Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Travel & Explore Goa

by Riya Bagaria
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Goa is the definition of ‘chota packet, bada dhamaka.’ Though one of the smallest states in the western coast of India, it attracts some of the largest crowds of tourists from all over the world. With exceptionally well-priced travel packages, inexpensive alcohol and even more affordable stay, Goa continues to remain massively popular among the masses. The brink adorned with a 105 km coastline, Goa is home to over two dozen beaches. Rich in history, the remnants of the Portugese culture can still be seen in Goa, a product of the 400 plus years of colonization.

Even though Goa has been synonymous with beaches and parties, it has so much more to offer. From experiencing the authentic blend of Goan-Portugese cuisine to visiting the soothing white-washed cathedrals to splurging at the flea markets and bazaars, Goa is more than just a beach-destination. It truly offers an all-encompassing experience of calm and rave altogether.

North Goa

Goa comprises 2 major districts, North and South Goa. North Goa is most often associated with being a party-destination. With scattered pockets of cathedrals and churches, the ever-packed flea markets, lively bars and casinos and home to some of the architecturally fine monuments, North Goa is the place to go if you are looking to explore and experience authentic Goan culture.

Chapora Fort

Capture the best Instagrams at the famous Chapora Fort or more popularly known as ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ fort. Standing tall above the Chapora River, this fort has been a spectator in several historic moments. Located at a high altitude, make sure you visit it in the evening as it offers a breathtaking view of the sunset.

Vagator Beach

One of the most popular and well-known beaches in Goa, Vagator is a beautiful, secluded beach, sprinkled with hints of black rocks and cliffs. The beach is divided into 2 beaches, namely, Little Vagator or Ozran Beach and Big Vagator or North Vagator Beach. Offering a blend of nightlife, water-sports and an amazing sunset, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be on your list!

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Beautiful view at Vagator Beach

Anjuna Flea Market

Here’s something for the shopaholic in you – Anjuna’s Flea Market. One the same coastline as the Vagator Beach sits Anjuna Beach. Along with the obvious activities, Anjuna Beach is host to one of the most popular flea markets that hosts hundreds of tourists every Wednesday.

Basilica of Bom Jesus

Fan of the Portugese architecture? Then, this is a must-visit in your list. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is a 400 year old cathedral and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Head over to Old Goa to visit this Basilica among many other Portugese-style structures.

Arpora Night Market

A one-stop shop for all things local and Goan, visit the Arpora Night Market that happens every Saturday. Shop for some of the intricate and local goan handicrafts, savour some Goan street-delicacies along with engaging with the locals, this night market is just an example of the diversity offered in Goa.

Staying-in

If you are going for a trip with your family or friends or both, the best thing to do is to choose to stay in a villa. Villas in Goa are in abundance, each better than the last. You can opt to stay in at Purple Jacaranda, a villa in North Goa. Equipped with a private swimming pool and walking distance from the Vagator Beach, this sprawling villa is an amazing find. Alternatively,for a larger group, head over to Jia Candolim Palms at Candolim for a truly magical experience.

An eccentric pool at Jia Candolim Palms

South Goa

While North is the party, South is the calm and relaxing part of Goa. For a peaceful, serene and lazing-around holiday, the South is the way to go. With a mix of crowded and sparsely populated beaches, a peek into the Portugese culture, a sea-food lover’s paradise and an undeniable blend of romantic and serene, South Goa is more than what meets the eye.

Palolem Beach

One of the most beautiful beaches of South Goa, Palolem Beach is a balanced mix of solitude and entertainment. Interspersed with palm trees, brimming with water sports and home to dolphins, this scenic beach is just what you need to get away from the hullabaloo of everyday life. Chill out by the water, step in the beach shacks or jet-ski your worries away, the choices are numerous.

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South Goa’s beaches in all its glory

Butterfly Beach

One of the very few unexplored, untouched gems of Goa, Butterfly Beach is, as the name suggests a butterfly galore. Discover and witness several species of butterflies flying over the awfully clear blue water. In the company of crabs, fish and butterflies, this off-beat and less-crowded beach is unmissable.

Chandreshwar Bhootnath Temple

One of the more popular temples of Goa, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is a simple yet stellar structure. Located at Chandranath Hill, this temple is surrounded by lush-greenery.

Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary

If you are an avid nature-lover and bird-watcher, visiting a wildlife sanctuary should be a no-brainer for you. Located at the southernmost of South Goa, Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a wide range of animals and birds including Giant Squirrel, Great Pied Hornbills, Grey Headed Bulbul, Slender Loris and more.

Dudhsagar Waterfalls

Goa is home to some of the most beautiful beaches, sure, but there is so much more apart from that! Dudhsagar waterfalls is the prime example of that. Located at the Goa-Karnataka border, these waterfalls are majestic and beautiful. Just sitting there and listening to the gurgling of water can be therapeutic.

Staying in

South Goa is home to some of the hugest properties of Goa. Head over to Nature’s Abode and let nature embrace you in all its glory. True to its name, this property is located amidst nature. Cosy and with a private pool, this villa in South Goa is definitely the one to look out for. For a larger group, you can choose to stay at Sunset Villa One by Vista. Spacious and snuggly at the same time, sip your morning tea overlooking the pool.

Gradient view surrounding the Nature’s Abode

Best time to visit

If you are looking to turn it up and party all the way through the night, the best time to visit would be from November until March. Goa is brimming with tourists during this time, consequently all the leading pubs and bars host enthusiastic events. However, if you aren’t looking for a lot of company and look forward to having the beaches to yourself, then the ideal time to visit would be in the off-seasons. Although, only opt for a May-July vacay if you are armed to fight the sweltering heat.

You know that one college Goa trip that was planned numerous times but never ever materialised? Well, this is a sign, you have all the information you need, all you have to do is gather your friends and actually go to Goa.

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