Unusual things to do in Goa, India

Usgalimal Rock Carvings
Galgibaga beach
San Jacinto Island
Kerim Beach
Morjim Beach
Cabo De Rama Fort
Palolem Beach
St. Augustine’s Tower Ruins
Rita’s Gourment Cooking Class
Butterfly Conservatory Goa
Kakolem Beach
Butterfly Beach

Calangute Beach
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
Cumbarjua Canal
Mapusa Market
Netravali Bubbling Lake
Arvalem Caves
Baga Beach
Immaculate Conception Church, Panjim
Ponda Street Market


Planning a trip to Goa? Or wondering just what it is about Goa, India that makes everyone fall in love with the place? Well, there’s a lot to Goa. A Goa trip is not just about the best beaches in Goa or lazing around in the traditional susegaat style, and eating xacuti and choriz pav and drinking beer. There are so many popular things to do in Goa, that if you look for a list of top 10 places to visit in Goa, you’ll find almost every list to be different. Mine is too!

With a little help from my friends, I’ve put together this list of must visit places in Goa, both places that Goa is famous for, and off the beaten path attractions and hidden places in Goa.

Why put together a list of best places to visit in Goa? Well, I’ve been visiting Goa for holidays since I was a kid. It’s easy to catch a flight or train from Mumbai to Goa for a weekend away. Of course back then we could only afford buses, and over the years we graduated to trains and flights.

And over the years, Goa has changed a lot too. It used to be open roads, vast reaches of coconut trees, beautiful beaches and lovely food. Well, it’s still all of that, with a bit of mass tourism thrown in now. I mean the crowd in North Goa in summer nowadays is just crazy!

But Goa still retains some of her old charm, and there are places to visit in Goa that have not been ruined by over tourism. So if my sort of rant above has not convinced you not to visit Goa, and you’re still planning on coming to stay in Goa, keep reading and we’ll share with you a few Goa destinations that you must visit. First, the off the beaten path and rarely visited places to see in Goa, and then the regular and popular Goa beaches and tourist destinations.
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Off the beaten path attractions in Goa

Usgalimal Rock Carvings in Sanguem on the banks of the Kushavati River

By Abby from TheWingedFork

If you’re looking for offbeat things to do in Goa, the Usgalimal rock carvings tops the list! It was a bit difficult to find, but once we got there it was awesome. I realized I like walking into trenches and out of them more than crossing planks across trenches. I also remembered that I need to lose weight. But that’s not really what we’re talking about here.

A bull carving at Usgalimal - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
A bull carving at Usgalimal

What we are talking about is 20000 or so many year old petroglyphs that were carved in laterite rocks. Isn’t that amazing? That means they belong to the mesolithic or upper paleolithic era.

Another dancing guy at Usgalimal - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Another dancing guy at Usgalimal

Archaeologists say this is the main distinction between these rock carvings and other rock carvings. The rock carvings here at Usgalimal in the banks of the Kushavati River were made in laterite rock, which is usually considered difficult to carve into. The scientists say the rock art or cave paintings in Pansaimol were made with some sort of soft tool. Pansaimol is the other name for this Usgalimal site in the Sanguem Taluka near Rivona, South Goa.

Bull at Usgalimal - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Bull at Usgalimal

The site is located beyond some old iron ore mines near Usgalimal village. Strange though, we noticed a few dilapidated structures on the way here, but no mines along those winding roads. Need to work on our powers of observation much.

Elephant at Usgalimal Rock Carvings - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Elephant at Usgalimal Rock Carvings

The Usgalimal Rock Carvings discovered by accident when the local villagers show some visiting archaeologists the site in the early 1990’s. Since then it has become a government protected site.

 Labrynith with elephants feet and deer around it - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Labrynith with elephants feet and deer around it

On an area of approximately 500 square metres, we got to see a dancing lady, a human figure, deer, bison, bulls, and a labryinth. There are also human and elephant footprints.

Lady Rock Carving - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
The famous dancing lady rock carving

You’ll hardly find anyone visiting here. They ask us to sign a book before we leave, and we see that the last visitors were some French people about 5 days ago. I think the name was Nathalie.

 Kushavati Spice farm across - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Mom with Kushavati Spice farm across the Kushavati River

Anyways, the guard named Ramakant showed us around but didn’t allow us to go to the spice farm that was just across the river. A while later, another local passed by and crossed the river to the spice farm, but he didn’t stop him. Hmm.

The River Kushavati didn’t flow much here, and apart from the moss was easy to walk into. I tried to take pics of the fish in it, but I really need a better camera. If you plan on visiting this historic place, don’t go in the monsoon. During the rains the river overflows and most of the rock carvings are submerged and unreachable.
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Galgibaga Beach in Canacona Taluka

By Abby from TheWingedFork

Galgibaga Beach Forest Department Sign - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Galgibaga Beach Forest Department Sign

About 30 minutes drive South of Palolem Beach is the beautiful and pristine Galigbaga Beach. I’d wanted to go there a few times, but finally made it one sunny afternoon.

Galgibaga Beach Facing South - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Galgibaga Beach Facing South

Of course, it turned out to be the wrong time to get there. See, my main reason to go to Galgibaga was not to enjoy the clean and empty beach or shoreline, but to see at least one turtle hatch.

Galgibaga Beach Facing North - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Galgibaga Beach Facing North

Unlucky! The forest guards there told me that they only come out after 11 pm, and since it was still late November, I needed to wait and come back after a few weeks. Tears in my eyes. Hear that, fairy god father. I need to go back mid December. Okay, no tears really. But if someone would actually pay to transport me there one lovely night in December, I’d get to see those beautiful Olive Ridley turtles hatch.

I’d love to have that scratch off my bucket list, you know. “Saw precious Olive Ridley turtles hatching on a protected beach in Galgibag, Goa in the middle of the night”. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Shoreline - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
View of the shoreline from the shade of the restaurant

Anyways, since I couldn’t do that, I did take shots of baby crabs and shells moving towards the water. There’s zillions of them out there. And they move so slowly, you almost want to help them. Almost, like playing at naturalist and zoo keeper. 😉

Anyways, if you’re looking for protected beaches in Goa, India to watch turtles hatch, Galgibaga is the right choice. So are Agonda and Morjim beaches. Maybe you’ll have more luck than me.

But a PS, while you’re at Galgibaga Beach, try the Ceasar Salad at the Holy Turtle. It’s to die for!

Shells and crabs going out to sea - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Shells and crabs going out to sea

Sitting out there in the middle of nowhere with hardly 4 people around, staring at the shoreline and eating my olive filled Ceasar salad. What more could one ask for?
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San Jacinto Island

By Stuti from Me and My Suitcase

St Jacinto, Vasco-da-gama - Pic by Stuti from Me and My Suitcase
St Jacinto, Vasco-da-Gama – Pic by Stuti from Me and My Suitcase

There is a lot to see in Goa but its hidden gems are intriguing. Vasco-da-gama, the commercial city of the state is not very famous for tourism but it does have some fascinating points. When you are on the way to Vasco from Cortalim Junction, you will see an island know as St Jacinto aka San Jacinto island, connected to the mainland by the Silver Gate Bridge.

It is a beautiful little island considered as the most exotic part of South Goa for its lush green forest, houses constructed in old style on the south western coast and a beautiful old church which stands out and can be seen even from far away. The island has got its own charm, looks pure, serene and by being here you can feel the tranquility of mother nature. This beauty is incredibly maintained because of its people who had vowed way back in 1927 not to ever sell or give their island on lease or even to government for construction of any kind. The island also has an old spring which serves for drinking water to the locals, a light house which gives a perfect view and a hilly terrain in the interiors which attracts a lot of hikers to indulge in a little adventure. This beauty on the Panaji-Vasco highway is a must visit.

Side view of Sao Jacinto Island Church - Pic by Abby of TheWingedFork
Side view of Sao Jacinto Island Church
Miracle spring at Sao Jacinto Island - TheWingedFork
Miracle spring at Sao Jacinto Island

An addendum to Stuti’s info – The island has a supposedly miracle spring that can heal you if you drink of it’s water. The spring is just 5 minutes walk from San Jacinto Church and filled with a number of fish. There was even a large black catfish staring at us. The cross built in the spring and it’s walls are not well take care of anymore. We asked a local about the miracle cross, and she said “It depends on your faith”.

There was a boat named St. Hycinthi just near the bridge leaving the Island - TheWingedFork
Boat named St. Hycinth

The San Jacinto Church or Sao Jacinto Church is also called the St. Hyacinth Church or Sao Hycith by locals. Which is why when I saw a boat there named Sao Hycith, I had to take a pic. Also love the old street lamps on the bridge across to the mainland.

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Kerim Beach

By Helene from Masala Herb

Kerim Beach – Pic by Helene from Masala Herb
Kerim Beach, North Goa – Pic by Helene from Masala Herb

Kerim Beach (aka Querim Beach) is located at the northern tip of Goa and is one of my favorite Goa beaches. If you want to avoid crowds and enjoy a lovely day at the beach, then this is your beach. Kerim is also special because of it’s pine trees, instead of the classical Coconut trees. That’s why this beach is a welcome change if you want to have another Goa beach experience. Tip: Take the ferry to cross the river (next to Kerim beach) and check out the Tirakhol fort on the other side.
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Morjim Town – Scooter and Kayak

By Ellie & Ravi from Soul Travel

Morjim Mangroves – Pic by Ellie & Ravi from Soul Travel
Morjim Mangroves – Pic by Ellie & Ravi from Soul Travel

A few minutes ride away from Ashwem beach lies the small town of Morjim. Home to a market, small stores and eateries, this is a useful place to pickup supplies and/or rent a scooter. It’s also a great jumping off point to explore a different side of Goa, and went with our friends at Konkan Explorers to kayak sail along Morjim river and a kayaking trip into some of the mangroves that join the river here. Often overlooked, Mangroves form a vital part of coastal India’s ecosystem and are home to rich biodiversity and wildlife. We highly recommend taking a trip to see this part of Goa that many travellers ignore.
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Cabo de Rama Fort

By Abby from TheWingedFork

Entrance to Cabo de Rama Fort - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Entrance to Cabo de Rama Fort

The fort where Lord Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, who along with his wife Sita spent 14 years in exile here. That’s the Cabo de Rama fort, or so says legend.

The fort wall at Cabo De Rama - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
The fort wall at Cabo De Rama

The Cabo de Rama fort existed long before the Portuguese took it over from the local Hindu rulers and the Raja of Sonda in 1763. The fort has passed hand through a few rulers since then, including the British. Post summer, the fort is engulfed in green foliage and you can’t see how steep the drop inside is. But it’s fun to visit again.

So we did that, visited again to see what the fort had in store for us. Just a different we. The last time I visited the fort about 3 years ago, it was around 7 pm and it was pretty dark. When we got there, the driver Rohit told us not to go on the left side, but he didn’t tell us why. So we did, and we stumbled across a number of couples perched on the ramparts. It seems this was a fort for lovers. All of those couples who couldn’t find time alone, seemed to find it here.

St. Anthony's Church in Cabo de Rama - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
St. Anthony’s Church in Cabo de Rama

We left that area and went towards the now closed church. Going past the church and the ancient graves, we reached more ramparts, and an ancient gate that allowed us to go outside to the steep external section. It was a steep drop from there down to the rocks and the waves crashing against them. I got a few scrapes and bruises down there.

The topmost point at Cabo De Rama- Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
The topmost point at Cabo De Rama

We then went to the other side of the fort where the canons are, and while the Ex-BF went up to view the sea, I took pics of the erstwhile pond.

View from the Cabo De Rama Fort - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
View from the Cabo De Rama Fort

This time though, almost 3 years later, I went up there alone in the daytime and got some amazing pics. There are a few boats parked on the land below. The land and the beaches across the sea and the dozens of palm trees make for amazing pics. I spent quite some time taking pics while the family of four at the other end were getting their selfies.

Then time to go back down and a thorny bush decides to give me a few scratches. Hmmm…

Teenagers scribbling their names on the wall - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Teenagers scribbling their names on the wall

On the way out we come across a teenage couple writing their names on the old walls. It’s not allowed, but they still do it. Love is strange!

Strange enough it seems that this lovely fort had turned into a place for suicides and lovers quarrels and murders. And the government has closed it past 5:30 pm. Things still happen though.
And whether or not you become part of the strange history of this beautiful fort, it will still make an impression. So take the time to visit!
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Palolem Beach and its secrets

By Abby from TheWingedFork

Canacona Island view from the shack at Palolem beach - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Canacona Island view from the shack at Palolem beach

This beautiful beach in South Goa is where Matt Damon shot the Bourne Supremacy. It’s a really beautiful beach, but is now known for its hippie crowd on the South end and its family crowd on the North end. The Palolem Beach is also close to the famous Canacona Island or Monkey Island that can be accessed either by boat or by wading across at low tide. But if you ask me what to do in Goa if you only do one thing, I’ll tell you to go to Palolem for a midnight swim. The secret of the beach is the phytoplankton that people don’t know about. Read more about it my Palolem post here.
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Church of St. Augustine in Velha, Old Goa

By Paps from TheWingedFork

St Augustine's Tower in Velha, Old Goa - Pic by Olivier from TheWingedFork
St Augustine’s Tower in Velha, Old Goa – Pic by Olivier from TheWingedFork

In the Velha region of Old Goa on Holy Hill (Monte Santo) and just off the banks of the river Mandovi sit the ruins of the tower of St. Augustine’s monastery and those of the once enormous church of Nossa Senhora de Graca (Our Lady of Grace). Augustinian friars initiated construction of this once stupendous structure after their arrival in 1587. Construction of the monastery and the church was completed between 1597 and 1602 giving the Nossa Senhora de Graca the reputation of being one of the 3 greatest Augustinian churches of the Iberian world, the other 2 being the Basilica of Escoral in Spain and St. Vincente de Fora in Lisbon.

My sis Abby at St. Augustine's Tower - Pic by Olivier from TheWingedFork
My sis Abby at St. Augustine’s Tower – Pic by Olivier from TheWingedFork

The tower was one of 4 original towers that stood at this site. Measuring 46 meters this once colossal structure served as a Belfry. Excavations reveal that the church comprised of 8 chapels and 4 altars amongst the many other cells connected to it and a convent. The church had an enormous barrel vault (collapsed 1842) which covered its now exposed nave. The sheer weight of the enormous vault is believed to have quickened the collapse of the church post abandonment in 1835. The bell which once adorned the now dilapidated tower was moved to the church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Panjim in 1871 where it is to this day. In 1931 half the tower collapsed and subsequently more sections in 1938.

St Augustine's Tower in Velha, Old Goa - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
St Augustine’s Tower in Velha, Old Goa

There is another myth or legend associated with St. Augustine’s Tower and the relics of Ketevan the Martyr, the Queen of the Georgian kingdom of Kakheti. After the death of her husband, she became regent and made her still young son the king. As regent, she was tasked with the duty of being an emissary to Iran. To prevent Kakheti from being attacked she allowed herself to be taken hostage. Queen Ketevan was eventually tortured and killed at Shiraz in Iran in 1624 for refusing to give up her Christian faith.

The Augustinian missionaries took her remains back to Georgia but also secretly brought some of her parts and interred them in the monastery here in Goa. So goes the story of the Queen who lies in two places now. There have been attempts to locate her remains, but so far all that has been found are records documenting them.

These beautiful ruins escaped me on previous visits to Old Goa but I would definitely recommend visiting St Augustine’s tower if you are in and around Old Goa. I most definitely would. Again.

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Rita’s Gourmet cooking classes

Rita's Gourmet cooking classes - Pic by Rita from Rita’s Gourmet, Goa
Rita’s Gourmet cooking classes – Pic by Rita’s Gourmet, Goa

Another novel way to experience Goa is by attending the fun and educational Rita’s Gourmet cooking classes. Rita shares her decades of knowledge about Goan and local Indian cuisine with every eager student and traveller. The most famous class is the One day Cooking Class with Local Farmer’s Market Tour (Five Hours)

Rita's Gourmet cooking classes - Pic by Rita from Rita’s Gourmet, Goa
Rita’s Gourmet cooking classes – Pic by Rita from Rita’s Gourmet, Goa

I asked Rita what she thought was the the essence of Goan food, and this is her reply:

Goan food is full of flavour, aromas, presentation & taste well backed by years of culinary history. Goan food compliments with the suave people of Goa who love their food, feni and festivities along with a good Susegado life.

If you’re looking for a different experience of Goa that will give you both memories to remember and a dash of Goan cooking skills, join Rita’s Gourmet cooking classes.
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Butterfly Conservatory of Goa aka Mystic Woods

By Abby from TheWingedFork

Butteryfly at the Ponda Butterfly Conservatory - Photo Credit Butterfly Conservatory
Butteryfly at the Ponda Butterfly Conservatory – Photo Credit Butterfly Conservatory

Ever wanted to dance with butterflies? Get yourself to Mystic Woods.

Okay. You don’t really dance with butterflies, but you can see so many of them in this small piece of land in Ponda that you’ll find a number of naturalists and conservation enthusiasts visiting here.

The owners took up this project as a part of their efforts to reforest land that builders were taking over. When they bought the piece of land from the builders, it was dry and without any plants. Now, 6 years later, it has turned into green land again.

Guppies munching on our dead flesh at the Butterfly Conservatory
Guppies munching on our dead flesh at the Butterfly Conservatory
Wild orchids growing on cashewnut tree at the Butterfly Conservatory of India - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork

Wild orchids growing on cashewnut tree at the Butterfly Conservatory of IndiaThere is a pond onsite with guppies that nibble on your feet if you put them in. But they’re not garrarufa, so the risks and benefits of that, I’ll leave to you to decide. There is waterfall that flows with rain water that has been harvested nearby. A few wild orchids had been grafted onto a cashewnut tree and were thriving there.

Glassy Tiger - Photo Credit Butterfly Conservatory
Glassy Tiger – Photo Credit Butterfly Conservatory

We reached around 2 in the afternoon, so only saw a few butterflies. There were many of the glassy tigers around though. The others seemed to have wandered off. We were told the best time to see more butterflies is in the morning from 9 am to 11 am. The tally of butterflies seen so far by naturalists who spend time there has gone up to 133.

Passion flowers at butterfly conservatory - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Passion flowers at butterfly conservatory

All in all, it’s a good conservation effort, and we get the chance to laud the owners of the Butterfly Conservatory by visiting for a meager entry fee of just INR 100.
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Kakolem Beach or Tiger Beach

By Abby from TheWingedFork

View of Kakolem beach from the top - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
View of Kakolem beach from the top

There are beaches aplenty in Goa, but a little bit North of the Cabo de Rama fort that was once well known for its local lover escapades, is this hidden beach. By local lover escapades, I mean the couples who were perched on the left side of the ramparts. Nowadays, the fort is closed post 5.30 pm, although it was technically closed at that time earlier too. There’s an armed guard there now in the evenings. But I digress.

Kakolem beach aka Tiger Beach is as beautiful as Butterfly beach. And similar to that, it can only be accessed by boat or by hiking down a rather deep incline. I didn’t have the heart for it that sunny day. Neither did my mom or our driver guide Rohit. So we just took pictures, and went on ahead. Me, I figured the next time I’m here with the BF, I’ll hike down there. Of course I’m not talking about the ex-BF, he has chosen to be history because of a 30% thing. So dear future BF, if you’re reading this, just be prepared. You’ll be guiding a somewhat clumsy creature who is deathly afraid of worms down a hiking trail. Good luck to you!

The family just chimed in, “She’s serious!”

I think I’ll just drop of the earth now.

But getting to the beach really requires either the short steep hike or a boat. Which is why, if you’re looking for privacy, Kakolem beach is perfect!

Butterfly Beach

By Abby from TheWingedFork

The first time I went to Butterfly Beach was in 2011 on a guided tour. Since we took a boat from Panjim to get there, some of the tourists were under the impression that it was a faraway Butterfly Island. When in fact, Butterfly Beach is just a secluded cresent shaped beach on the South coast of Goa. It lies 15 minutes North of Palolem Beach and 30 minutes South of Kakolem Beach and so can be accessed via both by boat.

Butterfly Beach with the jungle behind - TheWingedFork
Butterfly Beach with the jungle behind

The name butterfly beach obviously comes from the number of butterflies that are known to inhabit the beach. We didn’t see any though. We did like the clear water for swimming and the odd crabs that were around. Snorkelling here means you will see a few fish and sea cucumbers. But the beach is great for just plain ‘ol swimming too. Post which you can enjoy lunch on the shore.

The fact that you cannot drive here keeps the beach clean and away from the crowds. But if you are the adventurous type, you can get here by hiking through the nearby jungle for about 2 to 2.5 hours.

Dolphin watching near butterfly beach - Pic by my aunt Marthie - TheWingedFork
Dolphin watching near butterfly beach – Pic by my aunt Marthie
Off Beat Attractions in Goa

On the way back, we did dolphin watching in the same trip. Didn’t really expect to see them, but we turned out to be lucky. Yippee Yay! Wish we had better cameras though.
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Secret and hidden attractions in Goa that you must visit - TheWingedFork

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Popular beaches and destinations in Goa

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Calangute Beach

By Priyadarshini from Glorious Sunrise

Boats at Calangute Beach - Pic by Lian Chang - Source Wikipedia CC BY 2.0
Boats at Calangute Beach
Pic by Lian Chang from Wikimedia CC By SA 2.0

It is known that Goa is popular for its beaches, but travelers say that Calangute beach is among the best beaches in this coastal state. Calangute is in the northern part of Goa and is a charming town with friendly locals. Apart form its world-famous beach, this town has many other attractions for tourists including Saint Alex church, Casino Palms and Tibetan Market.

Calangute beach is quite a beautiful and long stretch along the Arabian Sea covering about 6 kilometers. It is a favorite for tourists as well as locals and is fondly called as the ‘Queen of beaches’. For this reason this beach is packed in May and from December to January. So, if you do not go well with crowds, try to book your vacation for non peak season to enjoy this beach’s exquisite beauty.
Parasailing, water skiing, water mobiling are some of the popular water activities to do at Calangute beach apart from swimming. With numerous palm trees around the beach, it would be easy to just plop down and relax on the beach for the whole day too. Of course, this spot has a throbbing nightlife and great spots to grab some delicious food.
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Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary

In the Southern part of Goa, in the Canacona Taluka is the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary that was set up in 1968 to protect this part of the forest. Although we can’t see bigger cats here, they still have flying squirrels, deer, porcupine and pangolins.

But the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is better known for the birds that can be seen here and is a bird watcher’s paradise if you are patient enough. The white-bellied woodpecker, velvet fronted nuthatch, kingfisher, swallow, swift, egret, heron, speckled piculet, and many more.

There are a few hiking trails for those who don’t like the confines of a vehicle. One of them takes you to the observation desk that’s about 20 metres high up in a tree. The climb may get your heart racing.

There is also a snake proof camp sites for those who have taken prior permission to spend the night here.
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Cumbarjua Canal

By Sarah from TheWingedFork

Crocodile in the Water - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Crocodile in the Water
Mugger Crocodiles - Pic by Marajozkee from Wiki Commons SA4.0
Mugger Crocs at Cumbarjua Canal
Pic by Marajozkee from Wikimedia CC By SA 4.0

This 15 km stretch of canal that connects the rivers Zuari and Mandovi has a unique feature. It is inhabited by mugger crocs that are fresh water creatures but have adapted to a salt water lifestyle. We hired a boat from one of the many centres nearby and took a trip in the lush mangroves to spot those beady eyes looking at us. They didn’t seem to care about the humans taking pictures of them and went on with their slumber or rest. Some of them were swimming across the creek too. We also spotted a few birds and a number of fishing boats. If you are visiting, carry a DSLR or SLR camera to get better shots.
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Mapusa Market in Mapusa, Bardez

By Abby from TheWingedFork

The best local Goan market to shop at for anything and everything, the Mapusa market is held every day within the Municipal Market quarters. It’s probably also the largest Goan market out there. One can find food and clothing, but not shelter. The sun beats down hot on your head as you shop here, so if you want shelter, you need to either wear your cap or get your umbrella along.

Simonia Stores at Mapusa - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Simonia Stores at Mapusa
Simonia Stores at Mapusa - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Simonia Stores at Mapusa

I’ve been going there on holidays since I was 12. My parents pick up all the items they want to bring home to Bombay from here – cashews, wine, docebibiquejaggerykokum, sausages and more.First stop Simonia’s for the sweets.

They’d also buy the fare for lunch and breakfast sometimes. Because dinners in Goa were always had at one of the many local restaurants. Of course there were days we stayed in too. But why stay indoors when you have local Goan cuisine and culture at your finger tips?

Lady selling kokum and tamarind in Mapusa market - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Lady selling kokum and tamarind in Mapusa market

Anyways, at Mapusa market you literally can buy everything. There’s a section for veggies, fruits and flowers. There’s a bit for chicken, meat and fish. Even dried fish and prawns. There’s a section where you find t-shirts, shorts, nightgowns, dresses, caps, belts, undies, bras, wholesale cloth by the metres, carpets, and almost everything else. Don’t forget to bargain here! You’ll find pottery, cutlery and plastic items. You’ll find almost cashewnuts in almost every flavor from the local growers. Tamarind balls, jaggery pyramids, kokum, dried chillies, and spices and more.

Goan sausages sold at Mapusa market by aunties with baskets - Pic source Wikimedia
Sausages in Mapusa Market
Pic by Frederick Noronha from Wikimedia CC By SA 4.0

We buy both regular and choriz sausages from the aunties sitting with their baskets on the floor. They are homemade and taste better than the ones in the stores. Tangier and spicier!

To experience shopping like a local, this is the place to be. I also find the products in Mapusa market to be cheaper than those in Madgaon (Margao market) and still of quite good quality. 😉
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Budbudyache Taley aka Netravali Bubbling Lake

By Abby from TheWingedFork

Netravali Bubbling Lake or Budbudyache Taley - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Netravali Bubbling Lake or Budbudyache Taley

There’s a lake that’s really a pond and bubbles year long. If you’ve visited more than once you probably know what I’m talking about. The mysterious Netravali Lake or Budbudyache Taley in Netravali, Vichumdrem keeps bubbling all day and night.

I tried to take a video of the bubbles, but my phone betrayed me. The bubbles kept coming up just after I’d given up and pressed stop. Almost 10 times they did that! Blimey!

No one knows where the bubbles in this pond that’s called a lake come from. Scientists have tried testing them under the aegis of the government. They wanted to see if the bubbles were cause by methane gas. But that has been proven wrong given that a few varieties of tiny fish live in this pond.

Gopinath temple - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Gopinath temple near Netravali Bubbling Lake in Goa

The bubble also respond to some sounds. Clap your hands and the bubbles rise faster through the clear water to break at the surface. The lake or really pond is a centre of religious significance to the locals along with the neighbouring Gopinath Temple.

The lake can be accessed all days of the week from 8 am to 8 pm. And a tidbit to leave you with – ‘budbud’ means bubbles in the Konkani language. Hence the name of the lake, Budbudyache Taley or Bubbling Lake.

The lake is quite close to a number of spice farms. So if you’re in the area visit the Tansikhar Spice Farm, Kushavati Spice farm or any of the others.
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Arvalem Caves aka Pandava Caves aka Harvalem Caves

Cave_dwellings_at_Harvalem in Goa- Wiki
Arvalem Caves
Pic by Somnathk from Wikimedia CC By SA 4.0

Near the Bicholim Taluka and Arvalem Falls are the Arvalem Caves. They can easily be reached via a short drive from the Arvalem Falls and are open from 9 am to 5 pm with a break from 1 pm to 2 pm.

The caves were dug out of a single laterite rock in the 6th century by Buddhist monks but may also have Brahmin origins due to the presence of the four shivlings. Locals believe that the caves were earlier occupied by the 5 Pandava brothers during their exile – namely, Sahadev, Bhim, Yuddhistir, Arjun, and Nakul.

The Shivlings in the caves that have been carved out of granite are similar to those at Elephanta caves and Ellora caves. There isn’t much more to see, but the caves stand testimony to the enduring works of man.

If you’re looking for these caves, you might have to look out with the alternate names, Harvalem Caves or Pandava Caves.

Popular Markets in Goa

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Baga Beach

This beach in North Goa is a hot spot for local and international tourists. The flatter banks make it a tad safer for swimming. At the Northern end there are backwaters that are calmer too.

You can see fishing boats lined along the shore, children frolicking in the water, and adults getting their sun tans here. The numerous restaurants also offer sunbeds for visitors to lounge. At the end of the beach, the hawkers sell their trinkets and bhel or other Indian snacks, while the restaurants offer a respite from the heat with their chilled beers and local flavours.

Rainy day at Baga Beach in Goa - Pic by TheWingedFork
Rainy day at Baga Beach in Goa

I’ve never thought of taking pictures here, because it’s where we’ve been going almost every year for a holiday since we were kids. But this time I promised myself, take pictures, come rain or shine. And “it came rain”, haha! But got them pics anyway.

My parents at Baga Beach in North Goa - Pic by TheWingedFork
My parents at Baga Beach in North Goa

Here’s mom and dad at the windy Baga beach.

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Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Panjim

Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Panjim, Goa - Pic by DFon from Goa
Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Panjim, Goa

Built as a small chapel in 1541, the church was converted to current size in 1609. The church overlooks the passing traffic in the busy city of Panjim, Goa’s capital city.

The bell in this church once adorned the Augustinian ruins of the Nossa Senhora da Graça or Our Lady of Grace that’s located in Old Goa, and is the second oldest bell in Goa.

The baroque facade is painted white to represent Virgin Mary’s purity, while golden alters with Saints Peter and Paul on either side of the Virgin adorn the interior.

The church doesn’t have to much to offer, but does provide a bit of peace and quiet in this noisy centre of Goa.

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Ponda Street Market

Quite close to the daily municipal market that sees vegetable, food, fish and meat vendors, there is the street market that fills Upper Bazaar Street or Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Locals from neighbouring areas come here with their produce, making it the perfect spot to get fresh fruits, vegetables, and more.

Snacks and Sweets at Ponda Market - Pic by TheWingedFork
Snacks and Sweets at Ponda Market

The streets are also lined with vendors selling household goods and cheap items of clothing. We stopped by here to get our favourite ginger covered malvani khaja that my Goan friend says is called kaduo buduo. See those things hanging in the packets? Yep, that’s them! Yummy!

Where is Goa? What should I know about Goa?

Goa is a small state on the Western coast of India. It is bordered by the Indian states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, and of course the Arabian Sea. Goa International Airport is a military airport and located at Dabolim near Vasco Da Gama. It’s easily accessible via direct flights from most cities in India. Some major international destinations also have direct flights to Goa. Most outstation trains mostly stop at either Madgaon aka Margao, Tivim or Vasco Da Gama in Goa.

Local transport in Goa includes buses, ricks and cars. Try to haggle for a price, but in the end you’ll have to live with the higher costs. Don’t worry, they overcharge us too, and we’re from Mumbai who’ve been visiting Goa for over 20 years.

Panaji or Panjim is the capital of Goa, while Vasco Da Gama is the largest city. Since it is located on the Western Ghats, it has a diverse variety of flora and fauna. Goa is famous for its sandy beaches, places of worship, forts and heritage sights. The food and culture of Goa though unique in its own way draws many cultural influences from the Portuguese who occupied it for over 450 years, before India annexed her in 1961. That’s enough information about Goa for now. 😉 Best go experience it yourself.

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When is the best time to visit Goa?

The best time to go to Goa is in the cooler months from November to February. But you can also visit Goa the rest of the year. October and March to May are very hot but still busy months. If on the other hand, you like the rains, visit Goa from June to September and enjoy long drives along open roads engulfed in green. Be careful of the flooding in some areas though. Many of the restaurants in Southern Goa shut down for the monsoon season. So you’d be left to cooking your own food or buying it from a local Goan ‘auntie’. PS. It’s a thing in India. We call everyone auntie and uncle, even strangers.

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The best places to stay in Goa

Wondering where to stay in Goa? We’ve got a tried and tested list of beach resorts in Goa from my friends and myself.

Lazy Frog Resort on Carmona Beach

By Bradley from Dream Big, Travel Far

Lazy Frog near Carmona Beach - Photo Credit Lazy Frog
Lazy Frog near Carmona Beach – Photo Credit Lazy Frog

We initially booked to stay in Lazy Frog Resort for just a couple of days, but ended up staying for more than a week! Simply put, we didn’t want to leave and had such a wonderful time there. As we are budget backpackers, we are always trying to find the highest quality accommodation on a budget, and honestly think Lazy Frog Resort is your best bet in Goa.

Rooms at the Lazy Frog - Photo Credit Lazy Frog
Rooms at the Lazy Frog Resort – Photo Credit Lazy Frog

It is incredibly modern and clean, and they even have a pool. Which, is actually very hard to find when searching for cheap accommodation in Goa. The guys who run the place are very friendly and the on-site restaurant is equally as affordable, and serves up wonderful Indian cuisine. So, if you find yourself in Goa and are looking for somewhere to stay for a few nights, I would highly recommend stopping in!

Lazy Frog is in Orlim Rd, Carmona, Goa 403717, India
Phone: +91 70661 53390
Email: lazyfroggoa@gmail.com

Yab Yum Resort at Ashwem Beach

By Ellie & Ravi from Soul Travel

Yab Yum Resort, Ashwem Beach – Pic by Ellie & Ravi from Soul Travel
Yab Yum Resort, Ashwem Beach – Pic by Ellie & Ravi from Soul Travel

North Goa is not known for its peace and quiet, but we got lucky with our discovery of Ashwem beach and the beautiful Yab Yum Resort. Set just back from the beach, Yab Yum is something of an oasis. The accommodation is made up of cosy and earthy mud-huts, completed with palm thatched rooftops – giving the feeling of being completely at one with nature. Inside the rooms are large, with plenty of windows and luxurious beds. Bathrooms with windows allow you to shower and enjoy a (non-overlooked!) view out to palm trees at the same time. Don’t miss the early morning yoga and a walk on Ashwem beach all to yourself (if you’re early enough!).

Yab Yum is at Ashwem Beach, Mandrem, Goa 403527, India
Phone: +91 86696 92229

Sea Star Resort at Agonda Beach

By Jenny from TraveLynn Family

Agonda Restaurant – Pic by Jenny from TraveLynn Family
Agonda Restaurant – Pic by Jenny from TraveLynn Family
Sea Star Resort – Pic by Jenny from TraveLynn Family
Enjoying the Sea Star Resort – Pic by Jenny from TraveLynn Family

Situated in South Goa, Agonda Beach is a golden crescent of powder soft sand, where the pace slows down to the meditative sway of the palm trees, and where cows come to congregate at sunset. This is a far cry from the concrete jungles and party beaches elsewhere in Goa; although you will still easily find WiFi and Western Food.

We were visiting Goa with kids (aged 2 and 4) and loved the huts at Sea Star Resort. There are a few one-bed sea-facing huts, and a couple built on stilts for an elevated sea view. However, we were allocated a two-bed hut, with adjoining bathroom, which sat back behind the beach-front restaurant along a little sandy strip. Huts come with a fan, mosquito net, and reliable hot water.  A little veranda, with a chair and floor mattress, invites weary travellers to relax with a beer and a good book. But the real treat is falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the ocean. Bliss.

Sea Star Agonda Resort
Agonda Beach North side
Dhawalkhajan, Agonda 403702, Goa, India
Phone: +91 99233 32896
Email: info@seastar-agonda.com

Maaria Riose – Melody of the Sea in Dabolim

Mariaa Riose - Photo Credit Mariaa Riose
Mariaa Riose – Photo Credit Mariaa Riose

On our last night in Goa, we chose to stay at this affordable and comfy boutique hotel close to the airport. Mariaa Riose or ‘Melody of the Sea’ was a 7 minute drive from the airport and a 10 minute drive from Bogmalo beach. It was also about 100 metres from the Indian Naval Aviation Museum.

Monish and all the staff were very helpful and friendly. The management ensures that guests get free drops to the airport and the Bogmalo Beach. (within reasonable hours.) There is no elevator, so if you have difficulty climbing stairs, ask for rooms on the lower levels. You still might have to do one level of stairs though. My mom took a bit of time to climb, but managed to get up two flights of stairs.

Deluxe room at the Mariaa Riose - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Deluxe room at the Mariaa Riose

We chose to stay in the more spacious deluxe rooms that also had two sofa chairs. The rooms also have a small fridge, safety deposit box, AC, TV, and a kettle for coffee. WiFi is only available in the lobby area.

The food at their restaurant and for room service is okay. The bathrooms were clean. The best part though was the bed. The mattress was the comfiest I’ve ever seen, even comfier than in some 5 star hotels. I wish I could have taken the mattress home.
Another plus, if you reach too early before check in time they allow you to make use of the pool while waiting for your room.

Maaria Riose
1/6B, Gallint, Opposite 1st Navy gate, Alto Dabolim, Goa 403801, India
Phone: +91 832 253 8666
Email: hotelmariaariose@gmail.com

Cinnamon Agonda on Agonda Beach Road

Our huts at the Cinnamon Agonda - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Our huts at the Cinnamon Agonda

In South Goa, away from the maddening crowd of South Palolem, is the Agonda beach. The area is quieter compared to Palolem and so are most of the visitors. If you’re looking for peace and quiet instead of noise and parties, this is the place to be. There were quite a few good resorts here, so we had a difficult time choosing. But we ended up spending 2 nights at the Cinnamon Agonda.

Spacious rooms at Cinnamon Agonda - Photo Credit Cinnamon Agonda
Spacious rooms at Cinnamon Agonda – Photo Credit Cinnamon Agonda

Malissha and her staff are super helpful and friendly. (They helped us arrange for pickups from the airport at good rates. Distance from airport – 67 kms.) The rooms were spacious and clean. The beds were bouncy. All of the rooms are carpeted and come with a safety deposit box, a wardrobe, free WiFi. You can choose between air conditioned and regular rooms.

Outside our tent at night (Cinnamon Agonda) - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Mom outside our tent at night (Cinnamon Agonda)

There’s also an outdoor seating area to enjoy the sunset with a beer in the company of your friends, the mosquitos. 😉 Who am I kidding? I had really big spots on my arms and legs from the mosquito bites. But my trusty natural mosquito repellent made it bearable. The last rays of sunlight disappearing through the trees make for a pretty picture.

The shower head and the open frame at Cinnamon Agonda - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
The shower head and the open frame at Cinnamon Agonda

There is a steel frame pool at the centre of the property facing the bar. If you want a room close to the bar, ask for rooms 101, 102 or 103.

The breakfast terrace at the end - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
The breakfast terrace at the end

The in house restaurant has been closed but room service is still available. Breakfast is included in the price of the room and served at what they call the ‘terrace’ at the back. I would have loved a little more variety with the breakfast, but I liked the cinnamon French toast and dark coffee.

The beach is a short 4 minute walk away, while other restaurants and shops are less than a minute away. Other attractions in the area include the Cola Beach (3 kms), Butterfly Beach (6 kms), Cabo de Rama Fort (9 kms), Palolem Beach (9 kms) and Patnem Beach (10 kms) and more.

Cinnamon Agonda
Agonda Beach Rd, Canacona, Goa 403702, India
Phone: +91 91588 06297
Email: info@cinnamonagonda.com

Colonia Santa Maria in Cobravaddo, North Goa

Colonia Santa Maria - Photo Credit CSM
Colonia Santa Maria – Photo Credit CSM

These colonial-style villas are equidistant to both Calangute and Baga beaches. They’re clean, spacious and also have a big lounging area with sofas, cable TV, minibars and tea and coffee kettles. The staff at the hotel are eager to serve. We liked our stay there some years ago.

The pool at Colonia Santa Maria - Photo Credit CSM
The pool at Colonia Santa Maria – Photo Credit CSM

There is a pool to lounge at, but with the sea just 60 seconds away, do you really need it?

The onsite restaurant called the Balcao serves European, Continental and North Indian cuisine.

Colonia Santa Maria
CSM road, Khobravaddo, Calangute Goa 403516, India
Phone: +91 832 227 6107
Email: reservations@csmgoa.com

Fernandes Wooden Cottages in Palolem, South Goa

View from the upper floor balcony of our shack at Palolem Beach, Goa - TheWingedFork
View from the upper floor balcony of our shack at Palolem Beach, Goa

We went on another trip to South Goa in April 2016 and stayed at Fernandes Wooden Cottages. They’re eco-friendly cottages, so expect wooden walls that you can hear the neighbours through at night, wooden furniture and simple clean amenities. No TVs naturally. You’re here to relax, enjoy the sea and spend time with nature.

We stayed in the Garden cottages for the first night, but it was really hot, so we moved to one of the sea-facing air-conditioned rooms atop the Fernandes Restaurant for the next 3 nights. What did scare us a bit was the way the shack swayed every time the guy in the neighboring room went up and down the stairs, but the cottages are still standing, so all’s well. The upper floor rooms also had beach chairs on the balcony, so that was great. I’m not sure of the prices right now, but at that time the garden cottages were INR 1200 and the air-conditioned rooms cost INR 1600 a night.

Sash Fernandes and his staff are very helpful and can arrange vehicles for trips to other parts of Goa. You can ping him for more info at info@fernandeswoodencottages.com or Whatsapp him at +91-7875232056

Fernandes Wooden Cottages
Palolem Beach, Canacona Goa 403702, India
Phone: +91-7875232056
Email: info@fernandeswoodencottages.com

Best places to stay in Goa

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Must eat at restaurants in Goa

There’s a super long list in my head of the places I liked eating at in Goa. Here are some of them.

St. Anthony’s Bar & Restaurant, Baga Beach

St. Anthony's Bar and Restaurant, Baga Beach - Pic by TheWingedFork
St. Anthony’s Bar and Restaurant, Baga Beach

There’s a lot to try at St. Anthony’s Bar and Restaurant located at the end of Baga Beach. The butter garlic squid, the tiranga platter, the fried fish, all amazing! Get a table facing the beach with a view of the sea and enjoy your food with a chilled glass of beer.

St. Anthony's Restaurant and Bar at Baga Beach - Pic by TheWingedFork
St. Anthony’s Restaurant and Bar at Baga Beach

During season, the place is packed to the brim and you sometimes have to wait for a table. But if you go off season during the rains, there’s a totally different feel. The smell of sea air mixed with the rain has a mellow sort of calm even with the skies thundering and the waves crashing against the shores.

Is it just me, or is Goa the perfect place to be in all seasons?

The nearby shack Britto’s is pretty good too, but I haven’t taken any pics yet.

Find St. Anthony’s at Baga Beach, Calangute-Baga Road, Goa 403516.

Holy Turtle, Galgibag

Went here with mom when we were searching for the turtles I mentioned earlier. Although we didn’t get to see the turtles hatching because we were a bit early, we did get the chance to enjoy the clean beach and beautifully clear water.

Holy Turtle restaurant at Galgibag Beach - TheWingedFork
Holy Turtle at Galgibag Beach

Just facing the beach are a handful of shacks and we picked the Holy Turtle to set ourselves down. With a vantage point of the sea and just a couple of other people there, we enjoyed our beers with a paneer wrap and an amazing cesar salad.

Caesar Salad and Paneer Wrap at the Holy Turtle at Galgibag Beach - TheWingedFork
Caesar Salad and Paneer Wrap at the Holy Turtle

I’ve had a lot of caesar salads in my time, because they’re one of my favorites, but the blend of tastes and textures in this caesar salad and the abundance of olives were to die for.

Find Holy Turtle at Galgibaba Beach, Canacona, Goa 403728.

Joets Bar and Restaurant

Seafood platter at Joets - Photo Credit Joets
Seafood platter at Joets – Photo Credit Joets

This place was so amazing that we totally forgot to take pictures, so I asked the people at Joets for some and got this one. It’s the seafood platter. Mouthwatering, isn’t it?

Joets located at the North end of Bogmalo Beach just a 5 minute drive from the airport and 15 minutes form Vasco Da Gama. Even perfect for a last beer before the dash to the airport!

The ambiance, staff and music was great. The bartender was pretty yummy too.

If you get here, you must try the beef xacuti, fish fingers, butter garlic squid, and cheese garlic naan. And wash it down with a pint or two of beer.

Find Joets Bar and restaurant at Bogmalo Beach, Baillichall ward,
Vasco da Gama, Goa 403806.

Zanzibar Beach Shack in Baga

Pork Sausage Fry at Zanzibar in Baga, Goa - Pic by DFon from TheWingedFork
Pork Sausage Fry at Zanzibar
Beef Chilly Fry at Zanzibar in Baga, Goa - Pic by TheWingedFork
Beef Chilly Fry at Zanzibar

My cousin and his friends spent their time in Goa doing a test of all the beef chilly and sausage fry at different restaurants in North Goa. And they say the best one’s were at Zanzibar in Titos Lane. What do you think?

Find Zanzibar at Titos Lane, Baga Beach, Baga, Goa 403516.

Valencio’s in Bardez

Beef Chilly Fry at Valencio's - Pic by DFon from TheWingedFork
Beef Chilly Fry at Valencio’s

The cousin DFon and his friends also loved the beef chilly at Valencio’s nearby.

Squid masala at Valencio's, Bardez - Beef Chilly Fry at Valencio's - Pic by DFon from TheWingedFork
Squid masala at Valencio’s, Bardez

Their masala squid rings were pretty amazing too!

Feni and raspberry shots at Valencio's in Bardez Goa - Pic by DFon from TheWingedFork
Feni and raspberry shots at Valencio’s in Bardez Goa

Feni with raspberry. Now that’s an innovative and delightful combination. You won’t be able to stop at one. Warm your tired bones with this drink!

Find Valencio’s in Titos Lane, Saunta Vaddo, Calangute, Mardez, Goa 403516.

There are a lot more restaurants and cafes that need to go on this list, but I haven’t taken pics of all of them. I’ll try to add more as soon as I can.

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What do you love about Goa that’s unique? Comment and let us know. 

Where to eat and drink in Goa, India
Must visit places in Goa

Post Author: Abby

I'm a foodie and travel blogger who recently made my way out of the daily 9-to-5, or rather 9-to-9. I can't travel as much as I want to, but I make time to travel as often as possible. I've travelled across parts of Europe and Asia, and love writing about my experiences with people and cultures. And naturally, I love food, wine, and travel, and have an endless bucket list of places to go to, and experiences I must blog about. If you must know, my favorite things are nice rainy days, the smell of cakes in the oven, playing in the snow, glasses of wine, and dark chocolate.