With long belts of white sand, age-old Hindu temples, and huge, thundering waterfalls, holidays to Goa have got exotic escape written all over them.
Think Goa and you’d probably picture dreadlocked hippies, huge sweeps of white sand, and green, jungle-coated backwaters. And you wouldn’t be far wrong – although these days this place is more about luxe hotels than backpacker bars.
Down in south Goa, the names on everyone’s lips are Arossim Beach and Cavelossim. The pace is turned down a few notches here, with days revolving around the palm-edged sandy beaches. Most of the hotels are lined up along the shores, so you’re never more than seconds from the sand.
Beyond the beach
Of course, Goa’s got more going for it than beaches alone. Peel yourself away from the shore and you’ll find paddy fields, whitewashed churches and in-your-face markets. For a taste of history, check out Old Goa. This place was the capital during the 16th century, when the Portuguese were in town. It’s star attraction is the Se Cathedral of St Catherine – the biggest church in Asia.
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South Goa’s like a tailor-made suit for chill-seekers – a perfect fit. Peaceful struts of sand are its major calling card, and the easygoing vibe’s copy and pasted across the entire region. Conjure up an image of wind-tickled palms, dozy fishing villages and a shoreline that looks spotless enough to eat your dinner off.
North Goa, on India’s west coast, was a hippy mecca back in the Sixties and, unlike the south, the north has retained its free spirit, with full moon parties on the shores still a regular occurrence. As far as scenery goes, this is starry-eyed territory, with white-sand beaches and ancient temples hidden among jungle foliage.