Goa not just about beaches! An Exploration

South Asian countries are known for their tropical climate, sunkissed beaches, beautiful landscape, biggest mountains, luscious valleys and other picturesque scenery that is breathtaking. Amongst the treasure of some of the best travel destinations, India is also one of them. Known for its culture, religion and rich history, India is home to travel places that are worth exploring and are popular for their huge tourist footfall. In my pursuit to uncover every nook and corner of India, here I am in a state of India that is not just known for its beaches but is a top party destination for many.

Introducing Goa

Goa is a state of India located in the coastal region known as Konkan in western plateau. Its long coastline stretches along the Arabian Sea and has its history widely attributed to portuguese, that invaded the city. The city provides a kaleidoscopic experience of the mix of portuguese and Indian culture. This pint size state is further divided into south goa and north goa. While, the south goa is famous for its serene beaches, north goa, on the other hand, find a special place in a traveler’s heart as it is a hub of some of the fun filled beaches, markets, hotels, nightlife and much more. South goa is serene and secluded in a sense that the pursuit of the calmness can be experienced here. North goa is full of hustle-bustle as too many tourists staying at one place. Some of key areas in south goa are Vasco da Gama, Quepem, Margao and many others. Whereas, north goa is famous for Baga, Calangute, Candolim etc.

Best Time to Visit Goa

As the state lies in the middle of tropic of cancer, it is prone to high temperatures in summers. Characterised by tropical monsoon weather, the beaches get fired up due to hovering sun. While the nights are particularly cool as the sea level rises, days are hot and humid. Therefore, the best time to visit Goa is from December till March, when the temperature is generally cool even during the morning. This enables travelling in the city easy and dehydration is less likely. The month of May is usually considered the hottest as the temperature soars to 35 degrees.

High Footfall of travellers

Though there is a recommended time for visiting goa, still it experiences high footfall of not just domestic but international travellers throughout the year. Further, the tourists are increasing year-on-year due to availability of flight facilities. Dabolim being the one airport at Goa besides a defence air base is a two hour ride from North goa. Situated in outskirts of the city, airport handles travellers from around the world. As the number of travelers are rising, the government is also planning to develop another airport in Mopa. Further, the city is known for its cab monopoly. For a ride from the airport to your hotel in north goa will cost anywhere between Rs 1200-1600 per side.

Top beaches in Goa

In all, goa has about 54 beautiful beaches that have their unique qualities. Of these beaches, some of them have gained immense popularity amongst tourist and offer a number of fun activities. These include Baga, Calangute, Candolim, Vagator, and Palolem which was attributed to CNN amongst the top 20 beaches to visit in Asia.

Baga, Candolim and Calangute beaches are located in north goa and boast of some of the best nightlife, trance parties and pubs that offer cheap seafood and bear. Seafood is considered to be the best served in these local pubs or shacks as they are called. These are open till 2 am in the morning and are lit with translights. Every pub offers live music and an ambience that is unmatchable. After a hectic flight, spending times in these lively pubs with people dancing and aromas of delicious food is delectable. On beaches too one can experience a similar enthusiasm. Couples, family, singles all roam about on the beaches and ride in the waves. Besides, the key feature of these beaches is that they offer water sports that are one the best adventure sport offered by the place. Sports like water boats, parasailing, banana boat rides, water scooter rides among other are perfect way to spend your time at these beaches. Baga beach is particularly known for these water sports as they are offered at cheap prices if taken in packages.

The Treasures of Goa

Goa being the famous party destination has more to offer to its tourists than just sunkissed beaches and nightlife. It is home to the historic Bom Jesus Basilica, Shanta Durga Temple and museum and science stadiums. Apart from this forts namely Aguada, Reis, Mormugao etc are also worth exploring as they contain the rich history of goa.

Bom Jesus Basilica

A man-made marvel, Bom Jesus Basilica is attributed as one of the world’s heritage sites. The basilica located in South Goa is beautiful creation that is spread across enormous land in old Goa. The center point of goa, this catholic landmark is known for the preserved body of St. Xavier Francis that they have kept. The church was built in 1605 and the body was brought in 1622 and has been kept in a glass mausoleum for everyone to see. A large church has different sections and one can walk down the aisle and witness its breathtaking architecture.

Aguada Fort

Situated in North Goa, some 5 km from Calangute beach. Made of red stones, this fort is another heritage site belonging to the portuguese. Standing stern at the one end of arabian sea was built to defend the invasion from Dutch and Marthas. The fort is known to have held canyons and lighthouse in between to monitor the activities. This old fort offers a beautiful view that should not be missed as it is situated at a height.

Casino Craze

If you want to try your luck at gambling and games, Goa is the place to be. It has India’s biggest floating casino named Deltin Royale that is a perfect place for all those casino lovers. This 7 star casino has a vegas style entertainment features with a basic restaurant and music. It comes to life only after 7 pm but the major entertainment starts after 9 pm and goes on till 12 pm. Instead of high music, the casino plays low music and has games for kids as well if you want to take them along. It is open to visitors and one can stay for about 12 hours which is value for money. It charges almost about Rs 2500 per person and has different packages with food included in it.

Best Street Markets

As tourists from around the world visit goa, the markets are also full of renewed vigour. The main bread and butter for people of Goa is through tourism, therefore a wide variety of products can be found in these streets. One of the famous markets of Goa is near Baga beach that also has a famous pub called Tito’s. Though the market is small, it has a number of options to buy from. For instance, lights, clothes, wooden ornaments among other souvenirs are sold in these markets. One can easily find cheap things to buy for their relatives back home. Apart from the Tito, the calangute highway also has many shops and stalls that offer various things to their tourists. Bargaining is also practised so travelers from abroad need to try their luck at reducing the prices further.

Electronic Music Festival

Goa is the host to three day dance and music festival that is celebrated just like a carnival. The festival holds prominence throughout the world as many tourists from around the world throng Goa to enjoy these three crazy fun filled nights. Besides, music and dance the festival offers food and shopping to its tourists. It is also famous for its elaborate stages that are sometimes three in count. Lights and cameras are just breathtaking. Electronic music is another major attraction as some of the world renowned singers come to sing for the audience that has broken all barriers. The festival is usually hosted in December and are open to guest with a fee.

Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary

Located in Ponda district of goa is a vast, dense Bonda Wildlife Sanctuary. Staying in North Goa, this sanctuary is quite far as one has to take a cab or taxi to reach the sanctuary which takes almost 2 hours to reach. But not to be missed, the sanctuary is the only zoo in Goa and is home of the crocodiles, boars, parakeets, pythons among other carnivorous animals.

How to Travel In Goa

Unlike other places where one has to hire a taxi and roam about in places, Goa, on the other hand, is relatively small and can easily be travelled by hiring cars and two wheelers. These vehicles can easily be hired from outside the hotel or from any convenient place as a number of vehicle hirers are on the roll providing vehicles on per day rate basis. This comes too cheap and thus gives you the advantage of roaming about the many places individually. A number of places are such that only on a two wheeler can be enjoyed. The beauty of the portuguese houses, streets and greenery around the place is to be experienced on a scooter ride. The breezy air and the picturesque landscape is all what you will see while you are pillion on a scooty or driving one yourself.

Store House of Cashews

As goa is part of the konkan plateau it has red sand that enables growth of cashews. While in go, a number of shops dedicatedly sell cashews that has become another major revenue source for the administration. Cheap cashews and high quality can be purchased though one need to know which ones are the best ones  there are a number a variety on display.

Mouthwatering Seafood

Goa being a coastal region offer a wide variety of seafood. Fishes of every type such as salamon, pomfret, tigre etc. you name it and you get it. Restaurants and pubs are especially famous for serving authentic seafood. From proper mediterranean food to goan fish curry, the place caters to every tourist. Crabs, octopus, prawns are also available in huge numbers and varieties that are available at cheap prices. The authentic goan curry has also found wide acceptance among tourists as the coconut oil cooked fish is tender and curry adds to its taste. For vegetarians travelling in goa, they won’t be disappointed. Dishes that are made using green leafy vegetables, rise and other cuisines such as chinese, italian pizzas are easily available. If all else fail, fruits are available in every market and at beaches too that are refreshing to have on a summery day.

Hotels in Goa

Being a tourist destination, hotel business is another revenue source for goa people. Though the hotels are expensive in terms of their stars and value added services but if booked in advance will save you some of your bucks. For instance, a 4 star hotel that on an average cost anywhere between 5000-6000 for a night is typically ranged at 2500-3500 if booked three to four months prior. In this way a lot of money is saved. Also, if you prefer luxury hotels then a number of options are there. Estra do Mar being one of the 4 star hotel, taj hotel at aguada fort, Hyatt at calangute are some of the high end hotels where rooms are pricey.

Conclusion

This pretty much sums up all the major attractions in Goa and how they can be explored. Besides, other places such as Dhudh waterfalls, forts, churches and temples are other sightseeing places that needs to be seen to understand the culture of Goa. Besides travelling, key things that needs to be kept handy are extra clothes, umbrella, and definitely sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself from the scorching sun. Nevertheless, the beauty of the place will make you forget every other distraction and you would want to explore more.

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Rahil Joshi