As early as the 1970s, GOA was a Portuguese colony for as long as 400 years. The Portugals didn't want to leave & Indians never found this hidden gem in their own territory. Quite ironic, isn’t it.
But now that we have found it, we are all over it & each one of us has their own love affair with GOA & why not it's worth the love & stories for each one of us.
I have been to GOA four times in the last ten years, 3 times in the last 4 years to be precise. Each time I fell in love with a different aspect of this serene beauty.
Of course the first trip doesn't count as much because it was in a “not so connected” & not so aware world- CIRCA 2012. It was a touristy one, TYPICAL.
The second time it became atypical for one we went in MONSOON, two we did things like the UNESCO world HERITAGE site etc. That's typically not me but I enjoyed the legit beauty that GOA is in monsoons- JUNE to be precise.
The third time it was a homestay away from home with family & less about the destination itself. This was in Feb 2021, marking our 10th wedding anniversary. I researched with respect to things that I love in particular- good fine dine places, great homestay, beach photoshoot & so on. An experience worth each of the ten days spent there.
The recent trip was a very different shade of GOA- an all girls voyage I could say. Girls who wanted to roam the streets, girls who wanted to endlessly chat, girls who wanted to eat their heart out, girls who wanted to shop shop shop, girls who wanted to theme dress, girls who wanted to do ZUMBA. Boy oh boy, we tick marked each of the above & so much more.
Now there is a little something for you if you are reading this. One's experience, especially the finest ones, shall always be shared & cherished & hence sharing all that you should know about GOA to have a fun trip.
- Starting from where you start typically- Place of stay
I am a sucker for homestays for various reasons. Homestays feel like you are still at home while vacationing. This helps in having longer stays because u are not necessarily eating all three meals outside (unless of course you want to), you aren't ever fasting or waiting for hours in a row waiting for your room service to arrive, you aren't rushing to sleep only to wake up to have the breakfast buffet, you never miss ghar ka khana cos in most homestays, that provision is always there- easy meals like bread omelet, maggi, a quick pulao, biryani or a humble khichdi can do if u are a food enthusiast like me.
VIANAAR properties when in GOA, globally albeit it's always AIRBNB, their instagram handle goes by the name “THE BLUEKITE GOA”. Link attached at the end. This has taken care of us last two times in Goa.
Also note, Goa doesn’t support Uber or any call a cab service- so either you hire your hotel taxi always or self drive- self drive actually being your best bet. So much so that you must get a pre-booking for the many days that you are in Goa & so much so that you get your drive to the airport itself- sharing some numbers that may help.
As simple as it looks, it's not just the property that you choose, you have to choose the right location too. When I say that, all I mean is you can't be too far off from the center of activity, you don't want to drive way too much in an unknown city on a vacation, you want a relaxed holiday right in the hub of activity- don't u. Unless you are a sucker for long, quiet, musical drives.
In one case, we chose a great property but far from the buzzing Goa- as much as we enjoyed it, the travel part killed us because apparently Goa despite being as modern as it sounds & feels, it's very “Village” like in some ways- small lanes running throughout- no proper city road network across this UT. Night travel does get hard and scary from point A to B.
Hence lesson learned from last time! And this time we chose Vagator Beach as our location & that was the best decision. Considering we were traveling ALL girls & in March last week , the plan was not to be by the beach all day, we needed good eateries, shopping places etc closer than anything & we got it all.
Vagator Beach area is the hub of activity at least as we speak, (hubs keep shifting sooner than we know though), the place is adjacent to another happening area beach called Anjuna. These two together - Vagator & Anjuna were once known to be the beaches for the firangs- Indians were happy in Candolim & Calangute - the more touristy ones. Vagator & Anjuna literally have white (read almost white) sandy beaches juxtaposed black rock formations.
The beaches are surrounded by the finest eateries like EVA cafe- a greek inspired breakfast/ all day diner that actually opens to Vagator beach. It seems to be owned by a firang , mostly Greek I feel. Other beautiful places around here are Titlie- the latest talk in town that opens to the ocean too. Titlie is a night place & has a great party scene. Another biggest attraction of being in this vicinity is ASSAGAO- a village converted to a posh neighborhood very recently. Its lined by a series of fancy, upmarket, fine dine eateries from the likes of JAMUN (modern Indian food- my favorite eatery at the moment), to S.E.A, to the Jackfruit Tree & so on.
Also GOA offers you a variety of shopping avenues- from street shopping to flea markets to night markets to upmarket boutique stores. There's something for everyone. The lane besides the Eva cafe is where you can find the finest pearl & bead strings in the finest hues. It also offers essentials like hats, beachwear etc but we enjoyed the beaded necklaces shopping the most.
For the high end stores, consider these ♥️
*The flame store Candolim, the best of the lot- finest cane products, beautiful rugs & runners were a must buy here beside jewelry & clothes.
*Paper Boat Collective Sangolda, here I personally liked their jewelry offerings.
* Rangeela Assagao, has a lot to offer- my favorite was the artwork & small pieces of furniture
* The Project Cafe Assagao, apparently was under renovation while we visited so can't say much but from the likes of the place, the management etc it must be good & hence i suggest when in & around Assagao- do drop by.
General/Local markets can be found around all good beaches- the likes of Candolim, Baga, Anjuna etc. Here you can find local stuff like beachwear, chappals, bead strings, some funky jewelry etc.
Also night markets are a thing in Goa, most merchandise is either made or brought in by the firangs who have settled here or come here for long stays- from the likes of gourmet food- Jams, pickles, spreads etc to home bakes- you can find a lot here. They are truly the hidden gems for a shopaholic. The best night market being The Goa Collective Bazaar, Fridays usually till 2 am.
Also Panaji is home to few of the very fine boutique stores that are not to miss. I don't recall any name as such but just a stroll around Fontainhas would give you a glimpse of what I am talking about.
Lastly, Goa is also famous for some of the finest pottery. Yes you heard that right. A store in Panjim- Fontainhas, Marcou/ Terravida Goa makes the finest pottery- if you are a sucker for collecting art on your travels, don't miss it.
With that it is a wrap on my take on Goa. Highlighting the best eateries to eat (one place at a time)
- Babka Goa, Anjuna
- Gshot Cafe, Vagator
- Artjuna, Anjuna
- Lazy Goose, Nerul Bridge
- Jamun, Assagao
- Gunpowder, Assagao
💌Clubs/ NightLife/ Dinner
- Luna’s Ristorante
Lastly don't miss to close your trip with a heritage walk in Fontainhas- the reminiscents of Portuguese past in Goa. Finest color pop vintage buildings make for the best picture backdrops- you could actually consider doing a photoshoot- a professional one in there. We apparently did one albeit in our family trip with Jumping Souls.
Adding few links for your reference here, many can be just looked up on Instagram, also when u plan on travelling, start following #GOA, u would learn a lot.
*https://www.thebluekite.com/ - Stay option
*www.jumpingsouls.com - Photographer
*Car Rental contact numbers- Car Rentals
- Ravi Car Rental 8830324261
- Parusaram Car Rental 9970903193.
Hope you find this write up helpful when you travel to Goa.
Love & happy travel
AMAN BEDI CHHABRA