There are many ways in which people look at Goa…the sin city, a perfect weekend getaway, a place to let loose, the best place to party, a place for friends to bond, a place for couples to have a great time…that probably explains why Goa is such a perfect destination. It addresses various needs of various people. For me Goa was an enigma until I actually visited the place for the first time in January 2011. Since then I have visited this Indian equivalent of Vegas a couple of times already.
One should visit Goa only during Oct-Jan. Goa delivers maximum fun in this duration. If one visits Goa during any other period apart from this then one may find clubs and shacks closed, lack of crowd, etc… You will come across a sleeping Goa!!!
I had decided not to write about Goa as it is such a common destination that almost everyone I know has already been there but then repeated requests from a few close ones who wanted to hear about a firsthand experience about Goa compelled me to write about it.
My experience of Goa is more or less limited to the Aguada Fort, Candolim, Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Arambol stretch of Goa. So if that is what you want to know about then read on.
All the three occasions that I have visited Goa, I have put up at Baga, as it is the most popular and commercialized beach in Goa. It has good crowd and lots of activities to indulge in. I generally put up at a guest house at Baga which belongs to a person called Prakash, just outside the Tittos Lane but the last time I was there, I stayed at a Villa which was owned by a person called Baba. This was a one storey villa with 4 AC rooms with attached bathrooms. It cost us Rs. 4000 a day for this Villa. One can accommodate as many friends as one wants in this Villa making it pretty reasonable.
For transportation, one can hire bikes/scooty/cars from Goa. I have personally never hired cars. I hire bikes from this person called John, who live at Baga itself. I paid Rs. 300/day for Bajaj Avenger for 4 days. If one books for more days, the rates can be negotiated accordingly.
As far a sightseeing in Goa is concerned, I have generally contained myself to the beaches with a failed attempt to go to Aguada. Baga is easily the most popular beach which houses a decent crowd. It has everything from water sports, to massage, to tattoos, etc… At Baga, one should make sure to have breakfast at Infanteria, which is on Baga road, not the beach. One should also try Brittos which is on the beach itself. St. Anthony’s which is next to Brittos on the beach, hosts Karaoke nights and they are great fun and should not be missed out on. One should also use the alternative route to enter Baga once in a while which is via Tittos lane. The end of Tittos lane also leads you on to the Baga Beach which is also a great place to sit and chill specially around sunset. I recommend water sports at this end of Baga rather than the Brittos end.
One can chose to take a boat ride from Baga to Anjuna. As far as I remember it costs Rs. 100 per head. Keep in mind, the boat services work only till 6 PM. So if you go to Anjuna by boat then make sure you have a boat to come back to Baga because, there is no conveyance to come back to Baga from Anjuna apart from the boat. One needs to have his own car/bike to travel in Goa. If not the boat, hire a bike/car and go to Anjuna which is about 7 KM from Baga. At Anjuna, you just can’t miss out on the sunset. One should sit it in the upper floor of Curlies, which is the most popular shack in Goa and go for a drink and a hookah and just relax there during the day. You can chose to read a book, watch a movie on your laptop, or just sit and chat at Curlies. I also recommend Anjuna as the ideal beach for playing around in the ocean as it has less and a better crowd as compared to Baga. At Anjuna, one should also visit this shack called ‘Tantra’. You need to walk further north, cross the rocks and you will find ‘Tantra’ on your right (See attached picture). It’s a pity, I never got to spend time at this shack though. Then, at Anjuna, one can experience the Wednesday Flee Market at the Big Banyan, it is very expensive though.
At night Anjuna is the place to be. Every night one of the shacks hosts a shack party for which the entry is generally free. My opinion is that when one is going to a beach destination, he should make it a point to attend as many of these beach parties as possible because one can go to regular clubs in the city anytime. I have attended such beach parties at Curlies, Shiva Valley, Hippies. All these three are on Anjuna. ‘Hippies’ is on the far end of the beach and is totally not worth it. But both Curlies and Shiva Valley rock. Owing to my last two visits to Goa, I would give Shiva Valley a upper hand as far as the beach parties are concerned. The parties there are crazy, I hope you know what I mean. Anjuna is the ideal destination if one is looking to commit a sin, any sin.
There, however, is one club in Goa that no one should miss. It is called Club Cubana and it is on the Arpora Hills, about 5 KM from Baga. It is a club that is built on a small hill. Once you are on your way to the club, just follow the laser lights in the sky to reach your destination! Make sure you take the safari ride to reach the club once you have parked your vehicle in the Cubana compound. Once you enter the club, you will see a pool on your left, so you can go for a pool party if you are game. Just after that you will cross the VIP area on your left. After climbing further, you will see a small building on your left which is the dance floor and on the right hand side is the drinking area. Cubana is extremely low priced, especially in context of the experience it gives. It charges in the vicinity of Rs. 700 – Rs. 1200 per couple with drinks on the house. There are a few more clubs which I have heard are great and deserve a visit being 9BAR, Hype, etc… but I have personally not been to any of these. Also from what I here, avoid going to Tittos or Mambos as they are extremely popular and play typical Bollywood style music, I am guessing you are not going to Goa to attend such parties. Cubana, however does not function throughout the year. It is shut during the summers and during the monsoons.
We had put of visiting Aguada Fort for a long time but decided to finally give it a go the last time I visited Goa, but it wasn’t meant to be. Aguada shuts at around 5 or 6, and that is exactly when we reached there. So we could not see Aguada, as it was closed. On the way back from Aguada, you come across the famed Kingfisher Villa on the left. Trust me, it deserves a good look, it is awesome. It is like a kilometre long and runs into the beach with a obviously a private beach.
After riding for another couple of Kilometres, one will come across the Candolim Road on the left. This road leads to the Candolim Beach, which is one of the prettiest beaches in Goa. It is calm, serene and ideal to sit down and have conversation against the backdrop of the sunset. For some reason this beach stand out, so far, I have not been able to figure out why. Let me know if you do.
While on your way back from the beach, on the Candolim Road itself, one comes across a restaurant that goes by the name ‘Inferno’ on the right. It is my favourite restaurant in Goa and a must visit. It serves continental dishes, if one likes continental, it is a must visit. Candolim is, by the way, also the beach where ‘Sunburn’ is hosted.
Calangute, I have heard is the most crowded beach but does not boast of a very good crowd and since it falls absolutely in the middle of Baga and Candolim, I have never felt the need to go to the Calangute beach. Having said that, I have always found the Calangute market and the city area pretty inviting. It is buzzing with energy, especially during the winter season.
The last destination I wish to talk about is Arambol beach which is a white sand beach and is yet another beach that is beautiful. It is however a little far off from Baga, I guess around 20 KM away. Arambol is the current favourites for the hippies, like Anjuna was earlier. So Arambol is set to be the next Anjuna. Beyond Arambol, it is rumoured that one can come across hippie settlement and the famed Russian Mafia in Goa. Arambol has a small private beach kind of a section, one should definitely go to that part of the beach if one visits Arambol. When one reaches Arambol, at the northern end of the beach, there is a small hill, on the hill is a small market. One should enter the market and keep walking which seems like as if one is climbing the hill, after walking for around 15 minutes, one can see a small secluded section of the beach, which is the place to be in when one is at Arambol. Make sure you don’t venture out into this section of the beach after dark.
Make sure you get down at ‘Thivim’ station to go to Baga and not ‘Madgaon’ in case you are going by train. The cabs take fixed rate in the vicinity of Rs. 500 for a ride to Baga. Auto Rickshaws are available for around Rs. 350.
I hope you have a great trip to Goa, I would be glad if my blog could be of any help.
Club Cubana: +919823539000