Ahhh, Goa. It could quite possibly be one of my favourite parts of India! A world away from the chaos and crowds of your typical Indian city, Goa nestles itself in quite nicely along the south west coast of the country.
After a hectic few weeks of overnight trains & crowded streets Goa was exactly what i needed to unwind and relax for a few days before moving on and exploring once more.
They say around November to March is the best time of the year to visit Goa. I made my way there in April – which turned out to be perfect as the weather was still awesome but most of the tourist crowd had been & gone. I can imagine it’s tiny towns would get full of tourists & backpackers through peak season though so to be honest i think April is the perfect time!
Although my friends & i only got to spend less than a week there we definitely packed a whole lot of punch into our short time frame – here’s the Top 10 things to do in Goa, India.
- THE BEACH!
Oh my gosh the beaches here are absolutely incredible – and I’m Australian so I know what i’m talking about lol! We stayed in Calangute, just north of Panjim. I especially loved all the shacks dotted along the beach serving up food & drinks. We found our favourite one within a day or two “The Love Shack” who delivered our drinks out to us in the sand under our umbrellas!
- THE BEACH VENDORS
As per usual with touristy beach spots there are a large number of vendors offering up all sorts of services & goodies. We indulged in massages and i got my first (& only!) “mani-pedi”. Jewerly, books & other souvenir vendors also make the rounds. We even came across a guy offering ear cleaning! I can’t make any recommendations there i passed on that one!
- WATER SPORTS!
Still at the beach: Goa offers all sorts of extreme water sports. Alongside jet skiing & kite surfing, etc it was actually the banana rides that caught our attention! I must confess it got a little more scary than we anticipated (the driver dude wasn’t afraid to get up close with boats and dart around) but hey, it’s all an adventure right?
- HIRE A MOPED
Hands down the most fun way to get around town! Anyone who’s traveled through India knows that “road rules” kinda go out the window here, but with Goa being much more relaxed and laidback we felt comfortable enough to jump on a moped for a day. It’s really cheap (only a few dollars i think) for the day and well worth it!
Apart from the beach my favourite memory of Goa was the food! Goa is unique in India in that as most of India had some British settlement in the past at some point but it was actually the Portuguese who settled in Goa, and as such the Portuguese influence is obvious. There are plenty of places to eat out and don’t be afraid to try a bit of everything!
Although it wasn’t the absolute premier shopping area of my trip due to its touristy foundation Goa obviously caters to the shoppers. Think casual / beach wear and souvenir type things. A good hint that i found valuable though was to not go crazy and stock up on things here. I think you’ll find as you develop your itinerary for India that you’ll visit Goa but you’ll still have a lot of travel time & distance to cover afterwards getting back to the big cities up north – and you don’t want to be lugging around giant stone Buddha’s or anything!
We were so so so lucky to have some Indian friends of ours come and stay in Goa with us for a few days who had local friends. Another benefit was their friends awesome Jeep! We spent a day or two driving north. Away from the coast you begin the see the miles of rice patties & bamboo forests. The highlight of my jeeping trip? Randomly stopping on the side of the road for a coconut – as you do!
- The “SECRET UNDERGROUND CLUB SCENE”
Another benefit of having a local connection was that we got to see places that a lot of tourists just wouldn’t come across. Late one night we all jumped in the jeep and headed out of town – way out of town. Through dense bushlands and 4WD tracks we kept going further & further. As soon as it appeared that we were in fact in the middle of nowhere we pulled up and walked past a few derelict shacks until we turned a corner and saw the most wicked nightclub along the beach!! It was a total surprise and we had the best night! It pays to ask around to find these types of places.
- OLD GOA
Whilst we were jeeping we decided we had better go check out “Old Goa” while we were in the neighborhood. We really only spent a few hours there – i regret not exploring it some more and it’s at the top of my to do list next time I’m there. There’s plenty of churches dating back to the 16th century as well as more of that Portuguese influence.
The last (and most important!) thing to do in Goa? RELAX!!! Goa is made for chilling out and relaxing! Seriously it is so laidback and easy going here you’ll find it hard to readjust to the real world afterwards. No doubt you would have experienced a lot of the hustle and bustle of India before you made your way down to Goa so you’ll definitely be in the mood to relax. Hit the beach, grab a drink & enjoy Goa – it’s absolutely worth the trip down there!!
Been there or planning to go & have questions? Let me know in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @gdaymatejohn – i’m happy to answer any questions & help!