Beginner's guide to Goa -
A small city-state along the west coast of India, Goa is where the Portuguese landed in the 1500s, made it their own and left a part of their soul in the culture and traditions of the people. A city that literally never sleeps, consists of more than fifty odd beaches, it is a beautiful haven of otherworldly Portuguese architecture, ever friendly locals and hippie backpackers. It’s a myriad mix of local and foreign cultures co-existing perfectly; nevertheless, continuing to transform into a multicultural hub for Indians and foreigners alike.
Goa satisfies all types of vacationers be it honeymooners, food and culture enthusiasts, party animals or serious backpackers. It has something for everyone. It is a very big city to explore and therefore can be roughly divided into two parts depending on the type of vacation you seek –
North – A hub for party goers and backpackers alike, this place is ideal for all those who want to be one with the crowd, experience exciting night life, imbibe the hippie vibe or just chill on the beach day and night. It is the most commercially exploited part of Goa and is almost always never dull or scanty.
South – If you like your peace and quiet, the south would be an ideal place for you. For honeymooners and families looking to spend their mornings frolicking on the beach or spend some quality time even, this part of Goa is ideal for the offbeat traveler, the luxury traveler, or for somebody just looking for a relaxing spa getaway as there are many luxurious hotels and properties here.
Things to do in Goa:
1. Experience Nightlife:
• Clubs- Some of the best clubs in Goa to visit are - Club Cubana, Club LPK, SinQ club, Tito's & Mambo's.
• Beach parties – Almost every shack in North Goa hosts exciting parties once the sun goes down but amongst the most happening ones would be the beach shacks along Anjuna beach.
• Silent Noise parties – A latest trend in parties in Goa are the silent noise parties held in Palolem, South Goa where you enter a completely silent dance floor. Each person is provided with a set of headphones with two or more different types of music channels one can tune into.
2. Delve into a little history:
• Visit ancient churches – Once a Portuguese colony, Goa is bound to have plenty exotic churches to choose from but the most popular ones would be the Basilica of Bom Jesus (a UNESCO World Heritage site), Se cathedral, church of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catejan and Our lady of Immaculate Conception church. However, it’s even more exciting to visit them during Christmas when you get to see elaborate decorations and attend special midnight mass!
• Forts – Get a bird eye’s view of the goan beaches and some of the most stunning views of the sea from Fort Aguada and Chapora Fort. Aguada is the most visited one in Goa. The Hindi film ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ has some scenes that were shot at Chapora which makes it second most visited one.
3. Beach Hopping:
Goa is all about its beaches. Some of the best beaches worth visiting in the North are Candolim, Baga, Morjim and in the South are Cavelosim, Colva, Palolem. Anjuna and Morjim are the hippie hubs and Baga is good for all water sports. Querim in the north and Agonda in the south are worth visiting if you want to go off the beaten path and visit serene, peaceful, untouched and commercially unexploited beaches.
Where and what to eat:
Goa has some of the best restaurants and food from all over the world whether its continental or Portuguese inspired traditional goan cuisine. Goan cuisine consists of coconut as a key ingredient in its dishes which consist of curries, rice, traditional goan breads and some very unique desserts. Must try curries are Xacuti, Vindaloo, Khatkatem, Shagoti which must be either eaten with rice or bread and traditional fish for all fish lovers. Bebinca and Alle Belle are must haves for dessert. Mum's Kitchen is one of the best restaurants serving traditional goan food.
Some other notable restaurants catering to different palates are Thalassa, A Reverie, La Plage, Curlies beach shack, Koi (in Calangute), Britto’s, Martin's Corner.
Some other activies –
1. Visit temples like Mangeshi temple, Shanta Durga temple and Bramha temple
2. Visit Dudhsagar falls
3. Watch turtle hatching in Galgibaga
4. Visit a wild life sanctuary (there are more than one to choose from)
5. Shopping at Anjuna market (only on Wednesdays) and Saturday night market. Also one must shop for cashews and cakes/desserts in Goa to take back home.
6. Take a dolphin watching tour, learn to Scuba dive and take surf lessons
7. Book a casino cruise night
8. Visit or participate in the Sand Art festival in December
My itinerary for North Goa during Christmas -