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The Goa Streets Guide to Fun

Ready to rumba? Hankerin’ for a little relaxation? Are you hot to trot, or in need of an adrenaline fix? Here’s a list of some wonderfully fun, and often quite unusual, things to do in India’s smallest, but clearly most exciting, state. Read on, and HAVE FUN!

Watch the birds and the apes

If you’re in the mood to babysit monkeys, I suggest you hang out at the Tree House in the North Goa region of Camurlim. For a dose of scenic beauty that stands out even in this state known for its physical attractiveness, check out Mayem Lake, also in North Goa.  Carambolim Lake is an ornithologist’s delight for its numerous exotic aviary species, as is the Salim Ali Bird sanctuary. Other favourite haunts of wildlife enthusiasts include the Bondla zoo, or the Bhagwan Mahaveer, Cotigao and Mollem wildlife sanctuaries.

Learn ballroom dancing

Here in Goa, the real deal when it comes to dancing is not shaking your booty at a nightclub to the beats of Bollywood or bhangra, but ballroom dancing. This is a wonderful way to bond with your significant other in a particularly classy fashion. So why not try out a fox-trot, a waltz, and along the way pick up a few steps of the tango or cha cha cha. For more details, check out www.goastreets.in.

Ballroom-dancing

Cool off from the sweltering heat

One way to beat the blistering summer heat is to visit Goa’s most popular waterfalls Dudhsagar and Aravalem, or any of the various lesser known ones like Bamunbudo or Kuskem (located at Cotigao) or the one at Hivrem situated along the Kushavati River in Valpoi. Or visit any of the numerous springs along the length and breadth of Goa (just ask any local resident for directions). Other famous falls include Pomburpa (between Panjim and Mapusa), and the one at Kesarval off the NH-17 highway at Verna. While these two are maintained by the Goa tourism department, there is yet another popular spring at Rivona in Sanguem taluka in South Goa. The village of Verna, incidentally, has many springs such as the Uddear, Sonalle and various others that are frequented by locals. Another popular one is the Salmona spring in Saligao.

 

Go for a couple massages

Here’s a lovely way to spend time with your honey. You’ll both be pampered in style in a couple’s massage at any of the top spas (including, but not exclusive to, the 5-star hotels). Some of the best places to experience a couple massage include the Shamana Spa at the Grand Hyatt, the Goa Marriott Resort & Spa, the Sereno Spa at the Park Hyatt in South Goa and the Sohum Spa at the Kenilworth Resort, also in South Goa. Throw in a little chocolate and champagne, and bliss is yours!

Explore the caves 

For all you explorers out there who do not suffer from claustrophobia, it’s worth checking out Goa’s lesser known caves, caverns and underground chambers spread across the state.  Among these are the “Pandava caves” situated near the St Sebastian Church, Aquem-Margao, or the Buddhist and Jain caves at Sanguem. There are other similar caves located at Vasco and its surrounding areas of Chicalim, Issorcem and Hollant, besides Khandepar in Ponda taluka.

Ruins

Spice pick(l)ing!

When one mentions Khandepar, a sweet aroma tickles the nostrils…that of its spice plantations! There is the Pascoal’s Spice Farm situated opposite the Nestle factory along the NH4A leading towards Belgaum, around 7 kms from the main Ponda town along the Khandepar River. Besides visiting the Sahakhari and Savoi plantations situated nearby, one could also travel to the Tapanshikar spice garden at Neturlem or Netravali in the south district.

Go para-gliding

Sorry folks. I’m not talking about para-sailing, the peaceful sky rides you see at all the major Goan beaches like Baga. I’m talking here about para-gliding, where you sit in a chair hooked up to a parachute-like contraption, stand at the edge of a cliff and soar into the sky. It’s available in Anjuna and perhaps one or two other beaches in the state. If you’re not a trained para-glider, then you’ll go in tandem with a professional. Definitely for the brave-hearted.

Paragliding

  Heritage houses for shutterbugs

Goa has many architectural heritage marvels such as the extremely popular Menezes Braganza home at Chandor or the Palacio de Deao at Quepem. The residence of Goa’s famed cartoonist – the late Mario Miranda – also dates back many centuries, as do those of the former feudal lords Rauraje Deshprabhus of Pernem, the Ranes of Sanquelim, the Dessais of Bicholim or the residence of Goa’s mining magnates and prominent industrialists – the  Dempos at St Cruz. Other prominent well maintained heritage marvels include the House of Colacos along the Ribandar waterfront and the Mhamai Kamat residence in Panjim as well as several others located throughout the state that are a photographers’ delight.

Heritage-houses

Explore an underwater ship wreck 

There are a number of ship wrecks around the Goa coast, many of them from the 450-year Portuguese era. Scuba diving outfits in Goa offer dives where you can explore some of these ship wrecks around the Mormugao harbor, near Grande Island and Bat Island.

 

Other adventure activities…

Begin with the white water rafting trips along the Tillari River, in the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary near the Western Ghats. During the monsoons, some of the best white river rafting is organized by John Pollard (check out www.goarafting.com). There is also a Deep Sea Diving tour organised by Goa Diving at Bogmalo as well as Barracuda and Scuba Diving at Baga in the north district. There’s also parasailing, kite surfing at Calangute, kayaking at Palolem, Agonda and other beaches, dolphin tours at Cavelossim in the south, plus various other water sports activities like jet skiis, banana boat rides and others. Snorkeling is also gaining popularity in the state.

Watch a Tiatr

For insights into the nuances of Goan society, you simply can’t beat the Konkani Tiatrs, the local folkloric theatre that says as much about this state as any other art form. What happens if you happen to be part of the 99.99 percent of the world’s population that doesn’t speak Konkani? Well, for one you could tag along with a Goan. For another, it’s still fun even if you don’t understand every word. Among the favoured topics of these performances are politics, love, sex and infidelity.

Choose your travel mode – bike, ferry or bullock cart?

Some of the cheapest (and most fun) ways to travel around Goa is to hop onto the yellow and black motorcycle taxis simply known as ‘pilots’ or board one of Goa’s inland water transport vehicles and experience a thrilling ferry ride (free of cost if you do not possess a vehicle!) Or simply climb onto a bullock cart and go sight seeing around the rural interior villages of Goa.

Crocodile watching

For some of the best crocodile watching, go directly to the starting point at the Cortalim jetty, board a boat in the morning and take off into the Cumbharjua canals where the crocodiles stay. There’s nothing like the thrill of spotting a real, live croc in its own happy habitat. It’s easy to confuse them for some kind of a rock, they’re so still. But when they lunge forward and open their enormous mouths, believe me, you’ll know there there!

 Crocodile-farm

Hang out on a houseboat

Now here’s a fun way to spend a weekend with your loved one or ones! The Chapora River is a good place to rent a houseboat in Goa. They come with a bedroom and living room, besides the deck and a kitchen with a small staff to take care of all your needs. The lovely scenery all around is quite romantic. Whether it’s just the two of you or the whole family, you’ll enjoy being on the water, in a boat going nowhere in particular.

Visit a Fort

Cabo de Rama is a beautiful fort located in the Canacona district of South Goa, about 25 kms south of Margao. The fort, one of the biggest and oldest in Goa, is surrounded by beautiful greenery, with a breathtaking view of the sea from up top. Named after Lord Rama, the fortress was built before the arrival of the Portuguese. Reis Magos Fort has been restored and has quickly become one of the more popular forts in North Goa.  The fort was built as early as the late 15th century under Adil Shah’s rule. Overlooking the Mandovi River, it has a scenic view of the capital city and now is open to public for visits as well as private events like weddings, film shootings and book launches.

Lighthouse

Trek

There’s a wide variety of trekking options in the state, both North and South. A great way to escape the crowds, for sure. For some good trekking options, check out the Goa branch of the Youth Hostels Association of India at www.yhaindia.org, as well as www.offtrailadventures.com and www.goaadventures.com.

Trekking

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