The Ultimate Guide to Goa Surfing

by Oliver Sander

Goa surfing is among the best surfing in India. A region known for its gold-sand beaches and good-time vibes, the country’s smallest state also packs in some top beginner breaks.

Goa surfing

Goa surfing at a glance

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

The good

  • Mellow and easy-going breaks for beginners
  • Warm water
  • Great vibes – this is Goa, after all

The bad

  • The breaks lack quality for serious surfers
  • Lack of surfing infrastructure
  • The best surf is in the monsoon, when it rains!

This guide is just one part of our complete guide to surfing in India

What’s in this guide to Goa surfing?

An introduction to Goa surfing

Goa surfing – like the surfing in the rest of India – is still very much in its infancy. But, of all the regions that do have waves in this huge subcontinent of a country, this one’s probably top of the list. From north to south, Goa is 100km of perfectly south-west facing beaches. To give you an idea of just how enticing that should sound to surfers, that’s roughly the same orientation on the Indian Ocean as the south-west side of Sri Lanka and the edge of Sumatra in Indo.

The downside is that Goa picks up nowhere near the sort of dominant currents as those other spots. In the absence of big groundswell channels from the Southern Ocean and any coastal trenches, you’re really at the whim of the monsoon wind swells. That’s not to say they aren’t fun. When it’s five foot and clean with some light off shores in May, Goa throws up mellow, frothy waves that are downright perfect for beginners.

This guide takes a look at the best surf spots in the region. It also has some tips on the best surf camps that Goa has to offer – some of which are a foothold for getting to some of the very best surfing in India as a whole…

Where is Goa?

Goa is the smallest state in India. It sits almost exactly midway between Mumbai and Kochi, right on the edge of the Indian Ocean. It’s western shoreline runs from the border with Maharashtra all the way to the border with Karnataka (another of the top surf areas in India). Inland, you get the rises of the Western Ghats mountains, which offer plenty of adventure when the surf is low.

A guide to the Goa surf spots

Apart from a few river mouth spots that can hold up well on larger monsoon days, Goa is really all about the mellow beach break. Here’s a look at the most popular places to paddle out, running from north to south. You’ll also find a few hidden spots in the mix, but you gotta’ ask the locals for those!

Surf spots in north Goa

North Goa beaches

Arambol Beach

Home to the Wala Surf school – one of the better-known surf schools in the region – Arambol Beach has arguably the best surf in the north of Goa. It’s a beach break that can handle anything up to 7 foot. Sometimes a closeout but often an A-frame with lefts and rights. The rights tend to hold up better and can even get hollow. You’re talking about ducking deep to get pitting but it’s good fun. Relies on the sandbanks that can sometimes be fickle, but don’t worry the town is a good laugh.

Aswem Beach

Aswem is home to one of North Goa’s top watersports camps. It’s mainly frequented by kitesurfers, but there’s a growing number of surfers. The reason is the open river mouth break that can get some nice left-hand rides when there’s anything 3-foot and up.

Baga

Baga Beach is the northern end of Calungute. It’s one of the more exposed beachfronts in the region, good at drawing in both W and SW swells. Almost always limited to bodyboarding in the high season when it’s calmer, it’s working at its best on 5-8 foot swells. Truthfully, it rarely peaks over 4 foot, but that’s okay fort logging and practicing.

Calungute

Similar to Baga, Calungute is a small-wave break but with arguably the best consistency in Goa. On a gently arcing stretch of sand, the waves here work best on a direct W swell. That’s actually pretty rare in the dry months between November and March, but you can catch some nice days in the heavier monsoon midseason. Calungute can be clean when its sunny and offshores are rare. It’s a loggers and a foamies paradise.

Surfing in south Goa

South Goa beaches

Betalbatim

Betalbatim beach merges with Arossim Beach (which is slightly to the north) to create a large sweep of sand that sometimes works with onshore westerly swells. It’s close to the town of Vasco da Gama, so pretty accessible. It’s just the break that lets it down, because the spot is all mush, even when it’s at its best.

Varca

Varca Beach is pretty stunning. It’s more Caribbean than Indian, offering white-tinged sands and a very shallow sand ledge before the open Indian Ocean. That actually cuts down the wave size. It’s sometimes a rare longboarder spot but don’t get your hopes up for anything crazy. Mostly little, nippy shorebreaks that are good for foamies to practice.

Agonda

Agonda Beach is probably the most consistent spot for surfing in South Goa. It runs best on 4-5 foot with light easterly winds. You’re talking punchy little peaks that come in across the whole length of the beach. They’re usually more punchy at the north end before the coast turns inwards and narrows. In addition to the surf, you’ve got a great array of curry houses and little beach shacks to pick from, so there’s no getting bored on the inevitable Goa flat day!

Palolem

Palolem is something of a chilled hippy enclave. It’s among the rarer options for surfing in south Goa, but we’d say beware of planning your whole surf trip around this one. It’s a fickle wave that rarely peaks above chest height outside the monsoon. When it does, it’s dumpy and mainly whitewash. Good fun for foamers at the golden hour, when some bodyboarding goes down a storm. Rentals for those are available right on the beachfront.

Where to stay when surfing in Goa

Goa has an upcoming scene on the surf-hotel front. We’ve chosen a few of the top spots close to Arambol Beach, because that’s certainly the best place to be based if you’re heading to this corner of India for the surf.

Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel ($$$)

Best for: Luxury!

Wowza, the Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel is a stunner. Perched on a high clifftop above the rolling Indian Ocean waves, it’s a vintage building come boutique hotel. You can expect large, four-poster beds and beautiful views.

Maitree ($-$$)

Best for: Getting a beach bungalow

Maitree is a classic Goan beach resort set out close to the sands (and the surf breaks) in the bungalow style. You’ll sleep within earshot of the waves in a wood-built cabana, or in one of the normal interior bedrooms. The gardens are lush and lovely and the owners are known for their hospitality.

Mitra Hostel ($)

Best for: True Goan experience

Those looking for the full-on Goa hippy vibe will find it going strong at the Mitra Hostel. A vibrant place where it should be easy to meet and mingle with other travelers, it’s every inch the off-beat, boho bargain stay.

The best season for Goa surfing

The season really matters when it comes to planning a surf trip to Goa, and surfing in India as a whole for that matter. Essentially, you’re looking for the extra energy that the monsoon can bring to bear across the Indian Ocean. Specifically, it’s the windswells that you want to keep things moving along. Here’s a guide to the two very distinct seasons…

Dry season (November-March)

The dry season does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s dry! More than that, it sees the Indian Ocean currents calm all around this part of South Asia. It’s normal to have days and even weeks of totally flat seas. That suits the holidaymakers but not the surfers. You can get decent swell, but it’s a risk. Basically, come for the sun first and the surf second if you plan a trip between November and March.

Wear: Rash vest and board shorts

Monsoon (May-August)

This is the time! Hit Arambol Beach around June or July and you should catch the full punch of the Indian monsoon. It can really help fire up the breaks along this western coast of the subcontinent. Occasional SW swells file through and offer sets of 10-12 foot, though that’s rare. The best days that really show off the shape of the Goa sandbanks are 5-7 footers with some light offshore winds from the east. Get in early for those or go at sunset. Expect lots of rain, because this is the monsoon after all!

Wear: Always! Rash vest and board shorts

Surf shops in Goa

Because Goa still isn’t up there with the world’s most famous surf destinations, you might find that there’s less infrastructure on the ground than your used to. While Bali has a surf shop every 10 metres, it can be tricky to find a single stockist in the whole state. However…

Surf Wala

Surf Wala is one of the most acclaimed surf schools in Arambol area. It’s less of a shop, more of a rental. However, you can drop in to top up on the necessaries – wax, rash vest, things like that. The folk are usually happy to help.

Surf gear in Goa

There are a few items we’d 100% recommend you pack for that Goa surf trip. From action cams to the right surf wax, we’ve got ya’ covered:

The GoPro HERO 9 has wide-angle features that make those Goan beaches look even more stunning than you think they are! We also love the stabilization for on-board recording.

Rash vests are all that are needed in Goa. We’d recommend one with 50+ SPF like this O’Neill Men’s Basic Skins. It’s better for the hot sun that you can get in Goa, even in the monsoon season!

We took this essential India guide by Lonely Planet pretty much EVERYWHERE in India. The surf content is a little thin on the ground, but it can be your go-to when the waves are low and you want to search for the best local beaches or visit the Western Ghats.

Things to do when you’re not surfing in Goa

Goa is a gorgeous place to holiday, no matter if you’re surfing or not. Definitely also set aside time to…

Palolem cove

Patnem and Palolem beaches

We much preferred the far south of Goa to the more party-mad north. Sadly, the north has the best surf. So, head down to Patnem and Palolem when you’re done with the waves and you’ll find golden arches of sand with yoga studios and salt-washed beach shacks that sit just back from the tide.

Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary

Goa might be India’s smallest state but it still manages to pack in some pretty sublime nature. If it’s the monsoon (the top surf time), you’re also treated to the best wildlife viewing conditions. For that, do a safari to the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. It’s got a treetop viewing platform where you can look for lorises and pit vipers and other amazing creatures!

How to get to Goa

  • Fly: Goa International Airport, also known as Dabolim Airport, is the main airport serving the state of Goa. It’s located on a headland in the middle of the state, around 1.5 hours’ transfer from the surf hotspot of Arambol in the north.
  • Train: Travel by train is a real experience in India. That’s how we arrived on our last trip to Goa. Most of the long-distance services from Kochi or Mumbai come into Madgaon Junction. From there, it’s nearly two hours to north Goa and around an hour to south Goa.

Travel insurance for trips to Goa

Goa tickled your fancy? If you’re thinking about surfing in this sun-kissed corner of India, it’s good idea to have travel insurance in case something goes wrong on your surf trip. We’ve often used World Nomads. Their policies cover a range of adventure sports and activities. You can read more about their cover for surf right here.

All of the information provided about travel insurance is a brief summary only. It does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions of the travel insurance plans described. Coverage may not be available for residents of all countries, states or provinces. Please carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage.


We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This article is just one part of our complete guide to surfing India

Leave a Comment