Planning a trip to the beaches of Goa, India? India has an extraordinary coastline, touching the borders of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. It’s even home of some little known tropical island chains like the Nicobar Islands which I visited the shores of last year. However, navigating the best beaches for a tourist can prove to be a challenge, especially considering India’s more conservative standards for beach wear and spiked punch. The good news:
If you know where to go, India’s beaches are a little slice of heaven.
Having visited India nearly a half dozen times in the past few years, here are a few travel tips for Indian beach vacations I’ve learned along the way, and what you can expect when visiting the beaches of one of my latest travels in Goa, India.
Soft white sand, a beach speckled with crabs and sea life, and an abundance of fresh coconuts nearly the price of a tootsie roll – the beaches of Goa don’t need much explaining to entice travelers from all over the world for a visit.
We sat on beige linen lounge chairs with an unobstructed view of the Arabian Sea, senses mixed with the lingering fragrance of fresh mint mojitos, coconuts and the salt in the air.
If you’re looking for a deep, undisturbed peace, go just prior to peak tourism time, for us that meant February of this year. Temperatures ranged from 80-90°, more than hot enough for a bronze tan and plenty of time in the sea. The sand gets hot, I mean really hot compared to the Florida Keys you may be familiar with. In fact the sand got so hot by late afternoon, unprepared travelers could be seen sprinting from the lounge chairs to the seaside in hotel slippers to avoid blistering burns. We may have been one of those travelers. Instead, prepare yourself with some easy slides to protect your feet from scorching.
Goa is what I would consider as the LA of India, and by this I mean it’s pretty laid back. The conservative dress code is hardly observed even by locals, and the beach is laden with bare legs and bikini tops. It’s something you may not expect if you haven’t visited the beaches of India before – but trust me if you have, this isn’t such a common occurrence. However, it’s important to always remain respectful when visiting other cultures. And while western attire is perfectly suitable for the beaches, it’s important to remember the local standards when leaving the beach. For your travel wardrobe, plan for below-the-knee dresses and avoid spaghetti straps outside of resorts or beach areas. Once at the beach, feel free to get your bake on.
My essential packing list for Goa beach vacations:
- Camera (the scenery is incredible)
- Snorkle gear
- Bikinis (yes you can wear them!)
- Beach cover-ups
- Beach slides (don’t burn your feet)
- Sun screen
- Long (below the knee) sun dresses
- Loose, lightweight scarves (in case your dress turns out to be too baring)
- Full-length jumpers
- A lightweight sweater (nights get cool)
- Boho jewelry
- Linen pants (perfect if you go into town)
What not to bring: Goa is casual, so you can tuck the cocktail dresses and pumps away. Not only will you be flagged as a wildly appropriate tourist, you’ll find yourself wanting to blend with the laid-back atmosphere Goa so readily delivers.
What to eat? If you’re looking to enjoy some of the local cruise at the local price, avoid eating at the resorts. The food is indeed divine, but you can probably get it a block down for a fourth of the price and without the crowd. Soft-shell crabs are a local speciality, and the range of freshly caught seafood is truly unbelievable.
Friend in a spicy chili sauce to crisp perfection, piles of fire-red soft-shell crabs are a delicacy you won’t want to miss.
Unlike many other beaches in India, if you’re ready to get your vacay drink on – Goa is the place to do it. Not that alcohol is unavailable elsewhere, it’s just that your average restaurant drink doesn’t typically pack that much of a punch.
Goa is home of of a new breed of fire – Feni. Distilled from the local cashew fruits remaining after harvesting the nuts, you won’t be walking home after one of these.
I’d call it the local moonshine, but frankly, the statement doesn’t do the beverage credit. It’s more like clear hell in a shot glass. Sweet to the tongue, fire burning from inside, and sinfully delicious.
The best drinks and authentic local dishes to try in Goa:
- Red chili soft shell crabs (my absolute favorite)
- Catch of the day (the fish is amazing)
- Local lobster
- Sea prawn fry
- Squid chili
- Kingfisher beer
- Feni shots (prepare for damage!)
Looking for a more savory solution to vacation beverages? The Goan resorts know that when it comes to coffee, one cup is never enough. You can expect a full flask for yourself delivered to the room when ordering tea or coffee, with a spiced cookies to sweeten your morning or afternoon.
A heaven for gypsy souls, seafood foodies and beach lovers of all kinds, Goa India is truly a vacation to savor for a lifetime. With incredible local cuisine and endless sandy beaches, expect sun-kissed skin, a deadly Feni buzz and an island calm that’s not to be forgotten.