I spent my last week in India exploring the beaches of Goa. The south of India is extremely different from the North. The landscapes change from cold beautiful mountains to warm sunny beaches. It still blows my mind that India is only one country when it feels like it should be at least six or seven.
We slept through our bus stop again and ended up ten kilometers past Mapusa which is the main town that connects you to the northern Goan beaches. We finally found a local bus to take us back to the main bus stop in Mapusa and from there we found a bus to Anjuna. The bus to Anjuna was absolutely packed, but the bus money collector grabbed our bags and proceeded to throw them in the compartment with the driver. He pulled us all on individually slamming the door behind us and off we went like a packed can of sardines. It added another hour onto our journey and cost us an additional 60 rupiah($1), but it was yet another story to tell.
We started our stay in Anjuna at the Prison Hostel for a party and party we did. Anjuna is where you will find the most nightlife and a lot of psytrance, clubbing and techno scene. Many Indian tourists come here for a chance to let loose. We spent our first night at Shiva Valley, a beach turned into a massive psytrance festival. It was quite shocking coming from dry Rajasthan to crazy Goa.
I woke up the next morning with a bit of a headache, but instead of finding a nice clean bathroom there was vomit in the sink and a massive poop in the corner of the shower. Many days while traveling I come to the conclusion that hostel life may not be for me anymore... The staff cleaned it up in a timely manner and we all laughed about it except for the main culprit who checked out immediately. The Prison Hostel offered free breakfast and was a great place to socialize, but I thought it was a bit expensive for what was offered.
Every Wednesday Anjuna hosts a big flea market on Anjuna Beach. You can find anything and everything at these markets including lanterns, clothing, jewelry, artwork, etc. They have many restaurants and food stands weaved throughout the tents with live music and a ton of great people watching. The markets start around 10am and don't close up until around 6:30pm. Do your shopping and gift buying in Goa they have the best deals!
The next night we hit up Cabana Club for Wednesday Ladies night. Women get in free and enjoy open bar while the men pay 1200 rupiah for open bar and entry. The club was located on top of a hill and extremely spacious with different areas other than the dance floor to enjoy your countless alcoholic beverages. There is a pool area with a wood fire pizza oven and another bar! We danced until the wee hours of the morning until we decided to call it a night. Thankfully we found two Indian girls to drive us home!
Arambol is where we decided to move for our last five days on the beach. It’s a much more subdued and relaxed part of Goa. We found a wonderful two bedroom apartment on the beach for 1500 rupiah and easily adjusted from party mode to chill mode. There is a nightly market on the beach during sunset where you'll find a number of vendors who are trying to sell all sorts of things. This nightly market was an eclectic mix of Russians, hippies and other fellow travelers who have managed to get stuck in Arambol. If anything go to this market just for the people watching.
We visited Tiger Beach and Sweet Water Lake everyday to get away from the crowds. As you walk from Arambol beach to Tiger Beach around the rocky bend you'll find the most inexpensive markets in Goa. I recommend visiting the famous Banian Tree and the Baba behind Sweet Water Lake when you are not lounging on the beach or playing soccer with the locals.
One surprising characteristic of Goa is there are more Russians than Indians. The menus and signs are written in Russian and English rather than Hindi.
One of the best things to do in Goa is to rent peds and drive around to all of the surrounding beaches. One piece of advice: do not pull over for the police. They will just make you pay money and they will not chase you if you just drive past them as they wave you over. Wear a helmet and do not carry all of your money on you. Be safe my friends.
Things to do:
- Morjim Beach - Enjoy a beer and a dip in the ocean. There are restaurants that line the beaches and offer lounge chairs to relax on.
- Shiva Valley - Festival on the beach.
- Baba & Banian Tree Arambol- This Baba is a fraud, but it's entertaining to see.
- Cabana Club- Ladies nights on Wednesdays!
- Hilltop- Cool venue for music and a weekly party. 500 rupiah entry.
- UV Bar- Anjuna Beach
- Arambol beach market- Every night at sunset.
- Arpora Saturday Night market- Live music, DJ's, food stands and tons of vendors.
- Rock Waters- Reggae nights and a good night out
- Anjuna Wednesday day market- 10AM to 6:30PM.
- Tiger Beach and Sweet Water Lake- Calmer spot to enjoy the beautiful Arabian Sea.
- Twice in Nature- Great spot for live music, drinks and food. Great venue and great vibes.
- Magic Garden- Live music and chilled vibes.
- Rent peds & drive around to all of the different beaches. You can find pends for 250 rupiah ($4) per day.
Where to eat:
- Garden City Restaurant Arambol- Local prices. Great thali and tandoori chicken for those meat eaters out there.
- Kinara Cafe and Restaurant in Arambol- Great momo's and fish thali.
- Dreamland Cafe Arambol- Nice breakfast spot. Chill vibes and avocado toast.
- Boombam Coffee Arambol- Great coffee spot right before hitting the beach in Arambol.
- Om Ganesh Arambol- Great location on the walk to Tiger Beach.
Where to stay:
- That Crazy Hostel Anjuna- 200 rupiah ($3) per night. Has pool and bar in the hostel.
- Guesthouses in Arambol- Ranging from 300-500 rupiah ($5-$7.50) per night.
I plan to go back to Southern India to explore more Goan beaches since I was only able to see three. My favorite one was Arambol and once you visit you'll see why. Enjoy your time in Goa and don't do anything I wouldn't do!