Goa is one of India’s top holiday destinations and it’s easy to see why. There’s so much this state is famous for that you’ll be spoilt for choice when you’re visiting. From shopping at the various markets, to eating the local cuisine and water sports galore, Goa is well-known for a lot of unique offerings. Take a look at this list which showcases some of the best things that Goa is famous for.
Reasons Why Goa Is Famous
1. Fantastic Beaches
If you had to pick one thing about Goa, it would be its beaches. It’s the reason people visit. From the north to south, every five minutes of travel will take you to a new beach, with new shacks and a new vibe. On the north, the picks are usually Baga, Candolim, Anjuna and Vagator, while the south boasts Palolem, Agonda and Utorda.
Every February, Goa comes alive to celebrate the carnival. A festival that dates back to the Portuguese era, it is celebrated with great pomp throughout the state, with the Catholic community leading the charge. Across the city and villages, you will see people dressed in traditional clothing or even fancy dress, with good food and alcohol making it a party!
3. Festive Atmosphere in December
Being ruled by the Portugues until 1961, Goa is filled with many churches. Come Christmas time, the sizeable Catholic community celebrates Christmas with much energy. There are dances organised, decorated streets, Christmas parties, lots of weddings, carol singing and much else. If you can handle the crowds, do head here in December.
With so many beaches in the state, this had to be there, right? Most popular beaches in Goa offer the opportunity to go paragliding, parasailing, banana boat riding and snorkeling. On some beaches, you can even go scuba diving. The prices are high during the peak season of October to February, but that’s when it’s more fun.
5. Beach Shacks
Most of Goa’s beaches are lined with shacks most of the year. These come in all shapes and sizes, from trendy shacks like the Greek restaurant Thalassa in Vagator to traditional ones like St Anthony’s in Baga. Some of these shacks are even open all day, every day, such as Cocktails & Dreams on Palolem. These restaurants serve a mix of traditional and continental food and plenty of alcohol.
6. Cheap Alcohol
To encourage tourism, Goa has low taxes. This applies mainly to alcohol. For example, a beer costs roughly a third in Goa what it does in Mumbai. This applies to international liquors as well. So you can be sure to up your brand when you get here. Alcohol is also served everywhere you go. From small-time restaurants to the beach.
7. Portuguese Influence
The Portuguese ruled Goa for a long time, all the way up to 1961. The Portuguese influence is very visible in many areas, particularly Panjim and Altinho, where much of the Goan government resides. Aside from this, even the houses in the villages and the churches show off a particularly Portuguese side. Many of the old-timers continue to speak the language.
8. Dolphin Spotting
Plenty of fish available in Goa and not all of it is just for a meal. Off of many beaches, you can take a banana boat and head a bit out into the ocean. In no time, you will see dolphins jumping out of the water to play with your group. It’s a delightful experience and not too expensive either. Candolim beach is very popular for dolphin spotting.
9. Cashew nuts, feni and goa sausage
Goa has a unique culture. While people don’t particularly go here to shop, it does offer a few unique items. Most famous among them are Goa Sausages, a spicy chorizo that’s available all over India, but best made in Goa. Then there are cashew nuts, which are of great quality and much cheaper, too. Lastly, you have the country liquor Feni, a great drink to be enjoyed plain, with a dash of lime or with some Sprite.
10. Wildlife sanctuaries
Goa is a tiny state with a lot of greenery. This means that it has a lot of wildlife sanctuaries, such as Bondla, Cotigao and Netravali wildlife sanctuaries. Here, you will find a variety of Indian wildlife, from the Indian Bison to Sambar Deer to the Malabar Giant Squirrel. Most of the sanctuaries conduct wildlife safaris all year round, with some even offering night tours.
11. Dudhsagar Waterfalls
A gem of a place to visit in Goa for around 8 months of the year, you can hear the gush of the Dudhsagar Waterfalls from a great distance. Situated around 60 kilometres away from the Panjim, you can head over to the falls by bus, taxi or train (and trek the final few kilometres). This four-tiered monster is among India’s tallest waterfalls, at a height of 1017 feet.
12. Trance Parties
Being a beach destination that’s frequented by people from all over the world, trance parties began here early, with many well-known names such as Goa Gill performing way back in the seventies. While the trance scene is not as buzzing as it was in the early 2000s, it’s still pretty big, with parties on beaches such as Anjuna, Vagator and Palolem going on into the early hours of the morning.
13. Headphone Parties
India love its noise. Well, Goa is different. Here, you have headphone parties at a few beaches, where the patrons are partying hard, but without disturbing the peace of the area. On Palolem, for example, there is Silent Noise, a party that happens once a week. At many of these parties, you can even tune into different DJs, depending on your mood.
14. Delicious Seafood Restaurants
With so many beaches, there’s got to be plenty of fish and, consequently, seafood restaurants. In Goa,
Play games like Rummy, Stud Poker, Black Jack and Roulette on one of Goa’s many cruise ship casinos. These luxury liners are equipped with everything you need to try your luck on a fun evening. A host of gambling activities, music, food and drinks on board a luxury ship – what better way to spend an evening? Popular haunts include Deltin Royale Casino, Casino Carnival and Casino Pride.
16. Bike Rentals
A great way to explore the state is on two-wheels, the wind in your hair, as you zip from one beach to the next. Renting a bike in Goa is convenient, easy and relatively inexpensive. Bike rentals typically start at Rs. 200 per day for non-geared scooters and increase according to the type of bike you choose. In peak season, prices may double or triple, depending on demand.
17. Laidback Lifestyle
With its chilled out vibe and its inhabitants laid back attitudes, time slows down in Goa and it is the type of place you can spend two days or two months in and you’ll still never want to leave. Strolls on the beach, lazy lunchtime beers and afternoon naps are all part of the local and tourist culture.
18. Churches & Old Goa
Old Goa was once the capital of the Goa, back when the Portuguese ruled. In old Goa, you can witness the beauty and architectural grandeur of the churches and cathedrals, which are still in use and beautifully well-kept. Visit the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or walk through the villages and see the old houses, some of which are in ruins, and get a sense of what Goa was like centuries ago.
The present Chapora fort was built in 1717, but its history stretches back at least three centuries. Today, the fort is best known in India as the place the Bollywood film Dil Chahta Hai was shot. You should head over here to check out the views of Pernem, Vagator and the Arabian Sea. If you enjoy it, you can visit Goa’s many other forts, such as Aguada in Sinquerim and Cabo De Rama in Canacona.
20. Shopping in Anjuna
Every Wednesday, Anjuna hosts one of the best shopping destinations in Goa. Here you can pick up everything from clothes and home décor to a range of Indian spices and even musical instruments.
Goa is a treasure trove filled with places to explore and experiences to saveur. These are our favourite things about the state. Tell us your best memories of Goa in the comments below.