If you love water sports, you cannot find a better place than Goa. From swimming to snorkelling, an array of options are on offer at several beaches. Someof them include windsurfing, waterskiing, jetskiing, parasailing, banana boat riding, scuba diving, catamaran sailing and a lot more. Sunset and moonlight cruises, dolphin cruises and other adventurous cruises are also available.
For those who like to ride the waves, surfing in Goa provides the perfect kind of adrenaline-pumping adventure. Many of Goa’s beaches provide waves that are suitable for this activity. Try Mandrem Beach for the best opportunities to surf.
Goa’s terrain, along with its perfect weather, offers ample opportunities for spice plantations to thrive. Using organic methods, these farms produce some of India's major spices, including black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cashew and betel nut palm. Some of the most famous spice plantations in Goa include Savoi Plantations, Tropical Spice Plantation, Sahakar Spice Farm and Pascoal Spice Village, where visitors can learn about everyday spices and sample some of them.
The waters in Goa are safe and temperate and the absence of riptide currents makes them ideal for beginners. Goa’s waters also boast a bounty of coral reefs and rich aquatic life, making them a treat for divers who get clear visibility. Several international diving institutes are affiliated to local clubs here and visitors can easily take classes. Sao Jorge Island and Grande Island are great spots for scuba diving in Goa.
Celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna (corresponding with the month of March in the Roman calendar), Shigmotsav is essentially a festival that is organised to say goodbye to winter. It begins with the obeisance of the villagers followed by days of celebrations and dance with colourful cloths, torans, flags, and column-like red spotted dwajas. The 5th day, called Rang Panchami, is celebrated with much gusto.
Goa is a pristine paradise that is apt for vacationing at a slower pace. Several yoga retreats and Ayurvedic centres have set up shop here and have been specially tailored to give visitors a rejuvenating and relaxing experience as they soak in the serenity of the coastal state. From massage sessions and tai chi classes to reiki healing courses and meditation, there are a number of activities to indulge in Goa. Lie back and get ready for a spiritual makeover as trained professionals and experts cater to your whims and fancies and provide you with every comfort you can think of.
One of the best ways to explore Goa’s cultural districts is on foot. Specialised tour guides offer interesting takes on local architecture, food and heritage on walking tours that are organised across the state. Panjim Market, which is said to be the pulse of Goa, is one of the best spots to start your tour. Enjoy Goa’s pleasant weather as you stroll around this early morning market that bustles with locals and shoppers setting up their wares. You can get budgeted buys on local handicrafts as well as knick-knacks.
Following the temple trail in Goa can be an unforgettable experience. These tours are mostly centred around northern Goa. The first stopover on the itinerary is the Mahalaxmi Temple, dedicated to Goddess Mahalaxmi. This 18th century shrine is believed to be among the first temples built during the Portuguese rule in the region.
Old Goa remains steeped in history and its rich heritage is reflected in various monuments and churches. One of the most popular walks in Old Goa, it starts from the entry point that was built in the memory of Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama. The next on the list is the majestic St Cajetan Church, which draws architectural influences from Roman churches. Visitors are left awed by the 46-m-high St Augustine Tower perched on the Holy Hill. The last stop is the Church Of Our Lady Of The Rosary, an architectural delight that is situated on the edge of the hill.
You can also sign up for tours conducted through various spice plantations in rural Goa that give visitors a peek into the cultivation of these fragrant condiments. In Panaji, the Fontainhas area is brimming with Portuguese influences that are best explored on foot. Pastel-hued buildings, the Sao Tomé area near the main post office, and stories of the historic Pinto Revolt are to be enjoyed here.
Goa offers a bounty of shopping havens. In Panaji, you can pick up Goa’s famed cashews, Portuguese handicrafts and spices at the main market, along with lots of sweet treats like bebinca and dodol. The Mario Miranda galleries in Panaji and Calangute are great places to pick up memorabilia that sport cartoons. Clay products, textiles and knick-knacks can be picked up at Calangute Market Square. The Mapusa Friday Market is a great site to shop for local pickles and Goan pottery. Famous for its trinkets and clothing at haggle-worthy prices, the Anjuna Flea Market is popular with young people who want to buy hip accessories at throwaway prices. The Saturday Night Market in Arpora is a souvenir haven and houses many food stalls. Mackie’s Night Bazaar is a seasonal market that offers lip-smacking local fare and eco-friendly products and handicrafts.
Panaji is located on the banks of River Mandovi, and plenty of entertaining river cruises – of varied durations - can be experienced with the state capital as your base. All cruises begin their tours from the Santa Monica jetty near Mandovi bridge. The Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) operates hour-long cruises, which offer live performances of Goan folk songs and dances by local artistes. These are usually aboard the Santa Monica or Shantadurga boats.
On some days of the week, two-hour-long dinner cruises are also on offer along with a backwater cruise that takes you past the Adil Shah Fort, a series of colonial structures and the promenade festooned with fairy lights, to Miramar Beach before returning to Santa Monica jetty.