Goa’s pristine beaches, natural harbours and wide rivers make it a holiday-makers paradise. While its hippy heyday is over, tourists from around India and the world continue flock to Goa to enjoy its natural beauty, fine cuisine and world heritage architecture. Its position in the Western Ghats make it a biodiversity hotspot.
Its geography means that Goa has been an important port for many centuries, with civilisation dating back to the 3rd century BC. But it was the Portuguese that shaped Goa into the idiosyncratic place it is today. Arriving in 1510, with the intention of ruling the Spice Route, the colonisers remained in Goa until 1961. In Goa today, the Portuguese influence is still visible in the architecture, religion and cuisine.
Goa’s strong economy makes it an attractive business destination. Farming, fishing, tourism and iron-ore mining ensure that Goan residents have the best quality of life in India.
With a population just under 1.5 million, it attracts 2.5 million domestic and international tourists every year. For thrill seekers, there’s parasailing, paragliding and scuba diving on offer. For those yearning for a more rejuvenating experience, yoga courses and Ayuverdic centres abound. And all visitors should partake of the stunning architecture and great hiking.
When to go:
The best time to visit Goa is between October and March. It can become very humid in April and May and the monsoon begins in June. Most beach huts are dismantled at the end of May.
- Spend some time chilling out in the tropical paradise of Cavelossim beach.
- Visit the World Heritage listed Basilica of Bom Jesus. Built in 1594, it a fine example of Jesuit architecture and houses the remains of St Francis Xavier.
- Take a day trip to Ponda, where you’ll find a collection of stunning Hindu temples. The 400-year-old Shiva temple of Sri Manguesh is a must-see. Ponda is also home to the best spice plantations. The fascinating tours are usually followed up with a terrific lunch.
- Spend a day in the capital, Panaji. Take in the State Museum, which has a collection of Christian, Hindu and Jain art; and the Church of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which dates back to 1541.
- Travel the windy road south of Cavelossim to visit the old Portuguese fort of Cabo de Rama, where you’ll find stunning views and an old church.
- Shop till you drop at the famous flea market held in Anjuna every Wednesday.
- Parasail, jetski or windsurf at Candolim, Calangute or Baga; or try paragliding at Anjuna or Arambol.
- Take a boat trip along the backwaters or go dolphin spotting at Palolem or Arambol.
- Trek along the Dudsagar Wayerfalls, the most impressive in Goa.
- Marvel at the architecture in Old Goa, which is said to have once rivalled Lisbon in its splendour.
- Have an Ayuverdic massage to lift your spirits and rejuvenate your body.