It’s no secret that beaches, parties and more than a little wellness action is on the menu in Goa. As attractive as that list is, we’ve got some things to do in Goa you’ll want to weave into your itinerary. Big cats, adrenaline surging rapid rides and a couple of intriguing places to visit in Goa are just the start. Read on and we’ll clue you in on how to get a custom wardrobe, where to find some Goan eats and drop some intel on one of India’s tallest waterfalls…
Snuffle out some secret beaches
You’ll likely have Baga, Arossim and Mobor on your Goa beach list. Yes, they’re some of the best beaches in the region, but you’ll find queues at the beach shacks and more than a few sunbathers on the sands. If you’re looking for a slice of pristine coastline to call your own for the day, you’ll need to do some detective work. We can point you in the direction of open secrets – think Cola Beach and Butterfly Beach, but anything we list here won’t stay secret for long.
Orbzii tip: Expect to share all but the remotest sands with Goa’s cows and bulls. Generally docile, they may approach for a scratch or a pat on the neck – but are more likely to be interested in your beach picnic.
Keep your eyes peeled for big cats
Wildlife fans. There’s 93 square miles of national park you need to get to in eastern Goa. Jeep – or hike, your way through the dense forests of Mollem National Park to spot leopards and tigers. You’ll need a lot of luck – and a little stealth to spot these shy creatures. Thankfully, there are many more animals to look out for as you explore. Bison, elephants, golden orioles and king cobras also hang out in the cool shade provided by the evergreen habitat.
Track down traditional Goan cuisine
If you spy a Goan restaurant offering up xacuti, sorak, bebinca and more local specialities , don’t hesitate to book a table. Traditional dishes have been elbowed out in favour of a travel-friendly global menu. And as pleasing as it might be to chomp on avo toast in all four corners of the globe, the Goan spice blends that tingle your tastebuds for days, can’t be missed. Struggling for inspo? Ritz Classic have a few locations you’d do well to plot into your Goa itinerary.
Peer at the ancient remains of St. Francis Xavier
It’s not unusual to find well-preserved remains stowed away in ornate churches. But the long–suffering body of St Francis Xavier looks in good shape – considering the various ordeals he’s been through. Kept at the rather stunning Basilica de Bom Jesus, St Francis was originally placed in a vat of pickling lime. This undignified start didn’t bode well for the former miracle worker. He lost a toe back in the 16th century – when foot worship was de rigueur – and an arm was sent to Rome at the whim of the church. Drop in to pay your respects to this intriguing chap. Lord knows he needs them.
Drop in to Braganza House
Ultimately, you’re going to swing by Braganza House in Chandor for a peek into a grand, Goan example of colonial architecture. But you’ll also be here for a snoop. Still privately owned, this slice of India’s heritage is fascinating for a few reasons. Free to enter, you can casually drop into this family’s home and wander about. Add in the opportunity to chat to the owners who’ve been living here for 14 generations and Braganza House becomes a kind of living museum. Oh and we should probably mention, the family has one of St Francis Xavier’s fingernails stowed away somewhere in their chapel…
Ride the rapids in Monsoon season
Between June and October Goa’s rains see the rivers surge from sedate and meandering trickles to full on white water rapids. If that’s sparked a mini-adrenaline kick in your nervous system, give the folks at Goa Rafting a shout. They’ll get you out on the Mhadei River to float among the waves, paddle through the water and ride the rapids. A thrilling way to travel through 10kms of the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary.
Delve into Goa’s flea markets
In between collecting snaps of colonial Portuguese architecture and perfecting your Virabhadrasana in a yoga retreat, Goa has some flea markets for you to skip along to. It’s not so much about finding bargains – they can be snapped up across the continent. You’re here for the eclectic stalls, aromatic food shacks, live music and the unexpected. Malls and stores can never quite match the thrill of finding those unique quirks we all love uncovering at a flea market. The best one in Goa? The Anjuna Beach Market has been bartering successfully since the 60s. Don’t discount the equally popular Calangute stalls though.
Get a fish pedicure in a bubbling lake
Are we collectively done with fish pedicures? To be honest, your stance on fish nibbling at your toes is neither here nor there at Netravali. This lake – or pond, the jury’s still out – has a bit of a bubble mystery. Thoughtful musings tended to offer up methane as the answer. But that’s been thrown out as the fish population is thriving. Swing by to see if you can solve the bubble puzzle. But, don’t be alarmed if your fellow pond gazers start clapping or behaving oddly. All sorts of behaviours have been known to increase bubble activity. Either that, or the nearby Netravali villagers are playing the ultimate prank.
Orbzii tip: Granted, a bubbling lake might not convince you to head this way. Pair it with a trip to the stone age rock carvings in Usgalimal and the Mainapi waterfalls to lower your travel time to sights worth seeing ratio.
Treat yourself to some new custom garms
Few among us can trot along to a local tailor and request a set of custom clothing. Oh, but we’d love to. In Goa, opportunities to do this lie around every corner. Lengths and lengths of gorgeous, high quality khaddi cotton can be snapped up for around £2.50 per metre. Once you’ve bagged your colourful material, you just need to share a few personal measurements with a Goan tailor and they’ll run up a dress, shirt, blouse, tee – or just about anything, for a fee. The easiest way to get your wardrobe sorted? Show them your favourite garment – and they’ll copy it.
Orbzii tip: You’ll typically be buying your cotton before it’s first wash. Hello shrinkage. So it pays to give your new fabric a wash before handing it over to your tailor or seamstress.
Find the falls
One of the top things to do in Goa during monsoon season? Trek out to some of the region’s stunning waterfalls. Best seen in full flow during, or just after, the rainy season, the falls are usually tucked away in Goa’s national parks and forests. By far the most spectacular are the Dudhsagar Falls in the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. Clocking in at 310 metres high, it’s among the highest falls in India. Hiking routes to the falls vary by the season – but the shortest trek comes in at around 11km (from Kulhem Station). If you’d rather head in by jeep, spaces are limited so it’s best to book in advance.