As you may be well aware if you’re reading here, Goa has become one of the most popular parts of India for tourists from abroad. In fact, an article about how to enjoy the region has been posted here before, and it’s ultimately one of many espousing the joys of the destination for travelers.
As often as Goa is recommended and singled out these days though, the recommendations are often somewhat short on details. Much of the time, Goa is simply described as a nice coastal destination and left at that. So, for those who might wonder what exactly makes Goa a special place to visit, we’re highlighting some of the defining features.
There’s a slight but meaningful distinction between thinking of something as a nice coastal area, and thinking of it as a destination full of excellent beaches to explore. Plenty of pretty coastal stretches don’t actually cater to travelers that well. Goa, however, does. There are well over a dozen beaches in the region that are recommended for travelers, for everything from swimming and walks on the sand, to pure beauty, to access to exciting water sport activities. Patnem, Anjuna, Butterfly, and Calangute & Baga are among the top options.
India isn’t generally known for casinos, and in fact is like the rest of the world in that most people might now associate this type of activity more with apps and websites than real venues. Dozens of poker sites, free arcade games coming out of New Zealand and UK, and all sorts of related betting activity is easy to access, and makes online gambling easier than finding a brick-and-mortar casino. When a casino is out on the water along a gorgeous stretch of coast however, it’s hard to resist, which is why Goa’s casino cruises are worth a mention. Available at various small ports, they take you out for a day at a time, or into the evening, offering food, drink, gaming, and pretty views.
Bazaars & Markets
You might hear about bazaars and markets at several prominent destinations in India, but there are a few standout attractions in these categories in the Goa region that add to the overall charm of the place. Some of the beaches have small nearby markets that pop up from time to time. Anjuna Flea Market is somewhat famous in the area. And the Arpora Saturday Night Bazaar is something of a legend, described essentially as being more of a festival than a typical street market. It’s only open on Saturday nights, as you might glean from its name, but it’s a must-see if you’re in Goa over the weekend.
The Portuguese history and culture of Goa may lead to mixed feelings among some locals, but it’s typically interesting for travelers. Goa was a Portuguese colony until 1961, which really wasn’t so very long ago – so naturally, lots of visible history remains. Namely, “Old Goa” has old streets, churches, and a sort of lingering atmosphere from the Catholic Portuguese control of 60 years ago. It adds a dimension to the region that a lot of people might not expect.
With Goa so closely connected to its beaches, one can almost forget that it’s a bigger and deeper region than just the coast. In fact, some would argue that some of the inland wilderness is is even prettier and more interesting than the beaches. There are famous waterfalls (most notably Dudhsagar Falls), spice farms, wildlife preserves, and even the legendary Devil’s Canyon, which is effectively a rugged but gorgeous day hiking opportunity complete with local lore and the chance of spotting rare animals.