Being struck ill in Jaisalmer, I was suddenly stuck on my plans after a couple of weeks in Rajasthan. Do I head to Himachal Pradesh early, before the season begins, or do I follow suit and head to Goa for a while?
A flight from Delhi to Goa was booked on April 11 for just over 4000 rupees one-way, and I flew to the smallest state of India two days later.
First on the cards was North Goa: famed for its rowdy trance parties.
I checked into Jungle Hostel, a thehostelcrowd member, in Vagator Beach after hearing so many travellers rave about it. True to form, the hostel was surrounded by a lot of greenery. It comprised of two buildings – AC and non-AC rooms – containing both dorms and privates. The kitchen area was well-equipped, and there was a reception café that offered cold drinks, organic teas and vegan treats.
It was great to see filtered water tanks and four separate bins (as in Stops Hostel, Delhi) in this eco-friendly budget accommodation. Highlights included the fridge stocked up high with Kingfishers, amazing samosas at breakfast, hammock area, and the weekly events calendar organised by the hostel (including a Friday BBQ night and trip to the Saturday Night market (seasonal)).
Vagator Beach was our nearest seaside spot. It was okay in terms of its size and scenery, but the constant staring and request for photographs (whilst we were in our bikinis, I might add) was a little off-putting. A scooter ride to Morjim Beach proved to be a fantastic escape.
The rural roads leading to Morjim Beach made the long (30-40 minutes) drive more bearable. Slightly further afield and far more tourists around, the beach huts and surrounding cafes and bars made our afternoon break in the area worth the while.
One that cannot be missed is Ashvem Beach, only about 10-15 minutes away from Morjim. A peaceful piece of North Goa, a little isle existed – perfect for sunset – when the tide was low. This was one of my favourite beaches in North Goa for its tranquility and slightly off-beat feel.
If you’re willing to take on the drive, Miramar Beach was also fabulous for sunset. You’d have to pass the bridge across Panjim (tip: wear helmets, or face financial consequences. The ‘traffic police’ were around, asking for our licenses (of course the scooter company did not care about these) – their absence were prohibited. In the end, financial bribes were expected. So beware.), but the drive from Old Goa to Miramar was amazing.
The long sandy beach was overcrowded with families for sunset – we were bombarded by families for group photos (cute) – but it really was incredible. Grab a few Kingfishers for some sundowners! We took a cheeky dip in the ocean at dusk, but was shortly escorted out by the lifeguard on duty.
Though fairly close to Vagator, nearby Anjuna or Baga Beaches were not ones I’d write home about.
Many congregate in North Goa for its psy -trance parties. I arrived on a Wednesday, but I narrowly missed the infamous ladies’ night at Club Cubana, which closed its doors a couple of weeks previously to wave goodbye to another season. That evening, we headed to The Riverhouse near Baga beach for a karaoke night – with unlimited sangria – before Mambo’s.
Mambo’s had a tacky Angels vs. Devils night on, with most of its clientele rocking halos and horns… not exactly my kind of evening.
That Wednesday evening ended with an electro night at Café Lilliput, a fairly decent bar/club on the beach.
On Saturday night, for my 23rd birthday, after a fancy champagne dinner out with new and old friends, we checked out the Arpora Saturday Night Market for a spot of shopping (before the season ended), where a forest rave greeted us with some psy-trance tracks ’til the early hours of the morning. It was an interesting setting for a party, and one that made my 23rd birthday a particular memorable evening.
Yes, tourists flocked to the area, but the 100 rupee charge for Old Monk rum and tonic cannot be easily turned down.
My birthday ended fairly late, finishing at Waters, a beach bar/resort in Vagator. Drinks were slightly more expensive than all the others places we went to, but the intimate feel of the DJ sets and the palm tree-lined balconies made it one of the more classier – and more pleasant – venues of North Goa. A hill which overlooked the beaches was also very close-by, a quiet spot for sunrise.
I packed my bags very hungover on a Sunday morning – with no sleep – and headed for South Goa. I travelled with two girls from Jungle, Rosie and Hannah, who are behind a fantastic project called #loveinamillionfaces. They spent a considerable amount of time in South Goa; they documented our time there (along with some great recommendations) in their own travel blog. So check that out!
Goa was fantastically weird. It was almost like being stuck in time – the psy-trance clubs seemed to be awfully dated (ones I have visited anyway), whilst more modern and simplistic establishments keep popping up year after year, hoping to attract the new-age flashpacking tourists.
Goa was an unforgettable place – definitely one which welcomed my twenty-third year with a blast.