Goa is one of the top 5 destinations people think of when they are planning a vacation to India. The beautiful beaches, warm water and access to all types of resorts make it an ideal destination. You can enjoy India without necessarily getting too caught up in the “classical” Indian experience (not meant to offend anyone by the way : ) ).
When we got an opportunity to spend a couple of days in Goa, we went for it!
Transportation: We chose to fly to Goa and then take taxis to get around locally. Many people in surrounding states choose to self-drive so that they have transportation access. Vacation packages are also an option.
Places to Stay: We stayed at a resort in Varca Beach for 3 nights. Due to a booking error on our part (which we knew before we left), we spent the last night at a boutique hotel in Candolim. Below is how we spent each day.
Day 1: We reached Goa late in the afternoon and headed to the resort by taxi. The drive was pretty and we had an opportunity to drive through some villages. Once we got to the resort, we settled in quickly and headed to the beach. The beach was very clean and the water was perfect! We enjoyed watching the sunset before heading back to our room.
Day 2: After breakfast we headed to Dudhsagar Falls. We had a hard time finding a taxi driver that would take us there and the taxi ride was quite expensive as well. We did make it there and really enjoyed the falls even though the waterfall was not at its best (went in Feb). There were enough people visiting the falls and swimming in the water to make it a nice experience. We were able to come back to the resort by mid-afternoon and enjoy the rest of the day by the beach. An adventurous tourist who shared the jeep within the Dudhsagar park purchased homemade cashew feni… hopefully it was a great experience for her.
Day 3: A full day in the resort and by the beach – pure bliss! The resort had beautiful pools and there were a lot of adventure activities on the beach in addition to just chilling out.
Day 4: Panjim , Old Goa and Candolim – Again, finding a taxi proved to be painful and very expensive. We headed out after a good brunch since we had no idea what the day would shape up like. We spent a couple of hours checking out Panjim and the UNESCO World Heritage sites before heading to Candolim. The hotel we picked in Candolim was a nice surprise. It had opened recently and it was very nice. In the evening, we headed towards Candolim beach. Compared to Varca beach, this was not that great… a lot less clean. But, there were many shops (all sorts) near the beach which gave it a nice beach town flavor. There are some very nice restaurants to try out, so, if you are a foodie, you are able to try a lot of different local and international flavors. You also have an opportunity to try feni and port wines.
On another trip to Goa, I had an opportunity to enjoy some awesome Burmese cuisine in Candolim.
Day 5: After breakfast we headed to Aguada Fort – our final destination before heading to the airport. We took a taxi to the fort (and later the same taxi took us to the airport). We had a nice walk around the fort, learning its secrets. We had lunch at the hotel before heading to the airport.
Bottomline: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Varca Beach – clean, kid friendly, relaxing, simply divine!
Nice resorts with clean rooms and decent food
UNESCO World Heritage site to tick off the list
Nice waterfalls close by.
Could experience different eco systems within a short distance.
Nice paragliding and water based activities at Varca
There is an option to rent a two wheeler to get around in the Candolim area
We were in Goa during Carnival but did not spend too much time watching it. We did see a part of the parade in Panjim.
The Bad :
Taxis – very expensive (hopefully things have improved since our visit). Be ready for it (might feel like you are being fleeced) All beaches are not equal. If you are traveling with kids, I would recommend places towards Varca beach. We did see a lot of families in Candolim as well, but, that is just me!
Disclaimer – we did not check out beaches north of Candolim.
Debated whether the taxis belong here, but, decided against it since in the end, we did manage to do everything on our itinerary!