New Delhi, Dec 29, 2016: It’s the holiday season, which means packing your bags and setting off to a destination which has been sending you invites in your dreams throughout the year. And for most of us, that dream holiday destination is, “drum rolls in the background”- GOA!
The aesthetically pleasing beaches, the moreish sea food on the shacks, the colorful attires and jewellery in Goan flea markets, the artistic churches and the Bollywood famous- Dudhsagar Falls, everything calls out loud to every soul who craves for a soul soothing experience.
But what are the major attractions in Goa? What do the Goans do? How do they bask in the enriching air of Goa? Here is a holistic guide to enjoy Goa like never before. Because, when in Goa, live as a Goan!
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Where to Shop
When you visit any foreign country, state, city or town, one of the most important things to do is shop in the local markets of that place. Just like Delhi has Sarojini and Mumbai has Colaba Causeway, Goa has its own flea markets and other markets which every Goan lives by! Anjuna Wednesday Market is a market which happensevery Wednesday has many goods and food stalls to engage people. Calangute Market is also a must visit for people who want to buy jewellery, souvenirs, clothes etc. Panjim Market, Mapusa Market and Margao Market are also a must visit for shopaholics. There are many night markets also like Baga Night Market, Saturday Night Market at Arpora and Mackie’s Night Bazaar where you can crash in after a day at the beach.
What and Where to-Eat
Goa has its palatable cuisine of sea food. Fresh prawns, crabs, pomfrets, lobsters and many other varieties of fishes adorn the menus of the restaurants and shacks in Goa. Goan prawn curry, Fish Recheado, Bebinca, Rava fried fish, Chicken Cafreal are few of the delectable dishes of the vast Goan cuisine.
Cafe Real in Panaji, Palácio do Deâo in Quepem which has amazing Portuguese food, Sakana in Vagator, Noronha’s Corner in Anjuna are few places where you can satisfy your hunger. Pousada on the Beach in Calangute, La Plage in Ashwem Beach and Surya Beach Cafe in Galgibag Beach are few places to eat on Goan beaches with the sun and sand.
Hire a Bike
The best way to explore Goa is on a bike, said every Goan ever! There are many agencies in Panaji from where you can hire a bike to explore the streets and sides of Goa. The rates of hiring bikes are not very high and easily affordable also. Hiring a Bajaj Pulsar for around a day costs 800 rupees and a Honda Activa scooter for around 400 rupees.
Hiring a Royal Enfield is slightly expensive, it costs 1200 rupees a day but these are the rates for peak season. The hiring rates go a notch down in off season where a Bajaj Pulsar or Honda Activa costs 250 rupees a day and Royal Enfield costs under 1000 bucks ie. 900 rupees. So, hire a bike and scoot away to every beach and every shore!
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Explore the Churches
A Goa visit is incomplete without visiting the beautifully architectured, majestic churches. Bom Jesus Basilica is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the oldest churches in Old Goa. S E Cathedral is another major attraction in Goa. It is the largest church in India and holds a strong Portugal history behind it. Monte Hill, Church of Lady Rosary, Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception are other few of the many churches that Goa has.
Cruises and parties
There is an extravagant and shiny side to the Goan life too! Goa has beaches and parties are a very important and cannot-be-missed feature of the Goan beaches. So many themed parties and cruises happen in Goa all year round. One can also spot dolphins on a cruise. So, sail away!
Located off National Highway 66 between Byndoor and Bhatkal, the beach is maintained by the forest department. It is a combination of beach, view point, a temple and light forest. The beach is guarded by the overhanging cliffs which keeps it remote and quiet. The beach will mesmerize you with its spectacular views during the sunrise and the sunset.
To reach the beach you will need to go up a lush hillock where you will find the Someshwara temple. From the view point you could see how the river River Sumana finally merges into the Arabian Sea which is a spectacular sight to behold. From here you can either walk down to the beach or take a road.
Some cottages are available at the location but you need to book them from the Forest office in Kudapura. The cottages cost around ₹800 for a day but sadly they don’t provide food and other facilities. As the beach is maintained by forest department you need to purchase a ticket which costs ₹10 per person.
The beach is extremely beautiful and isolated which means you could enjoy it without being bothered by anyone and this makes it one of the most underrated beaches in India if you are looking for a place to relax in solace.
#2 Mandarmani Beach, West Bengal
If you are visiting Kolkata then you ought to visit this beach which is just 180 kilometres away from the former capital of India. The beach is in a sweet and secluded spot and if you want to ride in isolation then Mandarmani Beach might only be second to Ladakh. It is the longest motorable beach in India thanks to its thick hard grains of sand and which stretch up to 13 kilometres.
The tourists can try the exquisite sea fish cuisine of this place but make sure you try one of the good restaurants. One can visit Mandarmani from Kolkata via trains and buses but it is highly recommended to drive to the beach to enjoy the trip.
There are some good hotels near the beach which provide their patrons with private beach. One can also indulge in water sports or just take a Bath at the sea. The local markets sell conch shell products. Tourist could also visit Mohona or Tajpur or Digha from Mandarmani or just sit on the beach and listen to the roar of the sea waves as they crash on to the sea shore.
It is also one of those great beaches in India which require more exposure to the public. On second thought it might do well without that exposure as it is a perfect place to sit back and relax while looking at the sea on a full-moon night.
#3 Chandipur Beach, Orissa
Chandipur beach is famous for a unique occurrence in which the sea water recedes by 5 kilometers during the ebb tide. The otherwise calm beach is a quiet and serene location overlooking the Bay of Bengal. The tides which occur twice a day will be such a mesmerizing experience that you will continue to feel it even after you have left the beach.
One can also enjoy the delicious Oria-style seafood especially, the prawns and pomfrets. The sand dunes along with the rocky coast couple with Casuarina trees make it a spectacular landscape. In contrast to the Puri Beach which is frequented by the tourists throughout the day Chandipur is quiet and secluded.
The beach is located next to Integrated Test Range of the Indian Army. The test range uses a portion of the beach which is not open to the general public. The fact that the beach is located near the launch facility from where Akash, Shaurya, Agni and Prithvi ballistic missiles launched makes a trip even more exciting.
#4 Guhagar Beach, Maharashtra
Guhagar Beach is located in Chiplun which is a small town in the district of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra. The beach is sparely populated and one can find smatterings of seashells and sound of sea waves to be extremely relaxing.
The beach is 50 kilometres away from the town of Chiplun and can be reached via bus or your own vehicle. It has clean and nearly transparent water with white soft sand. The water is excellent for swimming and one can participate in activities such as jet ski, banana rides, camel ride, and ATV ride.
There are lots of stalls lined up on the beach which provide light snacks and beverages to the tourist. The beach is extremely clean and well maintained. The beach is ideal for people of all age groups and everyone could enjoy a swim in the cool water or sit and relax on the beach.
One can visit the beach with their own vehicle as it has a parking facility but beware, the road is narrow and extremely prone to long traffic jams. The beach isn’t as isolated as one would expect and there are lots of tourists during the weekends but compared to other popular beaches in Goa and Raigad the crowd is fairly small.
On lucky occasions one will find that the only people around the beach are a few tourist and locals who are going out for their daily work or returning back to their home with the sun just touching the horizon.
If you get bored at the beach then there are quite a few tourist spots nearby. You could visit Velneshwar – A old Shiv temple and very scenic beach behind the temple, Baman Ghal- a small waterway in the rocks from where the sea water jumps during the high tide. You can really enjoy your vacation to the fullest at the Guhagar beach.
#5 Tip Beach, Lakshadweep
If you are planning a vacation to Lakshadweep then you ought to visit Tip Beach. Located at the virtually strike isle of Kalpeni island one may find a piece of heaven on Earth in the Tip Beach. The island is non-commercialized section of Lakshadweep which means it you and the natural beauty around you.
You will find the white sand, small rocky formation and sea waves gently washing your feet to be extremely relaxing. If you are a bit daring you might also try to snorkel around the clear blue waters and look at the colourful flora and fauna in the sea.
You can find many small stalls which sell you refreshments during your time at the beach. Being only three kilometres in length the isle isn’t commercialized there aren’t any resorts or hotel over there. This means you have to stay on one of the isles with lodging facility and visit the Tip Beach, enjoy your time there and then return back to your hotel.
#6 Lalaji Bay Beach, Andaman Islands
Another gem off the mainland, Lalaji Bay Beach is truly a pearl hidden within the Andaman Islands. Located at the Long Island it is one of the most scenic beaches in Andaman. The tourists could visit the beach by taking a boat ride from Yerrata Jetty to Long Island. During the journey which will last for half an hour one could enjoy the view of the scenic creek through which the boat passes.
It has a lush forest through which one could enjoy a hike and mind you there might be some leeches but they won’t bother you much. The island also has the scenic beach covered in white sand with a few huts and small eateries catering to the need of the tourists. There isn’t any proper hotel or resort on the island as of now but future projects are in development phase.
The beach offers its tourist complete isolation and they could just relax and enjoy the scenic beauty around us without being bothered. The absence of any big resort or hotel means that the beach isn’t crowded which couldn’t be said about most of the popular beaches. One can swim and snorkel around and if you are lucky you could also see dolphins diving near you.
The beach is clean and extremely well maintained and most of the time the only people you will see around are going to be fishermen going on their daily jobs. The beach has some small eateries but it is not an ideal place for vegetarians as good quality veg food is hard to find.