Goa, on the west coast of India, has over 100 Kilometres of coastline divided between secluded bays and golden sandy beaches lapped by the warm Arabian sea. Between October and April there is unbroken sunshine with temperatures that rarely drop below 91F. The pace of life is relaxed. You can spend your evenings enjoying a sunset walk along the beach or a stroll through the street markets in safety.
Although most people come to Goa to relax and unwind there is more to Goa than just its fabulous beaches. Here are a few ideas of what Goa has to offer. The Portuguese colonised Goa for 450 years and this unique blend of Portuguese and Indian culture is evident in its architecture, mix of religions, cuisine and social structure. There are the colonial old quarters, the magnificent Mansion Houses built at the height of the Portuguese rule and Old Goa, the old capital, built as a testament to the Portuguese wealth and power. There are wildlife sanctuaries, over 400 different species of birds, market towns, a famous flea market which attracts sellers from all over India, designer shops and why not come at Christmas and the Easter Carnival and enjoy some real Goan-style dances. The exuberant Hindu festivals of Divali and Holi are celebrated with as much enthusiasm by this multi-cultural and well-integrated society.
We want to show people that there are many interesting "things to see". Above all experience Goa by being out and about. Early morning and late afternoon are perfect times for catching that magical rural scene of bullock cart and driver ambling along country lanes or the water buffaloes having their well deserved mud baths. Watch the sun rise over the river Sal, stand at Chapora harbour and select fish for that evening's meal, fresh from the boats, go to a village festival or Zatra and most of all, meet the people who are fun loving, generous and genuinely want you to have a great holiday.
Night life is generally low-key and mainly centered around the good selection of small restaurants serving wonderful seafood with barbecued lobsters, tandoori tiger prawns and crabs. Try Goan specialities such as Pork Sorpotel - pork cooked in a spicy sauce and grilled pomfret with a masala stuffing and don't forget the beach shacks where you can sample home cooking. There are also a number of restaurants serving French, Italian, Thai and Chinese food.
Most hotels provide live entertainment, from local folk dancers to singer/guitarists who will serenade you at the table, to pop bands who can play the latest hits from the UK charts and many "golden oldies".
A 3 course tourist meal will cost about £6, a litre bottle of beer 70p, soft drink 20p and tea and coffee 20p,
Shopping will bring you into contact with the local people and as most speak English it is not a challenging experience. Food shops are open 7 days a week: 9am -1 pm and 4pm - 7.30pm.
The cost of living is low and you will be surprised at how little it costs to stock up on the basics. The bread man delivers on his bike morning and afternoon and fresh pasteurised milk, butter and free range eggs are sold in the shops.
Beef is of excellent quality, the chickens are free range and again they taste delicious. Goat meat is also available (which tastes like lamb and is called "mutton"). Meat and chicken are sold either fresh in the market or in freezer shops (know as cold stores).
Fish is sold in the markets. There is plenty of variety, shell fish is particularly good with prawns tiger prawns, lobster, crabs and mussels. The most popular local fish are Pomfret and Kingfish.
English is the common language. The local language is Konkani and everyone speaks Hindi which is the official national language.
If you need to see a doctor, let us know, as we will be able to recommend our own local one.
Chemists are plentiful and sell a comprehensive range of medicines.
There are some mosquitoes in the winter months and these increase in number in the more humid spring months until the onset of the summer monsoon. Take advice from your Doctor or a chemist on appropriate malaria tablets and anti-sting creams and sprays.
Unlike other destinations where tourists are only safe within hotel enclaves, in Goa, in general, you are safe to roam at will. However, normal safety precautions should be taken.
Taxis and auto-rickshaws are available in the main towns although do agree a price before you set off. There are plenty of local buses and fares are extremely low - but be prepared to be packed in like a sardine. Because of the state of the roads and driving we do not recommend hiring of two wheelers as they are a major cause of injury and sometimes death, in the hands of inexperienced riders.
Although many of our properties are located in rural locations that are generally peaceful please be prepared to accept that village life still goes on, even though you are on holiday. It is possible that you will hear chanting from the local Hindu Temple; trumpets and drums from the Catholic Church (if it's their annual feast day); dogs barking; cocks crowing and, if you are really lucky, have a neighbourhood wedding when Hindi pop music is played at full blast.
The good news is that not all this happens all the time and noise must stop at 11 pm by law (but we can't guarantee that the animals are aware of this). If you choose to be in the 'centre of things' you may hear some traffic noise and music from restaurants and bars. The only exception to this is Christmas and New Year, which the Goans celebrate with exuberance. Goa is very lively over this week - most hotels will have a number of special Gala dances that will continue into the early hours of the morning, beach and riverside shacks will have loud music and even in the smallest village there will be large family parties accompanied by firecrackers. If you want to be in Goa over this period, please be prepared to "go with the flow".
Building Noise: With the increase of its popularity it is inevitable that building and renovation projects are on the increase in Goa. With haphazard planning the development is random and result in building projects next to existing hotels, villa s and apartments. Mechanised building methods are still rare here and any disturbance/disruption is likely to be minimal.and restricted to 9am-1pm and 4pm-6pm.
Communications are very easy. On nearly every corner in every village there are 'telephone shops ' where you can make metered local, national and international telephone calls. Many of these shops also now have Internet connections where you can just pop in and pay by the minute to pick up those all important email messages.
Most houses and apartments have their own wells which supply water drawn from the underground water table.
There is also a municipal piped water supply which at times can be unpredictable due to the increasing demands made on it. For drinking, we recommend the bottled mineral water which is on sale in all the shops, restaurants and bars,
Alcohol is widely available in Goa. India is not best known for its wines but in recent years, Grover, Chantilly and Sula wine have arrived in India and are of a reasonable quality. Do sample the local Port Wine, Feni, Honey Bee Brandy and Indian Champagne and of course the Kingfisher lager. India also makes Gin, Vodka and Whisky under licence.
India is GMT + 5.5 hours; (+ 4.5 hours during British Summertime.)
The electricity supply is 220 volts. An international adapter is recommended (plus a torch for power cuts).
All major credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and in shops selling luxury goods such as jewellery, silk, leather and carpets.
There are three seasons in Goa: The Dry, The Hot and The Wet
Average daily rainfall and sunshine. Average monthly rainfall.
From late October, the post monsoon humidity begins to drop and by November there is the beginning of long sunny days with a temperature around 30ºC and pleasantly 'cool' evenings of around 25ºC. November, December, January and February are the most popular and busiest months. During this period the days are hot and evenings cool, the beaches are perfect and swimming is safe. Air conditioning is usually unnecessary. This perfect weather continues until the middle of April when the humidity slowly begins to rise and the temperature increases.
By May many of the seasonal shops, restaurants and other facilities available in the traditional high season have already closed in anticipation of the south west monsoon and will not reopen until early October. The weather can be erratic during the "shoulder months" with high humidity and temperatures that can reach 35ºC.There is also a chance that the Monsoon rain may start in late May. Beach bars, hire of umbrellas etc may not be available and the beach itself could be suffering the effects of the seasonal weather and the sea is rough with a strong undercurrent. If you wish to come to Goa during that period we recommend that you choose a property that is air-conditioned and has access to a swimming pool.
This period is considered to be out of season as the South West Monsoon starts in June and brings heavy rainfall of up to 3 ½ metres over the next 3 months. This time of the year finds Goa at its most colourful with emerald green paddy fields and plants growing before your eyes.
There is little in the way of tourist facilities which is just as well as most Goans direct their attention to their family fields where whole families can be seen tending their rice crop. The beaches are windswept, rain lashed and deserted and there are very few hotels and restaurants open. This is an ideal period to relax, chill out and write that book or take up painting as you have always said you wanted to do.