A different post than what I usually write but I wanted to document my two-week trip to Goa from earlier in the year.
This post is solely dedicated to my own experience and includes tips and advice about staying around Candolim which is located in the Bardez district in the Northern area of Goa but stay tuned for a more dedicated food post.
As most of you may know I’m half Indian but this was my first trip to India; granted this is a more tourist region than the typical hustle and bustle of cities such as Mumbai, but after a hectic latter part of 2014, I welcomed the lazy holiday retreat.
Highland Beach Resort Hotel, Candolim
We stayed at Highland Beach Resort and had two rooms for a family of five which I would NOT recommend. We had trouble with the showers for the first week and the hotel wi-fi was completely abysmal as well as no real evening entertainment. The breakfast provided was the worst I’d seen, with only a choice of toast or an omelette washed down with a limited choice of fruit juice.
If you are however, looking for a fuss-free simple hotel that is around a 10 minute walk to the beach then Highland Beach Resort may not be too bad but it just wasn’t for us.
The beaches all over the west Indian coast line are simply stunning with each having their own characteristics but be reminded that you will be greeted with at least one cow whilst you’re soaking up the Indian sun.
Candolim as a Location
Candolim is highly populated by tourists and unless you’re a fan of karaoke, sports bars, quiz nights, Chinese restaurants (that serve dreadful interpretations) then I urge you to try and venture away from the Western facilities that have been built for this purpose.
If I were to visit Goa again, I would certainly not stay in Candolim and would stay in an area that feels much more rooted to its own culture. During our trip I was told that Southern Goa was just as beautiful but less touristy so this may be a location to research if you’re thinking about visiting.
Markets Around Candolim
Apart from visiting the beaches and sunbathing, there’s also plenty of markets. If you’re staying in the area and want to avoid the tourist souvenirs then visit Mapusa Market, for plenty of traditional Indian snacks, food stalls as well as Indian sari’s and of course plenty of spices.
If you are looking for souvenirs and gifts then Anjuna Market is a great alternative, but bear in mind this market is not where the locals visit. Elephant statues, spices, tea, clothing, jewellery you’re sure to find something here. Once you’ve seen a quarter of the market, most of the stalls are continuously repeated so I wouldn’t spend more than a couple of hours here.
As well as delving into the bustle of an Indian market, there’s plenty of sight-seeing to be done. One of my favourite days was when we visited Dudhsagar Waterfalls.
The great thing about the waterfalls is that you can take a dip into the clean fresh water, although this is freezing cold!
Sahakari Spice Farm
After visiting the waterfalls we were taken to Sahakari Spice Farm, which involves a complimentary lunch on purchasing your ticket as well as an informative tour around the spice farm. Of course you can choose to purchase spices after the tour, but I would highly recommend purchasing any spices at Mapusa Market since you don’t want to pay tourist prices (which can be nearly triple the cost).
Nightlife in Candolim
If you’re more into the clubbing atmosphere, then there’s plenty of bars and clubs around Candolim. Candolim itself is more of a quiet town and you’ll tend to find a much older crowd. If you’re looking to party most of the evening, Baga has a main strip which contains plenty of bars for a crawl and also tends to host a younger crowd, with Tito’s being the club to visit.
As we were visiting with family we only went clubbing once and decided to go all out at Club Cubana which is located up in the mountains. Now this is THE place to visit if you’re planning on having a great night out. It is one of the most beautiful clubs I’ve ever visited and has an amazing view with the rest of Goa twinkling below. The best part about the evening? We only paid for a taxi to and from the location. Visiting on a Wednesday means it’s ‘Ladies’ Night’ – free entry for women where men pay £20 to enter but bear in mind if you’re travelling with a group of men you may be turned away. Regardless alcohol is free all night for both genders making this an exceptional night out, especially if you don’t mind sticking to cheaper spirits.
The VIP section does serve more premium spirits and cocktails if you get sick of the free drinks which also has a jacuzzi. For food there’s wood fired pizza available to purchase if you’re feeling a little peckish.
Oh and if you feel too crowded or a little hot, there’s also a pool you can jump into which on the evening of visiting, was unpopular. Teamed with fire-dancers randomly performing, it really did have a bit of everything to make the night thoroughly entertaining,
Candolim and Goa in general can be very touristy so do your research before visiting and pick an area that has less of a ‘Western’ vibe if you truly want to experience India.
I absolutely loved Goa but there are a few things to take note if you are planning on visiting:
- You will probably experience a stomach upset or mild food poisoning at some point in the trip. We had various members of the family feeling ill at different points. To avoid this:
- Only drink bottled water but do be careful of fresh fruit and salads as these may have been washed with tap water. This includes fresh fruit juice!
- Restaurants do not have the high hygiene standards that we come to expect in the UK meaning you should be careful with everything and everywhere that you eat.
- Goans get around the area by moped. They are extremely easy to hire (and don’t require many safety checks) but if you do choose to explore, make sure you drive safely as Indian drivers take more risks and there are more ‘hidden’ rules.
- Don’t be afraid to venture out from the norm. Travel by bus and soak in the Bhangra music which can be heard for miles.
- Haggle, haggle and haggle. Even though you may be used to paying premium prices in the UK, bear in mind Goa is the most expensive region of India. Goans will always OVERCHARGE for products so don’t hesitate as this is more than the rest of India will charge.
Most importantly don’t forget to soak in the Indian lifestyle or more so, the Goan attitude.