A lot has always been said about Goa and travellers and tourist when planning a visit to India, first hear about Goa. It’s a great vacation destination for those in other parts of India as well. Today I’ll be sharing a different Goa; those things that not many are aware of but should consider during their next trip.
The season time is October to early March. We went during mid-March and no it wasn’t burning hot. We experienced pleasant weather during mornings and evening and slight heat in the afternoons.
Let’s begin with where to stay. Goa has different kinds of accommodations catering to different budgets starting from great 5 star resorts/hotels, to renting apartments/guest house, to B & B, to shacks by the beach. It really depends on your budget and the number of people travelling. We were 9 of us in our family (all adults), and we found it convenient to rent a house. For a bigger group, especially a family holiday my recommendation would be The Wooden Chalet by the River Banks, located close to the Panjim city. It’s a 4 bedroom house, with all amenities including a functional kitchen and house help. It’s a great location with the local city market located just 3-4 kilometres away and most of the beaches being 40 minutes away which doesn;t feel long when a group is travelling together. A centrally located accommodation is great because you can then travel to North and South Goa without any hassle.
Goa has a great option of renting bikes and cars, so getting around is very easy. Taxis are expensive in Goa so this wouldn’t be a great option if you’re around for 4-5 days. Most accommodations have details of the closest rental to the property. Cars with drivers are also available, in case one doesn’t know driving. A big car like Inova costs approximately 2000/- per day which is comfortable for 9 people.
Things to do
These are next to each other and great beaches to relax. These are rocky beaches with clear water. You will not find too many shack options here, but they sport some great beach cottages and spas (for accommodation, food and leisure). Thalassa is a great Greek Loung and the hilltop sunset is a must see.
A very peaceful beach, with hardly any crowd. It’s serene especially during the evenings. With very few properties on this beach, you can find your solace. La Cabana and Leela Beach & Spa are great properties, with a restaurant and cottage rooms by the beach.
A smaller beach, just before Ashwem, with the same serenity.
A very quite, and clean beach frequented by tourists outside of India.
Other places to visit
Park your car at a spot and walk around this market. It gives you the feel of French Quarters and since it’s not too big, you can cover all the lanes and stores by foot. Some great eateries here are Sher-e-Punjab for North Indian Cuisine and Ritz Classic for authentic Goas Fish Thali and Biryani (the vegetarian food is also great). Cremeux Express Cafe is a great cafe with light bites and desserts including ice cream. You must try the chocolate cookies here served packed.
W Resort, Vagator Beach
Not everyone can afford to stay at this resort, but it sure is worth visiting. With a great ambience, you are sure to enter a different world. It has two main restaurants- Spice Traders and The Kitchen Table; and the Rock Pool. The Rock Pool is a great place to relax and catch up over drinks and snacks while enjoying the scenic beauty.
Tropical Spice Plantation, Ponda
With in-house tours provided at 400/- per person including the meal, this is a great place to visit and spend half a day. The tour begins with a welcome drink which is truly refreshing, and then a walk around a part of the plantation. The guide takes you around to show various spices, herbs and fruits and how they grow (pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, cloves, lemon grass, ginger, turmeric, chillies, betel leaves, aloe vera and pineapple to name some). The plantation has a store as well, selling these organic spices and products. The tour ends with the guide pouring some water mixed with lavender oil down your spine which is meant to relax the body and I would agree with that. After this, you can proceed for your meal which is prepared with organic ingredients. Not a fancy menu, however very tasty food.
Club Cabana, Arpora
For people looking for nightlife, this is a good club. They have some good parties over the weekends.
Night flea markets
Goa is very famous for its night flea markets. The two main markets are the Anjuna Market on Wednesday and the Arpora Market on Saturday. These are huge, so be ready to walk and spend a few hours. You will find clothes, footwear, accessories, jewellery, spices and much more here, Bargain well to strike a good deal.
Ferry Ride (Panjim to Divar Island)
This is not an attraction but is very exciting. If you’re staying at Panjim like us, you’ll find various ports taking people from one end to another via a ferry. So we had to try this. It is a free ride for most and for a car only 10/-. Getting onto the ferry in the car and getting off it is quite a thrill, but there is nothing else to it. Divar island is a very peaceful scenic island with people mainly living there. You will not find any restaurants to eat here. It has an Ayurvedic and Yoga resort called Devaaya for rejuvenation of the Mind, Body, and Soul.
The Our Lady of Assumption Church, Velsao
This is a nice church to visit. The steps to the church are constructed in a different manner than usual and the church has beautiful architecture. Great place for photos.
For those who’ve heard a lot about the Casinos of Goa, Deltin Casinos are the best to visit. These are cruise casinos and offer a different experience than others.
There is definitely much more to Goa, but this is the less explored side. Hope this inspires you to enjoy and explore Goa, during your short getaway. Do share your experiences with us!