By Seema Wadhwa
It was almost two decades ago that actor and director, Farhan Akhtar through his directorial debut, Dil Chahta Hai reintroduced Goa to Indian viewers as the ultimate vacation destination. While the movie was an initial influence for many tourists, it was then the positive experiences of many travellers that created curiosity towards the popular Goa vibe! For many, an annual Goa trip has been a ritual for as long as they can recall. The lively beaches packed with shacks playing music, quaint lanes, infinite eateries, and bars have made Goa the ultimate destination for most people.
Travellers who crave insight into culture find themselves being happy too for Goa has lots in store given its rich history, architecture and delicious cuisine. However, in the last couple of years, the beaches on the North of Goa have been packed with tourists with loud music playing practically in every corner attracting travellers to opt for South Goa, the undiluted side of Goa, the cleaner and less populated beaches are a sight for the sore eyes, the walking markets which are like potpourris of colour and Goan fashion, and many must-visit places, that are creating happy experiences for travellers.
Here’s a list of few of the many enchanting things about South Goa will make you want to take the road South
1. Cleaner and less crowded beaches: South Goa is home to two major beaches – Palolem and Colva beach, both of which are cleaner and less crowded as compared to the beaches on North of Goa. This makes the experience more enriched allowing one to enjoy uninterrupted sunsets, soothing music playing from shacks, which in number are half as compared to North. One can comfortably take a walk through the sand and actually listen to the sound of waves which is often lost over chatter in other parts of Goa, and most importantly enjoy the pleasant beach air as it gets colder once the sun sets over the horizon.
2. Portuguese Architecture Abode Near The Beach: One of the major concerns many potential South Goa travellers have expressed in the past is the absence of comfortable accommodation near the beach. Until earlier in 2019, the only accommodation available near the Palolem beach was homestays at the beach which do not cater to travellers taking a vacation. Here’s good news for travellers heading to South Goa in 2020. Sobit Sarovar Protico by Sarovar Hotels and Resorts has opened its doors in the heart of South Goa.
The beach is less than a 5-minute walk from this Portuguese architecture inspired property. Located right in the South Goa market, it is ideal for a leisurely vacation. The accommodation is comfortable, luxurious yet relatively easy on the pockets. The uniformly built rooms come with a sit-out balcony overlooking the guests’ favourite central swimming pool and bright Yellow loungers representative of the chirpy brightness of this tropical town. The interesting thing for foreign and Indian travellers about Sobit Sarovar Portico is that they get to experience a quintessential Goan vacation with Indian hospitality as the team here is happy to assist guests with their local expertise to get around South Goa.
3. Vegan and Vegetarian Cafes and Restaurants
A veteran traveller will tell you that Goa hasn’t always been a paradise for vegetarians. Some years ago, one would notice vegetarian travellers struggle a little for the best food in the sea of Goan cuisine. However, over the years, Goa has evolved and for those heading to South Goa, the options are plenty. 75 Cover, an all-day dining restaurant in Sobit Sarovar Portico offers buffet and a la carte meals at tourist-friendly prices.
Canacona, the city in South Goa itself has diverse cafes and restaurants serving some vegan and vegetarian meals, as soothing music cascades through by-passers ears and that’s another striking difference one would notice when comparing South Goa to North Goa. South Goa is home to more sit-down places than bars blasting music. It lets one engage in solitude as they read a book and break bread.
4. Walking Market: The walking market in South Goa is a shoppers’ market because the prices are meant to please the tourists and surprise them with the abundant variety of swimsuits, jewellery, dream catchers, and so on it has to offer.
How to get to South Goa: Train journey followed by a road trip, long road trip from Mumbai, direct flights, cruises from Mumbai.
Commuting in Goa: The most popular way of commuting in Goa is through rental bikes, or rental cars. In the case of non-drivers, chauffeur-driven private rental cars and cabs are available too.
(The author is a Mumbai-based travel writer. Views expressed are personal.)