bpb’s guide to going gaga over Goa. Get comfortable, it’s an epic Baga.
A big shout out to our contributors: Deveshe Dutt, DJ Phase~Shift, Jehan Driver, Manjari Verma and Avani Patel, Pratiti Basu-Chanard and Johanna Viande, Shaana Gwynne, Swaati Langeh, Vikrant Chheda, Vineeta Nair, Nachiket Shetye, Janit Gambhir, Akshai Sarin, Cyrus Aga, Miriam Strehlau.
What to Pack - Don’t Be A Duffle!
Beach bag: Big enough to fit your life in, psychedelically Goa-worthy and insanely practical – on these rewritable bags you can list errands, your sightseeing list or your hotel address, just in case you’re too inebriated later to remember where you live. Pylones @ Taabir, Grand Galleria Mall, Phoenix Mills, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, call 66626704, Rs 800.
Beach towels: Big, comfy towels in bright colours that will perfectly offset your newly acquired tan. Surprise @2, Kohinoor, 29 Hughes Road, call 32972125, start at Rs 55o.
Feline sunglasses: With these, you’ll be the hottest cat under the sun. We especially love the silver-tipped, elongated version. Bungalow 8, 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor, Grants Building, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba, call 22819880, Rs 3,500.
Flip-flops: Fun pairs by brands like Juicy Couture, and cheap enough that you won’t mind wearing them in the sand. Dark Waters, H20, Pali Naka, next to Totos Garage Pub, Bandra (W), call 9821445176, start at Rs 450.
Swimwear: This newly launched online lingerie store has a nice collection of bikinis and one-piece suits from international labels. Dive right in! Visit www.strapsandstrings.com, start at Rs 3,000.
Suitcase: Just packing up these happy trolleys, stamped with airplanes and bright star bursts, will make you feel like you’re on vacation. A good source of therapy for when you’re stuck in Bombay. Call Priya Bohra on 9820374284 or view the Facebook group here, start at Rs 2,000.
Stay: Shack Up
Alila Diwa: With its infinity pool, long (and well-stocked) bar, and chilled out vibe, this swanky boutique hotel on Majorda Beach is one of our favorite places to stay at in Goa. 48/10 Village Majorda, Adao Waddo, Salcette, visit www.alilahotels.com/diwagoa, start at Rs 36,000 per couple, for a four day and three night package.
Amarya Shamiana: Amarya’s four air-conditioned, wi-fi enabled tent suites – calm white pavilions with brightly hued, baroque-styled insides – are probably the prettiest in Goa. Ashwem Beach, next to La Plage restaurant, Mandrem, North Goa, call 0 (832) 6515136 or visit www.amaryagroup.com, start at Rs 5,500 per night.
Art Escape: Stay in bamboo huts with colourful porches, take creative lessons by the sea, and swill mojitos with arty types at a mosaic-floored bar. Schedule reveals workshops in djembe and beer-making, photography and tai chi, design and experimental theatre. Trinity Beach, South Benaulim, South Goa, call Darryl at 09881568756 or visit the Facebook page here, starts at Rs 1,400 for a night, breakfast included.
Casa Colvale: No beach but plenty of water at this forest-view boutique hotel located along the river Chapora: uber-chic Asian-inspired rooms with backwater views, two swimming pools, river deck yoga classes, and speed boat rentals to go out and watch buffaloes swim and if you’re lucky, sly crocodiles surface. North East of Anjuna beach, North Goa, call +09405330547/ (832) 2416737 or visit www.casacolvale.com, start at Rs 5,000 per night.
Casas to Rent: Shack up at the most charming casas in Goa: Villa Morjim Portuguese Estate at Morjim, Little Siolim at Siolim and Casa Marsol at Candolim. They come with a range of facilities including full staff, private pools, libraries, terrace pavilions and more. Start Rs 30,000 per night for five bedrooms (Villa Morjim).
Cozy Nook: Cheap coco huts featuring private machans, optional al fresco beds (with mosquito nets) and ceiling-to-floor venetian blinds for walls. Pack light. Palolem Beach, Palolem, Canacona, South Goa, call (0832) 2643550, start at Rs 1,000 per night.
Elsewhere: One of Goa’s best kept secrets. You won’t know the exact location of their breathtaking beach houses and creek tents until you contact them for a reservation. Functional between October and May. North Goa, 30 mins drive from Calangute, Baga, Panjim , call 0 9870011500 / +91 9820037387 or visit http://www.aseascape.com, start at Rs 32,000 a week.
Hotel Viva Goa International: Ignore the hotel’s strange “Goa calling...answer your call” tag line, and look instead towards the cute pool area, sea-facing rooms, morning yoga sessions and modest room tariff. Opposite Parade grounds, Road N 1, Campal, Panaji, North Goa, start at Rs 1,500 per night including breakfast.
Olaulim Backyards: At this secluded estate you’ll find tropical cottages, beautiful backwaters, canoes, a pool, hornbills, bicycles and horses. Scuba dives and snorkelling can be arranged too. 8 kms from Mapusa, North Goa, call Pirkko Fernandes on 09326017731 or visit www.olaulimgoa.com, start at Rs 2,500 per night.
Organic farm living atop a Waterfall: With its base in Goa and head in Karnataka, the super high Dudhsagar Waterfall looks prettiest in the moonlight, but is also fun for a day hike. Best experienced if you shack up at the still nameless organic farm estate with four tepees, perched at the top of the falls. Goa-Karnataka border, 2 hours by train from Margao, call Sylvia Kerkar at (0832) 3258928 for stay information, price on request.
Papayas: Nine eco-friendly cottages spread out over a scenic South Goa beach and tropical fruit garden. Open from November to May. Patnem Beach, South Goa, call 09923079447 or visit www.papayasgoa.com, price on request.
Sarita Guest House: Right on the beach, clean, safe and cheap. Bogmalo Beach, South Goa, Vasco Da Gama, call (0832) 2538965, start at Rs 650 per night.
The Menezes Braganza House: Regal eyes will love to live at this 400 odd year-old heritage house overlooking the church square at Chandor with it’s magnificent ball room, over 5,000 books-strong library and rooms furnished with antiques from across the world. Chandor Village, 9 kms east of Margao, South Goa, call (0832) 2784201, price on request.
The O Hotel: If you’re looking to spa-rty hard in Goa, The O has super relaxing wellness facilities with a host of beauty rituals conducted in indoor rooms and outdoor pavilions. No. 114/1, Candolim, Dando, Bardez, North Goa, call (0832) 3047000 or visit www.ohotelsindia.com, start at Rs 6,300 per night including breakfast.
Wildernest: Infinity plunge pool with valley view, garden beer bar, two bulls named Ramu and Shamu: at this secluded jungle estate perched 800 metres above sea level, you’ll reach the height of fun! Best during the monsoon when the beaches leave you high and dry. Off Sankhali, Chorla Ghats, North Goa, visit www.wildernest-goa.com, Rs 4,000 per couple, per night for a suite.
Yab Yum Resort: Edging Ashwem beach and lushly shaded by palm trees, this resort offers cute huts and large, whitewashed rooms. Ashwem Beach, Mandrem, North Goa, visit www.yabyumresorts.com, starts at Rs 5,000 for a night.
Beaches – And Cream
Arambol: Eclectic, spiritual, hippie – this North Goa beach, with its quirky shacks and stores, is many things to many people. Approximately 50 km from Panaji, North Goa.
Ashwem: Wide swaths of silvery sand broken up by a few rocks and some fun shacks, Ashwem in North Goa is best to visit during the week – on the weekend, it’s filled with locals. North Goa.
Baina: Close to the airport, Baina beach was a red light district up until 2004. But it’s all cleaned up now, and rumoured to be the only place in Goa offering an underwater walk. Approximately 2km from the town of Vasco De Gama, South Goa.
Bogmalo: One of the best beaches to surf at and a good spot for other activities like kiting. Avoid going on Sundays, when the local’s flock in. About 4 km from Dabolim Airport, South Goa.
Cola Beach: Pristine, near-secluded beach with a sweet water lake on one side and the ocean on the other, separated by a narrow strip of sand. Stay at the Rajasthani tents here. Short drive from Agonda, South Goa, call 09822061223 or visit http://www.colabeach.com.
Grandmother’s Hole: If you can find it (you have to squeeze through a gap in the walls of the Fortaleza Santa Catarina fort to access it), this tiny strip of sand is said to be the prettiest beach in Goa, untouched and devoid of shacks. Vasco De Gama, South Goa.
Eat: Warning – Curves Ahead
A Reverie: Scottish salmon, foie gras, celebrities like Vijay Mallya swilling from possibly the biggest collection of Moet in the country – this is the high life, baby! Next to Hotel Goan Heritage, Calangute, North Goa, call 09823174927, Rs 3,000 for two.
Amigo’s: Bow down to this 2010 Korean restaurant that has great art on the walls and yum food on the menu. The sushi rolls, kim chi, sweet potao salad and sticky rice are out of this world. Arambol Beach Road, North Goa, Rs 800 for a meal for two.
Baba Au Rhum: A charming French cafe-bakery that opens during season time with what residents call “the best pizza in Goa” along with crepes, quiches and other baked treats. Tout sweet! Salim House, opposite Uttam Resorts, Arpora, call 09822078759, Rs 500 for a meal for two.
Bomra’s: Run by Bawmra Jap from Sikkim, this restaurant serves the most amazing Burmese food. Get the khao suey! 247 Fort Aquada Road, Candolim, North Goa, call 09822106236 or visit www.bomras.com, Rs 1,400 for two.
Butter Lounge: One of North Goa’s more commercial clubs, but still a fun place to get (many) drinks. Easy to spot thanks to giant saxophone at the entrance and Mumbaikars waiting to get in.Currently under renovation, opens December 30. Sinquerim Road, Candolim, call 09822126262 or view the Facebook group here, Rs 1,500 for drinks for two.
Café Looda: Located at the end of Anjuna flea market, here you can tuck into fresh seafood and drink local feni while Paco, a French-Italian musician, plays the sitar. It doesn’t get more Goa than this. St. Michael Vaddo, Flea Market, Anjuna, North Goa, call 09822120431, Rs 600 for two.
Cafe St. Francis Xavier: Over the last 100 years, many a weary shopper has stopped to take a break and eat the beef samosas, chicken croquets, veg patties and other delicious savouries here. 141 Municipal Market, near Bata showroom, Mapusa, North Goa, call (0832) 2262229 / (0832) 2252972, Rs 30 for snacks for two.
Cavala: All the locals come out to play here on Wednesday and Friday nights, with bands Abrakadabra and Tidal Waves rocking the house. If you can resist dancing along, you’re made of sterner stuff than us. Baga-Sauntavaddo, Calangute, North Goa, call (0832) 2277587, Rs 150 for a beer.
Corinne’s Villa and Restaurant: Not the best place to shack up but great for fried Goan treats and seafood curries, homemade pickles and Chicken Xacutti, all prepared by owner Corinne Miranda. Escrivao Vaddo, Candolim, North Goa, call (832) 6452249 / 09820603064 or view the Facebook page here, Rs 700 for a meal for two.
Dream Catcher: At 4 am one morning, they served us the bestest, most magical chilli garlic honey prawns in the whole wide world. Sokoilo Vaddo, Arambol, North Goa, call 09823850440, Rs 400 for two.
Ernesto’s Bistro: The food here is as beautiful as the old Latin Quarter house it occupies. Ernesto’s personal recommendations: pork ribs and steak. Mala, 49, Near Fontainhas Post Office, Panjim, North Goa, call 09823015921, Rs 1,000 for a meal for two.
Fellini’s: Best. Pizza. Ever. Arambol beach road, North Goa, call 09881461224, Rs 500 for two.
Fiesta: Much loved for its pretty outdoor set-up and upscale European food (especially pizza), cooked with ultra-fresh ingredients. 7/35 Sauntavado, Calangute, Bardez, North Goa, call (0832) 2279894 or visit www.fiestagoa.com, Rs 1,200 for two.
Gaia Restaurant and Bar: Goa’s hottest new sunset restaurant is perched on a hill and balanced by Mumbai’s Shilarna Vaze, a Le Cordon Bleu, Paris graduate and her horticulturist boyfriend Christophe. Ashwem Hill, Ashwem-Mandrem Road, close to La Plage, North Goa, Rs 1,500 for a meal for two.
Gaia has shut down.
Hotel Kinnara: Get prawns rawa and crab masala at this half-hidden bright red local dive. Hotel Kinara, Chimbel, on the “low” road between Panjim and Old Goa, Rs 400 for a meal for two.
Hotel Venite Restaurant: A mix of Latin, Portuguese and Indian food is served on tables laid out in a balcony setting, with graffitied walls on either side. 31st January Road, Sao Tomé, Panjim, call (0832) 2425537, meal for two approximately costs Rs 700.
Janet & John’s: Seriously yummy seafood buffet and live music on Monday and Thursday nights. Goenkar vaddo, Anjuna beach, North Goa call 09822125929, Rs 300 per head for the buffet, alcohol excluded.
John Seagull: Go here for the in-house pool, great view and karaoke on Friday night. Food’s not awesome, except the chilli calamari, which is to die for. Bogmalo Beach, near Hotel Park Plaza, South Goa, call 08322538964, Rs 800 for two.
L’Orange: has a revamped menu focusing on local cuisine, spices for which Chef Asheen’s mum grinds by hand. Wednesdays are Goa Festival Nights. Near Magnum Resort, Candolim Main Road, North Goa, call 0 9970173606,Rs 500 for a meal for two.
La Plage: White, billowing curtains, stylish French cuisine and a chilled-out, Goa vibe – this one’s a no brainer. Reserve ahead if you don’t want to wait for a table. On the south side of Ashwem beach, North Goa, call 09822121712, Rs 1,000 for two.
Liquid Sky Club: Sitting on Gaia’s head, this club is open two nights a week (Mondays and Thursdays) and supported by a collective of cool DJs from across the world. Tip off: A little beat-nik told us that DJ Iggy (a regular here) plans to open his own two-level club at Anjuna, complete with laser lights and see-through floor. Ashwem Hill, Ashwem-Mandrem Road, close to La Plage, North Goa.
Lloyd’s Goan and Barbeque Restaurant: This “purely non-vegetarian” hole-in-the-wall doesn’t have a menu but boasts a super chef who dishes out whatever his heart and grill fancies. Get porked post partying – it’s open until 4 am – by dropping in for yum chops, lobster, steak and pork vindaloo. Between Candolim and Calungute beach, opposite Snip Salon and Spa, North Goa, call 0 9823032273, Rs 800 for a meal for two.
Lovely Jubbly: The insanely cute name warrants a visit all by itself, but the super kitchen (calamari, prawn biryani, garlic naans) and pretty setting are happy bonuses. Ashwem Beach, North Goa, Rs 900 for two.
Mango Tree Bar and Restaurant: Bartenders here have some stamina, mixing and serving drinks from 9 am to 4 am. Unfortunately, live bands have been replaced by rock music. Near Vagator Beach, Vagator, North Goa, call (0832) 2274703, Rs 800 for drinks for two.
Mezcal: This Mexican bar and restaurant is lush with vines and tropical flowers, salsa verde and “the best margaritas in India” made with fresh strawberries, tamarind and kumquat. Mezcal, opposite Football ground, Vagator, call 09604 800 246 or visit http://mezcalrestaurantgoa.com, Rs 2,000 for a meal for two.
Mum’s Kitchen: Owner Rony Martins claims that mothers from all over Goa have contributed to the menu here, in an attempt to save traditional Goan cuisine. Visit to support the cause and for the delish crab cooked in coconut gravy. Martin's Building, D. B. Marg, Miramar, South Goa, call 09822175559 or visit www.mumskitchengoa.com, Rs 600 for two.
Republic of Noodles: Super noodles and seafood served amongst Balinese tents and a Tepenyaki kitchen. Lemon Tree Amarente Beach Resort, Calangute, North Goa, call 08322988188 or visit www.republicofnoodles.com, Rs 1,500 for two.
Sporting Heroes: Screened matches, live music, a portrait of Ozzy Osborne, brilliant food. Arambol, North Goa, call 09822150004 / 09822106135, Rs 300 for two.
Thalassa: Virtually everyone we talked to recommended this cliff top restaurant, which serves up panoramic views along with awesome Greek dishes like baked feta and pork chops. Feel like you want to stay there forever? They now also rent out beach huts. The cliff next to Little Vagator Beach, near Nine Bar, North Goa, call 09850033537 or visit the Facebook page here, Rs 2,000 for tw0, Rs 1,000 for a hut per night.
Wikid Pies: Feel like (h)eating in but not cooking? Try one of Wikid Pies’ warm-and-serve frozen yummies: steak & kidney pie, Hungarian goulash, pork sorpotel, tuna and sweet corn quiche, tomato, lentil and basil soup. Dessert options include banoffee pie and chocolate amaretto mousse. Opposite Kingfisher Villa, near Las Vegas supermarket, Mainath Bhat, Arpora, Bardez, North Goa, call (0832) 3260785 (9 am to 10 pm), Rs 150 for a pie.
Zeebop By The Sea: A little expensive, but fancier than most shacks and boasting ridiculously delish butter crabs. If you’re looking for something less upscale, walk about 300 meters up the beach and you’ll find a tiny shack run by a sweet old lady, who dishes out crab that’s equally good but much cheaper. Plus, she serves Kings beer, a true Goa treat. Utorda Beach, near Kennilworth Beach Resort, South Goa, call (0832) 2755333, Rs 1,000 for two.
Do – See Scape
Beach Hopping in a Fisherman’s Boat: Use charm as bait and get the fishermen at Palolem to take you out on their boats. A perfect day trip begins from the nearby Patnem Beach, with lunch on the Agonda sands (don’t miss Darcy's beefsteak). Palolem Beach, South Goa, Rs 2,800 for seven hours – bargaining encouraged.
Bike Rentals: There’s just no better way to explore Goa. Call Vinny 09860270015, Calangute, North Goa, start at Rs 200 per hour, haggling required.
Bird Watching at Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary: Take a romantic canoe ride down the backwaters of the Mandavi river, through the dense mangrove forests of Charao Island to spot pretty birds. Canoe la la! Regular ferries from Ribandar (3km from Panaji on the road to Old Goa), call boatsman Paresh Sawant on (0832) 2239141 or 0 10982248961.
Cooking Demo in Goan home: Get spooned by locals as you learn to cook authentic Goan cuisine - from pork vindaloo to caramel pudding - at a native’s home. Call Felix on 09822180904, pick up from Calangute, Baga and Candolim, Rs 1,500 per person.
Go Kart by the Sea: Perched on a hill overlooking the water, this 500 m track, which hosts the annual JK Tyre National Go Karting Championship, is waiting for you to drive all over it. Nuvem, near Margao, South Goa, price on request.
Go Up in the Air: Photography and airplane buffs should drive down the road to Dabolim Airport, which is divided from the runway by just one wall – it feels like incoming aircrafts are going to literally land on your head. Continue the theme with a trip to the Naval Aviation Museum close by, which displays cool weapons and aircrafts, the only one of its kind in Asia. Museum located in Bogmalo, Vasco Da Gama, South Goa, Rs 15 entry.
Kayaking Around Palolem: Rent a kayak and head towards the tiny island right at the tip of Palolem. Or take a boat to the stunning Butterfly Island for a picnic and dolphin sightings. Palolem Beach, South Goa, visit www.bettysgoa.com/cruise for boat ride information, dolphin excursions start at Rs 750.
Kite Surfing at Morjim: These guys can teach you everything from the basics of kite surfing (8 hour course) to how to perform advanced tricks. Because of wind patterns, however, kiting season in Goa doesn’t begin until January. Morjim beach, North Goa, visit http://goa-kitesurfing.com/, price on request.
Literati Bookshop and Cafe: Here, you can browse old and new books and drink brews from different parts of the country. Gaura Vaddo, Calangute, call (0832) 2277740 or visit www.literati-goa.com.
Sahakari Spice Farm: Go hot on the trail of spices at this farm where you can tour botanical gardens and plantations to pick up fresh spices. There’s also a restaurant on the premises. Ponda belgaum Highway, Curti, Ponda, Goa, call 0832-2312394 or visit www.sahakarifarms.com
Tai Chi classes: If you must work out while on vacation (who are you people!?). Blue Planet, Palolem, South Goa, call Glen 9923944687, price on request.
Wake boarding and river fishing at Chapora River: Led by charming Portuguese skipper, Duarte Fortuny. Pick up at Morjim, North Goa, call Duarte on 09823864293.
What’s Up Goa!: This newly launched web portal promises to be the insider’s guide to all that’s hip in Goa. Visit http://www.whatsupgoa.com.
Shop: Drown Your Savings
Artjuna: A charming café with good coffee and a terrific boutique that stocks jewellery, artifacts and super fun leather bags. It’s a little pricey, though. Anjuna Shop H. No. 972, Monteiro Vaddo, Anjuna, North Goa, call (0832) 2274794 or visit www.artjuna.com.
Bebel: Vintage brooches, Italian umbrellas, Murano glass necklaces, bags that can be worn as half and full moons – these are the happy but high-end European treasures at this accessory store. Bebel, shop No.3, House No. 156, opp. St. Anthony Chapel, Calangute, call (0832) 6451489, visit http://bebelboutique.com, start at Rs 2,000.
Cheshire Cat: Housed in an old Portuguese mansion, this store showcases super trendy jewellery and also holds workshops on working with gold, silver and semi-precious stones. A must visit! Assagao, close to Anjuna, North Goa, price on request.
Ingo’s Saturday Night Bazaar: Fire twirling gear, Dali Tshirts, Monet prints have all been found here. Arpora, Arambol, North Goa, 7 pm onwards on Saturdays.
Martino Caramia (Tino): Under his label Flame, this Italian designer cuts stylish jackets and trenches out of earthy Indian fabrics like khadhi and linen, and turns saris into pants and corsets. Goa fashion at its best! Next to Thalassa on Little Vagator Beach, North Goa, call 09923802466, price on request.
Miriam Strehlau: Acid-trip-meets-French-whimsy jackets and dresses, cool-ugly bags and home products at this German designer’s workshop and showroom, hidden behind the Shore Bar on Anjuna Beach. Govekar Vaddo 75, behind Shore Bar, Anjuna. Visit http://www.miriam-strehlau.com for designs and to order (Mumbai shipping available), Rs 4,000 for sari bomber jacket.
Miss Monkey: You’ll go wild for Spanish designer Susana Gago’s boho chic, limited edition designs for women. Pricey but pretty. Agonda Beach Main Road, Canacona, South Goa, visit http://www.missmonkey-fashion-india.com, Rs 2,000 for a silk top.
Paperworks: Earn your hippie points at Paperworks, where all the stock is made from hand-made, locally produced paper. F-2, Pinto Arcade, DB Marg, Panjim, opposite Panjim Gymkhanna, call (0832) 2425841.
Sangolda: This lifestyle store comes with a courtyard, antique furniture, and eclectic home decor pieces collected from all over the world. E26 Chogm Road, Sangolda, Goa, call (0832) 2409309.
Saudades: An Indo-Portuguese manor converted into a store that sells antique furniture. Warning – you’ll want to take everything home. Chapel Chogm Road, opposite Mae De Deus, Sangolda, call (0832) 2409873.
Velha: Do the square dance around Velha’s exquisite old Portuguese, hand-painted tiles. H.No.191 Rua de Ourem, Fontainhas, Panjim, call (0832) 2426628, Rs 60 onwards.
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