It’s well established that Goa is a backpacker’s paradise, and those looking to get away from it all have been coming here for years. Certainly you will find a whole host of activities on offer here that range from all night parties to spiritual retreats. Whether Goa is still the spiritual haven it used to be is debatable, but if you want some sea and sand then this is a good place to come.
Perhaps not quite the spiritual retreat it used to be, nowadays Goa is known for its house and techno music parties that take place on the beach where drugs are usually consumed in large amounts. You need to be aware that drug possession is illegal in India and the penalties can be severe, although this appears not to stop some partygoers who want to try their luck. The areas around Anjuna are most well known for their clubs and parties and many are said to have good DJs that can rival Thailand’s Full Moon Parties.
Calangute is known as the place to stay if you like sun and surf and is one of the most famous stops on the backpacker trail. Essentially a village, Calangute has the largest beach in the north of Goa which attracts the crowds, and is a good place to stay if you want to be close to the seaside action. Watersports are popular pastimes here, including extreme sports like parasailing and waterskiing, so if you want to get out on the water then this is a pretty spot to do it in. It is probably one of the most popular parts of Goa and has become a lot busier in recent years, with thousands of visitors arriving, so don’t expect this to be a quiet choice. That said you will find everything you need here as it is so well known, such as guesthouses, equipment hire like snorkelling gear, and plenty of transport options.
If the busy Calangute beach is a bit too much for you (understandable), you can head to Vagator beach to find a bit more peace. Here you’ll find lesser crowds but don’t expect to find an empty beach either as you’ll see quiet a few backpackers here as well. What you can expect though are beautiful red cliffs, water springs, soft white sand beaches and lots of palmtrees in front of a lush green landscape. Definitely not bad! If you wait until the end of the day, you’ll be often able to enjoy a great sunset too. All in all, Vagator beach can still be a bit crowded, but it is a good alternative for Calangute to have a different experience.
Palolem Beach is said to be the most beautiful beach in Goa and if you come here you can expect a strip of white sand shaded by palm trees. The beach faces a bay that means that the waters here are calm and good for swimming. The best time to come here is in low season around September or October before the crowds arrive and you can feel as if you have been transported back to the days of old when the beach would have been far more deserted. If you come in the height of the summer months however then expect that it is going to be very crowded.
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is the place to visit if you want to see layered forests filled with towering trees and lush plants. The evergreen scenery here is simply stunning and you can learn about the local flora and fauna found in Goa which makes it a nice change from simply enjoying the beach areas. The sanctuary lies in the south of Goa but is easy to reach from the town of Chaudi.
Goa is the number one backpacker location in all of India, as well as being its smallest state, and is perfect if you are looking for some laid back beach living. As much of the population here were historically Christian, there is a more permissive feel to Goa, with parties and free living in evidence pretty much everywhere. If you want a spiritual retreat or just a few days on the beach then this is a good stop on a trip around India.