Goa is a relatively tiny but not-so-tiny state located along the southwestern Indian coast offering a world of things to do and places to see. Formerly a Portuguese colony, Goa is not only vibrant in cultural diversity and heritage but in the natural beauty that extends along its coastline and into its verdant rural landscapes. Visitors planning their travels here may feel a bit overwhelmed with questions like: Should I stay in North Goa, South Goa, or Panjim? Which is the best beach in South Goa? And so on. On my recent trip to Goa, I spent time in all three places and visited different beaches in Goa. Without hesitation, my travel mates and I agreed on our favorite place in the entire region: Cola Beach, Goa.
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An Introduction to this Hidden Gem in Goa
While most visitors to South Goa flock to the beach towns of Palolem and Agonda, just a few trickle onto the elusive Cola Beach. On our recent visit, we found fewer than a dozen travelers on this quaint beach. And due to the smaller amount of visitors, there are currently just a few places to sleep and eat by this beautiful beach. Thus, today Cola beach is a relatively lesser-known hidden gem in Goa.
Fun fact: Please do not confuse COLA beach with COLVA beach. They are two completely separate and different beaches located one hour from each other.
About Cola Beach, Goa: Stunning Beauty & Tranquility
Cola Beach (also known as Khola Beach) offers fine golden sand beaches dotted with large volcanic boulders and a backdrop of tall forested hills. The beach itself offers a relaxed atmosphere and is generally swimmable. We were met with a few waves but found them small enough to still swim and have fun in like little children! Please do note that the depth of the beach can suddenly change. There were a few times where I walked forwards and stumble about a foot in. You may also come across a few rocks and massive boulders which you should stay away from to avoid a wave crashing you into them.
Staying for sunset in Cola Beach is a must. Goa generally offers gorgeous sunsets, but here in Cola beach, it’s extra special due to the landscape of this beach and the reflection of the colors off of the sand and flat streams. You can hang out by the nearby river looking out into the beach and take in the stunning sunset. Or hang out by a magical little island that appears during high tide and marvel at the swirl of colors along the horizon. Remember to stick around after the sun fully sets, that’s when the colors radiate even more vibrantly across the Goan skies.
What Makes Cola Beach the Best Beach in South Goa? The Blue Lagoon! (AKA “Emerald Lagoon”)
Along Cola beach, you can either hang out at or walk past the Cola Beach resort which sits at the edge of the beach, and walk to the unique point where a special river pours out into Cola Beach. This point is called the Blue Lagoon / Emerald Lagoon although it’s the end of the freshwater stream that meets Cola Beach. I imagine it’s called an emerald lagoon because of its clear green colors and its calm swimmable waters. The river/”lagoon” is enclosed by tall palm trees and lush verdant borders along its canal. Together, this makes Cola Beach a true highlight experience in Goa. The water in this river (“lagoon”) can change depending on the weather patterns. It may be extremely low or high enough for you to float on with a tube. As you can see above, when we went, it was just after a cyclone so the water was extremely low but still absolutely beautiful.
Getting to Cola Beach
Our journey to Cola Beach began with a two-hour drive from Panjim (Goa’s city center). The farther we got from the city, the curvier and less lit the roads became. It’s important to be very cautious driving there, as there are wandering cows through many roads and sometimes sharp curves which can be dangerous on narrow roads. Don’t mismanage your time as we did, drive there in the daytime.
It is also simply not “easy” to reach Cola Beach. There are no buses that go there and you must veer off onto an unpaved road with bumpy rock formations that stick out along the path. Do not attempt this drive with a car that’s too low to the ground. A scooter, higher car, or SUV is best for reaching Cola Beach. Otherwise, you can hire a driver or pay for a transfer.
Do not attempt to reach Cola Beach on a conventional bicycle. We found 3 travelers who had tried biking to Cola Beach and found themselves too exhausted to go back yet stuck with their bulky bikes, unable to continue forward.
Reaching Cola Beach Through Samyama Retreat
We saw a lot of lost travelers trying to reach Cola beach. Some people actually hike from Palolem to get to Cola Beach. But an easy hack is to put Samyama Retreat on your Google Maps. This will take you to the road (30-minute walk or 10-minute hired scooter ride) that leads to Samyama Retreat area. Then you go down the steps and cross the bridge. Within a 10 minute walk, you will reach the Blue Lagoon Resort. Ask the people there which way is the lagoon. They will point left and so you pass through the houses and reach the Blue Lagoon and Cola Beach point within minutes!
Cola Beach is Worth the Bumpy Journey
But this arduous road to Cola Beach is what’s kept Cola Beach a serene, clean, and pristine hidden oasis. The journey to Cola Beach helps filter out the crowds and rowdy visitors. Keep a positive perspective and remember that life is about the journey! Enjoy the views there and appreciate the rural local life along that bumpy road that you can’t see everywhere.
However you choose to arrive at Cola beach, by the time you get there, you will know it is worth the trip! And you will very likely agree that it’s the best beach in South Goa!
Where to Stay in Cola Beach
We were actually first attracted to this region of Cola Beach because of a new set of cabins that had just opened up “retreat-style”. The stay in itself was part of the vacation and charm within nature. So consider spending at least a night in one of the nearby accommodations close to the beach so that you can enjoy a full day here without having to drive out of the Cola Beach area at night. While there aren’t that many places in Cola Beach to stay in, here are the most reputable and beautiful places, including the one we stayed at.
- Dwarka Eco Beach Resort – This is the best place to stay if you’re going to Cola Beach. Hands down. Highest reviews and it’s right on the beach and close to the few places to eat.
- Samyama Retreat – They are no longer on booking.com but I liked staying at this humble space. It was perfectly located for beach access but not right on the beach (safer from the storms). This rustic set of cabins offers a small restaurant at the foot of the property and it sits above a river that flows into the Blue Lagoon at Cola Beach. This is where we stayed and we had a lovely time.
- Blue Lagoon Resort – A classic and is located right by the beach.
- Cola Beach Resort – Another classic as it’s one of the most popular spots and is also on the beach.
- NEAR COLA BEACH: If you don’t want to stay in Cola Beach but want to be near it, check out Goa Cottages in Agonda. They are way more affordable than Dwarka and much easier to get to.
Worst Time to Visit Cola Beach, Goa
We’d recently visited Cola Beach right after Cyclone Kyarr passed through and sucked away much of the sand and water. The beach, while still stunningly beautiful lost about a meter or two of height. This means it was extremely difficult to get to nearby restaurants and the water of the Emerald Lagoon/river had decreased. Thus, if you can choose when to visit Cola Beach, try to go after mid-November. Even in October now, there are multiple cyclones and heavy rains in the region.
Day Trips From Cola Beach
If you decide you’re ready to explore more of the region after recharging in beautiful Cola Beach, consider one of the following amazing day trips:
- Butterfly Beach – A strong contender for the “best beach in South Goa” title!
- Tanshikar Spice Farm – One of the best spice farms in Goa. You won’t see tourist buses here and it’s owned by a local family. This is about 90 minutes from Cola Beach and 1 hour from Palolem.
- Palolem – Cute beach town bustling with restaurants and different shops. Perfect for shopping, eating and dipping your toes in the beach. This beach is much larger than Cola Beach and much more crowded. Palolem is about 30 minutes from Cola Beach.
- Agonda Beach – Popular beach town about 20 minutes from Cola Beach.
- Dudhsagar Waterfall – About 3 hours each way from Cola Beach.
Tours to Cola Beach & South Goa
Limited on time? Can’t afford to spend a few nights in Southern Goa? That’s OK! Consider hiring a private driver to take you around. Or, if you want to skip the taxi mafia, consider hiring a local tour guide who can take you around unique sights. Here are some special tours around Goa with raving reviews:
- Monsoon Sea-Side Exploratory Trail
- Divar Island on e-Bike
- Village Vistas of Cansaulim (pictured above)
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