Like a coin, Goa too has two sides. The vibrant, effervescent, bubbly character of North Goa full of myriad attractions like parties, casinos, crowded beaches and flea markets. South Goa is the quiet, serene counterpart where the pristine beaches and fewer crowds give ample scope for much-needed relaxation and peace. When you want to just sit at the beach, introspect, pen your thoughts down or read and catch up on me time then exploring South Goa is the best.
Christmas in Goa
On our recent visit to Goa, we were at Benaulim beach one of the picturesque beaches of South Goa. After driving from Pune for around 10 hours, we reach our resort at four in the evening. Since it is Christmas eve, the entire resort is decorated with Christmas trees, reindeer, snowman and festive decoration. Mario Miranda’s cartoons that provide a glimpse of Goan life adorn the walls. The cottages and landscaped gardens with blooming flowers and magenta bougainvillaea are tastefully done up. The resort has an online paperless check-in that best keeps the pandemic in mind and saves us a lot of time.
Benaulim in South Goa
We freshen up and head to the beach as we want to make the most of our short 3-day trip to Goa. The beach is clean and waters blue with several fishing boats docked at the shore. Families and friends seem to be making the best of a well- deserved break post the lockdown. We too feel like free birds released from our home arrest during the lockdown. To have the breeze blowing on your face, hear the waves crashing on the shore and watch other humans seem a big blessing after months of social isolation.
Water sports facility are available at the beach, so a tourist is ready to do some parasailing. The team gets him a safety jacket and before we even realise he is up in the air. The green and orange parachute sails in the air as the boat attached to it speeds up. Just feeling the sand under the soles of your feet and getting them wet feels extraordinary now. We are now more mindful and grateful for everything that life gives us thanks to the pandemic.
Music is playing at the shacks as cabana tents with tables and chairs have been arranged facing the beach. Families and friends are busy chatting and bonding over drinks and food. We grab a table and order some mocktails and snacks. A tattoo artist offers to do a tattoo and shows us a catalogue. We politely decline, having got temporary tattoos on our earlier trip. Soon women with assorted items like chunky jewellery, colourful sarongs and accessories arrive. They want us to get our hair braided or pick some knick-knacks.
We soon realise that the sun is now at the horizon ready to set in the Arabian sea. The sky changes into orange and purple and then darkness descends. The staff bring illuminated candles in a glass jar. We decide to eat dinner at the beach itself -the perfect candlelight dinner. The children are relieved at getting a break from online classes. They look at the sky and try and identify the planets. The conversation soon turns on the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction and its consequences. We just pray that may the stars foretell 2021 be a good year for all, considering how challenging 2020 has been.
The next day we explore North Goa’s Fontainhas Latin Quarters details of which are written in a separate article. The following day Rafiq rises early for his morning walk on the beach. Post breakfast we spend time at the resort. For lunch, we head to Fisherman’s Wharf at Cavelossim.
Mobor Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf in South Goa
We arrive early so decide to go to Mobor beach which is close to The Leela Resort. The beach with pristine sand and electric blue waters is a delight. There are a couple of shacks and water sports facilities too. Since it’s close to lunchtime the beach is deserted except for a few families enjoying a swim. We take a stroll and walk down to our restaurant for lunch. The Fisherman’s Wharf is attractively decorated with artefacts like traditional metal utensils, wooden furniture and wall paintings depicting Goan life. The deck tables are always a favourite amongst diners as they provide sweeping views of the backwaters and boats anchored. The waters are relatively clear as we see jellyfish and other small fish swimming. We have a hearty meal, enjoy the view and relax.
On the way back to our hotel, we visit the Mario Gallery, which has various collectables. The legendary cartoonist Mario Miranda hailed from Goa. After his death, his friend and family have created a series of galleries which have his cartoons on several items. Mugs, coasters, cards, lampshades, T-shirts… the list is endless.
Cabo de Rama and The Cape in South Goa
In the evening we head to ‘The Cape’ a restaurant on a cliff with panoramic views of the sea. Located on Cabo de Rama beach, it has an international feel and vibe that is comparable to some of the restaurants we have visited in Hawaii. We arrive early so that we can get a good table providing an unobstructed view of the sea. The place is jampacked as it is peak vacation time. We manage to get a decent table on the deck that overlooks the ocean and order snacks and beverages. Diehard foodies are enjoying their late lunch, lovers cosying up and whispering sweet nothings. Instagrammers trying to get the perfect click to post and get a zillion likes. The sunsets and very soon, the place is quiet. We decide to have our dinner and reminisce all our Goa trips.
On our earlier trips, we have stayed at Majorda beach and explored Colva, the ‘Queen of Beaches’ in South Goa. You may want to visit Margao a small town which is known for its markets and bazaars. From fish to local produce like cashew, kokum, jackfruit, spices you will find the quality and at best rates here. Some of the other beaches you can explore in South Goa are Palolem, Agonda and Butterfly beach. Then of course there are churches and temples that you may want to visit.
Goa is not a destination but an experience. Whether you are a beach lover, honeymoon couple, heritage lover or foodie, Goa will surely seduce you. There is no way you can escape its charm and beauty. Like the fragrance of the beloved, it will continue to intoxicate you long after you have left its shores.
Nearest Airport: Goa has the Dabolim airport with connections to major cities in India.
Where to Stay: There are many staying options in Goa. Beach facing properties are the most sort after. It’s a matter of personal choice whether to stay in South or North Goa. You can do a net search for accommodation options depending on comfort and budget.
Travel Trip: Don’t forget Goa is a state. So exploring the length and breadth of it is not possible in one trip unless you are planning on a staycation. You will need anywhere between 7-10 days to explore most of Goa. However, even if you have 3 days you can still head to Goa and decide to just chill, relax and rejuvenate. Do your research so that you can plan your itinerary well.