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Old 20th October 2010, 21:01   #1
JLN
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Default Goa Vacation for First Timers

The info below is a very subjective recommendation based on a few trips to Goa and some extensive research on Tripadvisor. I have no vested interests in any of the places mentioned below. Should be applicable to families more than for individuals.

Goa in a nutshell:
Goa can be divided into 3 parts - North Goa, The City & South Goa:

1) North Goa – The erstwhile hippie part of Goa. Very active nightlife and street life with a number of bars, restaurants and hotels (ranging from cheap budget hotels to fancy ones like the Taj Holiday Village).
Places you will hear about:
a. Baga beach (a great beach to hang out in). People complain about it being crowded, but the good thing is that you have everything available here – beach beds with umbrellas for rent, water sports (Jetskis, Parasailing, banana boats), temporary tattoos, massages, pedicures etc. – all on your beach bed, , food served to the beach bed from the beach restaurants including Brittos (Dominos delivers Pizza to Baga beach). The sand is smooth and very nice to walk on).
b. Calangute & Candolim Beach – There is a big ship that is stuck and is a major eyesore at these beaches). But Calangute is an OK beach.
c. Anjuna & Vagator: Less crowded beaches with most of the amenities at Baga not available (except maybe during peak season – December).
2) The City with Mandovi River – This is the Panaji area – most hotels will recommend you to take the river cruise – we found it very cheesy and not worth the time. The city area (old Panaji) is quite nice with a number of churches and nice architecture. Unless you are into this, the city can be given a miss.
3) South Goa – Essentially when North Goa got crowded and Goa started becoming a tourist hotspot for the normal Indian tourists, celebrities, politicians etc., the resort companies wanted to offer the guests a great secluded beach experience – so they set up fancy resorts on the less crowded south goa beaches and virtually made these private beaches (access to outsiders is not prohibited, but made difficult).

About the Beach Resorts:
A number of hotels call themselves "Beach Resort" and claim to be on the beach. Well none of the hotels in North Goa (starting from the ones in Aguada to those in Candolim, Calangute and Baga) really are a beach resort in the way you would be expecting. They all may have a small stretch of sand (can technically be called a beach) nearby. The real beaches (where we can spend our time in) in North Goa are Baga, Anjuna, Vagator and Ashvem (maybe Calangute to some extent) - none of these have a nice beach right on the property. So don't pay a premium for a beach resort. You will anyway find yourself in Baga, Anjuna and Vagator.
In South Goa some of the resorts are true to their name - have a nice big beach very accessible from the resort. So if you are going to spend a lot of money on a beach resort expecting a nice beach right on the hotel property pick something in South Goa - real good ones: Leela, Taj Exotica, Club Mahindra (their Goa property is actually quite nice). If you pick south Goa, you probably will have to eat at the hotels you stay in (outside options are few) - so be prepared to spend big money on food.

My recommendation for a first time visitor who wants to get a feel for Goa, and not spend too much money:
1) Pick a decent value for money hotel in North Goa – I would recommend the following: Santana Beach Resort, Nazri Resort, Lemontree Amarante. For the slightly more well heeled: Taj Holiday Village, Taj Fort Aguada (both of these are called Vivanta now). Ideal spend: Rs. 1000 to Rs. 4000 per night depending on when you visit.

2) If you have only one day to spend:
a. Plan the day at Baga beach. Get there post noon/early afternoon, rent a few beach beds, hit the water, take your pick from the watersports, drink and have fun. Spend: 50 bucks per beach bed per hour, 200-250 bucks for jetski, 500-600 bucks for parasailing. Get a temporary tattoo (100-200 bucks depending on the design). Get a foot massage (100-200 bucks).
b. Eat at Brittos (if you are non veg) – everything here including the veg food will smell of non veg. so if you are a strict vegetarian, avoid the food here. Their desserts are great (almost similar to what you would find in Europe in an average bakery).
c. Visit the Anjuna Flea market on Saturday night (starts only in mid November)
d. Shop at the local street stores for knick-knacks are have fun bargaining like crazy.
e. Buy some cashewnuts at any of the govt. approved stores (big boards are there). It will cost you about 200 bukcs for 500 gms, but the cashewnuts are good.

3) If you have a second day:
a. Do Baga again (depending on how much you liked it the first day)
b. Explore Anjuna and Vagator beaches – a little less crowded – carry a beach mat and some towels.
c. Do a dolphin watch boat ride near Aguada Fort – We did this twice and saw a few dolphins both times. Most of the boat fellows will give you a money back guarantee if you don’t see dolphins.
d. Visit Aguada Fort – the fort is quite nice with a great view of the sea.

4) If you have a third day:
a. Visit Old Panaji city (if you like monuments, churches, old building etc.).
b. Do the river cruise – just for the fun of it – don’t blame me if you find it a bit cheesy.
c. Do one of the secluded beaches – Ashvem in the north
d. try Go-Karting - there is a decent place on the road from Anjuna to Baga.

5) If you have a fourth day:
a. Do one of the really secluded beaches in south goa - beaches all the way upto Palolem. Google will give you a list of beaches.
b. Spice Plantation tour – This is a popular one on the tourist circuit in Goa (most hotels will recommend this). But IMHO, this is overhyped. You drive an hour (almost upto Ponda) to a real spice plantation. They take you on a tour of the plantation (nice and you can learn about some of the spices we use regularly). The lunch is bad (they claim the lunch is a traditional one eaten by the Goan families). I would skip this one, unless you are tired of the beaches and want to see something different.

6) If you have a fifth day – You probably know more about Goa than I do now – so you figure out your own thing.

Jara Hatke experience – We were driving through Old Panaji town along the river and saw a ferry carrying cars. We stopped on hopped on – just 10 bucks to take your car and all its occupants to the other side – bikes are free. The ferry ride was more exciting than the river cruise. On the other side is Divar Island – we drove through the island (very deserted for a few miles and then some houses popped up). The place felt a little creepy and we went back to the ferry, took it back to the Panaji side. My son loved this “car on a boat” experience. For 10 bucks, the ride is more than worth it.

For Vegetarians: You will find a number of options in Goa, including a bunch of Pure Veg places serving even Jain Food. Most of the Italian restaurants in town are quite good and have good veg options. Sharanam is probably the most fancy pure veg restaurant in North Goa.

About renting a bike/scooter: This will be best mode of commuting in North Goa – for 200-250 bucks a day, you will get a decent Honda Activa/Dio. Finding this is easy - just ask your hotel reception or walk on the main road and you will find enough boards. Parking is easy and you can keep stopping at all the street stores to buy various stuff you really don’t need. Taxis are also easily available for you to got to South Goa/city etc.

Last edited by bblost : 21st October 2010 at 14:08. Reason: Please refer forum rule #11. Post edited. Thanks. -Same edit
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Old 20th October 2010, 21:24   #2
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Thanks You JLN this is great information for first time visitors like me. For more specific information, I have PM'ed you.

Since this thread is dedicated to Goa, it would be great if you can post the information on the accommodations and rates which would help us.


-Rajesh
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Old 20th October 2010, 21:42   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLN View Post
3) South Goa Essentially when North Goa got crowded and Goa started becoming a tourist hotspot for the normal Indian tourists, celebrities, politicians etc., the resort companies wanted to offer the guests a great secluded beach experience so they set up fancy resorts on the less crowded south goa beaches and virtually made these private beaches (access to outsiders is not prohibited, but made difficult).
Not sure where you got this info from. One of the longest beach in the world is in South Goa - it's called Colva. It's a wonderful beach. It's very accessible. There are also other accessible & nice beaches in South Goa.

South Goa beaches are far less crowded than North Goa & if you want a relaxing time at the beach instead of activity filled one, go to South Goa.
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Old 20th October 2010, 22:51   #4
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Also some pictures for the places mentioned would be highly appreciated.
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Old 20th October 2010, 22:51   #5
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Originally Posted by carboy View Post
Not sure where you got this info from. One of the longest beach in the world is in South Goa - it's called Colva. It's a wonderful beach. It's very accessible. There are also other accessible & nice beaches in South Goa.

South Goa beaches are far less crowded than North Goa & if you want a relaxing time at the beach instead of activity filled one, go to South Goa.
I think we are saying the same thing - if what you want to do is have a relaxing time at the beach - south goa is better (but then you can do this in Kerala, the andamans, diu etc. too). For a feel of Goa, North Goa is better.

Mods: Can you edit my previous thread to read: so they set up fancy resorts on the less crowded south goa beaches and virtually made these some of the sections of the beaches like private beaches (access to outsiders is not prohibited, but made difficult). South Goa still has some great beaches such as Colva, Benaulim, Varca, Cavelossim and Palolem

Last edited by JLN : 20th October 2010 at 22:57.
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Old 21st October 2010, 07:24   #6
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thanks JLN.
That was crisp and concise. very helpful for someone like me staying in the eastern part of the country.
Is it better to drive down to goa from mumbai or take a train ?
Regards
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Old 21st October 2010, 09:53   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLN View Post
I think we are saying the same thing - if what you want to do is have a relaxing time at the beach - south goa is better (but then you can do this in Kerala, the andamans, diu etc. too). For a feel of Goa, North Goa is better.

Mods: Can you edit my previous thread to read: so they set up fancy resorts on the less crowded south goa beaches and virtually made these some of the sections of the beaches like private beaches (access to outsiders is not prohibited, but made difficult). South Goa still has some great beaches such as Colva, Benaulim, Varca, Cavelossim and Palolem
I didn't see this "difficult to access" issue in Colva at all. I found it very accessible.
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Old 21st October 2010, 09:56   #8
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JLN, thanks for the pointers.

Can you elaborate on the not prohibited but made difficult to access part?

I have been to North Goa frequently and would like to try the south this time.
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Old 21st October 2010, 10:15   #9
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JLN, very well summarized - should help first timers and frequent fliers equally well. I have been to Goa twice - once South and once North. I agree with you when you say that the Southern part is not much crowded and North is where all the party action is. I did see some very swank hotels in the South and it look like a place for the big spenders. As a personal choice, I always tried to stay away from sultry, humid places but my recent trip to Goa in the monsoons gave me a completly different perspective.
JVH, i guess what JLN meant is that since most of the big players in the Hotel industry are concentrated in the southern part and are beach facing/access, getting onto those beaches is a bit difficult. They might still be accessible if one chooses to enter from a 'non-hotel entrance' point and walk all the way to the beach adjacent to the hotel.

Last edited by ExtremeTorque : 21st October 2010 at 10:18.
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Old 21st October 2010, 10:56   #10
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Here is the list my friend and I had complied a while back when we had gone to Goa. All the resorts in here are in North Goa and primarily in Calangute and Baga but there are a few from further North as well.

We stayed in Montego Bay Resort and Colonia Santa Maria (CSM) both were good places.

The tariffs are of peak season (a bit old as well, there might be revisions), off season are normally half of it.

1. Alor Grande 3-star
http://www.alorresortgoa.com/indexgrand.html
photo gallery : http://www.alorresortgoa.com/photogallerygrande.html
Tariff : 3000 double bedroom + 500 for extra occupancy


2. Colonia Santa Maria 3-star
Colonia Santa Maria: Colonia Santa Maria Hotel is your perfect Goan haven.
photo gallery : http://www.csmgoa.com/hotel/roomviews.htm
Tariff : 5000 double bedroom + 1200 for extra person


3.Casa de Goa 3-star
Casa De Goa- a profile.
photo gallery : Casa De Goa- photo gallery..
Tariff : 3850 + 500 for extra person


4. Sonesta Inns 3-star ( looks really really good )
Sonesta Inns - 3 star resort in Goa
photo gallery : Sonesta Inns - 3 star resort in Goa
Tariff : 3850 for std room/ 4400 for suite


5.Palmarinha ( Heritage )
Palmarinha Resort, budget accommodation goa holidays
photo gallery : Palmarinha Resort - Photo Gallery
Tariff: 2500 + 750 for extra person

6. Montego Bay Resort ( Budget hotel - tent house ) -
:::Montego Beach Village >> Luxury Tents :::
photo gallery: :::Montego Beach Village >> PhotoGallery :::
Tariff: 2200 + 500 for extra person


7. Leoney Resort ( Budget Hotel )
Leoney Resort
photo gallery: Leoney Resort
Tariff: Leoney Resort


8. Santana Beach resort ( Budget hotel )
http://www.santana-goa.com/resort.htm
photo gallery:http://www.santana-goa.com/photo.html
Tariff:

9.Ronil Royale ( Budget hotel )
http://www.ronilroyalegoa.com/index.htm
photo gallery: download the presentation and view it
Tariff:


10. Paradise Village Beach Resort
packages goa,goa beach resort,Hotels in Goa,paradise village resort,beach resort goa
photo gallery : packages goa,goa beach resort,Hotels in Goa,paradise village resort,beach resort goa
Tariff: 3500 + 700 for extra person

Budget options:

White Pages Goa - Contact Details of Alma Computer Education - Almugh Collection

The Sand Pebble Holiday Home: Our Holiday Homes

http://www.donajuliaresort.synthasite.com/index.php
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Old 21st October 2010, 11:19   #11
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Originally Posted by carboy View Post
I didn't see this "difficult to access" issue in Colva at all. I found it very accessible.
OK. I may have overstressed the "Difficult to Access" piece. Carboy is correct when he says that Colva beach is very accessible.

But if you stay in North Goa, to get to the beaches in South Goa you need a car/taxi. While technically, you can drive to these beaches from North Goa in your rented bike, it will be a pain and too far IMO. E.g. Baga to Colva will be around 50 kms and will take 1-1.5 hours in normal traffic.

So if you want to do South Goa, it will be better to stay in a resort there - will be expensive.
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Old 21st October 2010, 11:39   #12
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JLN, your thread came at the right time!! We are planning to visit Goa during 1st week of Nov, this surely will help us. Thanks a lot for the info man. Rated 5 stars.
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Old 21st October 2010, 12:07   #13
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Originally Posted by JLN View Post

But if you stay in North Goa, to get to the beaches in South Goa you need a car/taxi. While technically, you can drive to these beaches from North Goa in your rented bike, it will be a pain and too far IMO. E.g. Baga to Colva will be around 50 kms and will take 1-1.5 hours in normal traffic.
Isn't the reverse also true. i.e. if you stay in North Goa, you will need a car/taxi to go to the beaches in South Goa :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLN View Post
So if you want to do South Goa, it will be better to stay in a resort there - will be expensive.
Since I have never stayed in North Goa (only went there from South Goa), I don't know the North Goa rates, but rates in South Goa aren't expensive.

I actually booked my rooms after reaching there so I spent a few hours searching for a room. I found good rooms at all ranges in South Goa. It isn't expensive at all - from 900 Rs. to 5000 Rs. There are probably cheaper ones also.
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Old 21st October 2010, 12:24   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ExtremeTorque View Post
JVH, i guess what JLN meant is that since most of the big players in the Hotel industry are concentrated in the southern part and are beach facing/access, getting onto those beaches is a bit difficult. They might still be accessible if one chooses to enter from a 'non-hotel entrance' point and walk all the way to the beach adjacent to the hotel.
Point noted but JLN is hinting something different

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLN View Post

But if you stay in North Goa, to get to the beaches in South Goa you need a car/taxi. While technically, you can drive to these beaches from North Goa in your rented bike, it will be a pain and too far IMO. E.g. Baga to Colva will be around 50 kms and will take 1-1.5 hours in normal traffic.

So if you want to do South Goa, it will be better to stay in a resort there - will be expensive.
OK. Now I got what you intended to say.

One question - Since I've never been to Colva, not sure about the activities in and around that area. How's the watersports scene? Is it similar to Baga?
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Old 21st October 2010, 12:30   #15
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One question - Since I've never been to Colva, not sure about the activities in and around that area. How's the watersports scene? Is it similar to Baga?
All the watersports are mostly in North Goa. There is very little in South Goa. Go to South Goa if you want a non-crowded beach & relaxing vacation.
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