Goa is beaches, Goa is boho, Goa is booze, Goa is also a slice of Vegas in India—if that’s how you have pictured the country’s party capital till now, you are in for some rather delightful surprises! Yes, we are taking the road less travelled on this trip to the smallest state (area wise) of India, and our suggestion is that you plan a longer holiday if you intend to really get to the heart of Goa! First things first, if it will be a long vacation, staying in a hotel would be very expensive and inconvenient too, to some extent. So, where do you stay in Goa? A great bet could be to book a serviced apartment in Goa and find yourself in the comfort of a home away from home!
Why a serviced (or service) apartment, you may be wondering. Well, here are some very valid reasons that warrant experiencing this beach destination through the rooms of a serviced apartment in Goa:
It’s your space: Fully-furnished with comfortable rooms, a living space, and a dining area, staying in a serviced apartment can make you forget that you are not in the privacy of your home but holidaying in Goa. Head to one of the balconies, feel the ocean breeze, and that Goan feel will remind you that you’re actually on a holiday!
It’s cheap and convenient: This stands true particularly when you are in the mood to spend a couple of weeks or more to make your Goa trip truly fulfilling.
Choose from lusciously lavish to beautifully basic: Being the kind of destination that it is, Goa bustles with stay options and serviced apartments are no exception. You get more than enough choices to pick from, right from a ridiculously luxurious one with state-of-the-art décor to one that’s furnished for basic comfort, both for your body and your wallet!
You get your own kitchen: Now this one does it for travellers who are fond of cooking and those who are picky about eating outside. While local delicacies always pack a punch, why not try and master the recipe yourself? Of course you will befriend some locals, call them over, showcase your culinary skills, and earn accolades and some helpful feedback, maybe!
Feel free to use the pool: It is extremely rare to come across a residential society in Goa that does not have a swimming pool. So, when you are not out exploring or beach-bumming, enjoy being lazy, grab a glass of cool lemonade, and laze in or around the pool—now that’s susegad!
Continue with your fitness regime in the common gym: You are in Goa, you will party, and so it becomes imperative that you stay fit, you want to look your best after all! Head to the society gym at your own time and sweat it out!
Not in mood to cook? Order from the in-house restaurant/café: While getting a fully-equipped kitchen in a holiday home is certainly a plus, not everyone likes to cook when they are on a vacation. Thanks to the cafes and restaurants that a lot of residential complexes in Goa house, you will never have to worry about your meals when you’ve had enough of hopping into some shack or an eatery in the market.
Be assured that you are safe: Since most Goa service apartments are in gated and almost always guarded societies, your safety and security is always assured.
Wondering where in Goa you can benefit from the comforts of staying in a serviced apartment? Well, you just need to make up your mind on which side of Goa—North, Central or South—identifies more with you and voila, you will find the most suited abode for yourself!
If you are coming to Goa solely for its party scene, the super active and super alive North Goa is where you should consider staying. With its bustling shack-lined beaches and seemingly never-ending nightlife, North Goa is Goa gone boho! It is here that you’ll find two of the most popular beaches, Calangute and Baga, and if you like it loud, consider finding yourself a serviced apartment on the noisy, and often jam-packed, streets and alleys of any one of these towns.
Or you could choose to stay at and have a close encounter with the hippie soul of Goa, Anjuna, which is more famous for its flea market that comes alive every Wednesday. Should you seek a bit of the party vibe with some scenery and old-world charm, Vagator is your place. Having hosted crazed trance parties once upon a time, Vagator today has calmed down a bit and offers you a picturesque setting of red cliffs, thick forests, and a ruined seventeenth-century fort in the neighbouring village of Chapora.
Fond of wildlife? Spend your vacation in Morjim, the nesting site of the rare Olive Ridley Turtles, and enjoy comparatively calmer evenings in one of the shacks, for the town is still picking up on the party mode. For the more budget-conscious yet party-loving lot as well as families, a Goa serviced apartment in Arambol in the north makes for a good option.
One of the dens of long-staying international tourists, Ashwem will find favour with those who like it mild and mellow. If you would like it more laid-back within North Goa, Mandrem is the answer—way quieter and packed with options to practice yoga and meditation and benefit from good old ayurvedic practices, Mandrem is the much-needed break from the boisterous Baga and the clamorous Calangute, both of which are less than 20 kilometers away.
Comprising inland islands packed between Mandovi and Zuari rivers, Central Goa is the state’s repository of history and culture. Flaunting historical churches, ancient cathedrals, and Hindu temples, Central Goa is ideal for history buffs, and with its spice plantations, elephant camps, where you can spend time bathing the giants, and wildlife sanctuaries, it’s the place to be for travellers who demand more than just beaches from Goa. And of course, there’s India’s second highest waterfalls, the Dudhsagar Falls, which attract a large number of tourists!
Pick from a swanky serviced apartment in the state capital, Panaji and hop out on an exploration of the quaint Latin Quarters or spoil yourself in a lavish one with your personal pool to beat the heat! Want to delve deeper into history? Accommodate yourself in Old Goa, the main town of the Portuguese empire (they named it Ela) and discover what made it earn comparisons with Amsterdam and titles such as ‘Rome of the East’ before its descent into doom and abandonment, with subsequent rehabilitation.
If too much activity around leaves you bewildered and you do not want to distance yourself from the beauty of Goan beaches, welcome to the quieter and calmer South Goa! With beaches that are far less crowded and far cleaner, wildlife reserves where you can spot leopards, gaurs, sambars, and spotted dear, and stately Portuguese mansions that adorn its landscape, South Goa strikes as an altogether different world—one that you must experience to know Goa in all its hues and shades.
Choose a serviced apartment in Palolem and treat your eyes and soul to some picture-perfect vistas of palm-lined beaches jostling with tourists in the peak season and quieter otherwise. Or should you be focused on some adventure coupled with shopping, Cavelossim is where you need to be. With a number of water-sports on offer at the long-stretch of the beach and a number of souvenir and jewellery shops, amongst others, populating the market, Cavelossim brings together beach fun and shopping sprees, thus, making for a win-win for everyone. There is also Benaulim, which, as the story goes, is where Lord Parsurama’s arrow hit when he shot it in to the sea to create what we call Goa.
Phew! We are not done though—let’s now tell you how Goa goes beyond what meets the eye! Read on and you’ll see the state in an all new light.
Observe crocodiles in their natural habitat: You may have heard about dolphin spotting in Goa but did you know that you could also watch crocodiles in their most wild at the Cumbarjua Canal? Told you we are taking you offbeat!
Opt for a plantation and distillery tour: In addition to sun and sand, Goa shares an association with spices as well. Plan a day exploring the Saval Spice Plantation, all organic, and enrich your knowledge with information ranging from cultivating the spices to their uses.
And if you thought booze in Goa meant King’s Beer, you may want to check out urrac and feni, the two local alcoholic treats. You can witness the distillation process that yields these two beverages from the juice of cashew apples at a distillery that’s located right at the entrance of the Saval Spice Plantation.
Buddy up the Dil Chahta Hai way: Head to the Chapora Fort with your gang and live your own Dil Chahta Hai moments that could be worth cherishing for life. Should you be here with your love, you can consider popping the question, for the setting is just perfect for everything beautiful!
Explore less-explored beaches: Being the tourist magnet that it is, it may come as a surprise to some that Goa has managed to hide some beaches that still have that serene feel to them. So, go on and experience romantic bliss at Kakolem Beach or embark on a two hour forest trek to find yourself admiring the pristine panorama of a distant horizon, crystal-clear waters, and golden sand on a rocky beach located on the forested Butterfly Island. If you want to club adventure with romance, hop on a boat that will drop you at Bat Island and come back at the time of your liking to pick you up, enjoy the solitude and go snorkelling with your partner!
Bask in the sun with Olive Ridley Turtles on the cleanest Goan beach, the Galgibaga Beach or try your hand at fishing at Betul Beach and relish deliciously fresh and surprisingly inexpensive seafood. Forget the world, be your own companion, and treat your eyes and soul to a spellbinding sunrise and sunset from Hollant Beach. Go swimming in the warm turquoise waters of a silvery Velsao Beach or stock up your treasure chest with pearl and oyster shells from Siridao Beach.
Feed the butterflies: Yep, you read that right! The Butterfly Conservatory in Ponda gives you a rather unique opportunity to feed some of its many pretty residents—bet not many people can claim to have done that!
Decode the devil of Devil’s Canyon: If spooky is your thing, you will enjoy exploring Devcharacho Kond, also known as Devil’s Canyon, near Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary. According to folklore, the canyon is believed to have been ruled by a demon who, upon being betrayed by a local villager, cast a spell forbidding fishing in the gorge. When here, feel free to take in the rugged beauty of the canyon, click pictures but do not think of swimming, for the undercurrent tends to be pretty strong.
Go cave hunting: Some manmade, others natural, some that sheltered the Pandavas and others that depict Buddhist heritage in Goa, Arvalem, Lamgao, and Rivona caves expose you to a Goa you may have never thought about!
Tete-e-tete with history: Set a date with history at Cabo De Rama that in most likelihood is the oldest fort in the state and has served Hindu, Mughal as well as Portuguese rulers. It is also believed that the fort sheltered Lord Rama for some time during the exile. Explore the fort ruins that include corroded cannons and let the scenic sights of the sea take your breath away.
Be mesmerised by the natural splendour of Chorla Ghat: Truly soul-nourishing, the Chorla Ghat is perched on the north-eastern boundary of Goa, Maharashtra, and Karnataka, and is all about tropical forests, brilliant greenery, and milky waterfalls, more so in monsoons. Be here and do nothing, just breathe and let nature cast its spell on you!
So, the next time you plan a Goa holiday, buy yourself sufficient time, rent a service apartment in Goa, do what most don’t, and you will have Goan stories to share that most don’t!