Better known as the fun capital of the country, Goa has been the ultimate party destination for millions of tourists from all parts of the world. Spread on a small 3700-odd square kilometres area, it is big excitement in a small package. The smallest state in Western India and resting on the Western Ghats, Goa is a once in a lifetime experience. Go on and explore this beautiful and historical land of stunning contrasts. You can visit serene beaches, live the thrill of water sports, party at the famous beach shacks and pubs, go on wild life nature tours, eat, dance and be merry on boat tours, visit archaeologically enchanting Portuguese architecture and much more.
When to Visit
Best time to visit: Mid-November to Mid-February. This is the peak tourist season as the weather is cool and Goan culture is at its highest peak. There are a number of celebrations to witness like the Sunburn festival, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Get ready for non-stop party fun but book your hotels in advance as tourists flock from all over the world to party in Goa during this time.
Ok time to visit: June to October. You can enjoy monsoon in Goa with its lush green carpets of greenery all over. Take advantage of fallen hotel rates and enjoy a budget holiday. Do visit the Dudhsagar waterfall during the rains.
Visit with caution: March to June is actually quite hot and many activities for tourists are closed down during the scorching summers. The only advantage is you can book accommodation at dirt cheap rates.
7 Best Points of Interest in Goa
1. Agonda Beach
This beach is located in the southern most point of Canacona in Goa. As compared to the other Goan beaches, this one is still left untouched by most of the crowds. If you are looking for a peaceful beach side relaxation, Agonda is the perfect place for you. Stretching as a long serene shoreline, the Agonda beach is a pristine place where you can sunbathe, swim and relax without mobile networks (perfect for a holiday actually!). The busier Palolem beach is a 10 minutes drive from here, in case you feel like shifting your base to this party loving area. You can look for the rare Ridley turtles here, which do not like too much noise and lights in the night. Beach shades and sun beds are spread by most of the sea side shacks, and you can easily get two wheelers on rent to move in and out of the beach. The locals around strive their best to preserve the natural beauty of this place.
2. Baga Beach
This one is of course, the most visited spot in Goa and the credit goes to its famous party culture. You can freak out in some of the best beach parties thrown at the Baga beach. Sun, surf and awesome cuisine is what it has in store for you.
During tourist months, the beach line is full of shacks lined up where you can lie down with a chilled drink or enjoy sand play with your kids. Indulge in some of the best Asian sea food cuisines cooked by the sea side restaurants. The night life is especially lively in this vibrant Goa beach. Baga beach is famous for its water sports and boat cruises. The National Wind Surfing festival held between September to November is another highlight of the Baga Beach. You should book in advance for a luxurious stay in some of the best beach side resorts and hotels around the beach. You can easily spend a day or two in this exciting sea beach and you will still want to come back looking for more fun. St. Anthony’s and Brittos are the most sought after shacks that make the evenings and nights livelier by every hour.
3. Fort Aguada And Its Lighthouse
Live up to your dream of a perfect vacation by opting to visit this historical monument in Goa. You will be able to witness the beauty of Sinquerim Beach overlooking the Arabian Sea from the ramparts of the Fort Aguada. Around 400 years back, the Portugese had built this fort to guard against the Dutch and Marathas. It used to serve as a fresh water store (a stunning 23, 76,000 gallons of storage) for the ships that stopped by. The four storey lighthouse which was constructed later is the oldest of its kind in Asia. The lower part of the fort has been serving as the largest jail in Goa! This well preserved monument from the seventeenth century is surrounded by five star resorts. It is a prominent landmark on the map of Goa and will leave you in awe by its picturesque magnificence and huge construction. Don’t forget to carry your hats, sunscreens and snacks and water if you plan to climb the lighthouse to get the best views.
4. Basilica of Bom Jesus
This UNESCO World Heritage Site holds the mortal remains of Saint Francis Xavier and was constructed in 1605. The holy church is situated in Old Goa and is famous for its unique Baroque architecture. It is a world famous religious destination for Roman Catholics. The holy remains of the great saint are still visible in the well contained and decorated case. You can visit this intricately carved and unplastered church to look at its huge and ornate interiors which is a marvel of architecture. Crowds are heaviest on 3rd December during the feast of St. Francis Xavier which is a prolonged period of festivity in and around the church. You must visit this peaceful and divine place if you are a history buff and historical buildings interest you. Tourists from all religious backgrounds commonly light candles and pray for the fulfilment of their wishes. You can hire a local guide who will tell you historical myths and show you around the enchanting church campus. It is open from 9 am to 6 pm every day.
5. Flea Markets in Goa
Holidaying never goes without shopping. You can land up on a buying spree in the famous flea markets that are held weekly or almost daily in different parts of Goa. In North Goa, Anjuna Flea Market is a great tourist attraction that is a street market held every Wednesday along the Anjuna Beach. Funky clothes, footwear, handicrafts, bags and accessories are all available at bargained prices. Similarly, The Arpora Saturday Night Bazaar has a special ‘night’ attraction attached to it, the weather being pleasant. A German named Ingo started this trend and thus it is called the Ingo Saturday Night Bazaar till date. Make merry eating yummy food and shop till you drop in this lively and noisy market starting 6 pm onwards every Saturday. On any other days, you can visit Mapusa market which is equally intriguing where Goan art and crafts are exhibited and sold at good prices.
6. Dudhsagar waterfalls
Goa is mainly famous for its beaches but there are more surprises in there for tourists. One such water body is the Dudhsagar waterfall. This four tiered waterfall is a breathtaking site on the Mandovi River, about 60 km from Panaji.
Well known as one of the highest water falls in India, this beautiful place lies on the Western Ghats and makes a lovely sightseeing point, different from the sea beaches. Surrounded by a dense forest, the waterfall is at its highest glory during monsoon. There are rented bikes or jeeps to reach the spot by road. The train journey is quite adventurous as one has to embark a train from the nearest Castle Rock Station and get down at the Dudhsagar stop where there is no formal platform. The rest of the path has to be treading on foot for about a kilometre. Ample drinking water and food should be carried along as there are no facilities nearby the waterfall. It is a popular trekking site for adventure groups. The only thing, you should be one fit person to navigate through the rough terrain.
7. Visit The Jungles
Owing to the forests of the Western Ghats, Goa is blessed with a vivid world of wild life, including a variety of flora and fauna. Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, located in the Chorao islands, is an exciting place to explore for bird watchers. Named after an eminent Indian ornithologist, the sanctuary is a huge mangrove which is housed by more than 200 species of rare bird varieties. The journey is an enchanting one through the Mandovi River in a ferry. The common species that can be sighted are the striped heron, little bittern, jack snipe, and red knot. Another adventurous place for wild life lovers is Bhagwan Mahaveer Wild Sanctuary in Mollem Village of Goa. The forest has a canopy of hilly trees and you can sight lovely hornbills, woodpeckers, bulbul, and particularly famous King Cobra in the area. You can definitely plan a day trip to these sanctuaries to get closer to nature.
Goa is a land of stunning contrasts. There are wild as well as serene beaches, lively markets, and famous monuments from the Portuguese era, divine churches, night parties, exotic sea food, exciting wildlife tours and the thrill of water sports. Visit this ultimate holiday destination and it will become a tradition with you for sure! Go Goa!