Goa Beyond the Beaches

Goa is one of my favorite travel destinations in India, right up there with the awesome national parks and well, the mountains. However, I have never really explored much of Goa beyond the spectacular beaches.

Once I took a tour to Old Goa and really enjoyed it but got quickly swayed by the Goan beach vibe which is what draws me to this city every year, like clockwork. I often joke around with my friends that I am off to my annual Goan pilgrimage (which simply converts to chilling on the beaches sipping King’s beer).

This time.. however, it all changed.  

As a guest of Goa tourism board, earlier this month, I explored a different side of Goa altogether. From museums to beautiful Goan houses, churches and spice gardens, scrumptious sea food and bird parks – we conquered the lesser known parts of Goa…even though I spent some time simply chilling at Miramar beach with Sonal of DrifterPlanet

At the beach with Sonal @DrifterPlanet

At the beach with Sonal @DrifterPlanet

Exploring Goa, Minus the beaches

Museums of Goa

Goa has plenty of museums to boast of but have you seen any of them? Well, I hadn’t until now. Some of the most popular ones are Museum of Christian Art, Naval Aviation museum, Archaeological museum, Goa Chitra museum and my favorite BigFoot Cross Museum (Ancestral Goa).

bigfoot goa

Goan lifestyle showcased at BigFoot museum

Bigfoot museum in Loutolim is a miniature village depicting rural Goa in the golden days. From life size statues of villagers showcasing their way of living, livelihood, dressing and architecture, this museum is a fun filled open air attraction. It makes for a  perfect day out for families and students.

The museum also boosts of an art gallery, handicraft center, bird habitat and a small in-house spice plantation, among other things.

ancestral goa

Posing at the spice garden in Ancestral Goa

Goan Cuisine and Sea Food

The typical Goan coconut curries (fish and prawn usually) are something you just need to taste when in Goa. You cannot leave the city without trying out some of these local curries in Goan spices, veggies and sea food.

yummy lobster

One of the yummiest lobster’s I ever had

Apart from that, you also get different grilled/ fried variations of seafood like lobster, king fish, king prawns or just opt for the “Catch of the day”.

Architectural delights of Goa

From forts to churches and pretty Portuguese houses everywhere, riding around Goa is a delightful experience. One of the most popular fort is Chapora which rose to popularity and made it to everyone’s bucket list because of the well received Bollywood flick Dil Chahta Hai. Apart from that, other forts worth a mention are – Aguada, Terekhol and Corjuem, among many more.

Penha de France Church

Penha de France Church on Mandovi river

Since over 25% of the Goan population comprises of Christians, there are several awe aspiring churches in Goa. Basilica of Born Jesus, Se Cathedral and St Francis of Assisi are some of the more renowned ones, though, there is a pretty churn on almost every street/corner in Goa.

Spice Gardens

Goa has several spice gardens but Sahakari spice farm in Ponda is quite popular among tourists. Spread over a whooping 130 acres of lush greenery, this place is a complete educational experience.

sahakari

Taking in the lush greenery at Sahakari

You get an hour long guided tour where you learn about medicinal properties of various plants and herbs.

sahakari spice farm

Our guided tour at Sahakari

With an in house restaurant serving amazing local food, folk dances and even elephant rides, this plantation is a must visit to indulge in local culture and history.

Folk dance at Sahakari spice farm

Folk dance at Sahakari spice farm

Admission fee is Rs 400 ($6 approx) which includes a complete tour and a yummy buffet lunch. 

bridge photoshoot

Lovely bridge makes for stunning views and photo opps

Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

As an avid birder, I simply love exploring bird parks around the globe. That’s how my visit to Dr Salim Ali bird sanctuary materialized. A fellow blogger Medhavi from Ravenouslegs and I decided to be adventurous and woke up at 5 am with no mode of transport to get to the park. Buses in Goa start at 0615 hrs so it was quite exciting to make our way in wee hours of the morning in order to be the first ones at the park. Haven’t you heard of the saying ‘Early bird catches the worm’? So, we hitchhiked, walked, took a bus and a ferry and finally reached our destination (Which was barely 20 mins from our hotel in Miramar by the way!).

After the initial challenge, we had to wait a bit for the boat ride (to get enough passengers to fill the boat). At just Rs 150 ($1.2) per person, taking an hour long boat tour is the best way to experience the park. With many water birds ,birds of prey and local as well as migratory birds, among thick mangroves as backdrops, it was a nice morning out.

sunrise in goa

Bonus – I got to watch the sun rise after ages (I am sooo not a morning person but this was worth it)

A short walk inside the park is also highly recommended post the boat tour. Here’s why –

You can sight common birds like –  White throated kingfisher, Brahminy kite, Pied Heron, Sandpiper, Osprey and visitors like Black headed Ibis.

brahminy kite in goa

A lovely Brahminy kite perched on a tree top – lovely contrasts of chestnut on the green backdrop!

Tip – Visit during low tide, as birds come out and spread around,catching fish which makes for easy sighting. During high tide, you can only spot them on tree tops, from your boat.

With so much to see do and explore in Goa, its best to rent a bike and tour South, North and Old Goa keeping atleast 2 weeks on hand. Your first stop will undoubtedly be the beaches but now you know what else to see while you are there.

With fellow journalists and bloggers outside BigFoot museum

With fellow journalists and bloggers outside BigFoot museum

Disclaimer – I was a guest of Goa tourism board to cover the #GoaTribalFest and these are just a few other things I experienced on this visit.

 

9 Comments

  1. Goan food is one of my favourites 🙂

  2. This felt like a deeper look at Goa and really nice to see something beyond the sandy shores. The food sounds really tasty! I ahd no idea you were a birder! But that sunrise was worth getting up for!

  3. Goa beyond its beaches is really beautiful. Did you manage that heritage tour of Panjim – I totally loved that. The spice plantations is quite a refreshing journey too….glad you managed that as well! And yes, some of these museums that you have mentioned are still pending for me – soon! on another trip! 🙂

  4. You very well jotted down all our experiences from this trip. It’s a wonderful post. Feels nice to see a post on Goa which is not just about the beaches.

  5. Goa seems amazing! I have never been to India and all I know about Goa is the beaches. But I would love to see the Bigfoot museum and the spice plantations and eat some seafood curry!

  6. I’ve always dismissed beach destinations, since I never want to bask in the sun all day. Recently a friend of mine was posting photos of all the historic sites in the Bahamas and it was embarrassing to realize I’d never thought of all the other things beach towns have to offer. I’ll have to rethink Goa.

  7. There is so much more to Goa, than the beaches. I love the architecture of Goa. The Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary looks wonderful, would love to visit on my next visit there.

  8. Goa has such beautiful beaches that I ‘m not surprised that most people remember that the most. That church and the rope bridge are beautiful! I’d love to to do that – I don’t have the patience to hang out on a beach much. I just get bored too easily.

  9. Great information! There are a wide variety of adventure sports activities in and around the beach as well as boats that take you to the close by beaches for day trips.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*


292 Shares
Share30
Tweet14
Stumble1
Pin245
+12