India is where family is, so even if it is a forever flight to reach there, making our annual visit to this far away land is something we plan to do every year. This past November we planned it around Diwali time, one of the biggest festivals back home, so Noah could experience his roots and culture, and celebrate this fun festival with family. It’s fascinating, and you can learn a lot about the most famous Indian festival in our Diwali post here on GypsyPlate.
We always try to explore the country apart from our stay in Mumbai, as India offers so many different experiences with different topography, from mountains to beaches, deserts to forests, and wild life to cultural heritage. On our previous trip in 2022, we visited the Himalayas around Manali.
This year I chose Goa, a small mini trip for Jason’s birthday. Though sea and sand are nothing new for us, as we live on the beautiful Atlantic Ocean here in Florida, I still wanted Jason to feel the charm and exotic feel of Goa. Yes, it has changed from what I remember, with all the newer development, yet it tries to retain that little something that is uniquely Goa!
Renowned for its beautiful beaches like Baga, Calangute, and the serene Palolem, it’s a paradise for beach lovers. The coastline stretches along the Arabian Sea, offering a variety of experiences from bustling beach parties to tranquil sunsets.
The region’s history is deeply influenced by its Portuguese past, visible in its colonial architecture, baroque churches, and colorful homes.
Goa is a short 45 minute flight from Mumbai, which made it easy for us to plan this 4 night trip. The main agenda for this whole trip was just to get away from crowds of Mumbai and just relax and chill by ocean, enjoy good local food, drink lots of local beer, and repeat everything.
We booked an ocean villa on Airbnb at Candolim beach. Though it’s a very popular and crowded beach, our villa was far from the chaos. It was pretty serene and tranquil, with only the Arabian sea for company.
Now one tip for India travel. Avoid Airbnb, as the property you choose may not be as it is advertised. Though our villa was right at the ocean and did give us good memories, it needed major maintenance with peeling paint, an unstable terrace structure, and poor furnishings. At that price point, you are much better off booking some 4-5 star hotel properties.
For budget travelers, there are cheaper accommodations, but just be forewarned that they will fall well below the western standards of cleanliness and expectations.
Saying that there are lots and lots of fun things to explore in Goa. Our highlight this year was all the great restaurants that have popped up over the years. Goan cuisine is a delightful experience, especially for seafood enthusiasts. Dishes like Goan fish curry, prawn balchão, vindaloo, and chicken cafreal are culinary highlights. The food reflects a blend of Indian and Portuguese flavors, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
One day we went for an excursion to Arambol Beach, set in the northern part of Goa. It is a true gem for travelers seeking a blend of natural beauty and a relaxed, bohemian vibe. This beach stands out with its long, sandy shoreline, making it ideal for leisurely strolls, sunbathing, and swimming.
One of Arambol’s unique features is a freshwater lake near the sea, fed by a hot spring. You can have the rare experience of swimming in the ocean and fresh water at the same beach. This stretch of Arambol is less crowded, and perfect for a little dip in the water, and to lounge around the beach.
Culinary experiences at Arambol are diverse, with beach shacks and cafes lining the shore, offering a mix of local Goan delicacies and international cuisines. Small market stalls and shops around the beach sell a variety of items, including handmade jewelry, clothing, and local crafts, perfect for souvenirs. Goa’s flea markets are all over, the most famous ones being at Anjuna beach and Mapusa.
As I said before, all we did is just chill, relax, and hunt some good food all around. That’s all you need sometimes to get away from the everyday routine.
But for those after some sight seeing, this coastal state has a lot to offer. Goa is home to the Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its baroque architecture and the remains of St. Francis Xavier, and the Se Cathedral, one of Asia’s largest churches, famed for its majestic Golden Bell.
Other notable churches include the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception with its unique stairways, the artistically rich Church of St. Francis of Assisi, and the Corinthian-styled Church of St. Cajetan, reminiscent of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Fort Aguada is an old Portuguese fort by the sea with a lighthouse and great views, and Chapora Fort is another famous fort, high up with beautiful views of the beach. These forts show Goa’s history, and are really nice places to see the scenery.
Lastly, Goa is not just about its daytime charm. Its nightlife is vibrant, with lively beach shacks, nightclubs, and bars, especially in North Goa. For those seeking tranquility, there are numerous yoga and Ayurveda retreats, promoting wellness and relaxation.
This blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and a laid-back lifestyle makes Goa a unique and unforgettable destination.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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