Goa is one of the few destinations in India that is as popular with local tourists as it is with those visiting the country.
Over the years, this small part of such a vast country has achieved almost cult status. For many – students out on their first trip without parents – it’s the right of passage. For others, Goa is the perfect romantic destination.
Goa has lots to offer the young at heart who want to party all night. Lastly, there is the magnetic pull of Goan beaches, which might not be much in comparison to those of the Caribbean or Mediterranean, but still welcome traveler from around the world with their soft sands and a fresh sea breeze that graces this land all year long.
What makes Goa so special is the variety of activities it presents to those willing to experience it. From some of the best yoga retreats to fun in the water, there’s something for all age groups and all tastes.
A visit to Goa, especially your first, can be a little unnerving with so many options at hand. But if you take it slow, and plan a little in advance, there’s a good chance that you’ll leave with memories that will stay with you for a long time.
Everyone wants that perfect beach view when staying in Goa. While there’s obviously no harm in that, one must explore other, more inward resort options as well. These resorts provide a unique opportunity to explore a different side of the region.
Take Resort Rio Goa for instance, which is situated by the banks of Baga river, and close enough to Baga Beach to give its customers the best of both worlds.
Goan food is in a class of its own. Featuring fresh local produce and catch of the day, which includes the freshest of sea-food, Goan food is a medley of tastes and flavours that are sure to impress the most ardent of food lovers.
Goan food is influenced by Indian, Portuguese, Konkani, and to some extent, even Muslim cuisines, making it truly unique and a must-try.
Most hotels have multiple restaurants, with one or more focusing on the local cuisine. If unsure, ask the concierge at the resort you are staying for a nearby local foodie hot-spot.
And then there is the locally produced cashew or toddy-palm liquor, Feni, which is trademark Goa and demands at least a taste when there.
There is an abundance of activities to partake in when exploring Goa. One can rent a jet-ski, practice other adventurous beachside excursions or simply spend a day in the sun, by the water, doing absolutely nothing.
On rainy days, it’s always a good idea to stay in a resort where indoor activities are a-plenty, and most places will have kid-friendly options too.
Those interested in nature can plan a visit to the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary or to Dudhsagar Falls for a refreshing and scenic view.
But, if your favourite activity is shopping, then Goa has some famous flea-markets during the week and weekends that draw visitors from all over.
The flea markets of Goa are excellent places to grab a great deal, find local artifacts, and test your bargaining skills.
If you’re in Goa for a short period – say a weekend – then hiring a Taxi is the best option. But if your stay spills over for longer, then renting a car is the preferred way to go.
Taxis are an issue in Goa with some drivers demanding quite a high price for a short distance. Make sure you discuss the cost before sitting in one, or better yet, hire a taxi through the reception of the hotel you are staying in.
However, if you want to be a little more adventurous, then rent a scooter and zip through the inner roads. A great way to immerse in the beauty of the state that is tropical in nature and comes with all the attractiveness of palm trees along the highways and greenery all around.
Last but certainly not least, Goa is a lot more than resorts, the sea, and the beach. The Portuguese influence is evident everywhere you travel within the state.
From houses to churches, you must devote some part of your vacation plunging into the cultural aspects of this beautiful land.
A walk around the colourful Fontainhas in Panaji, a visit to Fort Aguada, or the incredible architecture of the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, are but a few experiences that will impress and leave you in awe of Goa.
Over the years, Goa has been balancing on a thin line. It has fumbled between being the number one tourist destination of the country and a few cases of illegal activities involving drugs.
Nevertheless, Goa is what you want it to be.
My visit to Goa included romantic walks on the beach, pottery making classes at the resort, drinks by the seaside watching a beautiful sunset, and of course lots of food, wine, feni, and dancing.
Love it or not, there’s a charm to Goa. A certain exclusivity that makes it so unique. The fact that it’s relatively accessible once you’re in the country makes it even more of an attraction.
Sun, sea, beach, food, drink, culture, tropical weather, and the chance to let go of everything and be free… that, in a nutshell, is the essence of Goa!