About this blog: In this article, I will list down 50 essential travel tips when you are visiting Goa. I assume this is your first time in the state and you have already decided on either north or south Goa.
For the lesser mortals who seldom gets a chance to visit Goa, here is a complete list of dos and don’ts of visiting the sunshine state! This could have been a definitive guide to visiting Goa after you have read my other travel related blogs to Goa! You may spend 7 days in Goa exploring the north or the south beaches, or pick just one of the sides of Goa either the north or the south. You may choose to see the best beaches of Goa over a span of 4 days or just spend 3 relaxing days by the beaches of North Goa. The basic rules of traveling in Goa mostly remains unchanged! Please do not miss this guide on exploring the offbeat destinations in Goa for the first time visitors!
Living a dream life by the beach in Goa, soaked in the rhythm of a comfortable slow life has become a reality in the prolonged lockdown era. I know people who let go their urban life and related vanity, pack their stuff in a hatchback and leave for the Goa life. In a bid to reset life during the great Pause, more often than not they have found an unexplored idyllic life. Al Beit it is laid back, slow, agrees with the order of Goan lifestyle, the quintessential susegad and lets you experience the beauty in small things. Being in Goa may remind you of the joys of yesteryears, of living in a small town, and taking a day as it unfolds.
Where you stay in Goa makes or breaks it!
Be it the north of Goa or the South, where you choose to stay in Goa can be a total gamechanger. The more touristy parts of North Goa have been spoilt beyond repairing. If you have to stay in North, please choose a homestay near Sangolda or sleepy villages at the hinterlands of Baga or Calangute. Please refrain from visiting these beaches. The night life might be nice but the beaches are in ramshackle state. I have been there after the lockdown was over and I am not exaggerating at all. If you have to choose north, drift towards Ashwem or Morjim. Even Dona Paula is not a bad idea either.
In South, Beyond the Cola beach, and in the deep south of Goa, say Patnem or Palolem, you may still find the last bit of beautiful wilderness of rocky beaches hidden behind the coves of coconut trees swaying in mellow sea-breeze. However south of Goa remains far off from the airport or main railway station. reaching these parts remains a pain in the wrong place.
Either choose a homestay or a beach hut or a responsible luxury stay that has its own access to waterbody. I would soon publish a list of the best hotels or bnbs to choose in Goa!
So far, I have loved the following stays in Goa.
- An Airbnb at Candolim which sadly does not operate any longer.
- Casa Cubo by the beach near baga run by an old lady whose children live abroad.
- Le Meridien, Calangute
- Yab Yum resort, Ashwem in North Goa (However, i am not sure if it is still operational)
- Mercure Devaaya Resort at Dhivar Island for a holistic living experience. It is a luxury stay of international standard.
What to wear in Goa
Unlike what people think, Goa is not all about wearing a swim suit in the comfort of no prying eye are stalking me anymore. At least not the beaches of Baga and Candolim. You can easily wear western wears. For bikini shoots, choose a rather less crowded beach, preferably a private beach right in front of a beach hut. This way, even if you get unwanted attention, you will have people of the beach huts backing you up!
I have worn a saree in Goa. I have also worn a bikini in Goa. I did not shy away from experimenting with boho mix and match looks with ethnic clothes contrasting with a taste of west. A broad belt on a white dress, a flowing skirt in indigo hue, large tan bags to compliment the tan on my brown skin. Goa lets my skin breath under ample sunshine.
Please do not go topless in Goa. It is imperative to say despite all the cool European vibe and visible Portuguese influence, Goa remains a lot like mainland India and cultural nuances remain strong. Nude beach or too much of skin show not only attracts unwanted attention but also brings legal notice in Indian context. Do Not go topless in Goa. There are no nude and topless beaches in Goa either. No point of searching for these on the world wide web.
Please do not wear a heel in the beach. The sand only tolerates chappals on feet.
Best time to visit Goa
The sunshine state looks and feels her best during the sunshine days! Visit goa in Summer months or the dry winter mons. Starting from November to April is a great time to visit Goa. After that the rains starts. Monsoon in Goa retreats by August end and you can start planning a Goa trip again.
In monsoon, Goa coast experiences heavy pouring including a few occurrences of cyclones. I spent a night at a beach hut during Cyclone Kyarr in Goa and I would never that again in my life for the exchange of an entire world. It felt the sea roaring to gulp down my small villa. Please beware during the rains, many beaches remain off limit for the tourists too. However, moon is particularly stunning in Goa if you are keen on experiencing the hinterlands and the western Ghats as well as the beautiful waterfalls. Chasing waterfall and bathing in them is a thing in Goa during the monsoon months.
Another tip I can give you from years of experiencing Goa travels is please refrain from visiting Goa during the long weekends. The crowd is horrid, particularly around the Baga area. They litter the beach, pushes price to a sky high and smear the Goa vibe with noise pollution. If you cant manage vacation on other times, drift towards the deep south or instead choose Gokarna or Udupi.
Water sports in Goa
Goa is famous for various types of water sports. I loved parasailing in Goa. There is Sinquerim beach right behind the fort Agonda where locals conduct a number of water sports. Please ensure you are comfortable with the instructor and the price charged is legit. Illegal operators now roam free and that can even put your life to unnecessary risk!
The True Offbeat beaches in Goa
The further you drift away from Baga or Calangute, the closer you would come to untamed beautiful nature and pristine beaches of Goa. You mat frown at the idea of spending time at a beach sans a shack or minimum tourist infrastructure but once you discover one such cove, you would not want to pull away from that place. I say this from my own experience. peace and calm prevails in such beaches. Try Ashwem or Cola or Patnem beach and you may come back to thank me later. Just avoid monsoon since many beaches remain off limit due to massive undercurrent of the sea.
Sailing in Goa
Sail through the mangroves of Mandovi river on a round cane boat in the style of Goa locals. Sailing in Goa does not necessarily have to be that of luxury yachts, although those options are available aplenty! A few houseboats also float on the backwaters of Goa reminding you of Kerala.
usually, you can not sleep on the Goa beaches. But there are certain shacks which allows a makeshift arrangement for over enthusiast travelers to sleep off the night at the back. Make sure you speak to them beforehand and be clear of what you expect!
Massage on Goa beaches takes you closer to heaven
Local women clad in traditional Kunbi printed saree, a few silver toenails and flower beads on head often ask the loungers if they want a relaxing massage. dare you say no to them! They expert fingers play through your supple skin to relax the tensed muscles. The afternoons under the sun shed becomes surprisingly stress-free as you
Don’t do Weed in Goa but indulge in Fenny
Like everywhere else in India, weed or any type of drug is illegal and can bring the wrath of IPC. Please do not indulge in such activities, not just in Goa but everywhere else!
When in Goa, you have to indulge in Fenny. That is local moonshine made of fermented cashew or palm, GI tagged and a matter of pride for the locals. Fenny packed in various shapes and sizes can be bought and gifted as souvenir from Goa too!
Being a Stag in Goa
I have traveled Goa only as a solo woman and I loved it. despite a few drunkards abruptly disturbing my peaceful slumber at Baga beach, it was overall a safe experience to explore Goa. However for stag travelers, the experience could be a bit different. You may not be allowed entry to a number of pubs and bars. Family friendly hotels may ask a few extra questions. However, things have changed a bit after the lockdown and rules are relaxed so are the motivation for stag travelers, I feel!
Cliffs are dangerous
There are plenty of cliffs in goa, especially the ones where old Portuguese forts are situated. if you happen to climb one for better view of sunset, ensure you climb down with a torch before it is pitch black. Not just strays but snakes also may send a shiver down the spine for the bravest of explorers!
Surfing in Goa
The beaches in north, especially Ashwem and Morjim has surfing school and instructors for the surfing enthusiats in Goa. The waves roll in, has a perfect warm temperature and is favored a lot by those who favor water sports!
Trust the Local Boats
Speak to the local fisher men and convince them to take you along for a fishing adventure on their tiny sail boats. Among the things they fish, often a few sea-snake may sneak in. I am telling this to prepare you from before hand. However, if you can make a space in these fishing boats, you are in for an amusing trip! Usually, this happens in the beaches of South Goa. many villages are mushroomed the coastal region of South Goa. Wait for the fishermen who venture into the sea at the crack of the dawn and join them for this adventure of a lifetime!
Nightlife in Goa
From cruise ships to LPK and shacks where artists perform live music, Goa has a number of options to experience night life! Indulge in shopping for thrift items or souvenirs from the local markets in Goa.
The Issue with plastic and recycle
Refrain from littering the roads of goa from plastic and other junks.
Renting a bike/vehicle in Goa
Please note, drink and drive is a serious offence according to IPC and can lead to being convicted by the court. Refrain from doing so for your own safety and safety f the fellow citizens.
That Mythical Goa Vibe is a Truth
Goa is truly the land of free. As you glide through the beautiful coconut groves and explore the emerald green lagoons of the hinterlands of Goa, an idea slowly settles in that this place is different. This is a dreamy land far away from the bustle of an urban life. To truly experience Goa, you need to leave behind the cape of vanity, as well as the last bout of pride. You need to feel how small and obscure you really are in front of the magnitude of the vast nature. Arabian Sea at one end and the craggy Western Ghats on the other, Goa is pulsating with the heart of an artist, creating breathtaking visuals and stirring up the pot with a new day unfolding!
Think Twice before accepting that free drink
Please do not accept free drinks served at the beach bars or shacks or anywhere really if you are traveling as a solo woman. Not just molestation, this can lead to kidnapping and further complications as well.
PDA on Goa beaches are hardly acceptable
Although a much sought after destination among the honeymooners, Goa beaches are no place to do PDA. Too many prying eyes will make you uncomfortable beyond words. Add to that moral policing. PDA in Goa away from beaches will bring you to a walk of shame which looks fine only on the screen of GOT. IYKYK!
Rave/ Trance Parties are Elusive in Goa
Once famous for the hippie crowd who made a pit stop in Goa and spend nights celebrating life as if there is no tomorrow, Goa was a stronghold of the mythical trance parties. The idea was to enter an elevated sense of spiritual sensitivity and experience the other world through bloomed consciousness. i write this as I have heard this but these things do not happen anymore, as the local guides suggested. there is a considerable hush hush around around the trance parties which eventually ends up disappointing you because all you get to see is drunk punks gurgling trash.
Well, that is anything but trance for me!
However, being the hub of contemporary artists (who also contribute to a number of new age art museums in Goa), do not miss out on the cozy arty parties in Goa. the only way you may get access to one is if you choose to stay with an experimental hostel.
These are some of my curated travel tips for Goa. Things have taken a drastic turn after lockdown. Many homestays are shut now. The Russian charter planes are nowhere to be scene. Many tourist attractions are off limit for tourists. Colorful festivals celebrating mirth and joy are now restricted to a meagre number of joiners. Things have changed in the travel sphere too. those who travel seek to find comfort in the known thrills of Goa. That is fine as long as that keeps people safe and sound! This is the age of restrained and responsible travel experiences and nothing could have been more beautiful than that!
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I did spend a good week in Goa. But I think a week is still not enough for me to deep dive into the vibrant culture of this place.