So after 5 years of visiting South Goa, India, we finally got round to the idea of venturing into unexplored territory, we were heading to North Goa on a road trip. We hired a scooter and headed up Route 66 ( well highway ) from Patnem in South Goa heading for our destination of Quirem, on the Maharashtra state border in North Goa. We then planned to have a few nights in different resorts on the ride back down through the coastal resorts. Having been told by various travellers that we wouldn’t like it, it was overcrowded, polluted & dirty, we decided to check things out ourselves and make our own decisions.
The journey to North Goa
If you didn’t know already, road signs suck in India, and after a nightmare 30 minute Margao mini mystery tour, looking for signs for a way back out we eventually got lucky. On the 3rd circle of Margao, we followed a sign for Colva and ended back on route 66. We passed a few unseen beaches in South Goa, missing out Dabolim airport, and we headed across the bridge at Cortalim & towards Panaji into north Goa territory.
With a couple of stops en-route to give our bodies a rest from the crap roads, crap drivers and hidden speed bumps, we eventually made it to Arambol after 4 hours. We decided once there, that we had endured enough crazy driving manoeuvres & in equal measure, had displayed advanced avoidance techniques for numerous cows & road users for one day.
Arambol North Goa
Cruising the streets of Arambol, we were lucky enough to stumble on a great little guest house called the Durga resort and booked in for the night. Set in tranquil gardens, it also has a secluded seating area and a small restaurant. After a quick shower and a change of clothes, we headed out and hit Arambol beach in search of refreshments only a few minutes walk from the resort.
The Cheeky monkey bar & restaurant was where we entered the beach, and had great pleasure telling the waiter that the large kingfisher he was serving was our first in North Goa. It was well deserved after the ride & I don’t think he was that bothered & went a little over his head. He was up for a photo opportunity with yours truly though.
We explored the beach area, where the normal array of restaurants and bars are nestled amongst the palms. It was our first North Goa beach we had encountered, and we wasn’t overly impressed. We have been spoilt down south and are blessed with great beaches, along with hidden coves and lagoons. We made our way to the north of the beach, getting ready for sunset and to find a place to eat. Four restaurants merged into a huge seating area where you couldn’t tell what belonged to which restaurant. After a quick bite, we watched our first sunset & headed back to our digs for the night.
Quirem & the Maharashtra border
After a quick breakfast & checkout, we headed from Arambol to Quirem, a small village based on the Terekhol river at the Maharashtra state border. The bridge stretches across to Aronda in the next state of India. We took the slip road and headed towards Quirem beach around 10 km down a nice twisting road along to the beach area.
We had a quick look around where there are a few beach-side restaurants and the Ajoba temple. It’s a great ride down to the beach area, cruising through the small village and seeing local life. Low key, but beautiful & tranquil location if that’s what you’re after.
Heading back the way we came, we headed south, cutting through Morjim en-route across the bridge to Siolim. The roads up this area are quiet and peaceful, with great views along the coast and through wooded jungle areas.
Vagator North Goa
Traffic was at a minimum, and the ride was relaxing. Little did I know what lay ahead as we headed through Vagator, destination Anjuna.
On-route, we had a brief stop at Vagator, but there wasn’t much to see here. We rode through the main street with more shops and eateries & hit the beach road. We were in & out within 10 minutes. The beach was disappointing, and not much of anything of interest. We carried on riding to get to the next destination, Anjuna
Anjuna North Goa
Cruising, we crawled through the beach road along the narrow paved streets of Anjuna looking for a place to stay. We came across another find, Sunshine Anjuna guesthouse and after negotiating a price of ₹800 a night, unloaded our gear, showered, changed & set out to explore.
Along the beach paved walkway, there’s an array of market styled shops, restaurants and gift shops selling their wares. We headed out towards the beach along various paths and was a bit disappointed with what we stumbled upon. Inside a minute of leaving our apartment, I was offered an array of drugs, some of which i had never heard of. Maybe it was my bandanna I was wearing, or I looked stressed out.
The beach itself was dirty, with black oil marks and a substance I couldn’t get off my feet. As the waves crashed upon the beach, what should of been white tops had the colour of what would probably come out of my radiator back in the UK if emptied. Brown, rusty god knows what. Possibly a mix of oil, or waste but we didn’t hang around the beach too long. There were more sunbeds here as we crept South, which would become more of a theme once we hit Baga & Calungute.
Baga & Calangute North Goa
On arriving through crowded streets, with cars, buses, vans, scooters, cows & pedestrians, we entered Baga. My first thoughts after the initial Urrrggghhh was where’s the beach. I shouldn’t have bothered. After what seemed like ages to get anywhere, we finally arrived at a car park near to the end of the beach. “₹0.20 rupees to park” shouted the gate man. After pondering this for a minute we decided to take a look, but in hindsight, should of got straight out of dodge. What a hole of a place.
I spent less than 10 minutes on the beach, and took some quick shots and wandered back to the car park. Along the way we were offered sunbeds at ₹100 rupees. We didn’t hang around long enough to ask how much time this bought. Whatever it was, it would’ve been too long. We fought with the traffic to get out of this hellhole, and had decided we’d miss out Calangute. We had met 2 other travellers who had pre-warned us that it was pretty much the same as Baga. Our next destination was Candolim and hoped for a better experience.
Candolim North Goa
Well we hoped for something better than Baga, and rode into Candolim and along the main road towards the beach. We was pleasantly surprised as we arrived at the beach-front roundabout as there a pedestrianised area that lead down to the beach. After a long day riding, we looked for somewhere to stay. Just around the corner we found The Amor Beach Resort tucked away, we had checked out a few other places that were full, but liked this little oasis back street. We checked in showered, changed and ventured back down to the main street.
Heading for the beach for a bite to eat, we followed the path through the pedestrianised area at the roundabout. The beach, or what we could see of it, had an array of sunbeds, carousels & umbrella’s, blocking any views from the restaurants & bars along it’s length. Trying to squeeze through an opening to actually see the beach, it was in fairly good condition, apart from the sunbeds.
Having no definitive plans, we explored the area. We came across a mobile phone shop that done repairs and enquired within. On day one of our journey, I’d dropped my mobile at our apartment and smashed my screen on the floor tiles, bummer! We popped our head in the door and showed the guy the problem. ” One hour, all fixed” he said. And only ₹2500 rupee’s (£26.50). We went for a swift drink and picked up the phone, now with a new screen. Top guy & worth a special mention. You can find them at Majisa mobile & electronics, Candolim, North Goa, India.
The journey South
We headed across Nerul bridge out of Candolim, after a quick visit through the Aguada fort road heading for route 66 once again. Cutting through through Santa Cruz, then Panaji, Tiswadi and Cortalim. Following the 66, we cut off to head to the coast at Cansaulim.
Cruising down the coast, we passed through Utorda, Majorda, Betalbatim and finally to Colva. Not much to see here so headed further South down to Benaulim. What should of been a nice place looked run down, and the beach itself was disappointing. With only a handful restaurants, with most well passed their sell-by-date, there really wasn’t much else to report.
Heading for home
Having planned on one more night at a resort we hadn’t been to before at the top of South Goa, we decided against it. None of them were up to much, and being 90 minutes away decided to head back home. We had accomplished what we set out to achieve, and arrived home unscathed from the experience.
If we had gone to North Goa instead of South Goa on our first visit to India, and didn’t have the knowledge we do now, we probably wouldn’t of returned. It’s so much more relaxed, and feel lucky that our initial research pointed us towards Palolem, Patnem & Agonda. There’s also the little known Cola Beach to check out if passing through. We don’t feel we have missed out on anything about North Goa, it’s got a completely different feel to South Goa. If I had the choice after seeing both, I wouldn’t stray too far from what we now know, South Goa wins hands down over North Goa.
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