Calangute Beach © Os Rúpias
Once a peaceful fishing village - and then a haven for hedonistic hippies - Calangute is now Goa's busiest and most commercialised holiday resort, a 45-minute bus ride north of the capital, Panaji. The road from the town to the beach is lined with Kashmiri-run handicraft boutiques and Tibetan stalls selling Himalayan curios and jewellery. The quality of the goods - mainly Rajasthani, Gujarati and Karnatakan textiles - is generally high, but haggle hard and don't be afraid to walk away (the same stuff will crop up again and again). The Calangute beach is nothing special, but is more than large enough to accommodate the huge numbers of holiday visitors. To escape the hawkers, visitors should head fifteen minutes or so south of the main beachfront area, towards the rows of old wooden boats moored below the dunes. There, teams of villagers haul in their nets at high tide, and fishermen can be seen fixing their tack under bamboo shacks.
Calangute's bars and restaurants are mainly grouped around the entrance to the beach, and along Baga Road. As with most Goan resorts, the emphasis is firmly on seafood, though many places also offer vegetarian dishes, and western breakfasts feature prominently. Thanks to repeated crackdowns by the Goan police on parties and loud music, Calangute's nightlife is surprisingly tame, with most bars closing by 10pm, though there are some exceptions.