Beautiful Goa, India is a place for pure relaxation. There are miles and miles of beach as far as the eye can see. Our trip to Goa with our children was definitely enjoyable for everyone. There is a sort of rustic charm that surrounds Goa that makes it a must see beach. The local people are very cheerful and happy overall in my experience. Goa has a feel of a newly developed area in an old culture where the kinks are being worked out to make the 2 meet. In the midst, there are many nooks and cranny’s of interesting sights to see. My children had a wonderful time, as did we, exploring all the wonderful and quirky things around us. We found that Goa has a large mix of people from different cultures visiting from all over. In particular, there was a great deal of Russian influence. So much so that many of the street signs were written in 3 languages: Russian, Hindi and English.
Goa is a large span of land and many people distinguish the areas as the south side and the north side. The north side is more populated. There is more of everything… people, restaurants, tourists, hotels. The beaches are filled up with more people and the vendors are plenty. The south side has the same things in much less quantity. The beaches are cleaner with fewer people. The area is relatively quiet in the evenings and it does not have as much activity. Choosing which side to stay on is definitely a matter of the type of vacation you are looking for. If lots of activity is what you want then the north side is the place. If quiet and fewer people is what you want then the south side is what you want.
Where to stay?
We opted to stay a bit on the southern side in Benaulim Beach. We had a great experience. There are, however, some great places in both sides to fit a variety of budgets.
Some fantastic and beautiful places to stay are the following:
Near Benaulim Beach (toward the southern part of Goa) is Taj Exotica. This is an absolutely beautiful hotel. You feel like you are in a magical place upon entering. The service is wonderful and very kid friendly. The restaurants are amazing as well. This is definitely a pricy hotel but worth if it fits your budget.
A bit further south in Cavelossim Beach is the Leela Goa. This hotel is wonderful and beautiful as well. Great service and a luxury experience.
In Cavelossim Beach as well is the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa. This resort is a newer hotel. They have a beautiful setting with lots of activities for both adults and children. For children they have a kids club where they do activities and you are able to drop off the kids with great childcare providers for a few hours if you like.
On the north side is a hotel called Vivanta by Taj – Fort Aguada, Goa. This hotel is wonderful and in the mix of lots of activity. There is not much of a beach on this waterfront property as it has eroded away over the years with the tide, however, it is a wonderful hotel and in a great location for the nightlife of north Goa.
What to do?
There are many wonderful things to do in Goa. It was key, however, to hire a car and English-speaking driver during our stay to take us around the areas to see all the wonderful things there were to see. Of course, you can always opt to spend your trip getting massages and enjoying the beach. There are plenty of places to get a massage and many of them specialize in Ayurvedic massages. We opted to do a mix of both sight-seeing and beach relaxation.
A must see in Goa is the Anjuna Flea Market. This market is located near Anjuna beach in the north. It is only on Wednesdays during the day. It is mostly a souvenir market, however, there is a very interesting mix of people, food, and animals to see. My children loved seeing this market.
In Goa, the spice plantations are a great destination. Goa’s dense forested areas make this a wonderful experience . The favorable climatic conditions make it possible for a variety of spices to grow. My children really enjoyed seeing where all the spices come from. The spice plantation we visited was the Sahakari Spice Farms.
This spice market grows a vast variety of spices such as betel nut, cardamom, vanilla bean, chili peppers, as well as many others. The spices that grow high up on the trees are collected by people who climb up the trees and swing from tree to tree to save time and not miss a tree. This was exciting for my children to see.
There are many other activities that are going on at the spice plantation. There were ladies dancing and singing, there were elephant rides and elephant baths, and there was a wonderful lunch served at the end of our tour.
In Goa, there are lots of Temples and Churches that are wonderful to explore. They have a lot of unique characteristics and beauty in them. They are wonderful to explore when visiting Goa.
What to eat?
Goan food is very unique and wonderful. The food has a blend of flavors that is absolutely mouth-watering. They have a lot of seafood specialities as it is a coastal region, however, there are many options of food for every kind of palette.
I found it wonderful to be able to sit on the beach and taste the wonderful food served at the beach shacks. The servers bring you your food and drink order right to the beach. This is casual but flavorful food. I would say this experience is worth a try indeed. There are beach shacks all over Goa so you would be able to spot them wherever you are on the beach.
Here are some other restaurants in Goa, some of which I have been to and others that have been recommended to me:
Mum’s Kitchen – They offer wonderful Goan cuisine in a charming atmosphere. They strive to preserve the Goan culture and cuisine.
Brittos’s – This restaurant is great for the experience mostly and great if you are spending time on the beach and want to grab and quick bite. They are located on the north side of Goa in Baga Beach (the party central of Goa). The restaurant is on the beach itself with the floor being the sand of the beach. There is a wide variety of foods offered. This is a tourist spot for sure but might be worth seeing.
Allegria – This restaurant is located in the Taj Exotica Hotel in the area near Benaulim Beach. They offer Goan cuisine. This restaurant is wonderful. The food is outstanding and very flavorful. The atmosphere is quaint and luxurious. This is a great outing for a nice dinner.
These are only a handful of the many selections in Goa. If you are looking for other cuisines besides Goan food, there are many to choose from as well. My children had all the selection they needed, as did we to find the type of food we were looking for during our trip.