Goa, on the west coast of India, is one of the countries most popular, diverse and picturesque states, blessed with everything from stunning, palm encompassed, white sandy beaches to grand Portuguese cathedrals to breathtaking green hilly countryside. A place where religion, tradition, spirituality, hippie culture and European trance parties all somehow combine to create a magical atmosphere to savor and enjoy.
Conveniently located on the shores of the Arabian Sea and occupying 101km coastline, Goa is actually India’s smallest state, nevertheless one with an enormous personality, and bordered by Maharashtra and Karnataka it is easily accessible. As most information on Goa will attest, the main action revolves around the beach, with an abundance of towns scattered along the stunning coast. The states capital, Panjim (Panaji), in the north, is a delightful Portuguese influenced town sitting on the south bank of the MandoviRiver, and further inland are a collection of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. Getting around Goa can be achieved in any number of ways, with the most popular being via the hire of a scooter or motorcycle, providing the freedom to travel at will. Those who travel to Goa for long-term stays often buy their own scooter or motorcycle.
Popular with both locals and tourist, Goa is all too often misconceived as a package tour heaven, when in fact it has more diversity than most Indian states. Goa all-inclusive resorts are on the rise and good for those seeking a basic Goa beach holiday with everything taken care of for them. However, taking time to step back from the crystal clear waters and explore the charming historical heart of the region will leave a lifetime of lasting memories.
Places to visit in Goa
The reputation of the beaches go before them and there is no better place to watch the sun go down, whilst enjoying some of the states fine culinary delights, than at the likes of Palolem and Arambol. However, step inside to Panjim and Old Goa, and feel the glory of the former Portuguese reign unfold amid its enchanting atmosphere. Festivals abound, Goa is as lively a state as they come and visitors will never find themselves too far from a celebration, both religious and non-religious. Unlike Kerala Beaches to the south, Goa Beaches have a more festive and lively feel to them.
During the months of June thru the end of September, Goa tourism is almost nonexistent as it is hit hard by the monsoon and a good deal of hotels, guesthouses and restaurants tend to close up for the period. The remainder of the year, particularly October to February, sees an almost perfect climate sweep through the state.
Crime in Goa
Other issues travelers experience in Goa, include security, particularly theft from the beaches and primitive accommodation huts in Palolem, Anjuna and Arambol. Women may also find the beaches difficult and receive more than their fair share of interest from locals, therefore it is important to dress appropriately and draw as little attention as possible.
Transport links serving Goan towns/cities and interstate are excellent. Local buses run frequently between the beach towns and long distance services depart from Chaudi, near Palolem, Margao, Mapusa and Panjim. The Konkan Railway, with arguably India’s most picturesque train rides, runs the full length of Goa, stopping in various towns. Pernem, Mapusa Road, Karmali (Old Goa) and Canacona are all stations on the line that runs north, into Maharashtra and onto Mumbai, and south, into Karnataka and Kerala. The state is served by Dabolim airport, 29km from Panjim, with regular domestic flights to all major cities and charter services to the UK and Europe.
Things to do in
Goa Beaches - Goa is blessed with an abundance of white sandy beaches running the length of the state, on the shores of the Arabian Sea. Some of the most popular are Palolem, Colva and Benaulim, to the south, and Calangute, Baga, Anjuna and Arambol, to the north. The beaches are some of the best places to visit in north Goa if you’re looking for action. Generally speaking the further south you go the more chill the beach scene in Goa. Be sure to check out our Goa Beach Photos on the Photos Tab of this Travel Guide.
List of Goa Beaches (from north to south)
Miramar beach – Mellow vibe with some spiritual practice opportunities.
Aswem Beach – Slightly trendy, nice accommodation & party options.
Morjim Beach – Very chill during the day with lots of kite surfing in the evening.
Anjuna Beach – Famous party beach in the north; know for its trance parties.
Sinquerim beach – Relaxed beach with the wreck of the River Princess on the shore.
Varca Beach – Stunningly beautiful, small and relaxed beach.
Betul Beach – If you can find the beach, you will be rewarded.
Cabo de Rama Beach - Quiet beach with the Cabo de Rama fort nearby
ColaBeach - Famous for beach huts with basic amenities.
Colomb – Small fishing village good for accommodation if staying in the south.
Patnem Beach – beautiful and popular with those practicing yoga.
Tourist Attractions of Goa- Although famous for its beaches and hippie lifestyle, Goa still possesses its fair share of fascinating sites, with an array of churches, cathedrals, temples and forts. Some of the best places to visit in Goa are in Panjim and Old Goa house the states finest collection of Portuguese influenced architecture, with Old Goa being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Goan Festivals - A feast of festivals take place all year round that echo the Christian heritage of the state. Panjim, Goa’s capital is the centre for festivals, with a number of vibrant religious and non-religious events.
Water sports Goa - An array of extreme and water sports are available at the majority of the beach towns. Particular favorites are paragliding at Arambol and Anjuna, and jet skiing and parasailing at Calangute and Baga. Sailboat rentals are available in Palolem.
Goa Boat trips - Arambol and Palolem are popular towns from where to take a number of boat tours. An abundance of operators and boat owners walk the beaches offering fishing trips and dolphin spotting tours.
Goa Spice Tours - From Ponda, Central Goa, interesting daytrips take travelers on tours of the spice plantations, including detailed explanations and delicious buffet lunches. Sahakari Spice Farm opens from 8am - 6pm and is a short ride from Ponda.
Accommodation in Goa ranges from cheap basic beach shacks to heritage homes to Goa beach resorts fit for royalty, with prices varying between seasons. Christmas is the busiest period and prices often reach extortionate heights.
The following are a selection of sleeping options:
Goa Hotels - Budget
Avalon Sunset (Anjuna) - Clean and simple, family run guesthouse within walking distance from bus stand and beach. The cliffside restaurant serves good meal and has fantastic sunset views. Tel (91) (832) 2273471.
God’s Gift Guest House (Arambol) - A stones throw from the beach, this is a pleasant no thrills option with friendly staff. Tel (91) (823) 2242391.
Cozy Nook (Palolem) - Squeezed between the beach and lake, the location could not be any better. There are an assortment of rooms, huts and cottages to choose from. Tel (91) (832) 2643550.
Republica Hotel (Panjim) - Cheep and cheerful budget option with friendly staff. Some rooms have balconies with good views of the river. 18th June Road. Tel (91) (832) 2223958.
Goa Hotels - Midrange
Villa Anjuna (Anjuna) - Good hotel on the main road, with all mod cons and swimming pool giving it a package holiday feel. Advisable to book ahead as is often full. Tel (91) (832) 2273443.
Palolem Guest House (Palolem) - Friendly, spotless hotel only 5 minutes from the beach and main drag of bars and restaurants. Pleasant restaurant in a pretty garden. Tel (91) (832) 2644879.
Panjim Inn (Panjim) - Elegantly decorated rooms in a romantic hotel, housed in a Goan mansion from the 1880’s. Ideal location for honeymooners. E-212 31st January Road. Tel (91) (832) 2226523.
Goa Beach Resorts
Oceanic Hotel (Palolem) - Located in tranquil surroundings on the road between Palolem and Patnem beach, this English owned hotel has 6 beautiful rooms catering for everyone’s needs. Tel (91) (832) 2643059.
Hotel Mandovi (Panjim) - Business like hotel set on the riverbank, with stunning views of surrounding countryside. Walking distance to all sights and amenities. DB Marg. Tel (91) (832) 2426270.
Panjim Peoples (Panjim) - Run by the same people as the Panjim Inn, this is Panjim’s most charismatic hotel with stunningly decorated rooms fit for a Maharaja. 31st January Road. Tel (91) (832) 2226523.
Lemon Tree Amarante Beach Resort Goa - Located on Amarante beach, which is a popular destination for leisure travelers.
Goa Beach Map: http://www.goa-holidays-and-hotels.com/map-of-goa.html
How to Reach: http://www.weareholidays.co.in/travel-guide/how-to-reach-goa
Month Min Temp Max Rain fall
Jan 19.6 31.6 0.2
Feb 20.5 31.5 0.1
Mar 23.2 32.0 1.2
Apr 25.6 33.0 11.8
May 26.3 33.0 112.7
Jun 24.7 30.3 868.2
Jul 24.1 28.9 994.8
Aug 24.0 28.8 518.7
Sep 23.8 29.5 251.9
Oct 23.8 31.6 124.8
Nov 22.3 32.8 30.9
Dec 20.6 32.4 16.7