The season for soaking in the sea, sun and sand is on full swing in Goa these days (Nov-Feb). Tourists from different nationalities have divided the 39 beaches among themselves – and only Calangute seems to be a common meeting point for them. But beaches are only a part of the fun in Goa – if it is tanning or water sports in the day, it is shopping and dining at the cozy markets of Baga or Arpora in the night. I did not go to the Casinos, but it seems gambling fever too has caught up in the region. If you have time, you can go inland and see a beautiful waterfall – Dudhsagar (Milk sea) about 60 km from Panjim.
For me the highlights of Goa were as follows:
Food and resorts: Foods of all nations, all authentic and at reasonable cost available across the state. Beach shacks, restaurants and resorts – all serve delicious food – both veg and non-veg.
Beaches and water sports: There are a huge number of beaches to choose from and can be roughly divided into North Goa and South Goa groups. I explored the North Goa beaches of Baga, Calangute, Aguda, Candolim, Bambolim, Vagator and Anjuna – and liked them all. The Panjim city beaches – Miramar and Dona Paula – I did not like. I also did not like the much publicized Mandovi river cruise. It was noisy and lacked character. I remember doing the same cruise about 12 years earlier – then it was fresh and interesting. It has deteriorated considerably since then. To be avoided. However the newly developed water sports options at Calangute and Baga are available at attractive rates, and must be explored.
Night markets: For the ladies – though good enough to keep the man with her interested.
Churches and temples: Old Goa with its numerous charming Churches and unique temples is a must visit for the tourist, both from India and abroad. You will find the architecture and customs unique and lovely.
Roads and villages: Driving or riding around the villages of Goa is the high point of the Goan experience, and must be done again and again during the stay.
And lastly the Dolphins. They are found near the shores and are always around. Friendly and beautiful, this creature symbolizes the spirit of Goa. Catching dolphins is a punishable crime, and you will know why when you meet these mammals at sea. They seem to be fed up living with the fishes and like to meet us fellow mammals.