Goa, having been unofficially christened the most Bohemian destination’ of India, has witnessed a plethora of tourists trying to live the liberated sixties dream in the past decade. With such a voluminous influx of eager explorers, it’s obvious that every nook and corner has been treaded upon, investigated and scrupulously concealed from other travellers. Yet, year after year, many more discoveries later, the destination is afresh with new things to do. With the locals playing a large part in bringing forth their history, culture and hospitality to outsiders, what could be better than a staying in a typical Goan house and getting upclose and personal with this fantastic place?
1. Take a dip into history
To date, the mysterious Latin Quarter in the heart of Panjim remains one of the more charming things on the itinerary. Apart from the vibrant coloured walls and quaint streets there are some delightful hidden surprises. Over tea and some delectable freshly baked biscuits in the Gomes household a suggestion is made to visit the 31st January Bakery with it’s old fashioned recipes. Right behind the house, a narrow lanes winds right into the bakery. Make sure you have some extra space in the bag to carry some delicious treats home. Viva Panjim, another restaurant which has etched its name in local history, is tucked around the corner, but sure is a pleasure for those who like sea-food.
2. Recipe Exchange
Few travellers in Goa really experience beyond crowded beaches, hippie markets and shack food. Staying in a homestay, gives a great insight into the local culture and great food. Get a crash course in the delicious local curries with the owners and share some of your own recipes with the ever-adventurous Goans.
3. Green Goa
Goa has some fantastic villages to explore, provided you are ready to be lost in the luscious Arpora hills. Staying at the Capella, in North Goa can plunge you right into the wilderness with your hosts Jamshed and Ayesha having a strong interest in preserving the environment. They can arrange for local experts and naturalists to give inspiring talks on snakes and the indigenous flora and fauna. Highly recommended for environment enthusiasts, this is something you must insist on adding to your itinerary.
4. Birds of Goa
Many of the locals of Goa have a great eye for bird-watching in the hilly terrains of North Goa. Make sure to pack your binoculars for an impromptu bird watching walk with the homestay owners.
5. A Fit Holiday
For a healthy holiday, staying with a fitness expert is all you could ask for. Many residents of Goa live and enjoy the clear air and a meticulous regime. Join in for some Pilates, aerobics or easy workouts with the owners themselves.
6. The Mystifying Island
Old Goa has always been rather elusive to the tourists who throng the popular beaches of North. After spending half a day in the churches and breathing in the historical air of Goa, don’t miss the mystifying island of Divar. Again, a brilliant suggestion by the veterans of Panjim, the island can be reached by regular ferries from Old Goa. An old white church, flanked by Banyan trees, stands atop a hill, visible from all points below. The sleepy island has stretches of fields and hardly any inhabitation. Great for a long drive and a quick break for some beer in local cafes!
9. Serene Sands
Having heard of only the popular beaches of Goa, many miss many secret pristine beaches. Drive forty minutes north of Arpora and hit the Ashwem, Mandrem and Morjim beaches. Carefully tucked away from the busy clamour of hotels and guest houses, one can spend some quiet time in the few tasteful shacks at the far end of these un-commercial beaches. Better still is to pack a great picnic breakfast from the homestay that you stay in, and veer off further to more unknown beaches, with suggestions from the owners. This is sure to leave a mark in your memory.
The authentic tinge of Goa is always a pleasant respite from the usual itineraries, so don’t miss to ask your homestay owners to suggest some more unique things to do in Goa.
Have your how favorite thing to do in Goa or a secret spot you feel like sharing? Leave us a comment and let us know about it.
Find out about the homestay experience and don't forget to check out our ideas on things to do in India or browse our India homestays.