South Goa Traveling Guide: Serene Beaches & Goan Culture

Goa is the only place which is equally favorite to people from north as well as south of India. Based on my experience of traveling to South Goa, I have come up with my own theory. But before I preach about my own theory, here is something more important that I would like to introduce you to first.

Most of the plans to the places like Goa falls victim to the confused state of Dilemma. When we start for Goa, we are always filled with enthusiasm. We plan a lot. We dream of seeing Russian girls in Goa. In short, there is no limitation to the height of imagination. But the dilemma kicks in when we arrive in Goa. So Now? what to do? where to go?

There is a reason behind this traveling dilemma. First of all, Goa is not a small place to visit. Goa itself is a state and when you plan for Goa, you do not realize that you have a whole state in your travel diary than just a few places. Even though a small state, Goa is not so easy to cover.

You could either belong to a gang of bachelors who have come to Goa with different motives in mind or you could be a part of the family who has a completely different eye for Goa. So now the question arises, North Goa or South Goa? Let me list out the things in a more granular way to clarify what Goa is all about.

North Goa:

  • It has the famous beaches like Morjhim beach, Vagator beach, Anjuna Beach, Calangute beach etc. Most of these beaches would have a lot of life. People playing in the shallow sea shore; vendors selling local items, a lot of shacks and restaurants filled with people etc are a common sight.
  • On the beaches, you can also find a lot of shack parties in the night. You just go there and join in.
  • Besides shack’s parties, you can also join night clubs and bars. However, be mindful that some of the famous clubs might not allow stag entry. They only allow couple entry. And the same applies to some of the beaches. I have heard that some of the beaches do not allow Indians. I do not know how far this is true.
  • Another thing I did not want to mention but I think I should are that some of the beaches are really smelly and dirty because of the crowd and the waste.
  • Besides, most of the tourist places like forts, famous beaches, churches etc. are nearer to the North Goa.

Coming to the South Goa:

Since I wanted to write this article exclusively for the South Goa, I thought that it would be nice to write an introduction about North Goa in the beginning so that people will have a reference point in their minds and can choose where they want to go.

So what’s there in the South Goa? Peace & Culture. If you feel like you are going to go to Goa with a “party on my mind” mood, at the first introspection itself, I would direct you to North Goa. However, there are some of the specific events, if matching from my list below, then you should prefer to go to South Goa:

  • Anniversary
  • Honeymoon
  • Nature Photography
  • Aesthetic exploration

South Goa through my eyes:

When you head towards South-West from Ponda triangle (even if you do not understand it, it’s fine), the south Goa starts. The moment you turn towards the south of Goa, you can see more Nature than the concrete Jungle. Green paddy fields, coconut & palm trees, Goan houses & huts, less crowded roads & streets are the typical marks that define the south Goan culture.

So what is there to see in the South Goa?

South Goa has a lot of more serene beaches than the North Goa and that’s for sure. May not be a lot of tourist places are there to see in the South Goa but the markings that I mentioned are sure to spellbound with the natural beauty. With the Natural beauty & a lot of Serene beaches come the peace and aesthetic sense of traveling.

In the new year eve this year, we were there in the South Goa. And here are some of my personal experiences that I think might come into your uses as well:

Some of the most famous beaches in South Goa are Colva beach, Benaulim beach, Varca Beach, Carmona beach etc. We first arrived on the Colva beach. Since we had started from Bangalore around 11 in the night, It took us around 10 hours to reach Goa. So, we reached Goa around 9 in the morning. Obviously, the journey was long and we were tired.

The first thing we did was pick a carton of Beers. With me, there were other people also who had been to Goa around 10 times. So I had a lot of things to learn from them. The first learning while purchasing the beer was Goa is known for the local beer also, just like Feni. But do not mistake the local Goan beer with the Feni.

Some people find Feni bitter and too alcoholic. I had a bad experience with Feni so I was skeptical about the kind of local beer that I was going to get in Goa. When tasting a beer, I also consider packaging one of the important factors. When we bought kings beer, the packaging looked nice. This is how a kings beer looks like.

kings-beer-in-goa

Kings Beer, Goa

The packaging reminded me of Germany. Germany is famous for beer and some of the dark used to be packaged like that.

Also Read:  Tapkeshwar Temple, Dehradun: Location & History

Some of the other famous beers in Goa which I came to know from word of mouth was Bira. I searched for Bira image online and I looked more like a Russian beer to me. I think because a lot of Russian tourists come to Goa, Bira has its own market.

Now why we Chose to Stay in South Goa?

First of all, South Goa is cool and peaceful yet with a lot of life of its own. Some of the other advantages are that instead of booking a hotel, you can directly go for home stays. Just search on AirBnB for Homestays and you get a lot of cool places listed. Here is a description of where we stayed:

  • We had booked a 6-BHK house in South Goa called White Lotus. You can read about this house stay on the website and look at the pictures.
  • Some of the notable facilities were like Swimming pool, a very big living room, parking facilities, cook, washing machine and much more.
  • On top of that, most of the coolest beaches of South Goa were not more than 15 minutes by car. Or on scooty.

Here are some of the Pictures of our Home Stay:

white-lotus-colva white-lotus-home-stay-colva

Party, Romance, and beaches in South Goa:

If you are a party person and you do want to go into the party-specific pubs and bars, then you should go to the North Goa for a better Experience. However, if you just want to enjoy the beauty and do other stuff then here are a few pointers for you:

  • Drive further South towards Benaulim and beyond that for more serene, calm, and less crowded beaches. The drive would not be more than half an hour.
  • Even in the night, these beaches are accessible. I am not sure of the crowd in the night on the weekdays but on the longer weekends or holidays, there will be crowd on those beaches too. You can even walk on the beaches from one to another.
  • One some of the beaches, there would be shack parties going on. You can join them. It is even easier for the couples to get an instant entry.
  • Be reminded that most of the bars or restaurants or shacks close by 11 PM. so expect not to get beer or food beyond that. However, you can carry your own and drink at the midnight sitting on the beach
  • During the day, there would be a lot of activities going on these beaches like parasailing, banana ride etc. If you are interested, you can also go for the same.
  • You can even hire a bicycle and go for a ride along the beaches.
  • Also remember that most of the nice hotels like Taj, Leela Palace, Holiday Inn are located in the south Goa only. With that, you can imagine, why these hotels decided to come to the south Goa.
  • If you want to take the feel of the Goan culture, just keep on driving randomly and even towards the North, you will get to see the Goan houses influenced by the Portuguese culture.
  • There are some of the tourist places in the South Goa as well like Three Kings Church, Indian Naval Museum, Goan cultural heritage Museum. Those are a Good go.

Our Goa first time visiting Experience:

 Go Goa- A Biodiversity hotspot. Long coastline, Rice paddies, Backwater kayaking, Churches and Cottages, Fun and Nightlife. Sand, Sun, Surf and Seashore.

And Goa welcomes you!!!

Belonging to Nepal- A country of mountains and hills, Ever since I have come to Bangalore, I have been seeing too much of mountains or hills. It started with SavanaDurga trek then, Nishani Motte monsoon survival trek and followed up to Coorg. Theme need to be changed and for the next trip, straight to the beach.
India has several beaches along the coastline. However, one place in particular has practically became the epicenter of our thought process when we think of beaches in India. Yes! it is Goa……..ah!!

Our journey started in the morning full of energy , excitement and headed towards Goa by train.Travelling to Goa by train was an awesome experience. We headed via ghats section where the route was very scenic with great view of greenery, forest and the most important one- the Dudhsagar Waterfall. The next day before the sun hits the sky, we reached Goa. Decision became our greatest challenge for our further move. We headed towards beaches in North Goa.

On the way to Goa

North Goa is very much crowded but it doesn’t mean its not enjoyable. Two of of the most popular tourist spots in Goa are: Baga beach and Calangute beach known for its beach parties, nightlife and amazing seafood served at its beach shacks and restaurants. We stayed up at Calangute and visited the nearby places.

Day 1: Calangute Beach

On reaching a resort in Calangute, few minutes it took to rush towards the beach.
The first glimpse of the beach: superb. Blindly, we rushed into  the sea, the deeper sea. Tides push you away back to the shore. Ah! Spending much time inside the sea exhausted us. Retreat back to beaches.

Goa Beach

“The Land Lost in Water”: Islands of Goa, Charao islands and Divar islands

Before the sun could take a nap and set down, we chit chatting headed towards the island. About few miles from beach. The feel of  “The Land Lost in Water”: Believe me! its worth going to Calangute beach if one doesn’t visit that place. Crossing the river delta and heading towards the island. Slippery rocks and the path full of sea crabs.  We were the lucky ones to find three species of Sea Anemone and Corals which are mostly found in the deep sea. Our trek continues towards the more inner section of the island and reached a place where awesome sunset could be seen.

On the way to colongute island, GoaSpongy sea grasses, GoaSpongy Sea grasses

Day 2: Parasailing, deep sea swimming, Fort Agunda, Jimmy’s guest house

The second day was planned for motor sports.

It kicked off with para-sailing in the mid deep in the sea. The guide asked us to wear the harness. While listening to their do’s and don’ts , I stubbornly said to myself,
– “OK. OK. Enough with that. Let us fly.”

Then off I go. The sound of the motor boats and people shouting and playing were suddenly replaced with the sound of strong wind , pure quietness, and my friends shouting loud on to the air.
Wow!! Amazing view of the coastline from all the surrounding was seen clearly. It was time to return. Alas! para-sailing didn’t gave that much of satisfaction of adventure as we had expected. So , it was time to try something new, we all jumped from the boat in deep sea about 10 km away from the beach. It was time for deep sea swimming.

Deep Sea Swimming GoaAfter getting done with deep sea swimming, it was time for exploration. But How & where? If goa has to be explored to the maximum, rented bikes are the best way to do so. We hired scooty and explored the nearby places.

Jimmy's guest house, Goa. A haunted placeJimmy Guest house in Goa- A haunted place

Taj fort, GoaTaj Fort, Goa

Goa beach around Taj fortBeach around Taj fort, Goa

Fort Agauda at night seems to be one of the haunted place. The path was full of silence , and the only on bungalow famously known as “Jimmy’s Guest House” reminded of typical horror  Bollywood movies. After reaching the destination , hilarious tree at the eyesight  gave a ghostly appearance. It took only few seconds to rush from that place. Ah! a breathe of escapism.

Fort Agunde in GoaFort agunde and jail underground

Day 3: Basilica of Bom Jesus, Three Kings church

Our Exploration continued and headed towards the famous church in Goa. We saw Basilica of Bom Jesus, a spectacular church built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. The basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.
We also saw the “Three Kings Church” known to be the most haunted place in Goa. According to some people this church is a haunted church . Legends says that”  long time ago there were three Portuguese kings living in Goa. They often used to fight to gain power in the land but they were tied by the Portuguese diplomacy between rulers policy. One of the kings (King Holger Alvunger) one day invited the other two kings in his place and poisoned them to death. He himself fell out with the public and committed suicide by consuming poison.

King Holger’s place is the current Three Kings Church in Goa, where there have been reports of sightings and general unrest.
However this is one of the most scenic spots in Goa. It is worth climbing the hill and getting here since one can get a breathtaking view of surrounding lush green regions and the Arabian Sea, and if you go there before sundown you will be able to enjoy a mind mumbling sunset. The Three Kings Church is one place to enjoy peace and wonderful natural beauty. The place isn’t established as a tourist spot but it is still visited by many tourist and nature loving people. It is a paradise for photographers as well.

Basilica of Bom jesus, GoaSt. Fransis Xavier Body preserved, GoaSt. Fransis Xavier Body preserved, Goa

Three Kings Church in Goa at sunsetThree Kings church at sunset in Goa

Sunset in Goa

Day 4: Palolem beach, Boating

After the fantastic time we had in North Goa, we headed for South Goa and it was even more majestic. We choose Palolem beach . The beach of Palolem was just beautiful. Its kind of different from the other beaches. The shape is a bit crescent, so perfect for breathtaking pictures .
The same routine followed here too.. The similar place to calangute , backwaters , the island etc. We did boating in the backwaters and saw Mangrove trees and water creatures. After boating, swimming in the back waters became the tough decision ever made. On one spot , the river was too deep , which doesn’t seems to look. A friend(referring to Praveen) got stuck and was about to get drowned. When try to hold his hand , the water pulled all over. I got too stuck in the deep section.

Another friend(referring to Vipul) of mine supported by rock hit  him hard with a great force and was escaped from the deep section. Now, it was my chance for escapism, but it wasn’t that much of force that could let me out!!  Help!!  Help!!  No one came… Gained all my energy , and started to swim, oops !! the leg twist…
No breathe, nor stamina, but will. “The mouthful of water will not harm , but panic will” . Again gained all energy and started to swim, and finally escaped ..!!  Praveen was almost dead and was unconscious.(from that day he never went to water).  I was not able to walk properly for almost a week because of the leg twist. It was a dreadful experience ever!! While boating…

Boating in Backwaters, GoaSunset in Goa, Beach, hill and cloudsAt island in Goa

Day 5: Kayaking, Night life
The last day in Goa.  The last day was left for the Kayaking purpose. 

After the incident, no one was ready to go for kayaking . Life jackets supported the adventure to continue on!!   We started kayaking from the back water, and headed towards the island. The tides on the sides of the beach was not that much high, but the normal ones. The routes towards the back  side headed up from the rocky section.   The tides grew higher and stronger at the back side of the island. The French peoples on the way stopped us to go towards that side as the path towards the other side of the island was dangerous. They quoted us as” you all are enough “Big Heartened “ for crossing these high tides”. In the mid, the tides grew more higher and stronger. If there couldn’t be balance the kayak’s would get upside down. Paddle!! Paddle!!!  There comes the higher one…believe me the tide was so much stronger that it could throw us to the more inner part. The continuous paddle and the continuous tides hitting the rocks..

It was the hardest journey of all as we were totally exhausted. On our way, we saw Seagull nest which was as big as bed where one can comfortably sleep.. After 3-4 hours of long kayaking, we reached the sea shores in the evening. The last night in Goa… something needed to be done!!  As it was the time of Dushera..we all danced during the “visarjana” . Many foreigners also joined . On the next morning , we boarded the train and towards the busy schedule i.e Bangalore…!!

Kayaking in Goa to an islandFried crab in GoaThree kings church, GoaThe siland in Goavivid sunset in Goa

Information over Goa:

Goa is divided mainly into two parts north Goa and south Goa.

Best time to visit: October to March

Getting Around: Bus/Bike/Car services
Geared and un-geared motorbikes and scooters can be rented. If you are going to stay for long better buy one.

Rentals: around 300 INR/ day & 200INR in non-peak season for a Honda Activa scooter and a little more if one is looking for a geared motorcycle
Petrol: 75INR at local shops (a little more expensive than petrol pumps)

Car renting:
Daily package of 8 hours or 80km at around 1,000 – 1,500 INR depending on the vehicle’s model and whether it is a/c or not. Extra charges are usually around 100 INR per extra hour, or 10 INR per extra km. This is usually the most effective option to explore the region, as there is no taxi you can hail off the street.

Places of interest in North Goa:
Calangute beach, Baga beach, Morjim beach (sometimes referred as Russian beach as well)

Chorao island and Divar island
Agunda fort and Taj fort
Basilica of Bom jesus, Three kings church

Places of interest in south Goa:
Jimmy’s collection, Vasco da gama, Three kings church, Veslao

Where to stay?
Huts/Shacks are an economical. These can be found in small/little Vagator which is up the road from Anjuna beach , prices range from 400-600 rupees and you get a whole hut with a double bed, lock , towels and an attached bathroom with toilet. These shacks are closed during the monsoon. The last week of the year, between Christmas and New Year the place is usually completely packed. Try to avoid that overhyped week and you will get a better deal without the added pressures.

What to do there?
– Relax at beaches
– Scuba diving: Not possible during monsoon around Grande island off vasco da gama coast, it costs around 4000 per dive which lasts for an hour underwater marine life. PADI is a renowned organization in underwater activities.
– Jet-ski, Banana ride & Paragliding: Head to Anjuna or Baga beach during daytime and you will find vendors offering these. Bargain to around Rs 800-1,000 (off season) for a 10 min jet-ski ride, 15 min banana ride and a 15 min paragliding session, for each person. These activities are also available on less popular beaches and you could get a bargain there as compared to popular beaches where demand exceeds supply.
– Explore islands on kayaks
– Visit churches and local markets

Drink: Fenni
local liquors (basically cashew and coconut feni). Prices of domestic products range from Rs 40 to Rs 350 per bottle, depending on product and brand. There are two local brews long made and drunk in Goa — cashew feni and coconut feni. One comes from the cashew apple, and the other from the sap of the coconut tree.


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About trekkerp

Author of The Girl from the Woods and a Travel writer from India looking forward to collect quirky tales from around the world

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