Soon after our marriage we had the opportunity to go on a Goa trip and it turned out to be a memorable one. It gave us some time to relax and leave behind our hectic daily schedule as well as work pressures in Mumbai itself. During our Goa trip we explored all the beaches (which is obviously a must for anyone coming to Goa) and also many of the other activities and places it is popular for.
Goa – A Popular Tourist Destination
I thought about writing this post to guide other vacationers who are looking for travel spots around the world to experience local culture and heritage while having a great time. As such, in the following sections we will look at:
- Some of the most popular beaches in Goa
- The different activities you can take part in during your trip
Goa is regarded as India’s beach capital, let us briefly look into some of the popular beaches.
- Anjuna Beach
- Baga Beach
- Calangute Beach
- Colva Beach
- Dona Paula Beach
Anjuna Beach: Located just 18 kms from Goa’s capital, Panaji, Anjuna beach is one of the favorite beaches for travelers. The spellbinding view at the beach can easily mesmerize you and make you feel elated. One of the primary attractions is the flea market.
Baga Beach: One of the main tourist attractions, you will want to remain here from sunrise to sunset and enjoy taking part in various activities ranging from water sports to shopping and evening parties.
Calangute Beach: In North Goa, it is the largest beach which welcomes tourists from all around the world. You can either decide to bask in the sun at the beach or take part in various sporting activities such as water skiing, surfing or para-sailing.
Vagator Beach: Another of the golden sandy beaches, Vagator beach has a backdrop consisting of parched grasslands and cliff tops. If you are interested in visiting picturesque Portuguese bungalows and old farmhouses then this is the place you need to be in.
Colva Beach: Overtime this beach has become a favorite hot season retreat for tourists who are looking to spend some time relaxing and enjoying the waves. In South Goa it is the largest beach with many other beach activities to take part in.
Dona Paula Beach: Dona Paula bay is the location where Arabian Sea and two of Goa’s rivers meet. During your visit to the beach you will also get an excellent view of Marmagao Harbor. You either decide to bask in the Sun or take part in water sport activities such as motor boat rides or the water scooter rides.
If you believe in love then you will certainly like to visit this beach since it has become a symbol of true love and called lover’s paradise. According to myths, Dona Paula was Viceroy’s daughter during the colonial era and loved a fishermen’s son, named Gasper Dias. Both Dona and her lover jumped off from cliff and died since they were not allowed to get married. So, a place worth visiting during your Goa trip.
- Go for sightseeing
- Take part in adventure sports
- Visit flea markets
- Go for countryside biking
- Savor the delicacies
- Take a trip to Old Goa
- Visit spice plantations
- Explore wildlife sanctuaries
Goa’s popularity can be judged from the fact that it is among top ten states/union territories in the country in terms of foreign tourist visits to India (as per statistics available for 2015). One of the vibrant and lush states in the country, Goa offers many different sightseeing opportunities. You will certainly relish the old Portuguese heritage and charm that still covers the state. During your visit you will find that many of the mansions, heritage homes, and monuments carry Portuguese touch providing you with a unique visual treat.
Panjim, the capital city will certainly take you back in time while you wander through the narrow winding lanes and streets, explore old Portuguese houses, bakeries, quaint shops and restaurants. It will also be a great idea to check the collections at Kerkar Art Complex, Rachel Museum of Christian Art and Cacoon Art Gallery to get a glimpse of golden era Goa has been through.
If you like adventure activities then Goa is certainly the place you will like. Ranging from surfing to boat rides, scuba diving, para-sailing, jet skiing and surfing, you can take part in different water sports and have a great time.
The Flea Markets
In case you like shopping then the flea market at Anjuna beach should be in your list of places to visit during your Goa trip. Here you will find shops selling beautiful artifacts created using sea shells, different types of accessories and fashionable clothes, which will certainly be hard to find anywhere else. You will also have the opportunity to enjoy some of the traditional cuisines which are Goa’s specialty. Most importantly, do not shy away from bargaining while purchasing anything at the flea market.
In addition to the flea market, you can go for a shopping spree at the Saturday Night Market or the Mackie’s Night Bazaar, which are close to the Arpora Baga area. In these markets you can certainly have a good time with live music and eclectic and diversified range of options in terms of what you can eat.
If you are interested in going off the beaten track and explore Goa’s countryside then bikes provide you the best option to do that. You can book a bike and move around on your own or have a driver take you through some of the lesser known places of this state. Lush green countryside with its coconut trees and paddy fields will certainly be a different experience in comparison to the hustle and bustle of any metropolitan city, helping to calm as well as rejuvenate your senses.
For the Taste Buds
Goa is the place if you are fond of seafood and continental delicacies. Restaurants and hotels here serve almost everything, whether it is continental, European, Goan, Chinese or any other type of delicious cuisine you may be interested in. Eating out? – Many different options to explore, from beach shacks to terrace cafes and swish pizzerias
A Visit to Old Goa
Old Goa boasts of magnificent cathedrals and churches (with The Chapel of St. Catherine, being largest church in Asia). In addition to it, many of the old buildings have been transformed into archaeological museums, making it possible for you to explore Goa’s fascinating history. It is also the place where The Basilica of Bom Jesus is situated containing preserved remains of Saint Frances Xavier, patron saint of Goa as well as a revered missionary. Saint Xavier’s body is shown every ten years to public with last exhibition occurring in 2015.
You will certainly not like to miss a trip to the spice plantations situated within dense jungle that is present around Ponda. The tropical climate makes Goa the best place for growing spices. During your visit you can opt for a guided tour of the spice farms, enjoy the picturesque and breathtaking scenery and finish the tour by having a lip smacking spicy lunch. Many of the spice farms also offer accommodation, chance to explore organic and ayurvedic farming as well as opportunity to take part in other activities like boat and elephant rides, which will certainly be a lifetime experience.
Places of Worship
Apart beaches and other fun activities, Goa is also a place known for its religious destinations. From temples to churches, you can visit various religious places all around the state during your trip to Goa. Some of the popular religious places you should visit during your trip would include:
- Sri Mahalakshmi Temple
- The Basilica of Bom Jesus
- Sri Manguesh Temple
- The Chapel of St. Catherine
- The Church of St. Cajetan
- Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi (built in 1521)
Goa is the considered the most preferred location for an all encompassing holiday tour because apart from its popular churches and beaches, it has many other things for you to explore. One such opportunity comes in the form of wildlife sanctuaries which are a must visit for wildlife lovers. It is located along Western Ghats and is a home to many different species of animals and birds. There are two main wildlife sanctuaries in Goa; Cotigao and Mahvir with Mollem National Park being part of Mahvir sanctuary.
One of the places you should definitely visit during your trip to these sanctuaries is the Dudhsagar Falls which is right on the fringes of the national park. It is an imposing water fall providing spectacular view of water raging down from great height during monsoon season.
Contemplating where to go for your next vacation? Book a Goa trip, I am sure you will not be disappointed with your decision. The memories of the trip will surely stay with you for a lifetime!