Are you headed to Goa? Well, good for you! Here is your guide to six things you must do while spending time in India’s beachside paradise.
In This Article You Will Discover:
- The Best Markets
- The Best Accommodation
- Top Destinations
Welcome to Goa — India’s beachside paradise destination. While it’s tempting to let the days drift by, lounging on the beach sipping Kingfisher, don’t forget to get out-and-about during your time here. If you need a little inspiration, here are six must-dos in Goa:
1. Anjuna Flea Market
This is a classic Goa experience. One of the original “hippie markets,” in operation for a few decades now, the Anjuna Flea Market is held every Wednesday in a dusty field on the outskirts of the main town. Expect to see an equal mix of local Goans fleecing poor-bargaining tourists and expats from the world-round flogging their wares in an attempt to finance just a few more months in paradise. Most of what you’ll see is typical junk — mirrored bedspreads, trinkets, designer knock-offs, silly T-shirts, but every once and a while there’s something truly interesting for sale… in our case, a merchant selling actual vintage designer sunglasses (Chanel, etc.). Food, drink and live music abounds. Barter hard, initial prices are always ludicrous.
2. Rent a Beach Hut
Accommodation in Goa ranges from rickety shacks with communal bathrooms, tucked away in the jungle and available for pocket change, to the Taj Exotica, where a night will cost several hundred to $1,000 or more USD. However, for the best experience, find a beachside hut with an open air café. Sleep to the sounds of a whirring fan and the crashing surf. Kick your shoes off and don’t put them back on for a week. Goa is best done as such; simple and authentic.
3. Fort Tiracol
Quite literally the farthest point north in Goa before you hit Maharashtra, this cliffside 17th century Portuguese fort is accessed via free-of-charge ferry ride from Querim, a 30-minute scooter ride from Mandrem. Here, you can take in expansive views of the Goan coast, complete with empty sand beaches, ever-flowing river estuaries and the occasional pod of dolphins frolicking in the surf. Fort Tiracol offers accommodation (130 euros), though it might be a little boring to stay there more than a few hours. The restaurant is quite nice, though — we whiled away the afternoon, sipping cold Pepsi and getting a sunburn. (It was worth it.)
4. Rent a Scooter
Of course, to get to Fort Tiracol, you’ll need wheels. While taxis come in handy for long trips through Goa, the state’s quiet backroads are easily negotiated via self-drive scooter. Forget the chaos you’ve seen in Delhi or Jaipur, anyone can scooter in Goa. Sure, Panjim or Mapusa get a bit busy, but other than that, roads are relatively sedate and easy to navigate. Just remember to honk your horn often (and around every blind corner), look out for trucks and buses (really, I mean look out) and keep an eye open for unpainted speed bumps… the bane of my and Erin’s existence while touring Goa. (They really sneak up on you.) At night, cows tend to roam the streets — scootering is best during daytime hours. Scooter rentals usually cost about 300 Rupees per day.
5. Saturday Night Market
Livelier than the Anjuna Flea Market, Arpora’s famous Saturday Night Market is held weekly near Calangute, and offers hot bargains in a party atmosphere. Expect big crowds; it is not for the agoraphobic traveller. Live music, street food a-plenty and good deals on souvenirs, spices and clothing can be found throughout the winding aisles. I was more into browsing and people watching, but there seemed to be generally a higher-calibre of merchandise on display here than in Anjuna. Expect to spend a couple of hours just to fully browse, more if you plan on taking in the fire-dancing and live music shows.
6. Old Goa
We almost missed Old Goa. After two weeks lounging on the sand, we had settled into a nice, lazy routine. Cultural tours? That’s for northern India… but on our final day in paradise, we got motivated and headed to Old Goa en route to the airport. And it would have been a shame to skip this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Totally different from all other parts of India, this was once considered “Rome of the East.” See the ornate Basilica of Born Jesus — home to the viewable remains of St. Francis Xavier — plus Se Cathedral, Church of St. Francis Assisi, Monastery of St. Augustine and more. It only takes a couple of hours to fully tour Old Goa, and don’t do as we did and go in the mid-afternoon… it gets ungodly hot. (Morning would be better.) Short and sweet — and worth the time spent.