It has to start with beaches! While beaches in North Goa steal the limelight, South Goa beaches are less crowded. We nominate Arossim Beach and Utorda Beach near the town of Majorda for the best South Goa beach award. For North, Baga, Calangute and Anjuna bag the ‘people’s choice award’! Water sports on these beaches include jet skiing (water scooter as we know it), parasailing (the view from the top is worth it), scuba diving (the scintillating undersea life compensates for the missing corals) and falling from a banana boat (most adventurous of the lot). To make the best of your beach experience, book yourself a room in one of the best resorts in North Goa.
No, it's not what you thought really! I'm talking about visiting the Spice Plantation in the Ponda area called Sahakari spice plantation and your nostrils will remind you why Europeans came to India! This largest spice farm of the region lets you pluck and taste pepper, bite a Peri Peri (hottest chillies of the world), bathe through an ‘elephant shower’ and feast on a traditional Goan lunch cooked with farm spices. While not many visit spice gardens plantations in Goa, those who do, praise them no less than the beaches.
In Panjim, history comes alive. This is Old Goa, the state capital for the better part of three centuries and known as the ‘Rome of the East’. The cavalcades of churches, convents, museums, art galleries, government buildings, bungalows and bakeries together make it tough to suggest what to not see in South Goa. Yet, Basilica of Bom Jesus (for its architectural magnificence) and Sé de Santa Catarina (largest church in Old Goa) are the most visited ones. Not to forget, Old Goa is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Yes, Goa has wildlife much more exciting than its nightlife! The Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park have animals like the panther, sloth bear, mouse deer and even barking deer. Then there are 200 species of birds including the Indian great black woodpecker, Malabar pied hornbill, paradise flycatcher, fairy bluebird, emerald dove and kingfisher. This peaceful sanctuary in the foothills of the Western Ghats (known as Sahyadri in Konkani) can be visited from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm on all days.
Once upon a not so long time ago, a German named Ingo set up this new market on a leased property. Fondly known as Ingo’s Saturday Night Bazaar, this market in Arpora is on for about six months of winter and presents a potpourri of junk jewellery, imported T-shirts, hippie merchandise, Indian and global cuisine from Rajasthan and Kashmir to Turkey, Spain and the rest of Europe! For non-shoppers, Daniel’s Bar often sees a DJ playing there, for the market. Even without this, music plays throughout the day and gets groovier by the night, say around 11 pm.