Goa is blessed with over 105km (65 miles) of coastline that’s peppered with many beautiful beaches ranging from quiet hippy hangouts to bigger resorts that cater more to Western tastes and standards.
Arambol in the far north of the state is perhaps the most hippyish of the resorts (and still attracts plenty of backpackers) and is blessed with miles of unspoilt beaches. Between here and the capital Panaji (Panjim) are the resort villages of Calangute, Baga and Candolim which cater more to package tourists with plenty of facilities and are popular with families. Of these, Calangute is the largest and most popular resort.
Heading south from the capital there are many more beautiful beaches to choose from including Colva which is the most developed area along the southern circuit with luxury hotels and resorts. In the very south of the state is the quieter Palolem which is a beautiful fishing village that’s sandwiched between two lush headlands.
Beyond the beach:
Whilst Goa’s beaches are the state’s crowning jewel, it’s well worth taking a break from the sun lounger to explore the historic towns and verdant countryside. The state capital of Panaji (Panjim) and its second town, Margao, are both worth visiting to experience life in Goan towns. Both have many grand colonial-era buildings and provide visitors with a fascinating contrast to village life along the coast.
Goa is also home to several excellent national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Named after an Indian ornithologist, the Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is close to the capital and is home to a variety of different birds.
In the west of Goa on the border with the state of Karnataka is the Dudhsagar Waterfall. At its best during the monsoons when the falls are raging, it is a spectacular sight and attracts visitors throughout the year.
Whilst there aren’t really any attractions specifically for children, Goa is a place that’s very family-friendly with plenty of things to keep younger visitors occupied ranging from 4-wheel jungle excursions to elephant safaris.
As well as all the usual beach activities, many of the bigger resorts offer watersports facilities. But visitors should be aware that the sea can be quite rough and is renowned for its strong currents. Boat tours are another great way of travelling around and visiting outlying areas and off-shore islands.
Another popular option with young and old alike is the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary in northeast Goa. It has a deer park, botanical gardens, natural jungle habitat and a small zoo to explore.
A two- or three-day stay on a houseboat as it gently cruises up the Mandovi River is a popular trip and a great way to experience less touristy parts of the state. There’s plenty to keep you occupied without leaving Goa, but it is possible to do three-day trips that take in the spectacular sights of New Delhi, Agra and the Taj Mahal in the north.
When to travel
The weather is mainly hot most of the year with significant variations from region to region. The coolest weather lasts from around the end ofNovember to the beginning of March, with fresh mornings and evenings, and mostly sunny days. The really hot weather, when it is dry, dusty and unpleasant, is between March and June. Monsoon rains occur in most regions in summer anywhere between June and early October.