What to See / Do
Beaches are at the top of any tourist's list when visiting Goa. Try out Agonda, Mandrem, Cola, Baga, Anjuna, Morjim, Arambol or Cavelossim to name just a few. Some beaches such as Anjuna feature a flea market which sells all sorts of trinkets, silver Ganeshas, leather goods, Buddhist singing bowls, semi-precious jewellery, hanging decorations, cool, cotton kurtas and UK/USA high street clothing at knock-off prices. Happy European hippies sell the stuff to you and are open to bargaining. Stop for a chilled beer or three and enjoy delicious, freshly cooked king prawns at a beachside shack then go sleep it off on a sandy bed on the beach. No-one's going to disturb you, believe us!
If you can drag yourself away from Goa's beaches for a moment, do visit the famous Basilica of Bom Jesus which is a Portuguese Church with magnificent interiors housing the remains of St Francis Xavier. You can actually see the body of the former Saint and are permitted to bow down to say your prayers here. The original pulpit and priests' vestments are still there to be seen.
The Spice Farms in Goa are also a must visit if you have the time. Visit a dense forest where the intoxicating aromas of cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, pepper, curry leaves, chilli, ginger and turmeric fill your nostrils and senses until you just want to head down to the farm's restaurant to tuck into freshly cooked cuisine using these spices. Besides visiting the Spice Farm, you can also enjoy folk dances or you can wash and ride the resident elephants! You can even do a Tarzan and swing between the tall, beetle-nut palms! Not to be missed!
For all you foodies out there, a must do is to gorge on gorgeous Greek food at the world famous Thalassa in Vagator. A veritable celebrity hang-out, it was frequented by Bollywood celebs Deepika&Ranveer several times a week during a recent film shoot there. La Plage and Fat Fish are two other favourites that require more than just the one visit. Must try the Goan prawn curry with spicy potato wedges.
Goa is famous for its feni (liquor) and no trip would be complete without purchasing a bottle of pure Goanfeni made from either the juice of the cashew nut or coconut. The best way to enjoy feni is to pour it into a tall glass, either on the rocks or mixed with tonic water, topped with a slice of lime and to be savoured whilst lying beneath a coconut tree
The Saturday Night Market in Arpora is great for street food as well as cheap, trendy shopping. Do not miss the Bikini Shop in North Goa! With thousands of bikinis priced at between 1500-2000rs (£15-20), the choice is unlimited and they will literally last you for years.
And now for the trendiest, hippest thing to do whilst in Goa – attend a silent rave. Yes, it is a disco but without the sound. The only music you hear is literally in your head as you strap on headphones and groove the night away. To the outsider, it will look like the Goan sun has really got to you but to the insider; a silent rave is the most unique experience you could possibly enjoy.
There is so much to do in Goa that it's not possible to simply mention it without the detail. However, we're going to attempt it so here goes :dolphin safaris, casino nights, boat rides, parasailing, jet-skiing, bird/fish spotting tours and much, much more.
Being a coastal destination, the weather in Goa is best described as tropical year round.
Whilst Goa is a tourist magnet year-round, the most popular months to visit are generally from October to February when the weather is less humid. The monsoon season hits Goa from early June and lasts till September. This is when local tourists from all over India fill Goa's hotels as not only is Goa at its greenest and most lush but the hotels drop their rates drastically at this time and throw in free half-board and other offers to tempt visitors.
The hottest month of the year is traditionally May when the temperatures soar to 35C (95F)! Being by the sea, the weather is, however, always tempered by the cool, sea breeze and evenings are warm and balmy.
It would be safe to say pack your suntan oil no matter when you visit this tourist hotspot as it is, in fact, perfect beach weather no matter whatever the season.
Where to Stay
On a budget? No problem! North Goa, known for its all-night beach parties, midnight flea markets and hippy chic is filled with a vast range of budget to mid accommodation to suit absolutely anyone. Whether you stay at Baga, Anjuna, Candolim or Agonda, you'll find quality accommodation at very affordable prices. Most hotels feature a pool and, if even they don't, the sea is always nearby! Of course, North Goa also features some of the finest top end hotels as well including the trendy North 16 in Calangute, frequented by Bollywood celebrities, as well as the traditional family friendly five-stars such as the Grand Hyatt, Vivanta by Taj and the Goa Marriott.
Looking to splurge? Then look no further than South Goa's most luxurious resort, The Leela. Set in 75 acres of beautifully landscaped, lush, green foliage with its own private beach featuring golden sands and a wide range of watersports, a 12-hole golf course and a fabulous choice of restaurants and bars (including North Indian, Italian, Continental& Fresh Seafood), the Leela offers 206 guestrooms, suites and villas with private plunge and full size pools. Personalized butler service, individual buggy carts to ferry you around the hotel's immense grounds, tennis courts, a fully equipped gymnasium, two swimming pools and a health spa are just some of the additional features to ensure your stay at the Leela is a happy one!