Classic/Touristy Things to Do in Goa
1. Visit the Spice Plantation.
I highly recommend a trip to the Spice Plantation in Ponda to walk through a tropical plantation and learn all about the spices that are the backbone to most of the food you will be eating throughout India. It really is very interesting and you get lunch cooked with the same spices from the plantation. I would not recommend riding the elephants as they seem to be the only ones left in Goa and they are not treated very well.
2. Check out the old churches in “Old Goa”.
“Old Goa” is one of the only places you will need to dress appropriately. Cover your knees and shoulders, mainly directed at females, so worth bringing a sarong or a cardigan you can put on when needed. This can be done on the way back from the Spice Plantation. Have a look at the Patron Saint of Goa, Francis Xavier’s, embalmed body and take the drive up the steep hill to the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount for a beautiful view over Goa. If you would rather join a tour try this one.
3. Get a photo of the cows on the beach…
…make sure they aren’t eating from your plate as you snooze on your sunbed and if you are feeling adventurous maybe even try a cow selfie. Cows in Goa are usually pretty friendly and love a little stroke or neck scratch but watch out for the bulls and their horns!
4. Visit Mapusa Market
Mapusa Market is a big bustling market full of bright colors, weird, wonderful, sometimes terrible smells and lots of shopping opportunities. Friday is the busiest day of the week for Mapusa Market but you can go any day, the earlier the better to beat the heat. Make sure you visit the fabric shops, flower section, fruit and veg, fish market if you dare and the meat section if you can stomach it. Here you will see lots of ‘typical Indian scenes’ – ladies sat in beautiful saris behind piles of their local produce – a great day out for any budding photographers!
5. In Arambol, check out the sweet water lake.
It’s just near the beach and is pretty cool to take a dip and some photos. It has become quite a common spot for tourists now so you are likely to share the lake with a lot of people. Please remember to take your rubbish with you when you leave. Here’s a little guide to Arambol.
6. Try SUP (stand up paddle board) at Vaayu.
Vaayu in on the road facing Mandrem Beach. You can also rent surf boards from them or try kite surfing classes. Their cafe, Prana, serves up delicious breakfast burritos, fish tacos and smoothies. This is a very cool place to hang out for the day.
7. You can go white water rafting.
Not even many locals or Goa residents know you can go white water rafting in Valpoi. This takes place in the off season when the rivers are full and raging. This would be great fun in a big group or a good way to meet new people and see a different part of Goa.
8. Have a surf lesson at Surfwala.
Surfwala is between Mandrem and Arambol. You can hire out surfboards or get yourself an instructor to help you conquer the not-so-large waves of Goa. You can spend the day chilling at Surfwala.
9. Try bungee jumping at Mayem Lake.
There is a new attraction in Bicholim where you can bungee jump off a 55M platform over Mayem Lake. This is one for the adrenaline junkies. You won’t find me anywhere near here!
10. Go-Karting in Arpora.
There is a Go-Kart track in Arpora next to The Saturday Night Market. Rachel was a Go-Kart lover; she and Ben used to test out a track in most places they visited together around the world. This one in Arpora is not really the most exciting but is a fun option to change it up from the usual Goa activities.
11. Kayaking at Patnem Beach.
Rent a kayak on Patnem Beach and go for a little paddle. And by little I mean a slightly strong paddle as the sea can be tiring. If you paddle out towards the South of the beach where the sea meets the river, it’s lovely and still. I was once surrounded by a mum and her baby dolphin here. Kayaks can be found to rent at most beaches in South Goa.
12. Take a B:Live Electric Bike Tour.
Try an electric bike tour where you can literally sit back and power the bike with the flick of a wrist. They have lots of different location options including Old Goa, Panjim, Chorao and Divar Island. If you are a bit nervous on the bike I would suggest one of the islands as the traffic on those is pretty non existent and you get to go on a little ferry across the river. Tours can be booked here.
13. Climb up to Chapora Fort.
Take the steep climb up to Chapora Fort to see the view over Vagator Beach. It isn’t the most exciting fort but it is a nice activity to get you away from the sun bed. And fits in perfectly with a deserved juice from the famous Chapora juice shop which is spoken about below.
14. Climb the huge rock in the sea at Palolem Beach.
Swim out to the huge rock at Palolem Beach, attempt to climb up, view the beautiful palm tree lined beach from a different angle and jump back off into the sea. It is easier to climb the rock at high tide and be careful of cutting hands and feet!
15. Go for the perfect beach run.
This may not sound adventurous to some but actually a great beach run can be a game changer for your day. Especially if it is at sunset or you are lucky enough to see dolphins – this happened in Agonda. Not all beaches in Goa are good for running and a lot of time it depends on tide timings as running on a slope isn’t so good for your knees. You can run any time of the day at Morjim, Mandrem or Palolem and only at low tide on Calangute, Patnem and Agonda.
16. Volunteer with the animals!
Rachel wrote about a few of the options here. This is pretty adventurous as you are likely to be out of your comfort zone whether it is helping out with animals or people. There are lots of great organizations needing your help and these add some really rewarding experiences to your travels. It can even be something as simple as taking a few dogs for a walk.
17. Get a tattoo at Inkfidel with Duncan.
If you are thinking about getting a tattoo in Goa please don’t go to one of the 3 million tattoo shops we have on every corner of every street. Duncan is the guy you need to speak to and the man who has drawn all over most of the residents of Goa. His work is great and he can help with any designs or ideas you want to create. Obviously only get a tattoo if you really want one as it is there forever!
18. Go crocodile hunting in the mangroves.
Ok not actually hunting, no crocodiles will be harmed but go searching for the crocs that believe it or not, do live in Goa and hang out by the mangroves of Chorao and Divar Island. The Crocodile Man and we saw a HUGE sleeping crocodile. It is also just a lovely boat trip around the island.
Thalassa Sunset, Siolim
19. Watch the sunset from Thalassa Restaurant.
Thalassa has moved to a beautiful spot in Siolim right next to the mouth of a river and a glorious sunset view. This is a bit over budget for a backpacker but if you had to treat yourself to a holiday experience whilst backpacking this is it. Dress up and eat lots of delicious Greek food.
20. Enjoy the lounge chairs at Antares in Little Vagator Beach.
This was a secret of Rachel’s, that if you eat at Antares you can use their sun beds which face the sunset and they have their own staircase going down to Little Vagator Beach. No seems to use these beds so you could have them all to yourself.