Travel to Goa India
Goa is India’s smallest state, with beaches that have been voted amongst the best in Asia. A lone Portuguese outpost for more than 450 years, Goa was only reclaimed by India in the 1960s - and the colonial influence is everywhere. Gorgeous (often crumbling) architecture, fusion cuisine and afternoon siestas make Goa India unlike any other part of India. However, the deservedly famous beaches, warm blue seas and magical sunsets over the Arabian Ocean are the main draw for visitors to Golden Goa.
Beach holiday in Goa
More than two million tourists flock to this beautiful 100km slice of the Indian coastline every year. Whether to enjoy water sports and swimming in the sparkling blue sea, take a boat trip to spot dolphins, or just relax on a sun bed with a good book, Goa is a premier beach holiday destination. Cool off with some fresh tropical fruit juices or an ice cold Indian beer, have a relaxing massage or join one of the many Goa yoga classes.
Nightlife continues in this relaxed vibe, with most people happy to slurp some sunset cocktails at one of the many beach shacks and enjoy an evening meal of freshly caught seafood at a table under the stars, near any Goa resort. If you’re looking for some entertainment though, check out WhatsUpGoa for listings of everything from live music and bands, to club nights, casinos and festivals.
Most beaches in Goa India will have a local town with banks, ATMs, travel agents, and shops selling everyday essentials, whilst beach sellers peddle sarongs and offer pedicures and henna tattoos. Serious souvenir shoppers should head to the weekly flea and night markets in north Goa, to haggle for anything from saffron and silver jewellery to sandals and sunglasses.
Holiday off the beach in Goa
Whilst famous for its beautiful coastline, Goa offers many more attractions to those willing to venture off the beach.
Nature in Goa
The extraordinary and abundant nature of Goa India is clear to see everywhere from the swaying coconut palms to the ubiquitous cows on the beach, but many people do not realise they are visiting one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Lush mountain ranges with dense green jungle and hidden waterfalls, and beautiful rivers and backwaters are all open to explore. Bird spotters will marvel at the regular sightings of kingfishers, sea eagles and kites, whilst on a trip to one of Goa’s Wildlife Sanctuaries you may encounter troops of monkeys or even an elusive leopard. Life also continues unchanged at many inland villages, with buffalo ploughing the paddy fields and local women drying spices in the sun.
History in Goa
Architecture and history buffs will also find that Goa has much to offer. From the UNESCO World Heritage cathedrals and convents found in the abandoned 16th century capital Old Goa, to the living and breathing colonial Latin Quarter in Panjim, Goa’s current first city.
The Lunch Club by KOKOindia offers a unique cultural experience ‘beyond the beach’, with a private tour of one of Goa’s grand mansions, and an authentic Indo-Portuguese lunch in a restored Palacio.
The Portuguese policy of destruction resulted in some of the present day Goan temples being unique in India, with domed roofs and white towers borrowing from both Muslim and Christian architecture. One of the most important is the beautiful Shri Mangeshi Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, whose deity was kept hidden during occupation until the temple could be rebuilt.
The Hindu temples poking out from the coconut palms alongside the white churches therefore becomes a great visual metaphor for Goa’s special heritage.
Travelling to Goa
Goa Airport or Goa Dabolim airport, where both international charter and domestic flights land, is in the centre of the state, making even the most remote beaches less than two hours drive away. Many international scheduled flights land in Mumbai, an hour’s flight from Goa. Anyway, it is always good to have someone pre-arranged to pick you up in time and drop you directly in your resort in Goa.
The Konkan train line has stations dotted along the length of Goa, although many faster trains only call at Margao (Madgaon) station, in the south. India’s trains are a cheap way of covering long distances in relative comfort, whilst experiencing the changing landscape outside the window. The network covers the whole country, if you plan on extending your Goa trip with a visit to the Kerala backwaters or the Palaces of Rajasthan.
Buses connect Goa to all the major cities, such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, as well as to popular destinations for a trip from Goa, or Goa airport including Hampi and Gokarna. Just be prepared for the bumpy roads!
Getting around Goa
Your mode of travel once you arrive in Goa will depend on the distance to be covered and how much time you have. For short local journeys, hiring a bicycle or scooter or jumping in the back of a rickshaw are the best option, whereas for longer distances you can brave the local buses or arrange for a car and driver for the day.