Known for its gorgeous beaches, adventure sports, phenomenal nightlife and oh-so-pretty beach shacks, Goa indisputably has to be amongst the first few places to visit in India. Allured by the charm of this place, I packed my bags and boarded the next flight here!
Best Time to Visit
November to February is the perfect time to visit Goa to soak in the sun, relax on the beaches and enjoy other outdoor activities. December sees a huge footfall owing to the iconic “Sunburn” festival, Christmas & New Year celebration and prices can skyrocket around this time so you might want to book the tickets in advance.
How To Reach
By Air: Dabolim International Airport is 18 miles from Goa’s capital, Panajim and well connected by daily flights from major airports in India like, New Delhi and Mumbai.
By Train: Madgaon Railway Station and Thivim Railway Station are the main railway heads of Goa and well connected with other parts of India. (Pro Tip: The rail route from Mumbai to Goa is lined with scenic lush-green Western Ghat ranges)
By Road: You can hop onto a bus since Goa enjoys daily bus service from many cities like Mumbai and Pune. Alternatively, if you’re getting too adventurous, you can get a bike or a car and drive to Goa!
What To See
Goan beaches are sights of glimmering sands and azure waters with a glowing sun in the backdrop. Vibrant beaches in North Goa like Baga, Calangute, and Anjuna necklace the northern coastline with a myriad of shacks bustling with life, serving lip-smacking Konkan delicacies with cocktails and mocktails to go along. Sun, sands and a good old Goa Kings Beer are all I needed to laze around and soak up all the goodness!
Goan beaches also offer something very unique: COWS! Indian cows are free to roam and live wherever they choose to and in Goa, you will find them at the beach. I have been to countless number of beaches in my life, but never before did I sunbathe next to a cow.
South Goa is rather serene, with mellow beaches like Colva and Palolem. (Recommended if you want some peace and quiet.)
The Dudhsagar Falls (translating to “The Ocean Of Milk”) is a perennial waterfall and a must-see destination in Goa. I was left gazing at and admiring the spectacular beauty of the falls surrounded by lush greenery. Legend says that a princess was once bathing in the falls and spilled a jug of milk into the water to cover herself up with the opaque milk-water and save her modesty from nearby onlookers, thus giving the falls their legendary name.
The ancient Chapora Fort in North Goa offers splendid views of the adjoining Vagator beach and overlooks the Arabian Sea from all angles. The fort is located on top of a hillock with slopes on all sides, and I absolutely loved the old-world vibe the place had! Fort Aguada is another Portuguese lighthouse-fort standing on Sinquerim Beach, that gives an absolutely breathtaking view of the Arabian Sea.
Old Goa feels like you are walking through a deserted old town in Western Europe. The Portuguese ruled Goa from the 16th to the 19th Century, and have left their own unique impressions on this beautiful corner of India. The Portuguese influence can be seen all over Goa, from the distinctive Goan cuisine to the churches and decorated ceramic tiles. But nowhere is the European feel more prevalent than in the heart of Old Goa.
What To Do
If you’re looking to relax while sipping a cocktail on a beach, then Goa is your place! There’s a reason why Goa is called the “Party Capital” of India! It has the best beach parties and the hippest nightclubs to let your hair down.
One of my favorite places on Anjuna beach was Curlie’s. It’s a laid-back beach shack that is always buzzing with fellow travelers and wanderlusters. During the day, rent a bed with an umbrella to enjoy the beach and the amazing people watching. In the evening, grab a seat at the beach front bar to enjoy the sunset. The eclectic décor at Curlie’s will make this experience a memorable one!
Goa offers a plethora of adventure sports activities for adrenaline junkies! If you are keen to try scuba diving and snorkeling, this may be your best chance to do it on a budget. The instructors are well qualified and give a 1-hour training session before setting out. Being in the abandon of the infinite sea whilst exploring colorful corals and the exotic marine life was a surreal experience! Flyboarding, kayaking and parasailing are a few among the countless water sports activities that Goa offers.
Rent a Scooter
Renting a scooter would be my advice if you want to roam around the city and explore it like a local. It’s much quicker to get around while beach hopping and you get to do some sightseeing while on the road. Fair warning: this is only fun if you’re comfortable on a scooter enough to navigate in Indian traffic.
Anjuna Flea Market
The liveliest of all markets in Goa, held every Wednesday in the beach town of Anjuna in North Goa. Anjuna Flea Market offers an abundance of local handicrafts, spices, clothes, footwear, beach wear, artificial jewelry and accessories. I managed to strike a good deal on small souvenirs and clothes that are characteristic of the Goan vibe. The market also has live performances and food stalls so it’s worth visiting even if you’re not interested in shopping.
Goa has managed to completely entice me with its gorgeous beaches, old-world Portuguese charm and adventure sports. I’d recommend it to anyone as it has a variety of options for making your holiday either “happening”, or “laidback”. Goa has all the ingredients for a perfect holiday recipe.