A dream-filled paradise guaranteed to excite even the most world-weary traveller, the small state of Goa on India’s west coast is a veritable treasure trove of lush beaches, stunning architecture and mouth-watering cuisine set amongst a backdrop of astonishing natural beauty. Previously a colonial outpost of the seafaring Portuguese, the influence of their five-hundred year rule can still be found in the gently eroded buildings that punctuate the landscape, as well as in the subtle notes of Portuguese culinary history that meld with the more traditional flavours of the region.
Hindu mythology ascribes the formation of Goa to a story about the god Vishnu who created it through firing an arrow into the sands, and with over sixty-six miles of pristine beaches to tempt you it’s not hard to see why he would have chosen this particular spot for such an honour.
Goa is rightly famed for the excellence of its beaches, with visitors tending to congregate around the more central locations such as Baga and Anjuna. Those looking for a more solitary experience should travel further north or south where you’ll have more chance of finding yourself alone away from the crowd. Swimmers should be aware that the sea here is deceptively calm and can exhibit strong currents and undertows which need to be taken into account when heading out into the water.
Holidays to Goa have much more than beaches to offer however, as the region is also home to some of the most beautiful and well maintained National Parks in the country, all of which play host to an amazing variety of wildlife. Expect to see Samba Deer, Malabar Giant Squirrels, Indian Peafowl and a whole host of other equally exotic inhabitants which make their home amongst the lush vegetation that the area is blessed with.
Conservation has become increasingly important to the local population over recent years and a visit to somewhere like the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary or Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary provides a welcome means of supporting efforts to preserve and maintain the area’s rich biodiversity.
Goa’s tropical climate varies dramatically throughout the year with monsoon season usually arriving in early June and continuing through until late September. As a consequence, the most popular time for tourists to visit is between November and March when the rains have receded and the local tourist economy is running at full capacity. That’s not to say that you won’t enjoy holidays to Goa at other times; indeed many locals believe that the monsoon season is exactly the right time to see the region at its best when the rains are welcomed with riotous celebrations and the landscape is almost magically transformed into a lush paradise in a matter of days. It’s also the best time to see Goa on a budget as the majority of facilities are keen to attract business during this period and as a consequence are more likely to offer reductions to intrepid travellers.
So whether you’re just passing through, or intending on spending a little more time here, Goa is undoubtedly one of India’s finest holiday destinations, one that continues to delight and surprise visitors with its unique beauty and welcoming atmosphere.