A wide stretch of beach growing busier year by year (making it hard to know exactly where the beaches of neighbours Mandrem and Morjim begin and end), the lovely Aswem sands are, like Mandrem, growing in popularity annually, with an ever-increasing, ever-changing parade of beach-hut accommodation and beach-shack restaurants springing up each season.
Quiet little Rajbag is a small sandy cove, one beach south from Patnem and accessible both by road and with a nice short walk, from Patnem Beach to the north, clambering across the rocks along the way. Like many beaches in this area, however, beware of the treacherous undertow when swimming.
A clean, if slightly characterless, stretch of beach, approached on sandbag stepping-stones and rickety bridges over a series of fairly stagnant pools, Utorda makes for a pleasant afternoon on its sands, taking your pick from a ragtag bunch of beach shacks, many of whose sun beds you can use.
A seemingly endless palm-backed strip of sand punctuated, here and there, by the grounds of a luxury resort or a whitewashed Christian shrine, Varca is quiet, calm and almost entirely hawker-free, making it easy to find a quiet spot all to yourself. Outside the resorts, one good access point is the portion known as Zalor Beach.
About 5km north of Chandor is the small village of Curtorim, another of Goa’s many peaceful pastoral places. If you’re passing through, stop to have a look at the Church of St Alex, a large whitewashed affair with a rusty tin-roofed porch and a lovely, lavish interior, which looks out serenely onto a vast lily-studded lake.
Though it’s hard to believe it today, the small and sleepy village of Goa Velha – nowadays just a blur of roadside buildings on a trip south towards Margao along the national highway NH17 – was once home to Govepuri, a grand international port and capital city, attracting Arab traders who settled the surrounding area, rich from the spoils of the spice trade.
Around Vasco da Gama
Somewhere in the region of 50,000 Goans are dependent on fishing for their family income, but Goa’s once-abundant waters are today facing a serious threat from overfishing, and locals now reminisce about their younger days when ramponkars (fishermen), in their simple wooden outriggers, would give away 60cm-long kingfish because they had so many to spare.