Fishermen on Colva Beach © Valeria Bolotova
Colva is the oldest and most heavily-developed South Goan holiday resort. The town itself is dotted with colonial-style villas and ramshackle fishing huts, but the beachfront is crowded and blighted with unimaginative concrete hotels, snack bars and souvenir stalls. Indian tourists and local children mill around this central area and foreigners are pestered by traders and beggars. However, it is easy to steer clear of this central area: within a few minutes' stroll from here the beach is spotless and relatively quiet. Benaulim is only a 30-minute walk to the south, still on Colva beach, and attracts a more upmarket clientele, including British and Indian visitors on holiday. There are many luxury resorts along the coastal stretch, and brightly-painted wooden fishing boats litter the beach. The hawkers and touts here are persistent, but in a good-humoured rather than aggressive way. To escape completely, visitors can hire a bicycle and ride further south along Colva beach, beyond Taj Exotica, which stretches for miles with the only possible interruption likely to be a stray cow wandering along the sand.
Restaurants line the beachfront at both Colva and Benaulim, and in general the food is of an excellent standard, and the atmosphere is much better than at the hotel restaurants. For the freshest fish, aim for the more popular restaurants.