Some of the emptiest sands in North Goa are yours for the taking with holidays to Candolim. This peaceful town is also a big hitter when it comes to mouthwatering North Indian dishes and shopping.
Candolim is a gentle introduction to North Goa’s charms. It’s a historic town, home to some 10,000 residents, and one of the more laid-back spots on this palm-clad stretch of coastline. Unlike its bold neighbour, Calangute, Candolim always keeps its cool, which is why couples, families and more mature travellers keep returning here year after year.
Candolim Beach is the penultimate stop on an 8-kilometre avenue of pale sand. Backed by a crest of dunes, and washed by the warm Arabian Ocean, it’s a bona fide tropical affair. Ramshackle beach huts are spaced evenly along the sand. They serve spicy Goan fish curries, hire sunbeds, and offer watersports. And from morning to evening, Indian head masseurs, souvenir hawkers and the odd sacred cow plough up and down the sand.
Candolim’s main street is a paved parade of North Indian restaurants, Kashmiri souvenir shops, and hotels. From here, you can take the road to the beach, where stalls offering handmade jewellery and henna tattoos jostle for custom. Veer off the beaten track, though, and sandy side streets contain Portuguese churches like the 16th-century Our Lady of Hope and old Goan houses with gardens in full bloom.
Close to Panaji
A 20-minute drive and a short ferry ride away is Panaji, Goa’s fascinating capital. It’s a clash of civilisations, where Portuguese architecture meets Hindu temples and pulsating street markets. The Goa State Museum houses an eclectic collection of local art, photography and sculpture. And, when the sun goes down, you can jump on board a cruise along the Mandovi River from Santa Monica jetty.