Know Before You Goa: An Island Exploration Guide

Located on the west coast of India, Goa is a small community in comparison to other Indian regions with a population of about 1.8 million. Goa was formerly colonized by the Portuguese for nearly 500 years, which has led to a cultural experience completely different from anywhere else in India.

The cultural mixture of Indian and Portuguese has attracted millions of annual visitors who come to witness the unique architecture and beautiful beaches. Goa’s concoction of cultures has led to the creation of a multilingual island oasis. Konkani, Goa’s state language, is the most widely spoken language among locals. But most Goans also speak English, Hindi and Marathi; a smaller fraction still speak Portuguese.

The miles of sandy coast lining the Indian state of Goa is the perfect place to visit if you’re in search of a blissful beach vacation. The tropical climate and beautiful beaches, paired with a complex cultural history, offer a wide variety of things to do and see while on your once-in-a-lifetime trip to Goa.

Located steps from the best attractions and activities in Goa, Hard Rock Hotel Goa is the perfect place to stay in this vibrant and historic destination. We’ve gathered highlights of what you should know and see when visiting Goa, so you can make the most of your stay.

When to Goa

The best time to visit Goa is from November to February when the weather is comfortable, dry, and pleasant. By this time, all signs of the monsoon season, which takes place from June to September, will be long gone. The most popular time to visit is, unsurprisingly, the last week of the year between Christmas and New Year’s Day. You will still have the time of your life; just be prepared to shuffle through a few crowds.

How to Get There

Distinguished by its more “off the beaten path” essence, Goa’s rising popularity has improved its accessibility. If you plan on flying in, you’ll arrive in Goa’s sole airport, Dabolim, located in Vasco da Gama. While it is not impossible to find a direct flight to Goa, most international flights go through Mumbai. If you’re interested in a more scenic, but also a more time-consuming travel experience, many direct train services to Goa are offered from various Indian cities.

What to Eat

Classic Goan diet staples, which can be found in many of the local beach shacks, include rice and fish curry, as well as pickles and fried fish. The melting pot of cultures present has created a unique cuisine based on a blend of Portuguese and local Indian influences. Due to Goa’s prime coastal location, you will find fresh seafood pretty much anywhere you end up. Go where the locals are. Native favorites will have dishes featuring fresh seafood, which are sure to have you coming back for more. Also, find many of these gourmet flavors and more at our three restaurants conveniently located right at our hotel.

What to Drink

While on your tropical vacation, you may be pleasantly surprised upon encountering the noticeably low prices of liquor and wine in Goa. If you’re interested in a full immersion into the culture, try out two local brews exclusive to Goa. One, the cashew feni, comes from the cashew apple and the second, coconut feni, from the sap of a coconut tree. These two liquors were first brewed by the former Portuguese settlers and the cashew was brought in by the Portuguese.

Visit Historical Sites

Debatably the most famous churches in the area, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is a must-see on your trip to Goa. The fine baroque architecture is partially in ruins, but still no less a model of elegance and simplicity. Revered by Christians from across the world, this World Heritage Monument was first built in 1594. You’ll have to check it out for yourself; though, because descriptions and even photos simply do not do the remarkable size of this magnificent church justice.

Shop Seaside Flea Markets

Check out one of the most famous beaches in Goa: Anjuna Beach. It’s not too far from the Hard Rock Hotel. Anjuna Beach, originally the go-to, chill spot for hippies back in the day, has changed dramatically as tourism has increased. The unconventional vibe of the beach has not been lost though. One unique offering at this beach, which is worth checking out is the flea market on Wednesdays featuring merchants selling Indian jewelry and trinkets from all over the country.

Hang Out on the Best Beaches

Goa is famous for its beautiful beaches lining the coast. In addition to Anjuna Beach, there are about 30 other beaches to choose from. If you’re looking for a classic, relaxed beach experience, the beaches of Calangute, Baga, and Vagator are favorites among tourists and locals. These sun-swept sand beaches are backed by countless palm trees and will make you forget the rest of the world exists.

Plan a Dive Trip

Looking for a little adventure on your trip to Goa? With abundant marine life and several shipwrecks available for exploration, Goa is a prime dive destination. The local diving locations include a site just off the coast near Vasco da Gama at Grande Island. If you are new to scuba diving, you’re in luck because there are several dive centers that conduct PADI courses with organized dive trips.

Party at Goa Carnival

If you end up visiting Goa later in the prime travel season, you’re in for a treat. The Goa Carnival takes place at the end of February and features huge, colorful parades with bands, floats, and dancing. The nonstop party was first introduced by the previous Portuguese rule and this famous festival is recognized as a precursor to the abstinence of Lent.

Next Stop: Goa

Immerse yourself into the wonderful culture Goa has to offer by adding it to your places to visit. From its rich history to its breathtaking beaches and everything in between, you’ll have a travel experience like no other.