When one thinks of Goa, the picture that comes to one's mind is that of what Bollywood has set through the films: a beach with water sports, beach shacks with hookah, alcohol overflowing, and parties all night.
Like they say "Every coin has two sides to it", so does Goa. Hence I would like to recommend ten unpopular things that must be on your "to-do list" when you visit South Goa!
1. Sarzora Lake
This is a beautiful lake situated in a village called Sarzora near Chinchinim. It is not a famous tourist spot and only the locals know about it. The lake is surrounded by hills on one side and the green fields on the other side. It is a very peaceful place to visit and I would suggest going there early in the morning or in the evenings.
There is a paved pathway with a lighthouse at the end of it. The lake reflects the surroundings making it a perfect place to click some symmetry photography.
2.Chef Fernando's Nostalgia
This is a quaint little restaurant in Raia serving some lip-smacking seafood, pork and beef authentic Goan dishes. Since it is in the Raia village, not many have heard of this place. Although I can guarantee that the food here is better than Martin's Corner in Betalbatim or Fisherman's Wharf in Cavelosim.
3.Cabo de Rama beach
Cabo de Rama is a unique beach which is visible off a cliff. It has a lot of rocks right at the shore and hence it is not advisable to go swimming in those waters. Although that beach is one of the cleanest and best beaches that I have visited. The Cabo de Rama fort is also close by which is also another place that you can check out.
4. Beef steak stall at the Orlim bridge
The beef steak/beef cutlet bread is a Goan snack that many people relish. My favourite joint for this dish is a small "gaddo" (cart/stall) near the Orlim bridge. It costs INR 50 only for a beef steak and I always pick up a couple of them every time I pass by.
5. Eclairs at the Jila bakery
The Jila bakery is one of the oldest bakeries in Goa, in existence since around 1972. Run by the Antao family, they are famous for their "Eclairs" but that is not the only thing they offer. They also have the "Geneva pastry" made from cashew, "Melting moments" which are small round pastries (which like the name suggest that melt in your mouth), "Apple strudels" and "Fan" ( heart-shaped sugar biscuits).
The Jila bakery is open and you can contact them on 0832-277 7224 to buy anything from the bakery. They do not deliver, so you will have to pick it up from Loutolim. A trip to Jila bakery is much more worth it than a trip to Infantaria in Calangute.
6. Starlight, Assolna
Another gem is the Starlight restaurant located in Assolna by the river. It is known for its seafood, steaks and Pork Vindaloo at very reasonable prices. You can visit the place during the day as well as the night, it is pleasant throughout. Do not forget to try the calamari in a sauce of your choice, the fried prawns, or the Chonak fry. The restaurant can be a little hard to locate, but then Google maps or the locals will come to your rescue. At the restaurant, the tables are closely placed and it can get congested when there is a crowd, but that is compensated by the amazing view of the River Sal and the delicious food.
Want to visit a private beach? This beach is located in the village of Canaguinim. It is a very small beach and usually the locals visit it, hence the beach is clean most of the time. It isn't easy to find this beach, it does not have water sports and there are no beach shacks. That's why it gives you a feeling of solitude.
A video snippet of the time I visited the beach shown below:
8.Mollem National Park
The Bhagwan Mahavir wildlife sanctuary is part of the Mollem National Park which is the largest wildlife preserve within the Goa. The famous Dudhsagar falls which one can see when they travel to Goa via train is situated in this national park. It has a variety of plants, birds and animals making it a mesmerizing biodiversity hotspot. I have personally not visited the Mollem National park, but it is on my "to-do list".
Currently, the government wants to intrude into this beautiful area for building three infrastructural projects. If you disagree with their proposal and want to save the Mollem National Park, then don't forget to sign this petition- https://bit.ly/3fVhVTv
Selaulim Dam is situated on the Selaulim river near the Sanguem town. The dam has a unique design with a "duckbill spillway". The water from this river is used for irrigation, with water flowing through canals reaching even until my grandmother's house in Cuncolim. If you are lucky, you may even spot a rainbow at the dam as shown below in the picture.
The other side of the dam is full of greenery. The picture below was taken in the summer, hence indicating the less water.
10. Heart-shaped lake, Vasco
The heart-shaped lagoon/lake situated near Bogmalo in Vasco is one of Goa's least visited places. Only during the monsoons does it fill up to the brink and it is said to have sparkling clean blue water. As dreamy as it looks, it is one of the best places to chill in the evenings, with the wind blowing in our hair and the view of the waves crashing.
The above 10 places listed are solely based on my opinion. You may know of other spots in mind that you think are hidden gems, let me know in the comments below.
Once it is safe to travel during these coronavirus times, make sure you visit these places in South Goa. To know more about my traveling and trekking adventures follow me on Instagram- @thepandasroute