With holidays to Calangute, you get to see North Goa at full tilt. There’s a busy beach and high-octane watersports, plus a great shopping scene on the doorstep.
One of north Goa’s most popular – and busiest – places, Calangute is anything but a wallflower. It earned its stripes as a hippy hangout in the Sixties, with freethinkers drawn to its golden sands. Since then, it’s been primped and spruced to within an inch of its life and now ticks off shops, restaurants, beach shacks, bars and watersports operating at full-throttle.
The beach here is wide and roomy, stretching mile after mile from Candolim in the south to Baga further north. The sands are scored with makeshift shacks and bars serving affordable eats and drinks, and the watersports attract a young crowd. The sea can get a bit choppy at times and there’s a steep shelf, but lifeguards are on constant patrol. It’s a great spot for surfing. And don’t be surprised to see the occasional expat fishing waist-deep for his supper.
For all its holiday vibe, Calangute’s still a working town. Out and about, you’ll get a flavour of everyday life – motorbikes and tuk-tuks zipping here and there, sacred cows ambling by the wayside, and worshippers gathering at St Anthonys Chapel for Sunday mass. Back from the beach, the narrow streets are full of the hustle and bustle of stalls and cafés. The main thoroughfare, meanwhile, is lined with banks, supermarkets, and Western-style eateries.
For a change of pace, you’re in a good spot to get to Panaji, Goa’s capital, where Portuguese colonial architecture shares space with Hindu temples in wide, tree-lined streets. It’s a 30-minute drive inland. Go-slow Candolim is only a 10-minute taxi ride away, too. Just past it, the 17th-century Fort Aguada stands on the headland overlooking the Mandovi River. It’s a steep 2-kilometre trail to the top, but worth it for a bird’s-eye view of the area.
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