Do you need to dose-up your Dharma, shift your Chakras or cool down your Karma? Then I recommend you go to Goa, the beautiful coastal state in India! This tropical paradise is home to palm-lined beaches, lush mountains, beautiful locals, amazing wildlife and delicious Indian food. Let’s face it, we all need a trip there now!
Due to Goa’s coastal position and richness of natural resources, it has an interwoven heritage with influences from traditional Indian Hinduism, Buddhism, northern Indian Islam and Portuguese Christianity. The Portuguese introduced European sovereignty over the Indian region in 1510 which opened trade to the far west. Goa was a Portuguese overseas territory for around 450 years, but was annexed by India in 1961 before being declared an official state in 1987. Goa was an important port on the historic Spice Route which spanned from Europe to Indonesia.
Here’s where I use my ‘Resting Beach Face’!
Dabolim Airport is the closest main airport to Goa. Taxis from here are affordable and readily available – but it is safest to take a Yellow Black Prepaid Taxi to your destination to ensure that the price is correct. It takes about 40 minutes to drive from the airport to Panaji, the capital of the state. Local buses are also an option for travelling from the airport, and there are shuttle buses between Calangute and Panaji. You can also take a taxi or a local bus around Goa, and a train line connects the northern and southern parts of the state.
Here’s a Pro-tip: The currency of Goa is the Indian Rupee which is almost always around 100 INR to the GB£. Remember that exchange rates fluctuate and check the rate from a reputable site before exchanging currency.
Most visitors visit Goa for the beaches and, frankly, they are spectacular. Here are my favourites:
- Dona Paula Beach is secluded and lively at the same time, with lots of little coves and plenty of opportunities for water sports.
- Vagator Beach is lined by palm trees, this spot can be incredibly romantic – especially during dawn and dusk. Climb up Vagator Hill for the best sunset view!
- Calanguteand Baga have a bustling nightlife and beach bar scene
Beach Sunset is my favourite colour!
Here’s another Pro-tip – be careful on the beach! If there are red flags by the sea, it means that it is not safe to swim. Even if the sea appears calm, there could be dangerous rip currents just under the surface.
Goa is not just about beaches. Away from the coast, there are plenty of cool things to do:
- If you’re a nature fan and want to do something other than enjoy the coastline, check out Dudhsagar Falls. This 603 metre drop is one of the tallest in India and it is a mesmerising place to spend an afternoon.
- Fort Aguada is located on Sinquerim Beach, and it was built by Portuguese settlers in the early 1600s. It’s a great spot to enjoy the Portuguese architecture that permeates the area.
This little one is ready to welcome you!
- The Basilica of Bom Jesus is the oldest Christian church in Goa. It is famous for its gorgeous Baroque architecture. Remember, if it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it!
- You likely came to India with the hope of seeing some of its unique wildlife. Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is the largest wildlife preserve in all of Goa! Here you might see a variety of birdlife and monkeys. Mollem National Park is right next door as well.
- Also popular is the Ponda Spice Plantation, where you can learn all about the delicious spices that make up Indian cuisine.
- Anjuna Flea Market is open on Wednesdays and is the ultimate place to go if you are looking for Goa souvenirs! Visit for spices, local clothes and footwear, jewellery and accessories.
- If you like markets and authentic shopping, Mapusa Market is another must-visit. It has a history spanning back centuries and experts claim that the town was built around the market. It’s a great spot to visit if you want to buy some authentic food – or its equally great if you just want to people watch and take in the atmosphere!
Here’s another Pro-tip: negotiating for purchases is customary throughout India, and isn’t considered to be rude. Feel free to haggle on an item you wish to purchase!
Spice is such an integral part of Goa history, I bet you’ll love it while you’re visiting! If you’re a seafood fan, I recommend sampling Rava Fry Fish. This is a dish made of fish coated in spice and semolina and can be found all over Goa. Here are some of my favourite restaurants:
- For authentic Goa cuisine, Bhatti Village in Nerul is the place to go. The restaurant has a lovely homely feel, and you’ll be able to enjoy seasonal and local produce.
- There is also some great street food on offer at the Goa Collective Bazaar.
- Mum’s Kitchen is a Panjim-based eatery offering local Portuguese-Goa fusion dishes, with plenty of vegetarian options.
- If you want somewhere a bit more high-end, try out Upper House.
- For a change, try the only Greek restaurant in the state, beach-side Thalassa! This restaurant is one of the most popular in Goa. So, if you want a sunset table, be sure to book in advance.
In case of fire, break glass!
Here’s another Pro-tip: Food in Goa is typically spicier than food elsewhere in India (which is already pretty hot!). If you’re not a chilli fan, be sure to let the restaurant know when ordering your meal.
Goa is known as India’s nightlife capital, and if you want to party, there’s nowhere better. Here are my top picks:
- Re: FRESH Club is famous for hosting international DJs and crazy parties.
- If you are into psychedelic trance music, try out Cavala Beach Road Hill Top.
- For a lounge vibe, check out Flor do Mar, which is India’s first luxury sea lounge.
- If you’re more of a chilled partier visit Sundowner. As the name suggests, its sunset cocktails are famous!
- Joseph’s Bar is a traditional affair, the perfect place to grab a beer.
- Fort Aguada Taj Hotel has a bar with dramatic views over the Portuguese fort. Take a seat here and enjoy a cocktail while watching Goa come to life beneath you at sunset!
Basically, this Basilica is Baroque!
There are lots of wonderful places to stay in Goa – hotels offer great value! Here are some cool places to stay:
- Jamboree Creek is my top choice. It is a beautiful beachfront property with rooms located in rustic huts. Its restaurant serves up traditional Goa cuisine and yoga lessons are on offer.
- For somewhere a little more luxurious, I recommend The Diwa Club. This lovely hotel has large, deluxe rooms and is centred around a beautiful swimming pool.
- For something mid-range in price, Mateus Boutique Hotel is located in a Portuguese-era building, with lots of indoor plants and bright bedrooms.
- River Castle is a gorgeous, cosy homestay that is great for budget travellers.
Goa’s tropical climate, friendly people, and abundance of things to do all add together to give you the perfect holiday. Whether you laze on the beach, soak up its unique culture, or find your inner peace, I can guarantee that you’ll have a magical time in this tropical paradise!