Baga

Discovered by the Hippies, Baga became an important stopover on the Hippie trail during the sixties and seventies. Years after Hippies popularized it; Baga continues to retain the ethos and characteristics of the movement minus the decadence associated with it.

Baga is located in North Goa, 16 km from the state capital Panaji. Calangute Beach is to its south and Anjuna Beach to its north. The Baga river skirts the sides of the beach, ultimately to flow into the Arabian Sea. Baga Beach starts right where Calangute ends. However, it's hard to pinpoint exactly where.

Baga figures high on tourist itineraries because of its sun and the sea, flea market, nightlife and for its watering holes and eateries. Baga is home to some of the biggest hot-spots by night in Goa. Café Tito and Cafe Mambo have achieved iconic status and among the most important things to do suggested by tour guides.

Nightlife is very vibrant in Baga. The sight of shops on the white sandy beach lit with lamps, milling crowd and live bands, all add up to the carnival like ambience. By day, the beach is a paradise for tourists who wish to soak in some sun and the sand. Apart from the scenic pleasures, Baga Beach offers lots of activities for the tourists, to indulge in. Water sports are a huge attraction. Para sailing, wake boarding, windsurfing, kite surfing or a ride on a jet ski, travelers have a plethora of choice. Dolphin spotting and island trips are other options you could try during your stay in Baga.

Tips

Swimming unassisted can be dangerous at most of the beaches because of the strong undercurrents. Go out for swim only if lifeguards are around.

History

Baga became a traveler's cliché in the '60s and early'70s. It was the hippies who discovered the pristine beach. The hippies spread the word around resulting in hordes of European tourists descending on the golden sands of Baga. Thumbing or hitchhiking and travelling by cheap transport are things of the past. Baga is no more the watering hole for Hippies.

Culture

The long rule of the Portuguese has influenced the Goan culture. The culture of Goa is a seamless blend of ethnic and Portuguese traditions. Dance and music are an integral part of Goan culture. Deeply religious, the festivals of Christians and Hindus are spectacles to watch. The Portugese influence can still be seen in the festivals of Goan Christians. The St Xavier’s Feast, the Goa Carnival, Christmas are best to witness the vibrant culture of Goa. Church of St Alex is a prominent pilgrimage centre near Baga. Shimgotsav and Kalas Utsav are some of the festivals of Hindus in Goa. Novidade is an agrarian festival and is celebrated by both the communities. Nightlife in Baga is very vibrant. It is home to some of the biggest hot-spots by night in Goa. If you want to take a peek into Indian classical music and dance, attend one of the concerts held regularly at Kerkar Art Complex. The concerts are held on Thursdays and Fridays.

Shopping

Shopping at the Baga Beach Market is an experience in itself. The Saturday market was started as a counter to the one at Anjuna. It may not have achieved the fame of Anjuna flea market; however, the Baga market has a charm of its own.

Saturday night Flea Market: Array of stalls and shacks selling everything from goodies and treats, clothes, trinkets, handicrafts, bric-a-brac, clothes and jewelry. Shops and stalls are erected under the open night sky. Baga flea market has other attractions to offer. If you want to sport a new hairstyle, then head for one of the saloons that offer trendy haircuts. Want to know your future or the future of your romance, then head for the palmists or tarot card readers who sit in the market. Once done, soaking in the sights and sounds of the market head for one of the beach shacks or terrace cafes that serves everything from pork vindaloo to espresso coffee.

Where to stay

Baga, being one of the most famous tourist spots in Goa, has several quality hotels and resorts. As many of the hotels in Baga are booked during the high season, it is harder to find a room. It is advisable to book a room well in advance. Beach shacks are also a convenient option for accommodation.

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Where to eat

Baga like Goa is a seafood lovers’ paradise. A wide range of hotels and restaurants to suit every budget are available in Baga. There are many shacks situated on the beach offering a good choice of reasonably priced food. Goa has long been the world’s party destination, attracting travelers from all over, so restaurant menus have been influenced heavily by all parts of the world. Shacks and restaurants serve cuisines from all over the world. Due to fierce competition between beach shacks, food quality is very high. Look out for barbecue nights, when freshly caught fish is grilled under the stars. Tito’s and Mambo, two Cafes in Baga, have achieved iconic status. It is not just the food, but the ambience and the live music which make dining at the restaurants a memorable experience.

Best time to visit

Baga is an all weather destination as the weather remains warm throughout the year. Temperatures range between 33 degrees Celsius during the day and 20 degrees Celsius at night. Nights can get a bit chilly from December to February though. Monsoon season is from June to August. Though the beach huts close during monsoon, many nightspots remain open. The tourist season starts in late October and ends in March. The peak tourist season is during Christmas and New Year.

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