For anyone living in Mumbai, Goa is probably a favourite getaway for most. Well, it’s certainly one of mine, especially being a beach bum, I can never tire of Goa. Thus, post lockdown deserved a visit to this fun beach haven. Usually, my trips to Goa have lasted for a maximum of 5-6 days but last month, I took that up a notch and made it a whole two weeks! And it was so worth it, to say the least! The 14 days just seemed to disappear in a blink of an eye and, needless to say,
I DID NOT want to leave.
And since I had full two-weeks at my disposal and that too in the pandemic, I explored a lot of fun things to do in Goa!
Having said that, I believe this pandemic has made us all a lot more appreciative of everything we have more than we did before, it has led us to introspect a great deal and has compelled us to relook at our lives and what truly makes them worth living. Besides my family and friends, travel is one of the things that make me whole and since I had not really been on a trip for 7 months, this was complete bliss and we engaged in a lot of fun things.
One of the main reasons I enjoyed the trip so much was that I took both my dogs with me since it was a road trip and they had the time of their lives. My house help came along with us and this being his first-ever vacation, he thoroughly enjoyed it too.
If I have to be completely honest here, the plan was to not engage in any of the outdoor things to do in Goa. However, you know how the vibe is, even if you don’t engage in the typical water-based activities to do in Goa, the place has such a rich heritage to explore and the beaches to check out, it is impossible to stay indoors always!
My List of Must Do Things in Goa
Stay Close to the beach!
I have always felt that one of the best things to do in Goa for an awesome time is to stay close to the beach. A lot of people stay in shacks for the same reason. Now, since we were with family, shacks weren’t an option for us and so we rented a villa close to the beach which had a fully-equipped kitchen so that we could have home-made food and not have to step out much to restaurants. We picked a villa with lots of outdoor space and a huge lawn so we could enjoy all the greenery around us, and the dogs could go ecstatic running around.
Pluto specifically had a lot of fun in all the open space, not to mention the swimming pools or even puddles around.
For those who have seen my Insta feed, I am sure you must have gotten Pluto’s message loud and clear- “Woof! One of the top things to do in Goa is to find water and splash the life out of it!! Wooooooooof, and splash!!!”
Anyway, I think I have already said a lot of generic stuff so let me just cut to the chase and list out the best things to do in Goa!
Here is what you should know if you are planning a road trip to Goa anytime soon:
1. Travelling from Mumbai to Goa by road, does not require any E-Pass anymore.
2. There is no quarantine whatsoever once you reach.
3. The roads are fantastic except for the last 100 km.
4. Earlier doing a COVID-19 test was compulsory before entering Goa but now the Government has done away with it, although I think that it should still be enforced to ensure people who are asymptotic/positive do not infiltrate Goa.
5. To my aghast, in Anjuna and Vagator beach areas, no one seemed to wear masks, be it at high-end restaurants or at supermarkets or grocery stores! When asked politely to do so, we were reassured that “In Goa, no one can get Corona” which I thought was ridiculous!! This cannot end well for the Goan economy in the long run. Infections are only going to rise this way. Although later during the week when we went to Panjim for a day for work and thankfully everyone was wearing a mask.
6. Since we had the house help with us, we could have home-cooked meals at times and instead of going to restaurants. If at all we had to, we would call them in advance to make sure they followed COVID-19 mandates.
7. Most restaurants were still shut but they seemed to be gearing up slowly.
8. Treks/beach walks or any other outdoor activities are the best ways to stay away from crowded areas and still put the fun back in life.
9. If you are bringing a pet, there are a lot of pet-friendly venues to stay in, but like anywhere else, be careful of stray dogs (not that all are harmful) on the beaches and roads of Goa which also are a new environment for your dogs.
Our Abode for the Fortnight: The Best Homestays in Goa
The Purple Martini Villa at Anjuna
We stayed at the Purple Martini villa at Anjuna for the first week and the place was fantastic. It has 2 villas – a 2 bedroom and a 5 bedroom. They are also equipped with a pool and maintain lots of greenery. The best thing about the villa is that it is a 2 minutes walk to the Purple Martini restaurant which has a marvellous view of the sea and you get to watch some of the most stunning sunsets. Before this, I had no clue such a fantastic place existed in Goa.
The Casa Caisua Villa at Vagator
During the 2nd week, we stayed at Casa Caisua Villa in Goa. It is a century-old Portuguese house which has been restored very tastefully and is set on a 2000 square feet plot just a few minutes’ walk from Vagator beach. The villa has a front yard and a huge, beautiful backyard but the highlight of the villa for me was the open sky shower area. Pluto and Sara have had a wonderful time running around in the open spaces unleashed.
Also read: A Monsoon Getaway to Mahabaleshwar
Our Experiential List of Must Do Things In Goa
Since it was a socially distant vacay, we mostly stayed indoors and spent quality time with family which included the two fluff ball-played and cuddled with them like no tomorrow, read heaps and of course, there were days when I just did nothing. Here are some pictures of them.
For those of you who want to be totally pampered and have an expert plan your entire trip for you, do look at the range of Goa Tour Packages that Thomas Cook has to offer. They have some wonderful deals.
And while the lockdown did curb a lot of our enthusiasm, we still have a full-fledged list of attractions to see and things to do in Goa- even if you plan a trip like right now! So, onwards we go!
Dance on empty beaches
Given it was monsoon, the evenings brought in occasional drizzles which would result in empty beaches and we made the most of it by heading out to the secluded beaches – it was like having your own private beach. My dogs went bananas running around unleashed, playing fetch, swimming in the ocean – one of them swam so much that we thought he was setting out to discover new lands 😉
Go Trekking & Explore the Terrains
While trekking to Chapora Fort we discovered a walking track behind the walls of the fort, and it made for an unbelievably beautiful trek and had some of the most stupendous views. The sunsets there with the beaches below were indescribable. On a different day, we went to this heart-shaped lake in Conchalin, although the lake is a little overrated, the views from there were just amazing.
Bask in the Sunset Glory
I don’t think I can stress enough the fact that the sunsets on the beaches of Goa are to die for and in case you have not figured it out, that I am totally obsessed with them more than before. The sunsets are absolutely top the list of the best things to see in Goa. We were so lucky to have found some of the best beaches to catch the most amazing sunsets. Some of them were taken from a beach off Vagator and some from Anjuna.
The Places to Eat At
Well, this is technically not one of the attractions in Goa but I would highly recommend Baba Au Ruhm – the food is fantastic and so are the views of the paddy fields from where we sat. Some other restaurants you might want to explore are (we ordered in from these places as well): Jamun Goa – great for cocktails, Mojigao is perfect for breakfast, Artjuna Café has great desserts, Sakuna has delicious Japanese food and The Spice Traders in the W Hotel is the perfect place to go for a sundowner where Sohrab and Abhishek will pamper and spoil you. And of course, Purple Martini for its awesome view which I have mentioned earlier (this was a part of our villa).
Read more: My Top 10 Restaurants in Mumbai
It might sound surprising but Panjim is one of the best things to see in Goa. In the heart of Goa, we went to a place called Fountainhas which is the old Portuguese district of Goa known for its beautiful and very colourful houses: all different colours. I am totally a ‘bright colours’ person and thus, I instantly took to this place. Do pick up Goan snacks from 31 January Café when you are there.
As I mentioned we all need to be safe but at the same time, we also need to get out there and support Goa Tourism in whatever way we can.
This pretty much sums up my 2 weeks Goa trip after the lockdown and though we did not do much of the usual stuff, it was nothing short of brilliant! Whether lockdown or no lockdown, staying indoors is not that bad after all especially when the villas are peaceful, beautiful and homely.
Read more: 7 Best Things to do in Varanasi
FAQ about the Best Things to do in Goa
What are some of the best attractions to see in Goa?
There are simply many but other than what I have mentioned already, do make sure that you explore the Portuguese side of Goa- a lot of which you can see if you roam around on foot in Panaji and nearby areas. The place is full of Portuguese architectural marvels. You will anyway see the major tourist attractions of Goa like the Chapora fort, Aguada Fort, the church and the beaches but if you want the true flavour of the place and see its old school charms- please explore it on foot, probably without a map, wherever the road takes you!
What are the best things to do in Goa for a lazy bum?
Funny one, but I get this question and probably you know the answer already! However, let me tell you what is the best thing for a lazy bum- rent a BnB near a beach or if you are a bachelor then maybe a shack. Get some beers and enjoy! You may want to stay till late at the beach and if lucky may get to enjoy the bonfires that people set up! If you are into it, then a hookah by the beach would be fun!
What will be your best Restaurant Recommendations for a vegetarian travelling to Goa?
This is one question that a lot of my audience from Tamil Nadu and North India, in general, keep asking. Depending upon where you are, you can try Cafe Tato’s, Udupi Veg, Sri Krishna Veg, Bean Me Up, the Zest and The Sai Krishna! Artjuna cafe is great for veg food as well.
What is one thing to do in Goa which only locals know of?
The one such attraction to see was the heart-shaped lake which we saw after our friend told us about it. I am sure there must be many more such. There are some hidden beaches as well like the Butterfly beach, the Cola beach, the Betul beach, the Ashwem beach and many more which are not really tourist attractions but provide for a good quiet evening and lovely sunsets. In the monsoons, there are beautiful waterfalls that one can go to and also swim in the quarries.
For others- well, why not talk to locals?
What are the places in Goa where students on a trip can crash?
If you are a student or a solo traveller on a budget, do not look beyond an Air BnB! Your food, stay, comfort and everything else will be well covered in that! And, while I don’t need to tell you that- hire an Activa and if you tell the people that you are a student, Goans are nice enough to give you some discount too!