Goa, India is famous for its many beaches, party atmosphere and tropical vibe which set it apart from the rest of the country.
Goa has long been a popular destination for residents of the UK due to the amazing package deals for Hotels in the popular northern beaches. The only problem with picking up a package deal is that you may end up spending your time in only the tourist hot spots or in the lap of luxury of the many 5 star hotels.
Goa is also a popular tourist destination for Indian Tourists and as such a lot of activities, restaurants and tour companies are catering to the budgets of both category of tourist. As I was staying in the more residential area of Vasco City, I took a tour starting from this region and was able to experience the Indian Tourist side of this state. The Tour company did say that they get European tourists coming over from the 5 star hotels of the 5 star beaches as well and of course they welcome that business.
On my tour it was myself, 15 Indian men, driver and tour guide- I prepared myself for an interesting day, which in turn delighted me.
Tour No. 2 was of North Goa and cost 160 Rs. (Approximately A$4.00)
Starting Point: Reliance Tours & Travel Office, VASCO
Vasco: City nearest to the Harbour, Ports and the Airport.
-Commercial Businesses here and local residents. Closer to the water there are some hotels and about 15 minutes drive there are some great little beachside restaurants, namely JOHN SEAGULLS at South Quider.
Panaji City: The capital of Goa. The Old Palace of the Adil Shah is located here and serves as it’s secretary. The River Mandovi runs through and it is the main river crossing point with a Ferry for vehicles and people.
Stop here in the morning to purchase tickets for the Swastik River cruise which departs at 5.45pm, 7pm or 8pm daily. Tickets are 150 Rps. for all guests. The ticket included 3 Indian cultural dances, a Goan regional dance, Country Goan dance and Portuguese. There is also great music with live singing, DJ and the hosts try to include everyone by having dance sessions for kids, couples, men and women. A lot of fun.
Aguada: This area is famous for the Aguada Fort, Aguada Jail by the sea and the Taj Holiday Resort. There are also Dolphin spotting cruises.
(Cruise is a bit of a stretch of the imagination. Picture an 8 seater low riding long boat, rudder and smoke putting away out the back with life-jackets optional.)
The 1 hour boat ride goes into the bay of Aguada with views of the Diamond House (owned by a wealthy businessman), Aguada Fort, Aguada Jail, heavy tanker ships and if you are lucky, dolphins. We were “lucky” to see 5 dolphins. In my view seeing 4 dolphins bobbing up and down occasionally whilst 14 boats herd them around the bay is not exactly lucky. This actually left me feeling a little sad. The tour is 200rps (usually 300 Rps, special price for the tour.) But if given the option I would suggest taking a walk around the bay and the area for an hour rather than dabble with destiny by stepping into one of these boats. It was an experience none the less.
Aguada Fort is a great site, but very hot, so make sure to take lots of water and a hat. Need about 45 minutes to get a good look around here as there are some stunning bay views.
Vagator: Picturesque beach
We stopped near here for lunch at a great restaurant with low prices and lots of traditional Goan dishes (seafood is the best here.) Our guide Santosh informed me that they choose a restaurant such as this as they are catering to Indian Tourists, so they must be mindful of the expense of things. Food was good and it was a peaceful area, no complaints here.
Vagator Beach and Little Vagator. There are two sides to this beach, to the left is for the Indian tourists and to the right is for the European tourists. I would not usually approve of this type of segregation but for the comfort and privacy of both cultures, it works here. I know that I look different (being blonde and blue eyes) so my different looks can attract quite some attention, so it was nice to have a beach dedicated to privacy and solitude. Deep grey sand, bungalow restaurants and bars plotted along the beach, private shoppers with thousands of garments who sit and show you all their wears and cows grazing along the beach. Not your everyday beach but a lovely peaceful spot. I would recommend staying in Vagator.
Anjuna: Popularly known for its hippie vibe and great bars.
We decided to have more time at Calangute Beach, so skipped this one, it is scheduled in though.
Baga Beach: Again we didn’t make it, but very popular for its nightlife. Mambo’s and the Cape Town Café have great vibes and good music.
Calangute: Most popular beach on the Goa Circuit.
Everything you expect from a tourist hot spot you can get here. Cheap shopping, markets, ice creams by the sea, great bars, Jet Skis, Parasailing along the beach and ridiculous beach balls and spades you will never fit in your suitcase. An interesting mix of Indian tourists, locals, European and western tourists, persistent shop keepers and activity sales man. If you don’t like crowds, random chats with Indian shop keepers and loud tourists- don’t go to Calangute. It is definitely worth a visit and there are quieter hotels and resorts only a short distance away to escape the intensity of the streets.
Panaji City: Return to Panaji City for the 5.45pm River Cruise- great views of the rice paddies, coconut palms and village life on the drive back.
VASCO: Arrive back at the office at 8pm.
A very full day, but great value and a lot of fun. Santosh our guide was great and explained everything to me in English as well as answering my many other queries about Goan life. I definitely recommend taking a tour with Reliance Tours & Travel to see another side of Goa.
To book on the tours or receive more information, contact:
Reliance Tours & Travels
Travel Agent & All India Tour Organiser (Approved by Govt. Goa Tourism)
Located: Opposite Railway Station
VASCO DA- GAMA
GAO (403 802)
Tel 2501107, 2501690, 2511666
A wonderful guide is Santosh Amonka, HELBER TRAVELS