Located along the mighty Arabian Sea on the west coast of India, Goa is the smallest Indian state.
During the late 15th and the early 16th centuries, Portuguese merchants used to come here for trading purposes. However, they ended up conquering it in 1510 and became the rulers. Goa remained a Portuguese colony for the next 450 years until it was taken over by India in 1961.
Even today, the Portuguese influence is quite visible. An example can be taken of Margao, a historical city in Goa that is the center of the Portuguese cultural heritage. The state capital Panjim, aka Panaji, also has old Portuguese quarters.
Characterized by sunny beaches, waterfalls, temples and historical buildings, Goa attracts tourists from all over the world. No doubt, it is nicknamed the “Tourist Paradise” and the “Pearl of the Orient.”
The state also has several well–reputed, certified yoga schools that you can choose from. Yoga retreats are also popular here.
In this article, we’ll discuss the must–see places, beaches, climate, temples and a ton of other exciting stuff about Goa. So, without further ado, let’s dive right into the topic.
Popular Beaches in Goa
The beaches are undoubtedly the major attraction of Goa. To help you spend quality time, below is a brief rundown of some of the most frequented beaches of Goa:
Baga Beach attracts both the young and the old generations. It is well known for its water adventures like scuba diving, dolphin rides, jet skiing, banana rides and motorboat rides.
You can also take part in marine conservation initiatives like underwater clean–ups. If you want to relax, then you must check out the nearby spas and treat yourself to an aromatic and rejuvenating Ayurvedic massage.
What sets the Anjuna Beach apart from the other beaches is its long history of Hippie culture and the flea market that still remains in the first position! The surrounding areas are an ideal place for those looking for cheap guesthouses.
Jet skiing and paragliding are the only water sport activities available here. The place is also known for yoga, Reiki and Ayurvedic massages. Numerous small rocks that dot the shoreline of the Anjuna beach are the perfect spots to sit and enjoy the sunrise.
Candolim & Calangute Beaches
Calangute Beach is North Goa’s largest beach. Located near the Calangute, is the Candolim Beach.
Water sports are the most popular form of engagement in both the beaches. Ranging from parasailing, paragliding and surfing to banana rides, bumper rides and jet skiing, the activities start with the sunrise and go on till 4 pm.
Another common activity among the tourists of these beaches is to take a trip to the nearby yoga centers or get some Ayurvedic massage.
Palolem Beach in South Goa is famous for its gorgeous crescent shape as a result of which its both ends can be seen from the center of the beach. This beach was featured in the English movie, Bourne Supremacy.
Few water activities like paddling and kayaking are done here. Dolphin rides also happen, but only in winters. Apart from this, Palolem Beach is well–known for its nightlife and all–night parties.
Colva Beach is a stunning place located in the Salcete village of South Goa. This beach is renowned for its food and pubs. Buildings located in this area like Our Lady of Mercy Church are representative of the Portuguese culture.
Snorkeling, boat riding, parasailing, paragliding, speed boat riding are some of the water sport activities here. The beach also provides an interesting nightlife with loud music, dance and complimentary drinks.
Previously called Porta de Gaspar Dias, Miramar Beach is situated in the capital of Goa. The easy accessibility has made this beach highly popular. It is also used for various festival celebrations.
The beach is ideal for early morning and evening walks. Souvenir shops selling locally made goods are a common sight. In addition to that, you must also try out the Goan cuisine at the nearby eateries.
Morjim Beach provides a serene, peaceful and picturesque environment. The restaurants/cottages located here offer excellent food and a relaxing atmosphere. Many Russians visit and stay in this area, which is why Morjim Beach is also regarded as “Little Russia.”
The beach is famous for being one of the nesting places for the olive ridley sea turtles. Tourists are allowed to take pictures; however, feeding them is strictly prohibited. You can also spend time bird watching. Morjim Beach provides both Russian and Goan cuisines. So have fun trying out different dishes.
Dona Paula is a rocky, hammer–shaped headland with an adjoining small beach. It offers a lovely view of the Arabian Sea. Tourists also come here to take part in kayaking, yachting, windsurfing, water sailing and a bunch of other water–related activities.
Vainguinim Beach is known for its peaceful atmosphere. The greenish–blue water and silver sand seashore make this idyllic landscape all the more inviting. The beach is just 3 km from Dona Paula and has various water sporting activities like banana boat riding, jet skiing, parasailing, etc.
The Galgibaga Beach in South Goa in claimed to be the cleanest beach in Goa. Lined with rows of coconut and pine trees, this beach is one of the other nesting places for the olive ridley turtles.
But you can also enjoy the turquoise blue waters and yellow sands of Galgibaga. Sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty of nature in the picturesque landscape and the secluded atmosphere of this beach. This idyllic retreat is ideal for solo travelers and will help them return to their normal lives rejuvenated.
Most of the popular beaches in Goa are overcrowded. If you’re looking for some tranquility, yet at the same time want to enjoy the golden sand and the blue waters, then you must try out the Butterfly Beach.
It is actually the north end of the Palolem Beach, but can only be reached by water as the adjacent lands are covered in dense jungles.
November to March is the ideal time to visit this stunningly wonderful beach since the trees are in full bloom and thousands of multicolored, beautiful butterflies adorn the place. You can also spot dolphins, crabs, jellyfish and goldfish. Make it a point to wait at the beach until nightfall, the views are breathtaking.
Along with beaches and nightlife, trekking is another activity that attracts tourist attention in Goa. Such expeditions allow you to explore the hidden beauty of Goa and give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural environment. Following are some of the recommended trekking terrains for adventure and nature lovers:
Dudhsagar Waterfalls & Mollem National Park Trek
Located along the border of the neighboring state of Karnataka, the Dudhsagar Waterfalls and the Mollem National Park are part of the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary.
Dudhsagar Falls is 310 meters high and is one of the highest waterfalls in India. It stands out for its milky white color. The trek is 11 km long and provides a spectacular view of the surrounding dense forest areas.
Among the lush green jungles, one can encounter diverse species of plants and animals such as the King Cobra, Indian rock python, Malabar pit viper, wagtails, great Indian Hornbill, fairy bluebirds and much more. With a memorable trekking and wildlife spotting experience, your day will be well spent at this nature reserve.
The Netravali Trek is perfect for adventure lovers. It is a 5 km track that includes many perennial streams and two waterfalls – Savari and Mainapi. Along the hike, you’ll get the opportunity to see paddy fields and unique flora and fauna. The path can be muddy and slippery, so be very careful. You can also hire a tour guide to assist you in your trek.
Pali Waterfall Trek
The magnificent and picturesque Pali Waterfall trek will leave you awestruck. The waterfall is also referred to as the Shivling Falls. It is located in the small Goa village called Valpoi and is regarded as a paradise by nature lovers. To reach the falls, you’ll have to go through a slippery and unstable path, cross streams, muddy roads and make way through various bushes/thorns. If you are interested in a challenging trekking experience, then this 6 km trek is the perfect one for you.
The Kuskem Waterfall is located at a distance of 7 km from the Kuskem village. The most suitable time for trekking in this area is during the monsoon season. The waterfall is 20 feet high. Though this area is not as famous as the Pali or Netravali trek, yet it is perfect for those looking for a quiet and peaceful place.
Hivrem Waterfall Trek
Another must–try hike, if you’re an avid trekker! As you walk through the rocky and slippery trekking path, it will take you 45 minutes to reach the top of the waterfall. The trails are not marked at all places, so it’s advisable to hire a guide. However, the beautiful sights from the top are well worth the trouble. The fresh air and cold water will wash away all your tiredness and will give you a boost of energy.
Must see places in Goa
Following are some of the other must–see places in Goa:
Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception Church
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, in the capital city Panjim, is regarded as the first church of Goa. Its history dates back to 1541 CE. It houses the second largest bell in the state.
The white color of this Portuguese Baroque style church is representative of Mother Mary’s purity. Never waste an opportunity to visit this church. It will let you experience a deeper spiritual connection with the whole city.
Located on the Sinquerim Beach, North Goa, Fort Aguada is a carefully preserved piece of Portuguese architecture that was constructed in the 17th century to act as a shield against the invading Dutch and Maratha armies. Later, it was converted into Goa’s largest jail but was closed in 2015. Currently, it serves as a popular tourist attraction in Goa.
This small neighborhood is situated at the foothills of the affluent hilltop locality, Altinho. To its east, lies the Ourem Creek. The name ‘Fontainhas’ is derived from Fonte Phoenix (or the Fountain of Phoenix), which was a water reservoir constructed by the Portuguese.
Stepping into the Fontainhas area is like entering into the bygone Portuguese era. The brightly colored houses with balconies, narrow streets and red roofs create an impressive view. Even the number plates look like masterpieces.
Take a walk down the streets of this Latin Quarter and explore it to your heart’s content. You won’t be disappointed!
Shanta Durga Temple
Just a few minutes’ drive from Panjim is the Shanta Durga Temple, dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga. Compared to the other temples in Goa, this temple complex has a unique, refreshing look due to the architectural style that combines both Portuguese and Indian designs. It also has guesthouses for devotees and visitors.
Goa State Museum
The Goa State Museum is an excellent place that establishes a connection between the past and the present generations. Initially, this museum was established in 1977 AD at St. Inez. However, in June 1996 it was shifted to Patto.
There are about more than 8,000 artifacts displayed here in 14 different galleries. Each exhibit represents the rich history of Goa and demonstrates the significance of its local culture.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
Built in 1605, the Bom Jesus Basilica is a famous landmark in Old Goa. In 1622, the body of St. Francis Xavier was brought here and since then the incorrupt body of the Saint has laid in the church in a glass mausoleum.
Other major attractions of the Basilica, apart from the body, are the gallery of Modern Arts and the baroque style of architecture in which the building is constructed.
The Mahadeva Temple in Tambdi Surla is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It offers tourists and devotees a calm, peaceful experience right in the lap of nature. Elaborate carvings engraved both on the inside and outside of the temple demonstrate the excellent craftsmanship and hard work of the crafters. Every year many devotees, along with the nature lovers, visit this temple.
Situated in the village of Bandivade or Bandora in North Goa, the Mahalaxmi Temple is a famous Hindu pilgrimage site. It has one of the most extensive galleries that contain wooden images of the Hindu God, Vishnu.
Numerous devotees and tourists frequently visit this temple. If you are interested in beautiful artwork and carvings, visiting this temple is a must. It will mesmerize and fascinate you.
Mandovi River – River Cruise
The cruise trips on the Mandovi River are something nobody should miss out on, especially the sunset trips. Cruises start from either the Panjim Jetty or the Santa Monica Boat Jetty. Packed with live music and dance, these trips allow you to experience nature and immerse in the Goan culture, all at once.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Covering a total area of only 8 sq. km, Bondla is the smallest wildlife sanctuary in Goa. But one can find here some of the rarest species of plants and animals. Hence this place is a favorite among environmentalists, nature and wildlife photographers.
After partaking in all the water–related activities the beaches have to offer, if you long for more, then Grand Island should be your next destination. Located in South Goa, the place has plenty of water recreations to offer, from snorkeling to fishing to boating and even scuba diving. There are some reefs and shipwrecks nearby which you can explore if you are into diving!
A lot of the spices that are commonly used in Indian food are grown in Goa. You can take a tour to the plantations to gain a better understanding of the science of spice farming and appreciate the effort that goes into the entire process.
In addition to that, you can also eat delicious meals, catch glimpses of rare and endangered birds, and if lucky, enjoy elephant rides in these farms.
Some of the estates that you can visit are Tropical Spice Plantation, Sahakari Spice Farms, Pascoal Spice Village and Savoi Spice Plantation. Spice farm tours offer an enriching and delightful experience, so do give them a try!
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Named after India’s top ornithologist, the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is located in the Chorao Island on River Mandovi. One can find many species of animals here in the mangrove swamps like maddar ducks, pintails, blue–winged teals, flying foxes, storks, purple herons, jackals and crocodiles. To visit the place, you will first have to acquire a permit from the Chief Wildlife Warden, The Forest Department, Junta House, Panjim.
Naval Aviation Museum
The Naval Aviation Museum is one of the best military museums in India. It houses the out–of–commission aircrafts that served in the Indian Navy. Also, there is a room dedicated to naval equipments like underwater radar, bombs, torpedos, warheads. The galleries share interesting information about the battles of the Indian Naval Forces. Allocate one of your off–days from the yoga program to take a tour of this museum and appreciate the sacrifices military people have to make.
Cambharjua Crocodile Safari
Bored of the beaches and city life, then the Cambharjua Crocodile Safari Boat Tour is the one you must head to. You’ll get to watch crocodiles in their natural mushy wetland habitat, among the mangroves. The mystery and adventure associated with the trip will definitely make it the most intriguing five hours of your life.
Being located in the tropical zone by the Arabian Sea, Goa enjoys a hot and humid climate for the most part of the year.
Summer is from March to May, with May being the hottest month. The maximum and minimum temperatures are 45oC/113oF and 25oC/77oF, respectively, with average daily sunshine of 9 – 10 hours.
From June to September, Goa receives torrential rainfall that is accompanied by strong winds and thunderstorms. Floods are a common occurrence. The average rainfall during the monsoons is approximately 325 cm.
Finally, winter sets in late November and lasts until February. The temperature varies between 29oC/84oF during the day and 20oC/68oF during the night. Thus the weather remains mild and pleasant.
As a general rule, the best time to visit Goa is from October to February. With lowest humidity levels, no rainfall and not too high temperatures, you can explore the place and enjoy its beaches. Also, you can take part in the carnivals and festivals that occur during this period.
You can reach Goa easily either by airways, railways, or roadways.
The Dabolim Airport is Goa’s only airport. Once you exit, take a pre–paid taxi from the airport terminal to take you to your location. Most of the flights connect via Mumbai. But some international flights directly connect with Goa as well, like those of Air India and Qatar Airways.
Various bus routes are available for Goa. Daily bus services (both public and private) connect from Pune and Mumbai. Due to the rising demand, buses have also been launched from Mangalore and Bangalore. The overnight buses are an excellent alternative to planes and trains; however, it is advisable that you book your seats in advance, especially in the holiday season.
Lastly, if you have a tight budget, then going via train is the best option. Goa is connected with most of the Indian cities by railways. It is strongly recommended that you reserve your train tickets in advance. Don’t leave it for the last minute or it might ruin your whole plan. You may also buy your tickets online from the official site of Indian Railways.
Goa never fails to stun its visitors. Whether you are exploring the place alone or with a bunch of friends from your yoga teacher training program, there is no shortage of options available.
This tropical paradise is the right blend of sun, sand, adventure, nightlife, seafood, spirituality and much more. Every tourist place and activity highlights something unique of its own. But it is the beautiful surroundings, vibrant culture and the kind people of Goa that make it an ideal place to learn to teach yoga.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up for yoga teacher training in Goa today!