The smallest Indian state of Goa bears little resemblance to the rest of India: here, for a long time, everything is subordinated to the convenience of vacationers from Europe. Local shops sell European clothes, cafes serve mild food, and yoga schools and massage parlors line the beaches that are unlikely to be visited by any Indian. This state is a magical place where all the information noise fades into the background. Time stands still here, problems that seemed important at home turn out to be insignificant. The only question that worries tourists: where to go to Goa, what to see today, and what to leave for tomorrow.
In order not to get bored, it is better to go to a new place every time. The easiest way to get around Goa is on a rented bike: you don’t depend on public transport and you manage your time on your own. You can go to the Juice Bar in Chapora to try exotic juice at any time – and it doesn’t matter that you have to drive from your hotel an hour. After the tasting, you should turn to the local fort to make sure that it, as the neighbors on the beach said, is in a dilapidated state. But it offers a magnificent view of the coast.
If you wish, you can find the Sacred Banyan tree in the rainforest – a tree with numerous roots that look like additional trunks, or go for a yoga class at one of the special centers here. What other entertainment does Goa offer?
The best beaches in the Arabian Sea
The main attraction of Goa is the Arabian Sea, which is part of the Indian Ocean, and the beaches that stretch along the surf. You can swim in the ocean, however, you should be extremely careful so as not to perish in a counter current, leaving from the coast into the open sea. Most holidaymakers just sunbathe, sit in beach cafes – sheks, cruise from beach to beach in search of entertainment and interesting parties.
There are many beaches on the Goan coast, and each has its own name.
- In South Goa, Agonda Beach, 3 km long, stands out. This is a secluded, quiet corner, not built up with hotels and noisy restaurants. It is chosen for relaxation by romantic couples who want to be alone with each other and the surrounding tropical nature. The beach is not entirely “wild”, there are still sun loungers and umbrellas rental shops.
- The “southern” Benalim beach is no less popular. The sea is a little calmer here than on Agonda, so families with small children come here. Many tourists prefer Palolem Beach, which is covered with yellowish sand. There are no world-class hotels here; bungalows have been built along the beach, where accommodation is quite cheap. There are no noisy discos that disturb the peace of vacationers in the southern part of Goa. In search of beach parties, it is better to head north, for example, to the youth beach of Anjuna, which almost never sleeps. This place was discovered by hippies about 50 years ago, and now it is being rediscovered by foreign tourists. Any beginner is always welcome here!
- A little north of Anjuna is the sandy-pebble Arambol beach. People come here both for a quiet beach holiday, and for dancing until you drop. The beach is long and wide, there is enough space for everyone: lazy sunbathers, party-goers, stray dogs, annoying cows, sellers of various trifles, etc. There is a freshwater lake with healing mud next to the beach. This is another reason to visit Arambol.
Markets as attractions
The most important entertainment in Goa, to which all newly arrived tourists are immediately connected, is a visit to the numerous markets operating in different coastal villages – sometimes one day a week, sometimes only at night. Markets in Goa are not just shopping malls where you can find everything your heart desires. Markets have become attractions of sorts, where even some local travel agencies offer paid excursions. What are the must-see markets in Goa?
- Flea market in Anjuna. Anjuna beach only on Wednesdays in high season turns into one large fleamarket, where the stalls of the Europeans who settled in Goa are adjacent to the Indian tents. Europeans sell things of their own production (outfits for trans-parties, leather accessories, handicraft jewelry), Indians bring clothes, shawls, souvenirs for sale. Prices are sky-high, bargaining is a must!
- Market in Mapusa. Mapusa is the central city of North Goa. All buses from the northern beaches come there, transport goes from there to the capital of Goa, Panaji, and to the southern Goan coast. The Mapusa market operates near the bus station. The market is daily, open every day, except Sundays. Most of the people, and therefore the goods on Friday. People come here for different products (fruits, tea, perfumes), but the buyers are especially attracted by the counters with branded clothes, devoid of any details such as buttons, which are brought here directly from factories. Outfits from the new collections of world famous fashion designers, which in Europe will be sold for crazy money, can be bought here for a penny.
- Nightmarket in Arpora. Markets that only work at night are not uncommon for hot Goa. In Arpora, traders gather at seven o’clock on Saturdays. The assortment is the same as on the counters of the day markets, but the market itself resembles one big party. Above the malls there is a trance night club, and various bands perform their music between the malls.
- Fish markets. A lot of them. The most famous ones work in Siolim, Baga and Chapora. People come here both for seafood delicacies and for spectacular pictures.
Interesting natural objects
Once in an exotic resort, one wants not only to lie lazily near the edge of the surf, but also to explore the surroundings. Lovers of wildlife, arriving in Goa, will not be disappointed. There are several interesting reserves, where you can go both independently and as part of an excursion.
Natural Protected Area Bhagwan Mahavir with an area of 240 km2 you need to look in the mountains at the border of two neighboring states – Goa and Karnataka. This section of the tropical forest became a nature reserve in the late 60s of the last century. Approximately 10 years after the foundation of the reserve, part of it was recognized as a natural park, into the territory of which tourists are allowed to enter. For their convenience, a hotel has been built here and an SUV rental office operates. The best way to get around the forest is in fast, comfortable cars, although the surrounding area can be explored on foot with an experienced guide. Tourists hope to meet local “stars” – tigers and leopards while walking along Bhagwan Mahavir, but these animals do not come close to humans. But there is no shortage of birds that noisily greet all guests of the park.
On the territory of the reserve there are the most famous waterfalls of the state – Tambdi and Dudhsagar. They can be easily reached by jeeps. Usually, jeep drivers give tourists an hour of free time. During this period, you can admire the waterfall and swim in the waters of the lake below it.
Another wonderful Goan reserve is called Bondla. It is the smallest natural park in the state, as it covers an area of 8 square kilometers. The reserve is more like a zoo. There are aviaries where predators are kept. Non-dangerous animals just live in the wild and are not afraid of people. Guests in Bondle offer elephant trekking.
For a long time, the territory of Goa was owned by the Portuguese colonialists, so now you can see both colonial buildings and Hindu-style buildings here. The latter includes the Mangesh Temple, located in the village of Priol, near the city of Panaji. The temple complex consists of several buildings. Especially noteworthy is the tall snow-white tower.
Several forts on the coast remained from the Portuguese. Some of them are in ruins, others have been restored, such as the Tiracol fort in North Goa. It was built by one of the local rulers in the 17th century, and the Portuguese subsequently reconstructed it. Currently, it is a hotel.
Fans of urban architecture will love Old Goa, the former capital of the Portuguese possessions, and now a small city built up with Catholic churches. One of them – the snow-white Cathedral of St. Catherine – is famous for the fact that there is kept the miraculous Crucifixion, which heals the sick. The Basilica of Bon Jesus, built at the turn of the 16th-17th centuries, preserves the relics of St. Francis Xavier.
In the main city of the state of Goa, Panaji, it is worth finding a statue depicting Abbot Faria, the hero of the novel The Count of Monte Cristo. It turns out that such a person existed in reality, and is not the product of Alexandre Dumas’ fantasy. He was born in the Goan village of Candolim and, indeed, was a prisoner of If Castle for a long time.
There are not many museums in Goa, but enough to usefully spend a few days. By the way, you can take your child with you on a trip to museums, he will surely like the local collections. The first must-see is the restored Goan traditional settlement called Goa Chitra. You can find it in the town of Benaulim in the south of Goa. The museum, in the exposition of which you can see about 4 thousand objects of Goan everyday life, which were in use in past centuries, has been operating since 2010. Sometimes interesting interactive performances take place in the museum.
History buffs can also be advised to head to the village of Varka in South Goa. There is the São Tomé Historical Museum, which contains objects that have remained from the Portuguese colonialists.
Men of all ages will love a visit to the Bogmalo Naval Aviation Museum in central Goa. The museum consists of two parts: an open area with exhibits and a two-story covered gallery. Various airplanes, helicopters, aircraft engines, Indian military uniforms, old photographs, weapons, etc. can be seen here.
In the city of Old Goa there is a small House of Wax, which contains about 20 dolls depicting characters from Indian history.