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 is part of India’s west coast, sandwiched snugly between the Arabian Sea and the green hills of the Western Ghats. This bottom half of the state has a laid-back vibe thanks to the age-old fishing villages that edge the sands. Talking of sand, chances are you’ll be coming to this part of the world for the beach scene – all 60 kilometres of it.
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.