Goa is a perfect blend of mesmerising beaches, roaring nightlife and tropical climate. The Goa trip begins from Bangalore with a small detour. The initial plan was to go to Goa for 3 days and 3-night stay but to no surprise, we ended up staying for another day and night. We were a group of 3 boys and 2 girls, rented out a Maruti Suzuki Baleno car to drive down to the city of fantastic beaches. We pre-booked our OYO in Sangolda village about 8 km from Panjim, Goa.
This blog contains day-to-day activities and suggestions on how to make the best of your vacation.
We started early at 4 am from Bangalore and took an unplanned detour to Gokarna to visit more places. It was a smooth 8 and half hours of journey to the destination. First, we visited 4th century Dravidian architectural styled Mahabaleshwar temple situated on Koti Teertha road, close to the beach. The beach was 3 mins walk from the temple with clean turquoise coloured water. Gokarna main beach is one of the cleanest and crowded beaches.
The next stop was to Om beach which was in the opposite direction about 7kms from Gokarna main beach. The beach was untidy and was quite crowded. The clock ticked for lunch and we found one and only place called ‘Namaste Cafe’. The food was upsetting and I advise you to carry some food on your own whilst at Om beach. Later, we decided to head to Goa as soon as possible. Despite popular belief that the roads from Gokarna to Goa are scenic, we found that this path had nothing much to offer. We reached the destination around 8 PM that night where we rented a 2BHK OYO property named “Sunrise Sangolda” in a place called ‘Sangolda’ village in Goa. (Note: Since I have lost the property pictures which I captured, I have taken the below pics from OYO and google).
Fact – Gokarna is called ‘Kasi of the South’
We had to cancel our initial plan to Doodhsagar falls as September was not the season to witness the beauty of it. Instead, we went on to explore the Basilica of Bom Jesus church and the Catholic church of St. Francis of Assisi in Old Goa. These two beautiful Portuguese churches were located right opposite to each other alongside the Mandovi river.
Basilica of Bom Jesus Inside the Basilica
After trying some lip-smacking local street food in Panaji, we visited Miramar beach in the evening. The striking thing about this beach is that you will witness very low tides or none at all. It’s almost like standing at the edge of the lake. If you like less crowded and calmer beaches, Miramar is not the place to go. However, it does not disappoint you from enjoying the serene beach vibe.
Later that evening, we came across a place called Kokni Canteen which serves authentic coastal Konkani cuisine. It’s a typical Goan house refashioned into a restaurant with red laterite walls and vintage decor. (Sorry for the unappealing food pics. There was a power cut when we were clicking :). Do not miss to visit this restaurant during your Goa trip guys, their food is absolutely amazing.
Goan Biryani Bombil Fry
Baileys Ice Cream
With delicious food to end the day, we drove down to our OYO in Sangolda for the night’s sleep.
Fact – Basilica of Bom Jesus church has the non-decomposing mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.
The day started with a quick Maggie breakfast at OYO and 33 km drive to Sahakari Spice Farm from Panaji. It’s a lush 130-acre plantation growing various herbs, spices with in-house elephants and a restaurant. With a nominal fee of 600 rupees for the tour, a guide is assigned to take you through the process of making Feni, growing and harvesting various spices and herbs.
Sahakari spice farm
Organic Spice Shop
The attraction of this place is resident elephants and your chance of petting and bathing them. The tour ends with a therapeutic experience of a ladle full of super cold Lavender oil poured on your back to give you a relaxing feeling. The tour around the farm takes about an hour or so with a buffet lunch, which is included in the fees. The lunch is cooked in an organic and earthen way. It is a very pleasant experience to learn about different spices and the process of making Feni. Later, we drove down to Panjim to do some dry fruit shopping as it is cheap and famous here. The day ends with food, music, serene evening view at crowded Baga beach.
Fact – Feni is a desi daaru made in Goa. It’s the land of cheap alcohol. So drink to your heart’s content.
With an intention to explore more beaches in Goa, we set out to Anjuna beach. The beach is quite rocky with high tides. Not an ideal beach for a swim but you can sit around the shore and have some peaceful time.
Next to this was Vagator beach, 15 mins drive from Anjuna beach. This is my favourite beach in Goa with a decent crowd and clean surroundings. For lunch, we went to Antares Restaurant and Beach Club owned by celebrity chef and author Sarah Todd. The food and the view from the restaurant are so idyllic that it will leave you wanting for more.
View from Antares
Veg Pizza Mint Ice cream with Brownie
Later, we went on a boat ride in the Mandovi river surrounded by mangrove forest. The boat ride stops in the middle of the river and you can go Kayaking (for free) and speed boating, bumper ride for some additional charges. It was a fun, action-packed afternoon with some exciting evening plans awaiting us.
Near Mangrove Forest on the river Mandovi
Kayaking Bumper Ride
After some deliberation, we chose to go to Casino Strike, Grand Hyatt among other famous casinos in Goa due to perks compared to others. This was an onshore casino, unlike the ones on the cruise ships. This place was moderately cheap – 2000 rupees package which included 2000 coins to play inside the casino, unlimited drinks and starters to the table and buffet. It was an evening filled with music, fun, good vibes and some entertaining performances. I would recommend this casino in terms of food, service and budget.
Grand Hyatt Casino
Fact – Goa offers Asia’s first floating Casinos at Panaji.
Aaah! This is the end of the trip. What do you do returning from a trip? Shop! We checked out from OYO and filled our car with famous Feni and dry fruits. Now off to Bangalore. See you again.