If you’re looking for a good time away from the crowd and chaos of North Goa, head south. We’ve picked the best experiences for you
Swim off the beach
The magnificent Colva stretch is 25km long, and is broken up into beaches with names as lyrical as a Goan drinking song: Cansaulim, Benaulim, Cavelossim. There’s no dearth of good spots for sunbathing and swimming here. Stroll down to Agonda and Patnem beaches, which are as quiet as Baga and Calangute were in the ’70s. At Palolem, clubs like Silent Noise host ‘silent parties’ on weekends. Put on a pair of wireless headsets and dance away.
The Seven Gables (built:1790) in Margao is one of Goa’s grandest residences, with a blood-red Rococo- style façade and exquisite oyster-shell windows. Margao also hosts the home of one of Goa’s most famous sons, the late Mario Miranda. It’s a grand old house, and you may be able to enter with permission. Also visit the Salvador Costa House for its beautiful in-house chapel. Another must-see is the Braganza-Pereira/Menezes-Braganza House in Chandor.
Try Goan cuisine at beachside restaurants
The Full Moon Restaurant and Bar on Bogmalo Beach is renowned for its seafood. If you're in a group, ask for the fish barbecued with local fisherman’s spices, Goan-style. Next door, The Sea Cuisine offers the same fare at cheaper prices. At Joet’s, which boasts a breezy terrace, try the Kingfish Recheado. Further south on Benaulim Beach, Johncy’s is known for its lobsters, tiger prawns and black snapper, prepared in many different ways.
Check out a restored 16th-century temple
Just seven kilometres north-east of Chaudi, in the bustling hub of Canacona, is the Mallikarjuna Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Recently restored by the Archaeological Survey of India, you will find some of the finest surviving art from the region on its walls. The temple was built in the 16th century, and has beautiful carved wooden pillars.
A few kilometres beyond the turn-off to the Mallikarjuna Temple, marked by a forest department checkpoint, begins Goa’s most scenic road. Cutting a path through thick, untouched jungle, the road rises up gently into the Sahyadri Hills. Ideal for a road-trip, it sweeps through a forest full of exotic birdcalls, before leading up to Usgalimal, where you will find Stone-Age rock carvings, believed to be over 20,000 years old!
Visit the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
If you want a deciduous rainforest experience, where the foliage is thick enough to blot out sunlight, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is the place to go to. Comprising of 86 sq-km of woodland, the reserve is a must for tree lovers, but wildlife sightings will be rare: the big cats disappeared long ago, but the Indian bison, sloth bear, gazelles, hyenas and porcupines are still known to be around.
Hop on to a cruise
South of Patnem Beach is Rajbag Beach. From here, sailing aficionados can charter the 18-metre wooden boat, Isla, and cruise all the way up to Cabo da Rama Fort and back. The Isla is operated by Faraway Cruises, and has fishing equipment, a kayak and snorkelling gear. The boat has cushioned sun- bathing areas, an iPod dock and a clean washroom. You can also request for special itineraries while booking.
Sail, ski, or surf off Cavelossim Beach
Not to be outdone by the famous Baga Beach up north, Cavelossim Beach on the Colva stretch has excellent water-sports in season. Parasailing, jet-skiing and windsurfing are on offer here. Further down, at Rajbag Beach, you can try knee-boarding—digging knees onto a large board, while you bounce about on the waves, before graduating to the more adventurous water-surfing. Else, opt for the communal Banana Boat rides.
Trek to the Dudhsagar waterfall
The Dudhsagar waterfall is located on the Goa-Karnataka border, 10 km from Colem Railway Station. Cascading from a majestic height of 600 metres, this ‘Sea of Milk’ is named for the bubbling froth churned up at its base. Favoured by tourists as a trekking site, this is best visited after the rains. The surrounding tropical forest is alive with monkeys and birds, and the pool at the base of the waterfall is rich in marine life.