Looking at the sea out from Baga Beach, the sea is shining, teasing, much like the vibe of the locals and beaches in Goa. As a female who’s been nervous about traveling india alone, I feel surprisingly safe here. Waves tickling my feet, a pineapple lassi in hand, I look out at the beach. Even the cows are catching their daily dose of sand and rays.
“Goa is one of the friendliest spots in the India. ”
That’s why, Tara, a native Kolkatan, is back in Goa for a six-month stint of work at one of Baga beachside restaurants, Shining Star. I asked Tara for his perspective of some of the well-known cities in India. Tara didn’t waste any words.
Mumbai. Too busy. Bangalore. Nice, clean, posh. Home of the venerable IT industry. Delhi. Full of cheaters (they cheat even locals!). Kolkata. Nice but old. Some houses have been there over a 100 years and are still standing (just maybe not upright). Goa. Beautiful beaches. Laid back. One of the friendliest spots in India.
Laid-back. In the few days I’ve been here, Goa has been a respite from the craziness of Mumbai. But Goa is also nothing what I imagined it to be like.
Top Beaches in Goa
Compared to many parts of India, Goa is its own overdrive of culture shock when it comes to tourism. For tourists, Goa is a long-standing Hippie-ville of beaches, Euro-rave partying… and more. Being a beach region, Goa has several beaches along its coast. Here’s a list of top beaches in Goa.
In Anjuna, the moment I set foot on sand, I felt like turning around and heading back. I stood mortified, confused, in shock . Pumping sounds of trance vibes boomed on a giant loudspeaker, as giant umbrellas and beach chairs fronted shoreline restaurants, with Europeans laying out for the sun bake. Some tourists bake topless. Fruit and massage women walk the beach selling fruits and ZZZs as you bask-relax.
I stayed at Peaceland for 1000Rs/double + fan. No internet or free wifi. Accommodations are okay and clean, but pricey for what it is. Here’s more Anjuna accommodations.
The beaches in Mandrem, flair towards peace and privacy.
A bit more removed from the rest of the Goa craziness, Mandrem is a secluded getaway. The sands are so white you’ll have to squint from the glare. Wooden boardwalks jut out, linking resort to the exclusivity of beach lined cabanas, which have attendants. It’s so private, nudist sunbathers are kept from passing gawkers. Not a lot of options for cafes unless you journey into town, which offers a cafe or two & a small handful of local restaurants.
Arambol is backpacker central. Indian clothing stands pack into the winding line of the main road, squeezing out cafes and restaurants. The budget holiday shops cater to the cult of Bob Marley, tie dye, sundresses, Ali-Baba pants, hash bongs and a new look of motorcycle-riding, Rastafarian dred-locked She-Ra women with high cut sandals, short skirts and utility belts. Needless to say, I didn’t bother checking out the beach.
If you really want to be in the heart of all dreadlock and rave action, this crazy backpacker’s mecca is your place to go. It’s a bit overdone but if you’re into a good rave party, you’ll love it here.
4. Baga Beach
Indian locals flock to activity-inclined Baga Beach where you can dine on the beach and participate in watersports. It’s the chill sister of Calgunate and much more tolerable with it’s beach side restaurants. Baga Beach is all about water sports, from paragliding, jet skiing, a speedboat towing an inflated passenger boat at full-speed. Incidentally, it’s the first predominantly “Indian” beach crowd I’ve seen in Goa!
Baga has a swarm of guesthouses to resorts, but is more of a resort area. Guesthouse wise– closer to the beach, you’ll pay a higher price for a non-airconditioned room, even though quality might be lacking. I stayed at Frank’s Guesthouse, which lacked a bit of appeal and a cool breeze but it was a block from the beach. Here’s other options in Baga Beach.
Exploring Goa from a motorbike
If you ask me to name the best part of Goa, it’s not the beaches, parties or hippies. The best part of Goa was the simple fact I could see half of it, from the vantage point of a rented scooter! No windows or doors for shelter; just two wheels, a motor and the land. Driving a scooter makes me feel like Marco Polo, zooming along the coastline, visiting beaches.
Once away from the tourist hype, Goa is a breath of fresh air. The land stretches into lush serenity and its natives are warm and full of curiosity. Feeling the wind in my hair on a hot Indian day is definitely an inviting perk!
Tip: Take a ride along the coast (Arambol- Mandrem-Querem- Calgunate- Baga Beach)
From central Goa to its northern tip, a lot can be covered in day for only 200 rupees (the cost of a scooter rental). Orange-colored petrol sits in liter water bottles, outside shops and along roadsides. They glisten warmly in the sun and remind me– that unlike Thailand— I needn’t worry about running out of gas, as long as I have 70 rupees!
Is it easy to travel solo in Goa ?
Just because I’ve traveled a handful of countries by myself, doesn’t mean it eliminates my fears, self-doubts and uncertainties with solo travel. As a female solo traveler in India, I’m still finding my footing. Before I came to India, …
India intimidated me. Was I ready to tackle India alone?
Traveling alone in Goa wasn’t bad. Once I had my motorbike, I was fine and had the independence to see anything I wanted.
India is a challenging country, which demands all my attention and focus as I weave and dodge through the car honking traffic, touts, scams, stares and swirls of action. Balance is an important key and you have to be quick on your toes.
Will I get through it? We’ll see…
Getting to and from Goa
From Mumbai: Paulo Overnight Bus, 600 rs . Tip: Don’t take the sleeper berth section of the VIP bus– two people per berth and bed size is small. AC bus is cold. The long distance bus will arrive into Goa Bus Station and you’ll need to take a local bus to the beach.
To Hampi: Paulo VIP/Tourist Overnight Bus (book with an agent or online) 600rs/seater Non-AC
Tip: Seater/sleepers are recommended. Leg room is moderate and seats recline back. Non AC buses can still be cold when the windows are open.
What countries intimidate you? What would you recommend as top beaches in Goa?