There was a time when Goa had a peak season and a low season. There was a time when it had quiet pockets. With the influx of tourism to the coastal state, this is no longer the case. Even the previously quiet by-lanes of North Goa see their fair share of travellers now. But that doesn’t mean you can’t escape the crowds and savour some truly unique experiences on your holiday to Goa. Here are 8 of our favourite offbeat things to do in Goa:
1) Explore the little known churches of Old Goa
Everyone goes to Old Goa to explore The Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most tour buses make a pit-stop here as well. Naturally you will find it crammed with visitors irrespective of when you visit. But cross the main road and drive for 2 minutes and you’ll come across several dilapidated and gorgeous churches. The best part is that you will probably have them all to yourself.
Spend your time exploring them and eventually drive to the Chapel of our Lady of the Mount and wait for the sun to set. This chapel boasts of a glorious view of sunset over Goa and its secluded location ensures there won’t be too many people around!
2) Take a trip to Divar Island
As Goa becomes more and more popular with international and domestic tourists, supermarkets and restaurants can be seen cropping up almost everywhere. But take a day trip to Divar Island to step back in time and experience the slow rhythm of Goan life. It is easy to get to the island via a short ferry ride. Once you get there you are bound to be transported to another world altogether – spend your time exploring sleepy villages and absorbing the island’s distinctly Portugese architecture.
Explore Fontainhas, the Latin Quarter of Panjim
Fontainhas, the colourful Latin Quarter of Panjim is bursting with character. Take a walk down its winding and gorgeous lanes. The area is a UNESCO Heritage Site and it is easy to see why. Colourful Portugese-style houses dilly dally with quaint bakeries, restaurants, and art galleries. When you’re exhausted of taking photos, stop by Confiteria 31 De Janeiro Bakery, one of the oldest bakeries in Goa for a snack. This tiny bakery, nestled in a little lane in Fontainhas is an offbeat gem like no other. If you’re after a meal, head over to the trendy Cafe Bodega, situated in a quaint traditional building.
Join the drum circle at Arambol at sunset
If you cannot envisage a holiday without a side of bohemia, then Arambol is the place for you. Arambol Beach is a great place to meet slow travellers from around the world and unwind. It is especially fun at sunset as travellers, yogis, singers, magicians, and dancers from around the world congregate for the drum circle. The rhythmic beating of the drums and the spirit of celebration in the air is bound to get you excited. You can stand by and watch or join the revelry.
Explore the little known beaches of North and South Goa
This is Goa. You can’t go back without a bit of beach bumming right? But that’s easier said than done. That’s because a lot of beaches in Goa can get really crowded and dirty as well. Try to steer off-the-beaten path and look for little-known beaches. Ashwem Beach in North Goa doesn’t have expansive sandy stretches but it is ideal if you don’t like crowds. Mandrem Beach in North Goa is another great pick. It is said you can spot dolphins here but we aren’t convinced about that!
Cola Beach tucked away in South Goa is another quiet and unspoilt beach. We also like Velsao Beach in South Goa although it is getting increasingly popular as the years progress. You should also try to visit The Butterfly Beach, a short ferry ride away from Palolem if you like some peace and quiet.
Stay in South Goa on your next trip
South Goa is one of the most underrated parts of Goa. It has several gems, making it ideal for your next getaway. Here’s a few things we would recommend in the area
- Driving to Dudhsagar Waterfalls, especially if you’re in South Goa during monsoon season. The waterfalls are at their best between July and September
- Explore some of the lesser-known beaches of Goa including Cola Beach, Varca Beach, and Galgibaga Beach. You could also indulge in a variety of watersports such as waterskiing and parasailing here.
- Attend a full moon party at Colva Beach, one of the craziest parties in town
- Head to Cabo De Rama for a short hike that promises incredible views. This corner of South Goa also boasts of a heart-shaped lake. It gets quite windy at this view point, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes and clothes
7. Visit a typical Goan poder (Goan bakery)
if you really enjoy getting to know the nooks & crannies of places, then drop by an old-school bakery to see the poder (baker) dishing up Goan breads on your way back. There are very few traditional bakeries left in Goa and breads get sold out almost as soon as they come out of the oven. The smell of freshly-baked bread ensures this simple exercise is quite an experience in itself.
8. Elevate your stay in Goa by choosing the best possible accommodation
Choosing the right accommodation can make or break your trip. So spend some time researching where you want to stay and book something that will elevate your stay and make it truly special. Here are some of our favourites:
- Air BnB apartments are ideal if you’re visiting Goa with friends or you’re on a budget! There are some beautiful apartments in the Siolim area. You can get INR 2000 discount on your booking using this link
- Hilton Double Tree Goa is perfect if you’ve been to Goa before and are bored of Goa’s beaches. It is the ideal place to experience its gorgeous interiors
- Grand Hyatt Goa is ideal if you want a luxurious stay with a small in-house beach
- Alila Diwa Goa is for you if you want an intimate Balinese style hotel stay. The hotel is surrounded by paddy fields but is 5 mins from the beaches of South Goa
That’s it – 8 of our favourite offbeat things to do in Goa. What is your favourite thing to do in Goa? Tell us in the comments below 🙂
Visiting India? Check out all our articles on India here