I avoided Goa for a long time, travelling the length and breadth of India on several trips, but never making it to the vacation hot-spot known for beaches, sunsets and parties. I always thought that Goa must have lost its charm, due to waves upon waves of Indian and western European tourists that travel there. But I was wrong.
I travelled this amazing little part of India (in Nov’16) for nearly a month – with most of the time spent on its beaches in the south, and I immediately fell in love with it. I loved its atmosphere, the beaches, all-night crazy parties and a laid-back tropical vibe. What’s better is, from first timer honeymooners to crazy college party mongers, there is something for everyone here. You can find beaches as dead as a village in the far-out corners of Himalaya, to those hosting all-night raves. There’s sun, sea, sand, seafood and pretty much everything else you need to make your holiday better. Come here to lose yourself in a heavenly experience. Come here for a great holiday.
TOP PLACES TO SEE AND EXPERIENCES TO TRY
Scuba Diving: The water bodies in Goa may not be most ideal to dive in – particularly if you compare it with Andaman’s – but they are pleasant enough. The visibility can range from 5 to 20 meters on an average day. During my 4 dives in Goa, I had the minimum and maximum visibility of 8 and 12 meters respectively, which is not too bad. And it’s because of less visibility, diving in Goa is cheaper. A fun dive starts at 5 thousand Rupees, whereas a 4 day open water diving course costs 20 thousand Rupees.
See Dolphins: I am sure you wouldn’t have thought Goa as a place where you go exploring dolphins. But it is. There are many boat services that take you on dolphin spotting trips for as low as 350 Rupees for one hour ride. Most of these trips can be found in North Goa, around Calangute.
Hot Air Ballooning: Though hot air ballooning is definitely not a highlight or the most sought after experiences in Goa, a couple of hour’s ride, as you fly across traditional Portuguese style houses and thousands upon thousands of palm – is sure worth a try. The only thing, however, that might put you off from giving it a try is the cost, which is almost 10 thousand Rupees per person, for a flight lasting 2 hours.
Relaxing by your favorite beach shack (in North Goa): This is perhaps what completes a true Goan experience. Find your favourite beach shack, buy a few beers and spend the cozy few evenings feeling the romantics of the beach. Some of the most popular beach shacks with most happening crowd, includes St. Anthony (Baga Beach), Thalassa (Vagator), Bean Me Up (Anjuna), and Souza Lobo (Calangute).
Rent Your Own Beach Hut (in South Goa): Where North Goa is all about partying on the beach and then heading back to your accommodation for sleep, South Goa is more about renting a beach hut and waking to the sound of ocean. Though it can cost you over 1500 Rupees per night, it is definitely worth an experience. Some of my recommended South Goa beaches to experience a beach hut stay is Agonda, Palolem and Cola. [Read more about My Beach Hut Stay At Agonda]
Rent A Bike And explore nearby beaches: There are more than 50 beaches in Goa, and hopping from one beach to the other is a great way to experience, and moreover explore Goa. Just rent a scooter and drive off in any direction.
Partying in Arambol: Honestly speaking I did not visit Arambol. But what I’ve heard from other backpackers is, if you wish to experience the best party scene and full moon raves, Arambol is the place to be. The beach is majorly dominated by Western European and Israeli hippies, who come here to spend a few good weeks while relaxing and partying around the beach.
COST OF TRAVELLING
Accommodation: As a golden tip, remember that accommodation in North Goa can be far cheaper than that in South Goa. And both offer a complete different experience. South Goa is quieter and newly developed, whereas North Goa is lot densely populated and action packed. Speaking of the cost, in north you can get a room for as low as 400 Rupees a night. Whereas in south, getting one for even 800 Rupees can sometimes be tough. I stayed in Calangute (North Goa), in one of the best dormitories for 450 Rupees per night. In South, at Agonda, I rented a beach hut for a whopping 2000 Rupees per night. South is moreover about staying in beach huts and luxury resorts, whereas north is about renting cheap guest houses and dormitories.
Food: Food is also much cheaper in north, due to availability of a wide range of street food. I remember having a meal between 60 and 150 Rupees in North Goa. In South, even a basic meal costed a minimum of 100 Rupees. The budget and most standard food, in entire Goa, is Fish Thali.
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL
Though you can find a little bit of action throughout the year, the best time to visit Goa is around New Year, and between November and February. This is when the weather makes it perfect to walk down the beaches and enjoy its tropical weather without having a need to sweat all the time.
FEW OTHER TIPS
- I was particularly disappointed with how people in Goa try to rip tourists off, and overcharge for every product. Even the basic FMCG items, with a MRP mentioned on them is charged a few rupees extra. So make sure you bargain and check the price mentioned, before buying anything.
- If renting a scooter, always try to refuel it from a petrol station, rather than from local shops in the city, who sell petrol in one liter plastic bottles. This will help you save at least 20 Rupees on every liter.
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