The Goan capital is stacked around the sides with lush terraced hillside at the mouth of the Mandovi River, its skyline of slopping red-tiled roofs, whitewashed churches and small squares.
VAINGUINIUM BEACH/DONA PAULA
7 km south from the centre of Panaji, Vainquinim is known around the world for Cidade de Goa. The beach itself is secluded and quite pleasant. On its west is the Dona Paula area, a small, peaceful palm fringed beach backed by casuarinas groves. Little further east is the Raj Bhavan, the State Governor's House.
13 km north of Panaji. This is landmark beach of Goa tourism, due to the three luxurious beachfront Goa resorts of the Taj Group of Hotels and the seafront Fort Aguada that overlooks them. The firm sand on this 'exclusive' beach of Goa continues past Candolim and further north to the happening Goa beaches of Calangute and Baga. Watersports on offer are windsurfing, parasailing, jet skiing, water-skiing, scuba diving and sailing.
14 km north of Panaji. This beach of Goa is lesser developed than the adjoining Sinquerim and a favourite amongst the British travellers. Backed by dunes, this straight and long Goa beach is home to excellent beach shacks.
This huge 7 km sweep of sand is sometimes called the Queen of Goa. Till the mid 90s Calangute (along with the adjoining Baga) used to be the beach of Goa for hippies, which has changed since then, but Calangute still remains the most happening beach of Goa, and the most crowded. The beach is rock-free and offers good swimming (though beware of the sudden drop and seaward current in some parts).
This fishing village beach of Goa is the northern end of Calangute beach, south of Anjuna, the party beach of Goa. Compared to Calangute, it has more character, with its scenic beauty enhanced by the creek and the Retreat House perched on the hill. It's popular with those who love to use it as a base for water-sports and fishing in the area. At high tide the beach strip becomes very narrow, sandwiched-in by the shacks and fishing boats.
This is the party beach of Goa, and also the most visited. The beach itself is just about ok, but the backdrop and more importantly; the interesting group of pleasure seekers is what makes it perhaps the most charming beach of Goa. Moonlit nights are favourites to bring out the party animals, and parties dot the Goa beach-line here, all the way to Vagator. Anjuna is also famous for the Wednesday flea market, a landmark tradition of Goa tourism.
22 km north of Panaji. Just to the north of the party beach of Goa is a fascinating group of small Goa beaches, more salubrious and laidback than Anjuna. Relatively secluded, these are situated on the crescent shaped Caisua bay, along the Chapora river basin, in the shadow of the ruins of Chapora Fort. Vagator is one of the most beautiful beaches of Goa, laying on inviting sandy coves, between coconut palm shaded rocky headlands. Generally peaceful, in peak season it attracts day-trippers, and during the night typically boisterous Goa beach parties are a regular feature.