It’s hard talking about a place you’re yet to visit in person. It takes some level of imagination to pull it off, like when we were salivating about the serenity of Sweden. But after watching Travel Channel on television whet my appetite about this beautiful city with their awesome review, I’ve never been so excited to want to travel to India than I am now, especially Goa.
So I decided to do my own digging, more like a guide to help me travel to Goa in the nearest future, and hopefully, to convince you to come on this journey with me.
What’s there to love about Goa? Everything! According to locals, from the calm, serene beaches where one can lie down on the beautiful sand and watch the sun set, to the unmistakable classic Portuguese architecture that still coats most buildings; from the yummy sea food and tantalizing local delicacies, to the beautiful weather made just for the movies. Goa seems to be the perfect holiday destination. Personally, there are a few things that give me the kicks about any city: the food, the beach, natural spots for outdoor activities, and the people. As a poet, it helps if the city has a thing for the arts as well. And based on what I’ve seen and heard so far, Goa ticks most, if not all the boxes. So let’s start with the first one.
When it comes to experiencing adventure in your taste buds, India has always led the charts with their variety of spices and dishes. My first interest in Goa arose when Food Network aired a program, Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations, on the Portuguese inspired dishes of Goa. As a travel gourmet, I was mesmerized by the flavours that was being created and showcased on screen, they were so appealing I could even taste them. Among so many dishes are favourites such as Chicken or Pork Vindaloo which is a dish that consists of pork/chicken, chilies, garlic, vinegar and other spices which are then mixed, stored overnight and then fried; Fish Recheado which is basically fried fished stuffed with masala and onions and served with Goan bread; Bebinca – the multilayered cake (more like pancake) prepared using coconut milk, sugar and eggs, and so much more.
This is probably what Goa is most known for with more than 30 beaches. It’s a beach destination and has the most clean beaches in India. Though the most popular beach is the Calangute Beach (in North Goa, about 16kms from Panaji) because it has the best infrastructure for tourists, however there are some other less popular beaches such as Baga Beach, Candolim Beach, Dona Paula Beach, Vagator Beach etc, for those looking to have some alone time enjoying the sunset. A local recommended Vagator Beach as his favourite because of its beautiful rocks, golden sand, tall dancing coconut trees, and the 500-year old Chapora fort as background.
If you love outdoor adventures like myself, then you’ll love some of these activities:
- Parasailing: This is one of the most popular adventure sports offered in Goa. This is being offered in beaches such as Baga, Dona Paula and Majorda. Imagine enjoying the view of the Arabian Sea while flying high up in the sky!
- Kayaking: As a huge Kayaking enthusiast, this thrills me. It’s more popular in South Goa beaches, and is best enjoyed with a group of friends. Some places to Kayak include Nerul River, Dona Paula Jetty, Palolem Beach, etc. Best time to enoy it is between October and May when the currents are moderate.
- Camping: All night camping at the beach with friends is one of the most memorable experiences to have. Imagine the sound of the waves, a bonfire, a guitar playing, some delicacies to accompany and the warmth of friendship. If you aren’t a fan of tents, beaches such as Palolem offers bamboo and wooden huts for your relaxation.
- Hiking: Despite the fact that Goa has lots of beaches with lots of adventure activities on water, in-land adventures abound too. Mahavir Wildlife Santuary and Mollem National Park is really great for hiking. You could also trek to Dudhsagar Falls or to Netravali Wildlife Santuary with its spectacular views of the nature.
- Other outdoor activities in Goa include Hot Air Balloon Flight, Aqua Zorbing and Zoccer, ATV Biking, Banana Boat Rides, Kite Surfing, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding and Kneeboarding, River Rafting, Windsurfing and boat cruise in Mandovi river.
The people are generally warm, but just like everywhere else, there are good and bad people. A lot of travelers have recounted terrible experiences from the hands of locals who liks to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists and solo travelers, while others have recounted pleasant experiences. If you’re traveling to Goa for the first time, it’s advisable you get to know a local who would be happy to help and explore this beautiful destination with you. Be security conscious, and make sure some boxes are checked before you begin your exploration.
Goa is very rich in music and arts. It is said to host multiple music and arts festivals yearly, attracting musicians and artists all over India and the world. There’s also an annual carnival in Panjim. It’s famous for its churches with its influence of European architecture.
Is Goa Expensive?
It could, depending on when you visit. There’s the off-season which is from June to September,and this is because of the heavy rains. Then there’s the peak season which is from December to January. Things get pretty expensive during this period. However, it’s advisable to visit around November/February to get the best of the weather and tariffs as well. Few things that could cost include:
- Transportation: You can get to Goa by plane as all domestic flights get to Goa. However if you’re on a budget, then you should try the train. Many trains depart from major cities in India to Goa. Margao and Vasco de Gama are the major railway stations in Goa. You can also do road trips, which is my personal favourite.
- Accommodation: If money is no object, then you may want to consider staying at a beachside resort so as to enjoy the beaches. However, if you’re on a budget, then consider staying at hotels that are a little distance away from the beaches. If on the other hand you’re on a shoe string budget, then consider my personal favourite, couchsurfing.
- Exploration: You could go for guided tours which is sometimes cheaper, that way you don’t have to worry about transportation around the city. However, if you’re like me, who likes to explore for themselves, then there are ways to go about it to save you some cash. As long as you have a valid driver’s license, you could hire a two-wheeler at affordable prices and explore the city yourself. There’s also public transportation available.
Goa is definitely a must-visit for me, and I hope it you’ve also added it to your bucket list. There’s indeed more to Goa than the sun, sand and beach!