Goa….. It is definitely the place that brings joy to everyone irrespective of age. I have never come across anyone till date who does not want to visit Goa at least once in his/her lifetime. Every bachelor or bachelorette group will have a plan for Goa with a whatsapp group named after the trip, every newlywed couple will include Goa in their bucket list, and every office trip will keep an option for a weekend in Goa. It has everything one can imagine on a holiday, infect Goa itself sounds like holiday to me.
Goa is the West coast paradise of India; it is encircled by Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south, with the Arabian Sea forming its western coast. As the first Portuguese colony in India Goa has a rich cultural and religious history. This smallest state of India has a unique cultural synthesis of both Indian and Portuguese traditions that is quite unlikely to any other states of the country that attracts the travellers every year in a large number from in and around the world.
The splendour of Goa lies within the beautiful beaches, the most admired natural attractions without a doubt, but of course Goa is beyond beaches. One simply cannot ignore the Portuguese heritage, the amazing sea food and the iconic monuments that coincides the beaches of Goa. North Goa has a vibrant and “happening” beach holiday vive and the South Goa has a more relaxing retreat for a traveller. Goa is a perfect spice mix for that lip smacking holiday recipe.
It was all of a sudden we decided to visit Goa last year (2017) in the month of April. Not a preferred time to travel to a beach destination I must say. But frankly speaking it did not bother us much; we had fun and roamed around like crazy.
The best time to visit:
Mid February – Mid November is considered as the best time to visit Goa, to relax on the beaches and indulge in the outdoor activities. December is the most crowded month, for the Christmas and New Year celebrations. However, to enjoy the monsoon and the greener side of Goa July to September can be a great time. But March to May is the least preferred time, as the sun is too strong and the Sea is rougher. The weather also turns hot and humid during these months. However, this time is least crowded and budget friendly. As the prices of the hotels and home stays drop to a reasonable range.
Goa is connected through several ways, Air, Train and Bus all the options are available to travel to Goa. We preferred to travel to Goa from Mumbai by Air. It was an early morning flight from the Mumbai international airport to Dabolim. We reached within an hour and rented a car to Panjim.
Air: Goa is well connected to every major city in India through Air. Daily flights are available from cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru etc. The Dabolim airport is approximately 29 km. away from Panjim or Panaji, which is the capital of Goa. Taxis are easily available at a reasonable price at the airport.
Train: Goa is very well connected with all other states of the country through train. There are three major train stations in Goa, Madgaon, Vasco da Gama and Thivim railway station. Apart from this Bus services from nearby cities like Mumbai and Pune to Goa are also available.
It is very convenient to travel in Goa; you can either hire a Taxi or Self Drive/ride. By providing an ID proof anyone can rent a two wheeler or four wheeler to roam around this beautiful place.
Things to see around:
A beach is a place where you should be in a Goa vacation, yes indeed!! The sight of glinting sands and blue waters, the crazy nightlife of the Tito’s road and the lively Saturday night market at Arapora definitely makes Goa the most amazing beach capital of India. Goa hosts around 30 beaches, each one with unique beauty and appeal. Form electric party destinations to tranquil and peaceful ones each catering to every kind of vacations. North Goa has some of the most lively beaches like Anjuna, Ashwem, Arambol, Baga, Candolim, Calangute and Morjim etc., while South Goa is a host to some of the most serene and calm beaches like Colva, Galgibaga, Palolem, Vraca and Bogmalo beach etc.
Miramar beach: We started our tour from a beach in Panjim, it has only two beaches one is Miramar and the other one is Caranzalem beach. We went to Miramar beach, a small beach situated at the confluence of Mandovi River and Arabian Sea. It is one of the most visited beaches of Goa, the wonderful strip of white sand extended to almost 2 km makes a perfect getaway for evening walks and Sea views. Meanwhile, there is nothing much to do in this beach compared to the other beaches of Goa. However, The National Institute of Water sports is located at the Cabo Raj Bhavan Hillock is near to Miramar beach where training for water sports and other water activities are provided. We anyway had no intention to indulge ourselves in any activities but to enjoy the sunset and take a walk over the warm sand and that’s what we did.
Baga Beach: One of the most popular stopovers of Goa is Baga Beach. This beach is lively and bracing through the sunrise and sunset. It is 16 km away from Panjim and falls in the middle of Calangute and Anjuna Beach. It is one of most favourite attractions and popular beaches of Goa. It attracts thousands of tourists every day because of its vibrant and lively environment, the sun and the sand, the flea markets, nightlife and water sports activities. You cannot complete a description of Baga beach without mentioning its food culture. Some of the most iconic eateries at Baga are cafe Tito’s and Cafe Mambo, they offer a wide range of lip smacking sea food and Goan cuisine. Apart from the scenic delight, the beach also provides a number of activities to the tourists. Water sports activities like Para sailing, jet skiing, windsurfing and wake boarding to name a few. A paradise of white sand and golden sun by the day and a carnival like environment by the night, makes Baga one of the most visited and loved beaches of Goa. We had an awesome time in Baga beach from water sports to dancing in the tune of live music we did it all. Baga is definitely a must visit in Goa.
Anjuna beach: Anjuna is another star attraction of Goa. This dazzling beach is perfect choice to add to your trip. This beach is 18 km away from Panjim. Famous for its chilling ambience, happening nightlife and splendid flea market. One of the most iconic attractions of Anjuna beach is Curlies beach restaurant. A romantic candle lit dinner in the balcony overlooking the Arabian Sea or grabbing a drink from the roof top lounge bar in Curlies is definitely a wonderful experience.
Ashwem Beach: Ashwem also known as Ashvem beach is one of the most beautiful beaches of Goa. The Ashwem beach is 30 km away from the capital city of Panjim and extends from the north banks of the river Chapora to Querim beach near Terekol river. This hidden gem offers delightful ocean vistas and a quite escape to the tourists. The beach is a perfect escape for those who want a peaceful beach vacation. It is known for its natural beauty and solitude. The beach is mostly undisturbed and away from the crowd. Only the sound of the Sea waves can be heard in the whole surrounding. Although, it does not host any water sports activities, but if you want to relax and pamper yourself perhaps an Ayurvedic massage in one of the best nearby resorts will complete your vacation.
Goa has a plethora of choices when it comes to travelling around. There is no doubt that the beaches are the major attractions, however, apart from the beaches it also has a number of iconic places to visit. We visited a number of such locations to explore a different side of Goa.
Basilica of Bom Jesus: This church is one of the most visited spots of Goa. It is built in the 16th century and situated in the old Goa. The meaning of Bom Jesus is infant Jesus, therefore, the Church is a tribute to the infant Jesus. Basilica of Bom Jesus has great significance among the Christian community and recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site. One of the major attractions of the Church is the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, who was one of the pioneer saints of Goa. As soon as you enter the church the remains of his body can be seen kept at a glass box inside the church. The interiors of the church is extremely breathtaking.
Se Cathedral: This Cathedral is one of the most ancient structures of Goa. It is also located at the old Goa neighbouring the famous Basilica of Bom Jesus Church. it is dedicated to the Catherine of Alexandria, who is counted among the few women martyrs. The Se Cathedral is an excellent example of Portuguese era, spread across a huge area, it is one of the largest Churches of India. With its superb mosaic work, intricate wood and gilded carvings and extremely stunning interiors with soaring ceilings, the Se Cathedral is an absolute must visit for anyone who comes to Goa.
Aguada Fort: The Aguada fort is an excellent monument of Portuguese construction. Although, some parts of it have fallen, much of it is still intact and it remains as one of the best preserved Portuguese structures in India today. Built in the year 1612, to once guard the Portuguese stronghold against Dutch and Maratha invaders. The fort derives its name from the word Fresh water (Agua), a freshwater spring within the fort provided water supply to the ships that used to stop by. This is how the fort came to be known as Aguada forth meaning freshwater. The fort is bordered by River Mandovi and Sinquerim and Candolim beaches on the sides overlooking the majestic Arabian sea. One of the major attractions of this fort is the towering lighthouse. The fort has numerous cannons lined up on the top of the fort surface. A particular section of the fort is converted into a central Jail and another part is converted into a luxury beach resort. Fort Aguada is definitely a must visit when in Goa. The breathtaking view of the blue Arabian Sea and the green neighbouring villages indeed adds to the beauty of this historical place.
Dona Paula: another popular destination in Goa among the tourists is Dona Paula, located at the southern part of Goa in the rocky cape where the rivers Mandovi and Zuari confluence with the Arabian Sea. The place provides a wonderful view of the blue waters of evening Sea, natural surroundings and sunset from above the hillock. The place is popular as a lover’s paradise. This is largely because of a myth attached to it, according to the legends Dona Paula the daughter of the Viceroy, jumped from the cliff as she faced objections from her family for having an affair with a son of a fisherman. So the beach and the spot is popularly refered as Dona Paula.
Of course there are number of other amazing spots and attractions in Goa to explore apart from these selected few. We are definitely visiting Goa again to cover the rest of the beautiful spots.
Water Sports: indulge yourself in the verity of water sports activities while in Goa. There are plenty of water sports operations in Goa to choose from, the North Goa being the hub. Activities like Jet Skiing, Para sailing and Diving etc will definitely bring the adventurous side of yours out providing you an experience of the life time.
Visit a Casino: Goa visit is incomplete without visiting a casino, it has some of the most famous casinos of India. these casinos feature several games like slots, poker and roulette etc. the floating casinos can be a great option for cruising and relaxing as well. To name a few such casinos are, Casino Carnival, Casino Royal etc.
Eat Bebinca: How can you leave Goa without eating Bebinca. It’s a popular Goan dessert made with coconut milk, sugar, eggs or without eggs, flour and cardamom-nutmeg powder. It is a delight to your taste buds and a must buy for family and friends back at home.
Shopping in the flea Markets: be it the Saturday night market of Arapora or the Tibetan Market of Goa. Shopping in these flea markets definitely is a must. From live music to awesome street food and from variety of cloths to gifting items everything is available in these flea markets.
Don’t forget to do all these amazing activities and have fun in Goa.
Our trip to Goa was indeed memorable and full of fun. A vacation with enjoyment and adventure. I am definitely going back for another such memorable trip to Goa and explore the rest of the attractions soon. What about you?? Have you ever been to Goa? If not hurry up, just pack your bags and rush to Goa, and now you know what to do in Goa exactly!! Happy vacation to you.