Review Title : Best areas of Goa Your Rating 5 Stars. Made By David on 23/12/2006
Variously known as the 'Pearl of the Orient' and 'Rome in the East', Goa first made its name as a liberal paradise forming part of the hippy trail in the late 60s. Although the bearded demographic has thinned over the years, Goa still maintains its gorgeously laidback atmosphere and stunning natural scenery - an idyllic location in which to soothe away the stresses of the past year and to work on those evasive resolutions.
Hindu mythology credits Lord Vishnu with the creation of Goa, and wandering through the streets of capital city Panjim visitors could be forgiven for believing it. Colourful market stalls line the quaint cobbled alleys that wind through the old residential area of Foutainahas, where close-knit houses with tiled roofs and expansive terraces jostle together. Old Goa, another quarter, boasts a cluster of beautiful temples and palaces including the breathtaking architecture of the Se Cathedral and the Church of Francis of Assisi.
Teeming bazaars throughout the capital are stocked with exotic goods, from carved furniture and bamboo work down to the local speciality, cashew nuts. A visit to outlying villages such as Mapusa and Anjuna on a market Friday also provides an intriguing glimpse into the survival of ancient traditions and gives travellers the chance to pick up some more authentic local fare.
When visitors tire of the urban bustle Goa proves the ultimate setting for pure relaxation. Miles of stunning beaches stretch across the western shoreline, dotted with coconut groves, and outdoors enthusiasts will find numerous caves to explore along the edges.
Watersports such as windsurfing, waterskiing and dinghy sailing are all immensely popular in the warm crystal waters, while the shallow Goan lagoons peppered with coral, lobsters and flitting shoals of fish are ideal for scuba diving.
Goa's fertile climes and rich assortment of wildlife also make it a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Morjim beach is a good spot from which to watch birdlife: eagles, kites, buzzards, kestrels and ospreys are all indigenous to the region and lucky viewers will see them wheeling across the sky. Lumbering crocodiles stalk the mangrove swamps around the village of Cumbarjua, one of the few areas in India where they can be regularly observed in the wild. A cruise down the Mandovi river is another great opportunity to spot strange and exotic creatures.
By night dive into the glittering casinos and try your luck in one of Goa's fantastic beachside gaming halls, or spend an evening aboard MS Caravelo moored at Panaji, the first live-game floating casino in India. Above all Goa is a place to let loose and party, so afterwards sample the local bars before heading to one of the thousands of nightclubs and discos to dance away the night.
Around New Year's Eve huge parties explode spontaneously across the beaches, with extravagant fireworks displays lighting up the night sky, making for a truly magical experience.
A break in Goa can be tailored to fit a variety of budgets, with accommodation ranging from basic backpackers' hideouts to luxury five-star hotels aimed at the more indulgent holidaymaker.
Now is the perfect time to visit, away from the tourism rushes of summer and the monsoons of September. For those looking to refresh themselves before another hectic year kicks off, there couldn't be a better destination.