Come season time and Calangute is like a beach transformed. It’s noisy, it’s crowded and it’s nothing like its serene self during the monsoon. But, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s still immensely popular.
One of Goa’s biggest beaches, Calangute continues to draw crowds because of its vast water frontage. Located about 15 kms from the capital city of Panjim in north Goa, Calangute is among the most popular beaches in Goa and it is large enough to accommodate the huge numbers of high season tourists. Not only is it one of Goa’s longest beaches, it is also at the heart of the ‘party’ district which makes it a popular and sometimes overcrowded option.
Calangute is the perfect tourist haven, completed with shacks and stalls under the shade of palm trees selling everything from fried prawns and beer, to trinkets made of seashells. One of the most famous beaches of north Goa, Calangute offers visitors plenty of enjoyment. Visitors can walk around the sea shore to enjoy Goa’s scenic beauty or hire some sunbeds for a nice tan or massage. The beach is also serviced by a lifeguard.
Accommodation is plentiful and ranges from the government run resorts to a number of hotels, guesthouses and cottages to suit every budget. From the hip to the homely, you’ll find any number of options.
One of the places worth visiting nearby is the St. Alex Church. As the large numbers of tourist taxis and buses wind their way towards the village of Calangute, they are greeted by the sight of the
massive towers and magnificent dome of the impressive church facade of the St. Alex Church.
The inside of the church is a display of the line and beauty of its architectural style and ornate altars. In 1996, Calangute celebrated the fourth centenary of its parish church. The existing church was built in 1741 by the Communidades (village communities) with the help of donations. In the church yard there is a Grotto of Our lady of Lourdes and this was the first grotto dedicated to the Our Lady in all of Goa.
The Chapel of St. Anthony is also worth a visit. This quaint Chapel is not too large and is surprisingly located bang in the middle of the road. The evening Mass here draws a large throng of worshippers and do not be surprised to see the queues spilling out of the chapel onto the road.
For a taste of Goan art head to the Art Chamber. Located in a stunningly built home extension, the Art Chamber is run by reputed Goan artist Yolanda de Sousa and her husband Rudolf Kammermeir, who live in the home next door. They host a number of interesting art and cultural events and their gallery stock of Goan artists is also pretty impressive.
Just off the main Calangute beach road, you will find the Kerkar Art Complex run by Goa’s most famous artist, Subodh Kerkar. The complex showcases paintings and sculptures by Kerkar himself as well as by artists from around the country. It also offers an interesting guesthouse to stay in as well as a multi-cuisine restaurant Waves.
Calangute’s nightlife is surprisingly tame and provides a nice break from the wild parties at Anjuna. All but a handful of the bars wind up by 10.00 pm. which is the deadline for loud music to be played. Within the deadline though there are plenty of lively bars and restaurants including the cheerful Irish pub Molly Malone and the very vibrant Hungry Horse. St. Anthony’s Tea Garden is another late night casual hang out to grab a drink and the beach front of course hosts a number of multi-cuisine shacks serving up scrumptious and relatively cheap eats. Most shacks have live music or Karaoke nights some days a week. You cannot leave Goa without sampling Goan food and more specifically Goan style seafood. The most popular of the Goan style eateries in Calangute is Souza Lobo which has been around since 1932. The Goan Fish Curry, Baked Crabs, Lobster Thermidor and Prawns Butter Garlic are among the hot favourites here. The restaurant also has live music every night. Other popular eateries include Tibetan Kitchen for Chinese and Tibetan Pousada by the Beach for its eclectic menu and Redonda for Goan fare among others. Infantaria has a wonderful bakery apart from an interesting and delicious menu. The beach and main road are also peppered with carts selling street food.
Beach shopping is highly addictive and you can find any number of trinkets, beachwear, toys, slippers and souvenirs here. Bargaining of course is mandatory and the shops are open until late night. Calangute also boasts aTibetan market offering silver jewellery, handicrafts, home decor items and more.
For more high-end shopping, try the line-up near St. Anthony’s Chapel which boasts of the intimate European fashion boutique Bebel, Indian designer label Malini Ramani and the elegant Capricorn for stylish Indo-Western resort and beach wear. There are a number of other stores along the Calangute-Baga strip where you can find unique accessories, apparel, shoes and handbags among other interesting knickknacks.
Water babies will love the beach for the array of water sports on offer. Parasailing, water scooters, jet skiis or even just the tame boat ride or banana boat it’s all possible here. There are a number of water sport operators on the beach which provide facilities for crocodile and dolphin spotting trips, fishing expeditions and river cruises as well. Water junkies can also enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, water skiing and sailing.Image Credits: Kuntal Saha