Goa can be one of the most fascinating parts of India to travel through. In part that’s because it consists largely of coastal land along the Arabian Sea, and is therefore home to some beautiful towns and beaches. But Goa is also interesting from a cultural perspective. It was a Portuguese colony well into the 20th century, and thus has competing influences from different nations.
This is one of those regions in the world that can sometimes best be experienced just by wandering. That said, there’s a large amount of territory to cover, and it can’t hurt to have an itinerary before you decide to venture through. With that in mind, here’s a handful of things to make sure you see and do in Goa.
If there’s a single priority that rises above the rest in Goa, it’s seeing the beaches. They’re some of the more unique beaches in the world, combining lush surroundings with tranquil stretches of sand and ocean. It’s hard to pick just one location from the best beaches in Goa to put on your list, and the truth is that you ought to go ahead and travel down the coast seeing three or four of them if you’re able to. For pure beauty though, Cola Beach and Agonda Beach are hard to top. You may also be interested in exploring secluded and mysterious Sweetwater Lake near Arambol Beach.
These incredible waterfalls are very near the Karnataka border, but are considered to be part of Goa. Either way, they’re striking and dramatic to behold. They’re kind of difficult to get to (you have to take a train to the falls and then hike through a forest for a bit). But if you’re in Goa during or immediately after a rainy season, you won’t want to miss them.
Casinos On The Sea
We mostly think of casino activity as belonging to two distinct realms: on land where towering resorts are still thriving in cities around the world, and online, where new platforms are coming out just about constantly. But Goa offers something different from both these options in that its casinos operate largely in the Arabian Sea. There are several small ships that set out just north of the town of Margao for gambling and dining options offshore, and it makes for a fun and relaxing way to spend an afternoon or evening.
Old Cathedrals & Temples
As mentioned, Goa has an interesting history of varying cultural influences, and one of the results is that there are a lot of impressive cathedrals in the area. You don’t have to be an expert on history or architecture to appreciate these structures as you tour the region. The Church of St. Cajetan, Se Cathedral, Shanta Durga Temple, and most of all the UNESCO-recognized Baroque church the Basilica of Born Jesus are all worth your time if you like to see impressive man-made attractions.
Mandovi River Rafting
If you like some adventure with your travel, the best thing to do in Goa might be a rafting trip down the Mandovi River (also called the Mhadei River). It’s a gorgeous river that runs alongside the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, and the rafting is said to be ideal for beginners (but still fun for those with a little more experience). You’ll get a workout, float down the main river in the Goa region, and possibly catch a few glimpses of interesting animals in the jungle areas along some of the banks.