Harmal or Arambol in Goa is probably the favorite destination for the budget travelers who want to spend some time in Goa. Close to the Goa International Airport, the small fishing village is usually the first stop for tourists. The beach, although crowded, is fit for swimming. The stunning Harmal was discovered in the 60’s by hippies trying to escape the crowded scene of Calangute. It is currently the favorite hideout for tourists looking for some peace and solitude. But tourists looking for a more relaxed experience can head to Mandrem or Kalacha Beach.
The bohemian vibe of this small fishing village is very addictive, and you might not want to leave it.
Keynotes on Arambol, Goa
Famous for: golden beaches and serene landscape
Visit Duration: one to two days
Ideal for: day or weekend trips
Ideal time to visit: November to March recommended
Best Visited with solo, Group, Couple, or Family
Accommodation: shacks, budget hotels, app-based homestays, resorts
Languages Spoken: Kanada and Marathi is widely spoken – English and Hindi are understood by most.
Some of the Popular Attractions of Arambol, Goa
This budget holiday destination of Goa has several attractions, starting from beaches, ancient forts and jungles. You can do street shopping, eat at the local shacks, or just watch the sun setting on the Arabian Sea - the list of attractions at Harmal is endless.
1. Paliyem Sweet Water Lake
Officially known as the Vagkolam, the Sweet Water Lake is one of the popular tourist spots of Arambol. The only fresh water strip on the shores of Goa, this water body is very close to the Arabian Sea. The place holds a special reverence for the local Hindu community. According to many, the clay of the lake holds healing properties and often you can find tourists coating their bodies with it. The place has a money stone – a concept derived by Polish conceptualist Jacek Tylicki. The lines ‘Give If You Can – Take if you have to’ are inscribed on the stone urging the visitors to donate anything – money, first aid, food.
2. Terekhol Fort
Also referred to as the Fort Tiracol, the fortress is located at the northern tip of the state. Built across the Tiracol River, the fort was once the stronghold of the Maratha and then Portuguese regime. Constructed during the 18th century, the fortress is currently a heritage hotel with a beautiful courtyard, and a dining restaurant. The tiny but delightful Chapel of St Anthony, on the fortress encampment, is a beautiful shrine and a must visit by for the tourists.
3. Arambol Beach
Often regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches of Goa, the place attracts international as well as domestic tourists. Due to its boho-vibe attached to this small fishing village, you might find tourists relaxing or meditating on the seashore. Several beach shacks organize parties in the evening where music and drinks could be found. These seaside huts also sell some of the classiest Goan cuisines like vindaloo, cafreal, and fresh golden fried prawns, which will tickle your taste buds. The somewhat sandy-rocky seascape of the beach makes is ideal for beach activities and swimming.
P.S: You can try leisure water sports like kite surfing or paragliding here.
4. Street Shopping
Shopping at Goa is an experience, and Arambol is no exception. The small shacks, running parallel to the beach, sells colorful Indian trinkets like jewelry, clothes, crystals and other colorful stuffs. Before making the purchase, remember to haggle with the shopkeeper to get the right deal. Also, carry loose change to make the payments. A flee market sets up every evening, which is also a great option.
P.S: After you are done with shopping and swimming at the Arambol, just hire a sun bed from the nearby shacks and chill. To make the things interesting, order a plate of spicy fried prawns and chilled drinks while enjoying the gorgeous sun dipping into the Arabian Sea.
Some Important Pointers for the Tourists
a. Touring around Arambol in Goa
The small fishing village is can be covered on foot, but hire a motorcycle or scooter and take it for a ride just like the locals. It is a great experience. Two-wheelers can be hired from almost every guesthouse and shack in the Harmal. Available at INR 300 to 400, during the peak tourist season the fare might peak.
Pro tip: Haggle with the dealer to get a good deal for the hired scooter or motorbike. Also, helmets are not the part of the deal but could be arranged by the dealer. Do carry you driving license and other credentials - it might be required while renting the vehicle.
b. Reaching Harmal, Goa
Nearest Railway station: Thivim Train Station (19.6 km / 12 miles), Sawantwadi Road Railway Station (21.9 km / 13.6 miles).
There are only a few buses running between the Arambol and Thivim. Most of the buses available at the route are:
b. Board the bus on the Panaji – Belgav route from the Thivim railway station. Get down at Karaswada Char Rasta. From Karaswada, board a Panaji – Keri bus and get down at Harambol.
Nearest Airport: Dabolim Airport (67 km/ 41.6 miles) – takes around 2 to 2.5 hours
From the Airport, you can board the bus to Calangute. Drop at Panaji Bus Depot, and get on the Panaji – Keri bus. Get down at Arambol.
Or, else you can hire a taxi from the Taxi Bay. The entire trip would take around two hours, depending on the traffic. The cab usually charges around INR 1,000 to 1,200, but the fare is subjected to change.