Goa is a place of crowded beaches, busy narrow lanes, happening bars with affordable booze, yummy Goan seafood, buzzing and sizzling business, unique landscape, colourful Portuguese styled villas, upscale and roadside markets and much more, which gives ample number of reasons to be loved by everyone.
I have been to Goa twice in 5 years. While North Goa is hot and happening, South Goa is peaceful and quiet. Goa is a place for tourists of all ages. Despite being the smallest state of India, it boasts of the best quality life in the country.
I went to Goa with my friends in March this year. It was not a very good time to visit the place since Goa has hot and humid tropical monsoony climate being situated on the coast of the Arabian Sea. But this did not dampen our spirits in any way.
Basilica of Bom Jesus Church in old Goa
We checked into our hotel, freshened up, had a sumptuous breakfast and got ready for Basilica of Bom Jesus. This historical Church is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It houses the tomb and remains of Saint Francis Xavier. Even after 400 years the remains are in good condition and are taken out once in every decade.
Dona Paula beach – ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’ fame beach
Our next destination was Dona Paula beach which transforms into a crowded stretch which is otherwise a beautiful calm place during monsoon. The famous Hindi movie ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’ was shot here, popularizing the place further. People come here specially to watch the sunset. But we went in the afternoon when it was very hot – not the best time. History says that the beach was named after the Portuguese Viceroy ‘s daughter, Dona Paula de Menezes, who fell in love with a local Goan fisherman. The match was unacceptable to the Viceroy so she ended her life by drowning in the Arabian Sea. Today Dona Paula is a very fashionable residence for the rich.
Santa Monica cruise ship on the Mandovi river – Most popular tourist activity in Goa
We had a late lunch at a nearby restaurant and booked our tickets for the evening Santa Monica cruise ship along Mandovi river. It is a one hour cruise and is known to attract a sea of tourists. It was packed with entertainment giving you a real feel of Goan culture with live folk song and dances. We enjoyed a panoramic view of Panjim city from the topmost deck. Dead tired but still mesmerized, it was time to rest in the hotel and recharge our energies for the next day.
Reaching Calangute beach from Panjim/Panaji, Goa
The next day started with a 14 km drive from Panjim to reach Calangute beach. It is the largest and most crowded beach in Goa especially during Christmas and New Year celebrations. It is also the most commercialized beach. But it’s more of a family destination as compared to Baga beach which is famous for dance, drink and rave parties. We enjoyed local Goan seafood and banana ride, though parasailing and water skiing was also available. On our way back to the hotel we passed through the Calangute market square where vendors were selling metal craft, souvenirs, gift items, local wear and more. But you need to bargain or you can end up emptying your pockets. Prices are very high, may be due to foreigners.
Hippie Flea market at Anjuna beach in North Goa
From there we walked to Anjuna Beach which is very popular due to the availability of cheap guest houses and water sports. It is the favourite hangout place for hippies and backpackers. The Wednesday Flea market adds to its appeal. The rule of thumb is to offer half price of what is asked. However, beware of drug peddlers. Yoga, reiki and ayurvedic massages were happening all over the beach.
Baga beach the most popular beach of Goa
We decided to give Baga Beach a miss although it was very close, as the excitement of enjoying on a beach was becoming too repetitive now. We had snacks at the beach and left for our hotel totally exhausted.
Vagator beach – The crescent shaped beach
On the third day we decided to enjoy in-house activities at the hotel such as swimming and spa to escape the scorching sun. In the evening we left for Vagator beach and dinner was at Thalassa, as recommended by a localite.
This crescent shaped beach is famous for its nightlife and rave parties. It has thick palm tree growth and is a good place to relax and swim. We were told that there is live music during the tourist season which ends in February. It was a quiet beach which helped us to recover from the glitz and crowds of Anjuna and Calangute.
We now headed for Thalassa, our last destination in Goa. Thalassa means the ‘sea’, is a befitting name for a restaurant. It is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea. The authentic Greek flavour combined with the breathtaking view of sunset left us wanting to visit the place again and again. Watching the sun descend into the water right before our eyes coupled with fabulous ambience of this open air restaurant was breathtaking.
A kaleidoscopic tropical paradise — there is no place like Goa.
Also read: Fabulous Goa weekend for 50-plus kickass women travelers