First thing to bear in mind is that when you are visiting Goa, you are visiting a whole state, not a city or a beach. Goa, the smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population , on the shore of Arabian Sea in the West coast of India, known as the Konkan - is a former Portuguese colony . It is bounded bt the stae of maharastra to the north, Karnatka to the east and south, while Arabian Sea to the West.
Popularly known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ Goa – an excellent blend of sea, sand and surf. Goa beaches have long been a favourite hunt for beach lovers. Warm golden sand, gleaming sea water and enchanting greenery make Goa a place to relax on some of the less crowed white sandy beaches with clear blue water. In a coastline of 125 kilometres, there are 83 kilometres of beautiful beaches.
Along with an impressive natural beauty Goa has a unique mix of Indian and Portuguese history, cultures architecture, heritage, wildlife and adventure sports that attracts an estimated 2.5 million visitors each year throughout the country and the world.
Spread over 3,700 square kilometres with a population of approximately 1.4 million, Goa is small by Indian standards, with only two districts –North Goa and South Goa which are separated by the broad estuaries of The Mandovi and Zuari rivers. There are several towns and villages spread out with considerable distance between them.
In the middle of North and South Goa is the Central part of Goa where Panjim or Panaji – is the state Capital. The other small towns like Margao , Vasco da Gama( the largest city) ,Old Goa, home of famed sixteenth century churches, convents and monuments , Mapusa, Chaudi have their own importance and they are gateways to the nearby touristic areas. Goa has some nearly 350 villages, with paddy field and Cashew nut crops, often scenic and each having a character of its own. North Goa, famous for its numerous distinguished golden beaches, was the first to be discovered.
North Goa- Home to the most popular beaches, Anjuna, Baga, Candolim and Calangute, North Goa is livelier, popular and crowed than the South and has more of an international vibe with tourists from all over the world relaxing and rejoicing here throughout the year.
South Goa is calmer and quieter with beautiful white sand beaches inviting those looking for serenity and repose. There is not as much tourist activity here as well but the distinct natural, unruffled beauty begs to be explored and appreciated. Palolem beach in South Goa is the most recommended beach in Goa, if somebody wants to spend a relaxing lay back holidays with only a few tourists on the beaches.
The Old Goa is the heart of the Portuguese Goa and is home to Goa’s most important heritage monuments, many of which have been declared World Heritage monuments including the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se cathedral, The church and convent of St. Francis Assisi, archaeological museum, St. Catherine’s chapel, Arch of Viceroy.
Goa is visibly different from the rest of India, owing to Portuguese rule which isolated it from the rest of India for 451 years. The Goan population is a mixture of Hindus and Roman Catholics, the distribution being approximately 70% Hindu and 24% Christian. There is also a smaller Muslim population. Just like Himachal Pradesh in North India, Goa is also regarded as one of the most peaceful states in India.
Goa’s state language is Konkani. Most local people speak Konkani, English, Hindi, and Marathi. Portuguese is also known by a small segment, especially the elite and earlier privileged class or the older generation which studied in pre-1961 Portuguese-ruled Goa.
The Goan cuisine is a blend of Portuguese and local flavours The Goan staple diet mainly consists of rice, fish curry and fried fish along with a verity of fresh sea food. This can be found on many of the beach shacks. Many dishes such as prawn, lobsters and Kingfish in Garlic have distinct Portuguese flavour. The cuisine is mostly seafood based; rice with Goan Fish Curry, Kingfish , pomfret, shark, tuna, mackerel, the shellfish , crabs, prawns, tiger prawns, lobster, squid and mussels is the most common delicacy.
Feni is an exclusive product of Goa and is a alcoholic drink mainly made out of Cashew nut (produced seasonal) or out of coconut can be produce around the year.
A traditional Goan pudding, Bebinca is made of flour, egg-yolk, and, coconut milk. It is certainly a great way to finish that sumptuous meal.
Most beaches have shacks that serve surprisingly delicious meals, especially freshly cooked sea-food as per your choice. Don’t miss the shack eating experience, you’ll want to go back and do it again and again. The beer and drinks are quite cheaper and easily available in Goa as compared to rest parts of India.
With warm ,friendly people and their rich , lively carefree, easy going culture, exotic beaches, joyous carnivals, festivals , feasts and parties, evening boat cruises, thrilling nightlife, adventure sports activities, splendid temples, white painted churches , colonial heritage mansions , colourful Goan houses, numerous old forts, monuments , the spices, unique Goan cuisine, fun-filled environment , sprawling greenery, beautiful villages, lush green paddy fields, the pleasant warm wheatear make Goa one of the favourite beach destinations in India.