Best known as the Queen of the Beaches, Calangute Beach is perhaps, the busiest beach in Goa, highly commercialized with the countless vendors, accommodation establishments, bars and restaurants that can be seen across the beach. The beach is popular as a tourist favorite. Calangute is situated nine miles from the Goan capital, Panaji, stretching four miles across the Goan coastline. To the south is the village of Candolim while to the north, there lies the hamlet of Baga.
Calangute Beach became famous because it was a favorite hideout for the Hippies during the 1960s. The beach attracted more and more Hippies as years passed, and later in the 1970s, saw a flock of European tourists who wanted to experience the beauty of this beach. This beach has been quite famous since then, a favorite setting for classic Indian films. Over the years, the hippie culture gradually disappeared but not the beach’s popularity.
The term ‘Calangute’ is derived from the local term ‘kolli gutti’ that means land of the fishermen. However, some people think it is derived from ‘kalyan gutti’ or “Village of Art” while others say it’s from ‘konvallo ghott’ meaning strong pit of coconut tree due to the village being full of coconut trees. Because of the Portuguese occupation, it eventually changed to Calangute.
Along the beachfront, you can see throngs of local shops selling souvenir stuff, trinkets, exotic beach items, handicrafts, beachwear and more. To get the best deal, show your bargaining skills, as most sellers give good discounts. Most items have good quality, especially the handicrafts that come from nearby ethnic villages in Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, etc.
You can do almost anything in Calangute Beach. You can tan yourself or go swimming on the beach. Swimming in Calangute is practically safe so long as you keep at least 300 meters away from the river mouth. Calangute beach is usually crowded during peak season, with children building sand castles and adults lazing on the golden sand or enjoying water sports. This image of an ideal tourist haven is filled with shacks under the palm trees selling street foods and beverages like fried prawns and cold beer.
Take a 15-minute walk from the main beach area until you reach the hawker-free zone. Observe the quaint sight of rows of traditional boats and group of village fishermen while hauling the fishnets. Seafood is available in abundance, especially in the hundreds of seafood stalls along the beach. Stuff yourself with prawns, crabs and lobsters as well as vegetarian dishes here in Calangute. The shops here like the Malini Ramani’s boutique, Café Coffee Day and Oxford Bookstore, just to name a few, will remind you of an urban marketplace.
However, in terms of nightlife, Calangute is the exact opposite of Anjuna. The bars close around 10pm, although a few hippie joints still stay open. There’s hardly any nightlife so if you are one of those partygoers, this is not the place for you. While Calangute lacks the flashy nightlife, the water sports and recreational activities may compensate. You can enjoy almost any water sport here, including waterskiing, banana boating, parasailing, water surfing and more.
To reach Calangute Beach, you may take a bus from Mapusa or Panaji. You may also hire a motorcycle or taxi from Mapusa to Calangute. The town is 9 kilometers away from Mapusa while Panaji is 16 kilometers away.