Goa, nestled in the South-West of the Indian subcontinent, has an enduring popularity stretching back decades. Since it was annexed from the Portuguese in 1961 by India, the government of the latter have invested greatly in making its smallest state appealing to tourists. It’s worked – millions flock here every year, with increased transport links and amenities only raising its convenience and, subsequently, popularity further. And no wonder – it’s charming but brash, peaceful but chaotic, soothing, invigorating and everything in between….it’s basically anything you want it to be. Together with Greaves India here are our 8 IDEAL reasons to visit Goa.
It’s a cliche to laud the people of a place – everywhere in the world can lay claim to charming and hospitable citizens. There is however a certain Goan laid-back approach to life that permeates every aspect of a trip here. Arriving anywhere, whether it be the airport, a hotel or a restaurant for dinner, you’re immediately made to feel welcome and at ease. A generosity of spirit will frame your trip from arrival to departure. If you ever want to leave, that is.
Why people come here. Each beach in Goa is more pristine than the last, each with a unique personality and character. The most well-known stretches of sand – Anjuna we’re looking at you – get really crowded, with hawkers aplenty, so it’s worth going off the beaten track to find your own scene of solitude. Mandrem offers picturesque beauty with less of the hustle and bustle of some of the more party-focused spots. As with Goa as a whole, there is something for everyone beach-wise. Luxury or back-to-basic beach huts – the choice is yours.
Anywhere with such a beach-based focus is bound to be brimming with water sports. Goa is no exception. Diving is well catered for and reasonably priced, with oceans generally safe and sea life abundant. For those who like more of an adrenaline rush, windsurfing and paragliding are equally popular. Off nearly all of its beaches you can see banana boats bouncing and kayaks cruising. Goa is the dream for those who love the waves.
The Churches and Convents of Goa
A series of UNESCO world heritage sites, The Churches and Convents of Goa are a batch of historical monuments dating back to the evangelisation of Goa during Portuguese rule here. There are 7 in total, each rich in history and unique in architecture. The artwork inside is also spectacular and a fascinating insight into the Catholic church’s’ influence in Asia in times gone by.
The ubiquitous Goan fish curry is worthy of its fame – a fantastic, aromatic dish exploiting the bounty of the ocean surrounding the state. Don’t get safe and just eat this every night though, although it would be quite possible to – Goa has much more to offer. Indian curry classics (vindaloo is native to these parts) and fresh, grilled seafood rub shoulders with dishes of a more Portuguese influence. This creates a heady mix of spicing and techniques which leads to a cuisine unique to the area.
Goa is famous for its hedonistic vibes and is far less conservative than much of the rest of India. The party scene is vibrant and diverse and the state has been a destination for revellers since the hippies arrived in the sixties. Although the underground trance-raves of recent times have been largely sanitised, or shut down altogether, by stricter government legislation, the scene has moved indoors. Tito’s is perhaps the most famous nightclub in the state, and feels much like a more familiar Ibiza or Magaluf booze up. Look further afield and you’ll find much to embrace, whatever your tipple, with beach bars, clubs and even party boats prevalent on every shore.
The Sun Always Shines
Goa’s weather is blissed out and the days of sunshine long – the state is usually exposed to full, uninterrupted sunshine for 11ish hours a day. From November to April there is minimal rain and temperatures of a not too stifling 30ºC, with evenings cooler and perfectly pleasant. Consider avoiding a visit from June to September, which is Monsoon season.
India is the home of yoga and meditation and Goa is a great place to find your inner zen. You’ll find classes offered everyday and on most streets. Retreats are available for the more dedicated yogis among us – Purple Valley has earned considerable repute and is well worth a look should finding yourself be a priority.