A mere 45 minute bus ride up the coast from the
capital, Calangute is Goa's busiest and most commercialized
resort, and the flagship of the state government's
bid for a bigger slice of India's package-tourist
pie. In the 1970s and early 1980s, this once peaceful
fishing Village epitomized Goa's reputation as
a haven for hedonistic hippies.
Town And The Beach
The road from the town to the
beach is lined with Kashmiri-run handicraft boutiques
and Tibetan stalls selling Himalayan curios and
jewellery. The quality of the goods - mainly Rajasthani,
Gujarati and Karnatakan textiles - is generally
high. Haggle hard and don't be afraid to walk
away from a heavy sales pitch - the same stuff
crops up every Wednesday at Anjuna's flea market
The beach itself is nothing special, with steeply
shelving sand, but is more than large enough to
accommodate the huge numbers of high-season visitors.
To escape the hawkers, head fifteen minutes or
so south of the main beachfront area, towards
the rows of olf wooden boats moored below the
dunes. In this virtually hawker-free zone, one'll
only come across teams of villagers hauling
in hand nets at high tide or fishermen
fixing their tack under bamboo sun shakes.
to get there
Buses from Mapusa and Panjim pull in at the small
bus stand cum Market Square in the centre of Calangute.
Some continue to Baga, stopping at the crossroads
behind the beach en route. Get off here if one
can, as it's closer to most of the hotels.
Places to stay
Calangute is chock-full
of places to stay. Demand only outstrips supply
in the Christmas - New Year high season, and at
Diwali. Most of the inexpensive accommodation
consists of small rooms in family homes, or in
concrete annexes tacked onto the backs of houses.
The top hotels are nearly all gleaming white,
exclusive villa complexes with pools, and direct
Calangute's bars and restaurants
are mainly grouped around the entrance to the
beach and along the Baga road. As with most Goan
resorts, the accent is firmly on seafood, though
many places tack on a few token vegetarian dishes.
Western breakfasts also feature prominently.
Thanks to repeated crackdowns
by the Goan police on parties and loud music,
Calangute's nightlife is surprisingly tame. All
but a handful of the bars wind up by 10.00 pm.
One notable exception is Tito's at the Baga end
of the beach, which stays open until 11.00 pm
off-season and into the small hours in late December
Unfortunately, the only other
places that consistently stay open through the
night are a couple of dull hippy hang-outs in
the woods to the south of the beach road; Pete's
Bar, a perennial favourite next door to Angela
P. Fernandes, is generally the most lively, offering
affordable drinks, backgammon sets and relentless
reggae. Further afield, Bob's Inn, between Calangute
and Candolim, is another popular bar, famed less
for its court around a large table in the front
On Rent: Motorcycle taxis hang around the
little sandy square behind GTDC's tourist resort,
next to the steps that drop down to the beachfront.
Ask around here if one wants to rent a motorcycle.
Rates are standard; the nearest filling station
is five minutes' walk from the beach, back towards
the market on the right-hand side of the main
road. Bicycles are also widely available for rent.
There's a State Bank Of India on the main street,
but the best place to change money and Travellers
Cheques is Wall Street finances, opposite the
petrol pump and in the shopping complex on the
beachfront. If they are closed, try the fast and
friendly ENEM finances in Baga. For visa encashments,
go to The Bank Of Baroda, just north of the temple
and market area; a flat commission fee is levied
on all visa withdrawls.
A Taste Of Indian Heritage
Finally, don't miss the chance
to sample some real Indian culture while you are
in Calangute. The Ekrkar Art Gallery, in Gaura
Vaddo, at the south end of town, hosts evenings
of classical music and dance every Tuesday and
complete with incense and evocative candlelight.
The recitals, performed by students and teachers
from Panjim's Kala Academy, are kept comfortably
short for the benefit of Western visitors, and
are preceded by a short introductory talk. Tickets
are available in advance or at the door.
Wherever one goes, though, remember that Calangute's
no nudism rule is for real and enforced by special
police patrols; this includes topless bathing