On your first yoga retreat to India, you’ll find that Goa is a top choice for solo female travellers. There’s sun, sea, good food, lots of people and parties in Goa to complement your yoga experience. Here’s everything you need to know about your solo trip to Calangute, Goa. Carry an open mind and this guide with you to start you off on your wonderful Indian holiday. You’re bound to be back again.
Best Time to Visit Calangute Beach
Calangute Beach is North Goa’s top attraction. This makes it a little crowded with locals and foreigners. But don’t let that stop you from visiting.
The beach is good all year round, except in the monsoons. Unless you enjoy a holiday where you’re indoors all day with a book or with friends you’ve made locally, avoid Calangute or Goa between June and August. Having said that, Goa is lush and green in the monsoons. Take your pick.
The weather is most pleasant – clear, sunny and breezy – between November and February. But that’s when Calangute is the most crowded. May can get very hot. If you want to travel off-season and enjoy low flight prices and less crowds, we recommend going in April. That’s when the beaches are calming, luxury accommodation is cheap, and the weather hasn’t got too hot yet.
What to do in Calangute
There’s nothing better than to relax at the beach in Calangute, with a drink in your hand. Calangute Beach may be crowded, but it’s called the Queen of Beaches. There are plenty of sunbeds to soak some sun, and most are free, unless you’re paying a fee at a shack. As long as you can stave off the attentions of the pushy salesmen and aren’t bothered by them, you can have a relaxed day at Calangute beach.
The beach is also crowded with water sports operators. Go early, as soon as the sun rises, to avoid as much of the crowds as possible. Activities usually stop by 4 pm. As long as it’s not raining or too windy, you’ll find something to do. Water sports here are cheap. But if you’re a stickler for safety standards, be warned that the waters crowded with jet skis can worry you.
Of course you already know about the excellent Indian yoga centers around. Most of these offer weekly and monthly classes. You can also go daily if you like. But beware of the non-recognized yoga centers. Some of the best include Cyril Yoga Ayurveda Center, Prati Yogayana, Jzy Yoga & Fitness Studio at Caranzalem road, Traya Natural Health Centre on Dona Paula Road, among others.
You could also enjoy an Ayurvedic massage to feel good. These massages will refresh you and make your skin glow, and maybe ease back-aches and migraines into the bargain.
Rent a Bike
Rent a scooter or bike for a few hundred rupees a day to take around town. You can ride out to Candolim, Baga, Anjuna or up to Aguada Fort. There’s a lot to be said for self-guided travel in Goa. You get to meet new people and do things your way. That’s the laid-back Goa style. It’s also the best way to meet local people and make friends.
How to Reach Calangute
Calangute is well-connected by train, bus and taxi to other parts of Goa. You can fly in to Dabolim Airport, about 40 kilometers away. You can find a prepaid taxi outside the airport to bring you to Calangute.
You can take a (cheaper) bus from the airport, if you’re willing to change thrice. A volvo A/C seater booked in advance will take you there directly in an hour and a half.
You can also take a train to Thivim from other parts of Goa. Vasco da Gama and Margao also have railway stations. From the station, you can usually find a taxi or bus to take you to Calangute for cheap.
Water Sports in Calangute
Water sports in Calangute usually begin mid-October. Because of too many operators at Calangute, there have been some nasty water sports accidents. To avoid these, look for operators that have good equipment.
We highly recommend windsurfing between January and March. The waves of the Arabian Sea are rough, and this makes windsurfing extremely thrilling. If you’re a beginner, go in the morning when the breeze is gentler. Kitesurfing is also a good option.
The Jet skiing is good in Calangute, on less crowded days. Enjoy the wind in your hair and warm sun no matter what level you’re at. Best time to windsurf is October to March. We recommend keeping your lifejacket on and hiring an instructor if this is your first time.
If you can patch together a small gang, get on a banana boat and do your best to stay on board! There are few group activities as fun as the banana tube boat ride in Calangute.
Don’t miss parasailing from October to March. You don’t need to be a swimmer to do this. Calangute has good water skiing too, but you need to be able to swim. If you’re feeling adventurous, make sure to wear a wetsuit with a lifejacket so you can cut through the wind.
Nightlife in Calangute
Calangute nightlife is famous. There’s not much we need to say about it, except that you just have to get yourself out to the beach and follow the music. The beach shacks can be great places to start. Later, check out some of the popular clubs there. Cafe Mambo, Tito’s and Cape Town Cafe service party-goers in Baga and Calangute. They have some of the best dance floors and DJ, and all-inclusive drinks.
A few other places to check out for a drink or two are: Delseys Bar, Cool Cat, and The Sportsman Bar. The last one is a nice sports bar very welcoming of Liverpool FC supporters.
Shopping at Calangute
Goa has some wonderful night bazaars and flea markets. We recommend Calangute Market Square for most of your beachwear, trinkets and carpet fixes. Make sure to bargain hard. Avoid the over-pushy sellers. You’d be amazed by how easy it is to fall against the onslaught of their attacks and buy something you regret later.
If you’re looking for jewellery, check out Shamrock Jewellers, Royal Jewellers and Gold Touch. You can have something made for you at far more affordable prices than back home. Plus you get to carry a bit of Goa back with you in your jewellery.
Booklovers rue the lack of good bookshops in town, but there’s hope. Head over to the Literati Bookshop and Cafe to browse a book in the garden. If you’re lucky, you may find an autographed copy of writer Amitava Ghosh’s books, a regular visitor to Goa for thirty years.
If you’re on Baga Road, drop in for a few minutes to Tibetan Market for your fix of antique jewellery, wood items, and gift items. Prices can be a bit on the higher side, so be sure to bargain.
If you’re looking for leather goods, head over to Ali Leather Boutique. The eponymous Ali delivers some high quality biker jackets, skirts, made-to-order items.
If you like collecting art, check out the Calangute Handicrafts Emporium at Tourist Resort. This shop has a lovely ambience with exotic souvenirs, traditional Goan clothes and much more.
Last but not least, if you have good company on Saturday nights, head over to Baga Beach and check out Mackie’s Night Bazaar for some atmosphere, antiques, live music, food and shopping. Arpora also has a night market, Ingo’s Saturday Night Bazaar, where you’ll find handicrafts from Kashmir, Rajasthan and Tibet.
Best Places to Eat in Calangute
Goa is a Mecca of good food, especially if you love tangy curries and seafood. Calangute Beach is where most people stay in North Goa, so things can get a bit crowded in the local restaurants. There are lots of beachfront cafes and shacks around. Holiday Street has some good places to eat. Here are some other recommendations:
You may have to wait half an hour for breakfast at Infantaria, but that’s for a reason. You’ll find delicious beef samosas, prawn patties and quiches here. Plus so many egg options and beverages that you won’t know where to start.
For lunch, head out a little from Calangute to find this excellent Burmese restaurant off Fort Aguada road. Definitely try the Khao Suey, the Beef Carpaccio Salad and the Jackfruit Panna Cotta. You may come back again.
Goa’s beach shacks are a famous lifestyle choice for long-time residents. A relaxed Goa vacation for many is about lazing on a sunbed (or enjoying some water sports) and ordering lunch from a shack. Just follow the crowd and you’ll find the good ones. We recommend the Goan Fish Curry at St. Anthony’s and the Pork Ribs at TGIFridays. Many shacks will let you have sunbeds for free.
For a fancy dinner, we recommend Koi. The charming cabanas and candle-lit tables will briefly take you far away from crowded Calangute. The restaurant serves Burmese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese Japanese and mostly Oriental food. Koi serves excellent sushi and delicious comfort food meals-in-bowls. Prices are affordable, though a little on the higher side as per Goa standards.
Amavi by Sumera
This is another fancy European restaurant a little of Fort Aguada road. You’ll find it behind Art Chamber, Gauravaddo. There’s a wine bar and grill, with impeccable service and an interesting menu. Make reservations in advance. Definitely try the pork chops, steak and Beef Wellington. If you’re vegan, you won’t be disappointed either. Prices are amazing for the quality of food.
For a solo female traveller in Goa, things will be very new. Especially if this is your first time in India. Travelling in Goa is very different from travelling in America or Europe. You may feel safer in Calangute than you feel walking to your nearest big town in America. (The general public doesn’t carry guns around!)
As far as the local vibes go, Goans are generally friendly and hospitable. Calangute is one of the safer places to be in India if you’re a female travelling solo.
Having said that, it’s a good idea to keep your eyes and ears open. Treat Goa as a place just like any other. You know that list of things to do and not do when you’re a solo traveller? It applies to Calangute just as anywhere else.
Don’t forget that people come to party in Calangute. There’s a lot of booze, and there are drunk people. Alcohol can make you reckless. It’s possible to get too drunk and go out at night with casual acquaintances. Or you could get drunk and swim too far out to sea!
How to Stay Safe in Calangute
Be vigilant and set some rules for yourself, and you’ll be as safe in Calangute as in your own town.
- Stick to crowded places at night. We know you’re there for yoga. But when you’re not at the retreat, don’t find the remotest part of the beach to hang out alone. If you’re there in peak season – November and December – you can’t really avoid the crowds. See that as a good thing.
- As with anywhere else, don’t walk dark alleys alone.
- Keep your handbag close to your body. A cross-body bag is a good option.
- Don’t carry your valuables and passport with you, to be safe.
- Ask your hotel to recommend a taxi or find a cabbie that you’re comfortable with, if you need to travel by taxi.
- Keep your emergency numbers close. The local women’s police helpline is 1091. Call an ambulance with 108. Hopefully you’ll never have to use these numbers.
The Bottom Line
The great news is that people are used to seeing solo women travellers in Goa. In much of India, locals take good care of you if you’re a woman travelling alone. You’re bound to have the same experience in Calangute. Head to Calangute with an open mind, stay safe, and don’t make your plans too rigid. You’ll have far more fun that way!