked away behind Coco Beach. This resort has 4 private villas each with two bedrooms, a private jet pool, a well-stocked kitchen, and open living pavilions.

The cluster of villas is centered around the spacious swimming pool and surrounded by gardens and swaying palm trees. As for dining, two on-site chefs and a sommelier prepare lunch and dinner every day. The food here is created to showcase the best of Goan cuisine using fresh local produce and seafood.

Neemrana’s Arco Iris Noble Home

Neemrana’s Arco Iris Noble Home is a 200-year-old Portuguese restored bungalow that is removed from the typical tourist circuit and is ideal for those seeking a quiet cosey place to stay. The rooms here are large but comfortable with a bed, wooden cupboards, rocking chairs, and reading corners.

Guests can enjoy multiple cups of tea and coffee and hearty home-cooked meals here. The living area also has a large television and a very well-stocked library. If requested, leisurely walks, bird watching, fishing in the lake, or exploring nearby historic and cultural sights can be arranged by the host.

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Festivals and Events in Goa

The three major festivals celebrated in Goa are the Goa Carnival, Procession of all Saints, and Feast of Three Kings. All of these festivals are religious festivals and are celebrated in the streets with huge crowds, dancing, and music.

Goa Carnival

Goa Carnival was brought to India by the Portuguese in the 18th century. This festival marks a time of celebration before the month of Lent when many Goans will fast or abstain from eating meat.

During this festival, travelers can get in on the fun by joining the feasts, merrymaking in the streets, and drinking throughout the day. To celebrate this holiday, there is a parade full of beautiful floats and entertainers. The carnival ends with a grand performance of dancers every year.

Time: February or March

Procession of All Saints

Known as one of the most popular festivals in Goa, the Procession of All Saints is held annually in the Church of St. Andrew in Old Goa. Besides Rome, Goa is the only place where such processions are held.

This holiday takes place every year on the fifth Monday of Lent. During the celebrations, statues of 31 saints are carried on the shoulders of local devotees and are taken in a parade through the entire town.

Despite being a religious parade, the atmosphere is joyous and happy. In the evening the celebration is continued on the main road which is lined with stalls selling snacks, sweets, and toys.

Time: March

Feast of Three Kings

The Feast of Three Kings is celebrated to commemorate the coming of the Three Wisemen, to the stable where Baby Jesus was born.

This holiday is celebrated lavishly in three places in Goa including the Reis Magos Church at Verem, in the village of Chandor in South Goa, and at Our Lady of the Mount in Cansaulim.

During the ten days of this festival, there is continuous dance, music, and partying throughout Goa. On the last day of the festival, three small boys dress up as the three kings and are paraded through the streets on horseback.

Time: January 6th

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Goa weather and the best time to visit

Goa’s weather is warm throughout the year with average temperatures of about 28°C (82°F). Goa sees its highest temperatures in May and its lowest in January. Rainfall is at its highest in July, with a monthly average of 995 mm (39 inches).

October to January is the best time to visit Goa as the cool and dry weather makes it the perfect time to hit the beaches and participate in water sports. However, the state sees large crowds of tourists this time of year so travel expenses are often higher.

Mumbai to Goa

Flying is the best way to get from Mumbai to Goa. From Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport it takes 1½ hours to reach Goa's Dabolim Airport. Our favorite airline for this segment is Air India. There are 54 flights every day leaving from Mumbai to Goa and ticket prices start at US$ 60.

Another option to get from Mumbai to Goa is to go by train. The 12051 Jan Shatabdi Express operates every day and travels from Mumbai Dadar Central Station to Goa Thivim Railway Station. The trip takes about 7½ hours. Tickets for a seat in the executive car cost 3,110 rupees.

Explore Goa with Asia Highlights

Want to spend a few days basking in the sun and relaxing on one of Goa’s beautiful beaches? At Asia Highlights, our experts can help you plan the perfect trip to India. Whether you want to visit temples and palaces, eat great food, relax on the beach, or all of the above we can arrange everything for you so that you can focus on making your trip memorable and leave the stress of planning to us.

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