Situated on the west coast of India, the small state of Goa is most famous for its stunning beaches. Once a Portuguese colony, it has a unique mix of cultures. There are also lots of other smaller, charming towns and villages to explore and this time we hit the natural side of Goa to explore some wildlife, unusual secret beaches, and unexpected natural attractions (such as waterfalls and islands). So, plan a weekend trip and cover all of these natural things to see in Goa in one go!
From Beaches To Waterfalls, Have A Look At The Natural Things To See In Goa
1Curl Your Toes In Golden Sand: Arambol Beach
Located approximately 35 km away from Panaji in North Goa, Arambol Beach is the northernmost beach in Goa. It’s a 90 minute-drive from Dabolim Airport (GOI) within the Pernem administrative region of North Goa. A quiet beach in North Goa, it’s known for exciting water sports and a big beach market. The best time to visit Arambol beach is between October and February when the weather in Goa is at its finest.
The timings to visit Arambol beach (Goa) is from morning 6 am till sunset around 6 or 7 pm.
2Witness The Gush Of The Second-highest Waterfall In India: Dudhsagar Falls
This impressive four-tiered waterfall is located on the Mandovi river on the Madgaon-Belgaum rail route, in South Goa. Also known as the second-highest waterfall in India, it is a majestic cascade of white water that gushes over the steep, nearly vertical face of the mountain from a spectacular height of 310 m (1017 feet). The best time to visit is just after the monsoons, from October to May.
The entry gate to the sanctuary opens at 6:00 am and till 5:00 pm.
3Take A Dip In One Of The Safest Swimming Spots In Goa: Palolem Beach
This scenic beach with many rocky islands off its shore is situated in Canacona, within 2.5 km of the market town of Chaudi in South Goa. Largely unspoiled and inhabited by both local fishermen and foreign tourists, Palolem Beach is about one mile (approximately 1.61 km) long and crescent-shaped. Due to its shape, one can view the entire beach from either end. Both ends have rocks jutting out into the sea.
During the peak tourist season, the Palolem beachfront is lit up with colourful sophisticated lights and bamboo huts fronted by palm-thatched restaurants. The protected bay is known to be one of the safest swimming spots in Goa. You can even kayak or paddleboard for hours here. If you head out a little further (either by walking or a short car ride) around the headland at the southern end of the beach, you’ll reach Colomb Bay. Here you’ll find another little hideaway with several low-key resorts and restaurants.
4Wildlife Enthusiasts Must Not Miss This: Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is the largest of Goa’s four protected sanctuaries and covers an area of 240 sq km. It is located on the eastern border of the state of Goa, near the village of Mollem, about 53 km from Margao and 54 km from Panaji. Home to the famous Dudhsagar waterfall, the Devil’s Canyon, the Tambdi Surla temple, the Tambdi falls as well a number of other historic and religious sites, it also encompasses the 107 sq km area of the Mollem National Park. Although the best time to visit the Sanctuary is from November to March, you can also try to visit during the monsoons, when the full extent of nature’s bounty is visible. Explore the wildlife in Goa here as it is home to leopards, elephants, deer, Indian bison, cobras, and pythons, and is open all days of the week from 8.00 am to 5.30 pm.
5Try The Life Of A Hippie: Anjuna Beach
Running for almost 2 km in Anjuna, a small village in North Goa, Anjuna beach lies 18 km away from Panjim. This popular beach in North Goa is best known for the flea market held each Wednesday, and for the neighbouring Vagator Beach. This charismatic narrow beach on the shores of the Arabian Sea is the most famous beach amongst foreigners and is well-known amongst backpackers, hippies, long-stayers and those looking for cheap stays or guesthouses. The period from November to February is the best time to visit Anjuna. Tourists should beware the heavy rainfall between June and October. It is the most popular among the natural things to see in Goa.
6Lose Yourself In A Natural Paradise: The Butterfly Conservatory
Located just 5 km north of Ponda, this small butterfly sanctuary is home to more than 100 species of free-flying butterflies. Spread over 4000 sq meters, it was designed by an environmentally conscious couple who are also nature enthusiasts. A labour of love, which began with just 25 species, currently has 133 species of butterflies. The sanctuary is situated near spice plantations and is designed in the manner of a park-like structure where one can stroll and indulge in a visual treat of nature. At any point, one can spot at least 25 different species in this nature’s paradise. This can be perfect for families as it is a great place to take the kids to introduce them to the colourful world of butterflies and caterpillars.
7Eat, Drink, And Be Merry: Calangute ‘Queen Of Beaches’
This little town in North Goa stretches between the blurred lines of Candolim and Baga and is almost 15 km away from Panaji, the capital of Goa. Centred on the busy market road leading to the beachfront, Calangute is known for its activity-filled beach. This seven-kilometre sweep of sand is also called the ‘Queen of Beaches’. It is filled with eating joints, shacks and clubs serving great cocktails, beer and seafood.
The best time to visit Calangute will be from November to February as the weather is the most pleasant. Due to its sheer size and popularity, it is a hub for tourists and backpackers from all over the world, so try to be a responsible tourist by not littering during your visit here.
8Birdwatchers Will Be In Ornithological Heaven: Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
If birdwatching is your thing, the Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary should not be missed. Named after Dr Salim Moizzudin Ali, India’s most distinguished ornithologist, the Salim Ali bird sanctuary on Chorao Island is Goa’s only bird sanctuary. Nestled quietly on the western tip of the island along River Mandovi it is also one of the smallest protected areas of Goa. This slice of ornithological heaven was created by Goa’s Forestry Department in 1988 to protect birdlife. Today it houses 400 species of birds, both local and migratory. This is definitely a must-not-miss among the natural things to see in Goa.
The best time to visit is during winter when a horde of migratory birds also make the sanctuary their home. Apart from ubiquitous white egrets and purple herons, you can spot colourful kingfishers, eagles, cormorants, kites, woodpeckers, sandpipers, curlews, drongos and mynahs (to name just a few). It is open from 6 am to 6 pm every day, and the earlier you go, the more birds you get to see.
9Find Peace In Seclusion: Ashwem Beach
This hidden gem of beauty has a great range of beautiful beach hotels and resorts and is located in North Goa near Mandrem and Arambol. This secluded Goan beach is perfect for sunbathing and swimming during the day. And the fantastic beach-shack restaurants will fuel your day.
The beach lies south of Mandrem Beach and north of Morjim Beach. It is also the nesting place for Olive Ridley Turtles, a rare species. The nesting season is between September to February which also happens to be the best time to visit. It’s best to hire a bike to get around the beach as the buses from Mapusa and Panjim are irregular.
So, How Many Of These Attractions Would You Add To Your List?
This trip will allow you to get in touch with the natural beauty of Goa. Therefore, wherever you go, from wildlife sanctuaries to beaches, try to be a responsible tourist. Perhaps carry your own dustbin when you’re on the beach. This way, the next time you visit, the spot will be just as beautiful as you remember leaving it.