Review Title : Goa has it all Your Rating 5 Stars. Made By David on 23/12/2006
Looking for a cheap sunshine getaway? Forget Benidorm, Goa has it all.
Nestled in the southern corner of India, Goa was the original 60s hippie hangout, but these days white sand beaches and great tourist facilities make it an unbeatable holiday destination.
And once you balance up the cost of living and entertainment in India, it works out a good deal cheaper than a considerably more down-beat deal in southern Europe - even with those long-haul flights factored in.
The tiny state of Goa spent the 16th and 17th centuries as a Portuguese colony, and has since then resisted being assimilated into neighbouring provinces.
The upshot is an easily digestible corner of India with its own distinctive feel.
Towards the north is Anjuna, whose beach-side flea-market on Wednesdays attracts Indians, resident hippies and visiting browsers alike.
Staple purchases for those seeking to blend with the local vibe are a pair of happy pants (voluminous, cross-over affairs) and a few tie-dyed tops with scattered mirrors. But if you plan on wearing your finds at home, check out the stands selling pashmina shawls or jewelled slippers that cost a fraction of the price they would fetch back home.
South of here, Old Goa offers a cultural retreat from the hedonistic call of beach life. Visitors can explore the charmingly lopsided Se Cathedral which famously lost a tower to lightening and whose interred patron saint, Francis Xavier, once lost a toe to an overzealous pilgrim who bit off more than he could chew.
The Se, as well as several imposing churches, helps piece together a picture of Goan life before its Christian takeover, in the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur.
Elsewhere, in Chapora, a crumbling fort offers unforgettable views over a busy harbour and is the perfect spot to wind down after an exhausting morning bargaining or just sprawling in the sun.
Hungry visitors can buy freshly caught fish from the colourful wooden boats that come to shore, and take it to one of the makeshift restaurants (a barbecue in the street) where locals will be willing to clean it, cook it and serve it with limey rice and a cool glass of beer.
Across the estuary, Morjim beach is picture-postcard perfect and more or less deserted bar a few palm-thatched shacks serving drinks. The broad crescent of golden sand is ideal for a day's beach-lazing and lucky visitors may catch a glimpse of one of the rare Olive Ridley turtles which nest at the southern end.
But if a beach-umbrella holiday is more what you're after, head to Calangute, or even better, Vagator, where visitors have the choice of no less than three beaches and streets of cafes to cool off when the sun gets too hot.
More active sun-lovers can join a game of Frisbee or volleyball along the beachfront, or pay peanuts to rent a jet ski for a high-speed whirl around the bay.
Afterwards, head over to the cliff-top Nine Bar where you can watch the sun dip into the sea and chill out to Goa trance with a long, cool cocktail in your hand.
Whatever takes your fancy, Goa serves up an intoxicating mix of beautiful beaches, colonial history, friendly people and a relaxed hippie vibe that is sure to take your breath away. And all on a bargain budget.