Holidays to Goa are a real mixed bag. This stretch of India’s west coast offers up action-packed beaches, Technicolor markets, and European culture.
East meets west in Goa. More than 400 years as a Portuguese colony has given this western part of India a distinctly European flavour, with crumbling churches and a unique local cuisine. And the 66-mile stretch of coast, which looks out over the Arabian Sea, is home to some of the finest scoops of sand in the country.
North Goa is a hive of activity. In towns like Baga, you’ll find everything from vibrant markets to fine-dining restaurants and neon nightclubs. There’s also a broad sandy beach, which has an energetic feel thanks to a watersports scene that lets you try things like wakeboarding and parasailing.
Amble through this UNESCO-listed city in North Goa and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in the Mediterranean. It was the colonial capital during the 16th century, and the streets are dripping with Portuguese churches like the Basilica of Bom Jesus and the Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi.
Life slows right down in South Goa. Here, you’ll find a Caribbean-style mix of spotless white sand, coconut groves, and luxurious hotels. It’s still unmistakably Indian, though. Benaulim Beach is just moments from pea-green paddy fields, and you can smell curry spices wafting from the snack shacks on the sand.
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South Goa offers up a stark contrast to the lively north. Forget what you’ve heard about Goa’s full moon parties and all-night raves, because this half of the region is decidedly peaceful. It’s really scenic, too. Areas of jungle are broken up by white-sand beaches and sleepy villages.
North Goa, on India’s west coast, was a hippy mecca back in the Sixties and, unlike the south, the north has retained its free spirit, with full moon parties on the shores still a regular occurrence. As far as scenery goes, this is starry-eyed territory, with white-sand beaches and ancient temples hidden among jungle foliage.