Sun, surf, sand, fish, feni, fun; that’s the essence of Goa, India’s beach paradise, in a nutshell. And Goa lives up to the image very well indeed. When we think of Goa, stretches of powdery sands, swishing palms, sunbathing holidaymakers, endless rows of beach shacks, adventurous divers and parasailing enthusiasts are only a few of the ‘typical’ picture that comes to mind.
Not many of us think rainclouds on the horizon at the mention of Goa. Or lush green paddy fields for that matter. Rainwashed cobbled streets, shining church spires, gushing rivers and streams, thundering waterfalls… but that’s what Goa is all about when the sun bows out to the monsoon clouds every year. From late June to early September, Goa transforms into a sensuous seductress as opposed to the cheery, bright, bubbly beach damsel she is.
If you love going off the beaten track, get to Goa while it still rains and come back with an experience that only a few can claim to have had. Here are our favourite ways to experience Goa in the monsoon.
Trek to Dudhsagar Falls
Milky Way on Earth; that’s how most locals like to describe the Dudhsagar, on Goa’s border with Karnataka. And the trek to the Falls, with its thundering cascades, involves climbing boulders, crossing bridges and tunnels, and of course getting soaked to the skin.
Beaches of South Goa
Far from the “hippie haven” image of beaches across North Goa, the South is quieter, peaceful and more scenic. While you should avoid swimming in the sea during monsoon, you can always walk from one beach to the other, making a detour into the villages for a glimpse of the emerald green fields surrounded by rivulets, tiled-roof houses, chapels and crumbling Portuguese mansions. The landscape is truly beautiful and may bring out the artist in you, pack a canvas, easel and colours if you are so inclined or get snapping on your camera.
This is something you may not even dream of when the sun is up and about. However, going indoors is a good idea when the rain is lashing the beaches. For such a small state, Goa has an impressive collection of museums. Goa Chitra Museum is widely praised for its impressive chronicle of architectural and cultural artefacts. The Pilar Museum has an excellent stamp and coin collection as well as a stunning stained glass window created by Angelo da Fonseca. Don’t miss the ship-shaped Houses of Goa Museum.
An early morning trip to a birding spot will be rewarded with an amazing variety of feathered beauties. Start at the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary on the island of Chorao. Standing at the watchtower, you can spot Brahminy kites, egrets, kingfishers and several types of waders. The Carambolim Lake is another good birding spot.
Spice It Up
Nutmeg, vanilla, cardamom, pepper, cloves, chilli, cinnamon; if you are thinking we are about to tell you a recipe, you’re wrong. This is a sampling of the spices grown in Goa and a plantation tour is what you need to see it for yourself. Most of the plantations are concentrated in Ponda, and if you are staying in a homestay the owner will help you book a tour. The gurgling of rain-fed streams, birdsong, the fragrance of spices wafting in the air and the soothing shades of green make this tour truly worthwhile.
Related articles and links
Travel in India during monsoon season: tips and advice
Places to see in North Goa
Things to do in Margao, Goa
Panjim Goa: Things to see in this charming city
Goa destination guide
Goa homestay collection
Beaches of India: Palolem beach
Image credits to Ramesh Lyanswamy who shared them under the Creative Commons licence. All images link back to the original source.
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