My Ultimate Guide to Goa | India

After travelling Northern parts of India, I was tired, full of stories and had seen some spectacular sights. However, I was more than ready to sit back on the beach and enjoy all of what Goa had to offer.

When I first got here, I have to admit, it felt pretty trashy! We were also hit with some severe bad luck – an election which meant a 10pm curfew for the first week and no alcohol at all for the two days of the election. We were also struggling with the Indian cash crisis which meant barely any money in the ATMs and long queues for cash.

Despite all of this, I had an awesome time and can say that Goa definitely has some hidden charms! I wouldn’t say it’s a place I’d visit for a week or two week holiday because it isn’t really my scene, it’s a bit loud, dirty and unpredictable for a holiday…. But in terms of travelling through it, I’d say it’s un-missable if you love the beach, a fresh coconut and some palm tree fringed coast lines.

Where to Go

Goa is bigger than you’d think. Typically there’s the ‘party North’ and the ‘more chilled South’. Whilst I enjoy a night out, I really am not hard core enough for the ‘Party North’ and I felt like it was wasted with heavy trance music and too many tourists. This is just a personal opinion and it’s not a reason to miss out the North altogether. There’s plenty of things to do and hidden treasures but just expect it to erupt into a party scene then you will see it coming.

South Goa is known to be a bit quieter although there is still the option for a party, but there might just be some more chilled tunes than heavy trance. We found the beaches down South to be WAY prettier, whiter sand and the beach huts were cleaner, had better food and were way more accommodating.

Typical Costs

Word of warning: Goa is generally a lot more expensive than the rest of India because of the large swarms of holiday makers the beaches draw in.

You can still get great, cheap local food, but if you’re eating on the beach in front of the crashing waves; expect the prices to be higher. Paying for the view and all that. A meal at sunset for two could be around 400-800 rupees (£5-10); which isn’t bad for the beach, and that could be including seafood which is a steal.

Beach bungalows can be as low as 800 rupees a night (£10 p/n) with electricity and bathroom or 400 rupees a night for candelight and shared bathroom facilities; which shared between two people is the same price as a hostel dorm bed but WAY better. You can be right on the beach, feeling the sand between your toes for a tenner. Say no more.

However, if you want a sea facing room or luxury, expect to pay a lot more.

The price of a small Kingfisher beer is around 80 rupees (£1), but depending on the bar/shop, they can go up or down. In the supermarket, a beer is only 40 rupees, so bare that in mind if your bungalow/hotel has a fridge.

Taxis are EXPENSIVE. Tuk Tuks are EXPENSIVE. It feels as if the drivers are becoming increasingly lazy and they would rather sit around all day doing no work and wait for the one tourist they can scam into paying a lot of money; rather than doing lots of little jobs for cheap. This infuriated the life out of me. I was paying 600/700 rupees (£9-10) to get from one beach to another, only about a 30 minute drive. This can get really expensive.

The cheapest way to travel around in Goa is by scooter or public transport. Both can be a nightmare when you have a lot of stuff/luggage though; so that’s why we opted for taxis where applicable.

The roads can be mental, so if you’re not 100% comfortable driving a scooter, don’t risk it! Drivers come out of nowhere and I’ve heard plenty of good drivers get into accidents. Decide if it’s worth the risk.

Top Tips

Bug Spray

It’s essential that you take Bug Spray to Goa. The mozzies are everywhere and they’re out to get you! Make sure your spray contains Deet and spray it often. Buy your bug spray here.

Meat Free

In India, I like to be completely vegetarian. In Goa, this seems like a total shame because the seafood looks AMAZING and you’re right on the beach. Eat fish at your own discretion, most of the time it should be fine… but weight up if it’s worth ruining your holiday to eat fish. For most, it’s totally worth the risk and they end up being totally fine.

Pick where you splash your cash and where you don’t

For places like Talpona Beach, I would strongly recommend splashing your cash and making the experience your own because there isn’t too much around, so you will enjoy spending time around your accommodation. Whereas places like Palolem, Arambol and Anjuna; you really don’t need to spend a lot to live in a basic bungalow a few metres from the beach. You will spend all your time at restaurants, beach bars and hanging out with others that you honestly wont have the time to do anything other than SLEEP in your bungalow. My bed in a bungalow which cost £8 (£4 each) was still fantastic… I didn’t need the fancy shower or mod cons there. Save your money for a few more cocktails down the beach.

Activities

Get traditional henna on the beach

There’s quite often locals pestering you on the beach to buy stuff and whilst I’d normally say ‘don’t bother’… I got chatting to a few different local women who do henna on the beach. They spent time getting to know me before even chatting about what they sell. I loved this, and genuinely find nothing more beautiful than having your own henna as a souvenir for a few weeks.

Kayaking/Boat trip to See the dolphins in Palolem

Get up a little earlier and head out to see the beautiful dolphins of South Goa. They’re everywhere! The water in Palolem was super flat so you can kayak there at real ease. If you’d rather have more time for taking photos and less for paddling, then just head out on one of the local boats.

Kayaks cost 100 rupees per hour (each)

The boat trip cost us 1000 rupees for one hour (between two)

Paddle Boarding

Again, the flat conditions in Palolem made paddle boarding the perfect activity. There are lots of beaches that have the boards, but there aren’t as many on each beach which makes the price higher.

Paddle board hire cost us 500 rupees per hour.

 Anjuna Flea Market

If you’ve been to Rajasthan already and you have explored the markets, then this Bazaar will seem very overpriced. However if you’re staying down South and have never seen such an array of beautiful, colourful products; then you’re in for a real treat!

From tapestries to wall hangings; bags to bongs… there’s something for absolutely everyone here! Make sure you haggle as they try to rip you off entirely – always half the price and work your way back up from there. Because most of these market items are imported from Rajasthan, they’re way more expensive. If you’re heading up North, save the bulk of your shopping for up there unless you’ve completely fallen in love with something.

Lighthouse Valley Market and Club Night near Agonda

Wednesday nights feature the very best in market traders and mouth watering street food as well as palm, eye and neck reading for you spiritual types. I got my palm read (it was quite pricey at 500 rupees) but also super interesting!

Normally this goes on until around 12/1am, but when I was there there was the dreaded drinking ban, so unfortunately we missed the late nights!

Friday nights are all about partying to loud trance and dance music. The surrounding beach areas tend to go to sleep at around midnight, so if you’re looking for somewhere that’s open late on a Friday night, then this is for you!

Beach Massage

There’s plenty of beach shacks up and down the beaches of Goa to get stuck into a traditional Indian massage – be warned, it’s usually men who are massaging you and they can be pretty rigorous.

Eat a traditional Goan fish curry

Although one of my top tips was to eat no meat in Goa/India; pick somewhere you trust and let your taste buds fester on a fish curry. So fresh and tasty and full of flavour and at least you can say you’ve eaten one in it’s home!

My Fave Spots of Goa

Beach Huts on Cola Beach

Stay in one of their gorgeous beach bungalows. I only stayed here for one night on my way down South Goa and it was beautiful. There is a fresh water reservoir one one side of the beach, then the crashing waves of the sea on the other. Such a perfect place to spend the day! The restaurant on Cola Beach also happens to serve the BEST paneer butter masala EVER! Don’t just take my word for it, try it!

Glamping on Talpona Beach

I spent an incredible 5 nights glamping on Talpona Beach. This beach has not been built up yet so enjoy it whilst it’s still peaceful. Enjoy some really long beach walks, some adventure climbs over the rocks, a spot of body boarding and sunrise yoga. I stayed at Neelchands by Ciarans. Read my review here.

Cuba Bar and Restaurant’s falafel and hummus

If you’re in Palolem, Patnem or Agonda and you’re a bit bored of curries, then get the falafel and hummus from Cuba Bar. This chain is also great at curries and cocktails and they have comfy bean bags right on the beach front so it’s the perfect place to watch the sun set!

Tantra on Anjuna Beach

Up North in hippie town, Anjuna; there’s a lot of cool beach restaurants. I spent one evening dining in the gorgeous beach restaurant, Tantra. They have tree houses built upwards out of bamboo and decorated with draped fabric. Get there quick to secure your own spot to watch the sun set. We crammed about nine people in one tree house and it survived so they’re definitely stronger than they look!

To see what else I got up to in India, just click here!

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