Goa – a tropical treasure with miles and miles of beautiful beaches winding along the West Coast of India. Its vibe is incomparable to any other beach paradise in the world – we’d even say it is unique. While hippies from all over the world have chosen Goa as their escape from life it is a melting pot of Indian culture with travelers and lost-souls. A lot of voices claim that Goa has lost its charm – we cannot quite agree with that. It is a stunning paradise, you just have to know how to take the real Goa experience. Goa is not about doing stuff – it is about enjoyment of your senses. Get soaked into the Goa lifestyle and feel it!
Here are our top 11 things to do for the real Goa experience.
#1 of the real Goa experience
Beach-hop from south to north and feel the different vibes
It seems as if every Goan beach has its own theme and flair. You will find everything from party to hippie-extreme to relaxation-deluxe and Russian tourist temples. So, depending in which mood you are in – choose wisely where you want to go.
Here comes our selection of favorite Goa beaches:
Palolem: Palolem beach is one of the busier beaches with loads of restaurants, bars, drop-in yoga and shops. It feels very touristy but it is still a nice place to get into the Goa-mood. Don’t miss Jojo’s Sundowner – a bar and hostel located on the rocks on the north end of the beach with a great sunset view. During high tide a bouncing canoe will play ferry-service to get there and back.
Patnem Beach: Very quiet and intimate short beach stretch with great restaurants and now and then some life music.
Agonda Beach: Probably our most favorite beach of Goa, I’d say it’s the chillax beach. There are still a lot of restaurants with life-music, but more spread along the beach so it doesn’t feel so busy. One place offers great sunset yoga. Oh, and you will share the beach with lots of holy cows doing the same as you do – chillaxing.
Ashwem Beach: One of the more upscale beaches with amazing beach-hut accommodation and restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, coming from Germany all is still incredibly cheap, but it is pricier than the other beaches. A must-visit beach in our opinion.
Arambol Beach: It is the hippie beach par excellence crowded with people wearing batik, doing yoga, meditation or juggling (don’t really know why hippies are always juggling?!). It is the busiest beach we’ve been to in Goa and it is clear that the definition for hippies is very broad. It seems like everyone wants to be a hippie once in their lifetime and the place to do that is Arambol. It is worth a visit but don’t expect it to have a hippie vibe, there are just too many non-hippie people. If you want to experience a party, this is the place to go.
We, for our part, recommend to especially skip the middle beaches – they are overrun by Russian tourists and you enter a world where you don’t feel like you are in India anymore. We even encountered a beach where the bar tenders spoke fluently Russian and the menu was in Cyrillic.
#2 of the real Goa experience
Get massages – everyday!
Indians just have an unreal gift when it comes to health, wellness and Ayurveda – and they are simply rock stars in massaging. And it is so cheap that it almost feels unreal. So don’t hesitate to boost their local economy and enjoy massages every day. You will feel so relaxed. Remember to leave a tip for them if you liked it.
#3 of the real Goa experience
Eat curry – until you explode!
The Indian talent to cook and prepare food is magical. I don’t think I enjoyed eating anywhere else more than in India. They just have this incredible knowledge about spices and how to use them that every single dish you eat tastes like heaven. It doesn’t matter if you visit a proper restaurant or a shag on the beach or along the street, the food is always mind-blowing. As we loved it so much we most of the time went for Indian food – but even if you fancy some international food, they won’t disappoint you. It seems as if they can turn everything into a taste-explosion.
#4 of the real Goa experience
Rent a scooter and explore the hinterland – or the next beach you want to got to
If you get bored from chillaxing a great day activity is to rent a scooter and explore the hinterland of Indian villages away from the tourist masses. People are incredibly nice and will be always welcoming to you. As well, it is nice to experience how positive and happy Indians are – they always have a good time. We accidentally ran into a carnival celebration on one of our hinterland excursions – apparently it is also celebrated in Goa due to a high Brazilian population. It was great fun and we ended up with loads of color in our faces.
By the way, we also made it a habit to explore our next beach destination beforehand wiIf you get bored from chillaxing a great day activity is to rent a scooter and explore the hinterland, some Indian villages away from the tourist masses. People are incredibly nice and will be always welcoming to you. As well, it is nice to experience how positive and happy Indians are – they always have a good time. We accidentally ran into a carnival celebration on one of our hinterland excursions – apparently it is also celebrated in Goa due to a high Brazilian population. It was great fun and we ended up with loads of color in our faces.th a scooter. This way you can ensure that it is a beach you really want to be at.
Be aware that Indian traffic is crazy – there are no traffic rules whatsoever, but it somehow seems to work out. Just be extra-careful and use your horn.
#5 of the real Goa experience
Move into a beachfront hut
A thing we particularly love about Goa is that everything they build somehow fits into their beautiful tropical nature. None of the Goan beaches (at least none we visited, and we saw plenty) has destroyed its picturesque beauty with hotel bunkers and shimmery skylines, which makes it a very unique place to us. In Goa most accommodation can be described as huts – little houses made of bamboo, wood or reed. The most beautiful are, of course, those along the oceanfront embedded into palm tree forests – you wake up in the morning and find yourself just a few steps away from a dip in the ocean. What’s not to like about this?!
You can find all kinds of huts – very basic & cheap to very deluxe & posh. In Ashwem Beach we even saw huts that looked like huge coconuts and simply just became one with the nature.
#6 of the real Goa experience
Join a yoga retreat
Goa is a little yoga mecca – everyone does it (no matter how talented they are), everyone loves it. But the thing is that most people don’t understand it. I mean you are in India, the country that invented yoga – it is the best place in the world to really learn what it is about. So we joined this incredible yoga retreat called SWAN yoga and couldn’t recommend it more. In contrast to the more commercial yoga retreats they only employ Indians which made it such a truthful, authentic experience as they really make you part of their believes.
Your day will be pretty full with meditation, yoga, yoga philosophy and in the evenings Hindi ceremonies – this gives you the ability to soak it all in and enter a completely different world for a while. Oh yeah, and of course it is only vegetarian cuisine and no alcohol, but you will feel fresh like a daisy after your week of yoga retreat.
#7 of the real Goa experience
For all Germans: Amuse yourself about the German dropouts
Being a German is most of the time pretty cool – everyone likes the Autobahn without speed limit, German beer and the Oktoberfest. But there are times when you are not particularly proud of it. Goa is flooded with German dropouts and they are extremely easy to spot – their English has a funny Germanish accent, they wear muscle shirts with no muscles whatsoever and have long hair. Most of them look like twin brothers of Jürgen Drews – a popular German Folk singer. Except, they cannot sing. But they don’t care as they perform proudly life music on every occasion they can find. It’s hilarious to watch – and for the time being we just pretend to not be Germans.
#8 of the real Goa experience
Dance on a Psychedelic Trance party
Goa is famous for their trance parties – so you can’t miss it, it’s part of the experience. The music is… let’s say “weird” and on top really hard to dance to. Probably it’s easier when you are drunk, so make sure you had some beers beforehand. Just feel the bumpy beat and it will be fun – especially as the trance parties all take place on the beach. Most of the time they are terminated at some point by the police, but the party animals just move on and continue dancing a bit down the stretch.
#9 of the real Goa experience
See an Ayurveda doctor and learn about your inner self
We don’t particularly believe in alternative medicine and are far away from living according to any doctrine. But Ayurveda has a point. While Europeans switch from low-carb to food combining to ketogenic and back and opinions change constantly about what is healthy or not, Ayurveda has been there forever and proven to be beneficial to your health. So, no matter if you follow the doctor’s advice in the end or not – it keeps you thinking and makes you more aware about your body. In fact, he was pretty right about what he saw in me and pinpointed some of my issues without hesitating. And always keep in mind – an Ayurveda consultancy in Germany costs at least 5 times as much and is probably not even half as profound.
#10 of the real Goa experience
Have A sun-downer drink for sunset
The sun sets in the West and Goa stretches itself along India’s West coast – consequently: you will have beautiful sunsets everyday (except if its too cloudy). We really love sunsets so we made it our habit to choose everyday a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset – most of the time combined with a sun-downer drink.
#11 of the real Goa experience
For all the ladies: Before you leave – treat yourself to a Shirodhara head massage
It’s not a secret that saltwater and sun are a distress for hair. So I am always a bit paranoid that our world trip completely kills my hair, especially as we spend a lot of time chasing the sun and beach-life. So make sure before you leave Goa you treat yourself with a Shirodhara head massage – an Ayurvedic treatment whereby warm oil is constantly dribbled on your forehead and slowly soaks into your hair. It gives you an hour of complete relaxation and revives your hair as if it has never seen the sun.