Goa is India's little slice of hippie paradise and I go there a lot! Goa is India's smallest state and happens to be surrounded by numerous lovely beaches. In spite of the fact that I have been going there about a decade, I've never done a post about it so here goes! Goa can be divided into North and South and since I always hang around in North Goa, this post is all about it! North Goa is the popular side of Goa which is evident by its crowded beaches, delicious seafood, crazy nightlife, hippie markets and yoga retreats. If you love laid-back beaches, love dancing, practice yoga, shop and eat well, Goa is the place for you!
Mid October to Mid March is the best time to go to Goa as the weather is nice and it's the main 'season' time so all beach shacks, restaurants and shops are open and there are lot of good parties to go to!
The month of December is extremely crowded with people from all over the world (and India) there and prices of hotels are hiked up too, so I avoid December. From mid March to end of May it's extremely hot and humid. I was just there this March and April and it was hot as hell. From June to September, it's the rainy season and most shacks, restaurants, hotels and shops are closed. It rains heavily and for a long duration so it's kind of a bummer if you're there at that time. Another downside is you definitely cannot chill by the beach or go for a swim at that time either. However, everything is green and really beautiful at the same time too. I had once gone during the rains and it was quite pretty to say the least. There was so much of greenery that I couldn't recognize half the roads I was otherwise familiar with.
WHERE TO STAY -
I recommend staying right on the beach or as close as you can to it. Almost every beach has accommodation and shacks are typically non A/C as you don’t need it most of the year. You also have pricey and fancy beach huts if you want to live in luxury. As you move inland away from the beach, there are lots of hotels and resorts in a wide range of budgets.
If you want to relax and primarily spend time on the beaches with quiet dinners, I recommend you to stay way up in Morjim/Ashwem or Arambol.
If you're the party person and enjoy the mayhem like I do, stay in Anjuna/Vagator.
I personally prefer staying here because of the restaurants and parties and I travel to Morjim/Ashwem/Mandrem/Arambol to spend the day on these beaches.
Laze, swim, chill, drink, party, shop, water sports, yoga - the options are endless on the beaches! There are lots of beautiful beaches in North Goa. In the far north, Arambol is a popular paragliding spot and has lots of cheap accommodation. It also has a lovely beach and numerous shacks on the beach that serve amazing food along with an adorable sweet water lake which has fun parties by the lakeside. Just a bit ahead of it are the laid-back beaches of Morjim, Aswem and Mandrem are low-key. These beaches are really beautiful too and amazing to swim in. Then there is Anjuna, one of the most famous beaches of North Goa. It's the party center of Goa with lots of beach parties but the beach itself is kinda rocky and the waves are really strong so it's not so great for swimming. Almost adjacent to Anjuna is Vagator which comprises of three beaches. It has lots of amazing restaurants and party places too along with lots of fancy places to stay.
There are many more famous beaches like Baga, Calangute, Candolim which are super commercialized and insanely crowded with crappy tourists and weird people so I suggest you to steer clear from these.
There are restaurants everywhere serving cuisines from all around the world and food is Goa is amazing! Check out https://www.zomato.com/goa for an extensive list of restaurants along with reviews, menus, addresses and types of cuisine. I usually eat at beach shacks because the food is really delicious and the menus are extensive with lots of options of different kinds of cuisines. I primarily just eat Calamari and Prawn 24/7 when I'm in Goa.
Anjuna hosts the world famous flea market every Wednesday (during season time only) where you get everything from clothes, jewelry, music, spices, home stuff to smoking paraphernalia from all around India and the world. Then there's the Saturday Night Market in Arpora which is a bigger version and has a lot more to offer along with lots of restaurant stalls, bars and parties too. I suggest you to check out both as they have their own charm. Besides these two, there are lots of boutiques and stores selling resort wear, boho clothing and exotic jewelry all over Goa but many of them have stalls in the two markets I mentioned before so you don't need to go hunting for them.
You can rent a bike or a car for a relatively cheap price in Goa. If it's a long distance, you can take a taxi. I prefer traveling by bike but if you have to go long distances, then it's better to have a car. I drove down in my car last year from Pune to Goa so it was pretty convenient for me to travel all over.
If you want to get touristy, you could visit old Goa and check out the beautiful churches and cathedrals all over.
If you love nature and wildlife you can check out the butterfly conservatory, and also go crocodile/ dolphin/turtle watching/
There are river cruises, houseboat tours and yacht cruises too.
If you love dancing, Goa is the place to be! Goa is probably the only place in India with a proper psy scene. Popular places that host psy parties are Curlies, Shiva Valley, Nyex, Hilltop, UV Bar and more. Note that there are lots of impromptu parties that happen in open air locations and there are posters/flyers all over Goa notifying you their location and details a few days before each party.
If you prefer more of techno there's Teso, Chronicle, Waters, Katzensuppe, and Bubble Brunch to name a few.
I hate commercial music which usually plays in the clubs (and I never go to clubs in Goa) so I can't help you with those. However, I'm 100% sure that if commercial music is your thing, you'll definitely love Baga and find that kind of music there.
So this was my guide to things to do in Goa. If you're ever planning to come to India, make sure you come to Goa! It's just so much fun!! Feel free to hit me up if you're a reader and have Goa plans! You might just bump into me over there :)