This week, Angela asked the following question: When to go and where to stay in Goa?
When to go to Goa is a real tough choice. People I speak to have different opinions and each person seems to love Goa in a particular season. Basically, when to go to Goa can be divided into 3 different options:
1. Christmas / New Years in Goa: Christmas and New Years is the peak season for Goa. It is when EVERYONE and when I say everyone, I mean everyone, thinks of going to Goa. While most Europeans book their New Years holiday to Goa well in advance, most Indians do it at the last minute. On the negative side, Goa is terribly busy and expensive at this time of the year. But on the positive side, Goa is at its most happening during the New Year’s period. Visitors get to experience Goa in its best avataar with rocking beach parties, dances and live music everywhere.
2. Goa Monsoon: The monsoon in Goa is not for everyone. Some people love Goa in the monsoon and some people absolutely hate it. And unlike in most other parts of India and of the world, the monsoon in Goa is quite unique. From mid June to the end of September, the rain lashes down on Goa with great fury. Especially in July and August, there seems to be no letdown from the rain as it pours and pours and pours (well, you get the message) the whole day and night. But if you dont mind getting a bit wet, then the monsoon in Goa is also the time when you get to see a different side of Goa – when most of the tourists are away, Goa sort of relaxes and lets its hair down. The scenery and the greenery are absolutely stunning at this time. Do it like the French, wear shorts, take heavy duty umbrellas and you will really learn to enjoy the Goan monsoon.
3. Rest of the year: Apart from New Years and the Monsoon, Goa is pretty much the same the rest of the year. The prices are more reasonable, there are fewer tourists and getting around Goa is much easier. For those who have the time, I would suggest Jan – April or October – November as great pre-season times to visit Goa.
As for where to stay in Goa, Goa has loads and loads of places to stay, depending on your budget and your interests. Most people head to North Goa to the Baga-Calangute strip. This is where all the “action” is and most people choose a medium budget hotel in this area. For those who find North Goa too expensive / crowded, they usually head to South Goa which is not yet as developed / popular as North Goa and hence is much cheaper and quieter.
Many tourists however are looking to experiment and staying in offbeat areas such as Fontainhas, the Latin Quarter of Panjim. Here you find quaint old Portuguese houses, small bye lanes, a baker cycling by, dogs lying in the sun and cats licking themselves in the shade. Fontainhas is the other Goa, where those looking to learn more about Goan culture and history come to visit and stay. Many photographers (hobby and professional) fall in love with Fontainhas as there is so much old world history to capture in their lenses. Many tourists who stay in Fontainhas love to simply walk about for hours, soaking up the Latin atmosphere. Fontainhas is also home to my Mitaroy Heritage Homestay (www.mitaroygoahotel.com) – my mother’s ancestral heritage home that I converted into a Homestay.