It’s India’s most famous beach destination and somewhere that surprised me so much, I instantly fell in love with Goa.
I have to admit, I was never keen on the idea of going to Goa because in my mind I thought it would be full of package holiday tourists on their two week holiday from work, whom, at the thought of actually visiting India would horrify them, because Goa wasn’t in India, or so they thought. I also thought Goa would be the only place in India that wouldn’t be authentic, where by big hotel chains would have filled up the beach with their towering holiday blocks.
After much speculation, I was completely wrong. Goa had stolen my heart from the minute we arrived. I loved the complete random mix of tourists, the authenticity of the area (it actually felt like an island!) and the quality of food. It made me think that question we’ve all probably thought somewhere around the world; I wonder if this is what Thailand must have been like 20 years ago?
It was however much more expensive than the rest of India. Having come from a month long yoga course in Mysore, we were paying 400R (AU$8) for a top notch dinner at the Radisson to now over 600R (AU$12) for a smoothie bowl Goa. But, we loved it and here’s my 8 things I love about Goa.
1. Vaayu hotel and cafe (Mandrem lagoon/beach)
Vaayu cafe, Mandrum
We randomly picked Vaayu but had no idea how amazing it would turn out to be AND in our favourite part of Goa. The hotel room was beautiful and homely, it actually felt so comfortable that we forgot we were just staying there and not living there! It was also big enough to practice our yoga!Our room at Vaayu
The view out to Mandrem beach and lagoon was beautiful and we loved the quiet street that had a lovely holiday vibe to it. The view out of our room at Vaayu overlooking the beach and lagoon at Mandrem.
We loved the cafe as well, and there were various seating areas in what looked to be like awesome little dens.The entrance at Vaayu hotel and cafe.
After eating basically curry and rice for the last few months, it was amazing to have some proper western food again.Outside our room at Vaayu.
Because Goa is more of a Christian state, they actually serve beef so we went straight for the burgers which were amazing, so were the tacos too!The awesome spaces at Vaayu undeniably make it a brilliant and creative space to enjoy the views over to Mandrem lagoon and beach.
They even had wine on the menu as well which was again, something else that was a luxury and not forgetting the awesome smoothie bowls which were needed in the 35C heat (we arrived at the end of the season in April when the weather was really starting to heat up).Amazing smoothie bowls at Vaayu Cafe.
They also have different activities as well like renting a SUP and even a shop inside the little complex too. If you’re coming to Goa, then I definitely recommend staying at Vaayu 100%!
Make sure you get $55 off airbnb here before you book. Then click here to book Vaayu!
2. Renting a scooter from Birtos
Stevo all happy on his scooter!
We rented a scooter next door to Vaayu at a little shop called Birtos. He told us how he was an ex policeman and that we wouldn’t get into any trouble with the police. Turns out that police stop pretty much all tourists for not wearing their helmets. The driver must wear one but if you’re sat on the back like me, you don’t need one. A lot of scooter shops seem to forget about telling tourists this and we saw loads of people pulled over and fined. Steve forgot to wear his one day and we got stopped. At first they wanted 1000R and when they realised we had rented our scooter off Birto, it suddenly dropped to 300R. Random but true.
You’ll definitely need a scooter to get around Goa as taxi’s are incredibly expensive and not as easy to track down, just go slowly to avoid any problems.
3. La Plage
On the way into La Plage.
La Plage is a restaurant on Ashwem beach which we were told to go to by the guys at Vaayu and I’d read about it in the awesome Goa e-guide by blogger, Hippie In Heels. La Plage restaurant.
Ran by a French family, this is one of the most famous restaurants in Goa which is often visited by Indian celebrities. When we arrived, we were greeted by a really cool entrance, like walking through someone’s awesome, kitsch home, but on the beach with paintings, wallpaper and arm chairs, and of course a flurry of fairy lights at night time.The best meal we’ve eaten during our entire trip was at La Plage.
When we were seated, we ordered the steak because we hadn’t eaten meat in like three months, and boy was it amazing (approximately AU$12). I can hands down say it was the best meal I had eaten on the whole trip, so much so we went back the following day and ordered the same meal! Everything was awesome about this restaurant and it was one of my favourite things about Goa.
4. The clothes shops
After travelling through Maldives, Sri Lanka and now India for the last three months, it came to a huge surprise that I didn’t have to cover up anymore in Goa. Finally the skirts and shorts could come out which was a massive relief due to the sweltering temps.I was also surprised at the quality of the clothes shops too in Goa. There were some beautiful shops and I wish I spent time shopping at them because for India, this was a luxury to find.
5. The beach
Goa is basically one huge beach along the coast, split up into different areas. But the areas differ massively so although it’s adamant to choose the right beach, as long as you have a scooter, you can take day trips to the rest of them.Ashwem beach, Goa.
For me, I loved Ashwem beach the most. We went to check out pretty much all of the North Goa beaches and this was the best which was luckily right near to where we were staying. It was also the most upmarket area with some bigger resorts but not in an overwhelming, I feel out of place kind of way. It had a good vibe and the beach was clean along with the water too.
Sunset impulse gymnastics on Mandrem beach.
Mandrem beach which next door to Ashwem was quite nice too and was the next best beach to the latter. Every morning we would run along this beach before breakfast. It was awesome!
Sunset on Mandrem beach.
We found Arambol to be incredibly touristy and had a very backpacker and hippie vibe, which had some great restaurants but being hassled with the ‘shopping shopping’ or ‘come take a look’ off every single shop owner would become way too much for me to deal with all day, everyday.Vagator beach
Vagator beach also had a backpacker vibe but it wasn’t anything to write home about. There did look to be some cool teepees to stay in on the hill over looking the beach though.Anjuna beach
The famous Anjuna beach, known for the start of Goan trance music is obviously where all of the dance party action was. As we were in Goa over Easter weekend, there were so many Indian tourists around and Westerners who looked like they just wanted to party all day and night. Goan trance music pumped out of the bars onto the very dirty beach, and to me, this was my idea of hell as I rarely drink anymore and am a bit of a grandma! But, if you’re going to Goa to party it up then it might be for you. Arambol was like a bit of a tamer version of Anjuna from what we could see.
Querim beach is the one beach I wanted to visit but we just ran out of time unfortunately. We were told it was a beautiful and quiet beach to visit, but we’ll have to save that for another time!
6. Pink Chilli
The beautiful Pink Chilli restaurant, Goa
Thanks again to Hippie In Heels Goan e-guide, we found out about the awesome Indian Restaurant called Pink Chilli. It was without a doubt one of the coolest places we saw in India. The food was awesome and the creative space was perfect for taking some photos!
7. Anjuna Market
We loved Anjuna market not because it was so touristy but because there was so much going on. This is where we really got a sense of the different type of tourists there from the old ravers, the hippies, the chavs, the Russians the list goes on.I really loved that there was no sort of hierarchy with the type of tourists in Goa, that anything and everything goes, something that’s quite rare to see anywhere nowadays.
Image source: leaky leaks
If there’s only one thing I regret about Goa, it was the fact that we didn’t eat at Thalassa, one of the most famous restaurants in the whole of India. Randomly we walked in to it as we drove past, as it looked like a place that could have been taken out of Santorini. We just went to see what it was and had to quickly dash off because we were nearly out of fuel. It’s one restaurant I would have loved to visit as it looked beautiful, set up along the cliff top.
So there you have it, my 8 things I love about Goa. I honestly couldn’t believe how awesome it is there and it’s a great place to go off exploring on your scooter, with plenty to do! What are your favourite things about it? Let me know in the comments below.
Have you read my other Indian stories yet?