Goa, the #innsider’s way
Out of India’s 29 states, few are as evocative or instantly recognizable as Goa. What it lacks in size, (geographically, it is India’s smallest state) it makes up for in reputation. Popularized, to the Western world at least, during the 1960’s – 70s by the Hippie Trail. The former Portuguese colony has remained a popular location for travelers and tourists in search of a winter sun destination with an alternative vibe.
Beaches and winter sun aside, you’ll find jungles and waterfalls, temples and forts, colorful markets and colorful characters. The village of Anjuna was once the epicenter of the hippie scene and the movement lives on across the state.
From a culinary perspective, as you’d expect from a coastal region, fish is a popular item on the menu. Although curry lovers will not be left disappointed, many restaurants and cafes in the more popular destinations cater for a more international audience, so the curry is less authentically Indian than other parts of the country.
Here are a few of our #innsider tips – including a great deal to save you money on your holiday.
Beats Per Minute
Goa’s nightlife is legendary and the region has developed a reputation for a party scene synonymous with dance music and its associated sub-culture. So popular is the music scene that, by the 1990s, it had developed its own musical genre: Goa Trance.
Goa Trance evolved from a hippie-inspired hypnotic, shamanic-style rhythm – an aide for dancers to experience a state of transcendence – to a more acid house, techno-based sound, although the mind-expanding, hallucinogenic mantra has not been lost. Goa Trance is typified by a hypnotic tempo that gradually builds – both the energy and euphoria – to 150 beats per minute.
The bars in an around Vagator Beach are among the best places for Goa Trance and you can also catch ad hoc hill top rave parties overlooking the ocean at Vagator.
Hire a Bike, Hit the Beaches
There are at least 20 beaches along Goa’s coastal strip. Take time out from the more popular beaches such as Baga and Calangute and Candolim, hire a moped and take time out to explore the less touristy, more unspoiled beaches:
Palolem beach, South Goa, is acclaimed as one of Goa’s prettiest. It is known for its ‘Money Stone’, a sculpture by American conceptual artist Jacek Tylicki, though now it is best recognized as the Goan residence of Jason Bourne in the film The Bourne Supremacy.
Mandrem is a bolt-hole for the cool marketing kids from India’s cities – Jade Jagger runs a beach boutique shop here.
Grandmother’s Hole is a beach accessible through a hole in the fort walls of Fortaleza Santa Catarina in the Goan city of Vasco de Gama. Its name is taken from local folklore, where it’s said a grandmother used to sit at the hole waiting for her son to come back from sea.
Less Wild-er Life
On an evening and into dawn, Goa has lively reputation. But it also has plenty of natural wildlife too. On the beaches it’s common to see cows relaxing, or a troupe of macaque monkeys frolicking. You can also see dolphins basking in the shallow waters. (try Butterfly Beach) Or even watch turtles hatching (there’s a turtle conservation program on the beach at Morjim).
Deeper inland, in Goa’s forests, you’ll find a cornucopia of animals. Leopards, deer, Indian bison, the sloth bear, the slender loris, wild boar and mongoose. You’ll also find (if you want to find them) 23 types of snake! Although most are non-venomous, beware the likes of the king cobra, Russell’s viper and bamboo pit viper.
True to its hippie heritage, yoga, meditation and Ayurvedic massage are popular Goa pursuits. Meditation and yoga centers can be found across the state. From long-stay, intensive courses at specialist retreats, to ad-hoc beach sessions, there’s an option for all levels.
The cost of living in Goa is low, making shopping a popular and fruitful past-time for visitors. Like many off-the-beaten-track destinations you can pick up good quality curios, antiques and handicrafts from independent shops. However, Goa’s famous flea markets, many taking places on and around the region’s beaches, are a real tourist draw.
The weekly flea market by the beach at Anjuna is probably Goa’s best known. It takes place on Wednesdays from mid-morning until sun-down. It has stalls for both locals and ex-pats. So there’s a mix of tourist items, AND good quality gifts including locally-crafted ornaments, clothes and jewelry, teas and spices.
Once your shopping is complete, reward your haggling endeavors with a drink at one of the adjacent beach bars. There, you can watch the sun slip over the horizon.
Where to stay
Located on the popular Candolim and Calangute beach avenue, Park Inn by Radisson Goa Candolim is just a 45-minute drive from Dabolim Airport and a 30-minute drive from the railway station. It has two restaurants: Chapora offers authentic Goan cuisine; Sal has alfresco dining. From October to May, guests can also enjoy the Colval barbecue.
Similarly, if you book your trip before December 31st, you can save up to 20% on your stay with us!