I was recently in Goa – yet again, yes – and as soon as I started posting my pictures online, the same ancient and well-worn-out questions found it’s way into my comments section on Facebook, on Instagram and in my mail via this travel blog. The questions are – Where should I go in Goa? Which part of Goa has the best beaches / food / night life? What is better – North Goa or South Goa?
The “North Goa or South Goa” debate has a lot of supporters on both sides, and until my recent visit, I found myself torn between the two. In the past I always tried to be non committal in my answer to the questions above, because honestly, irrespective of geographical differences, Goa was Goa to me – fun, sunny and oh, the sea! To be partial to one side of this magical destination would be unfair, right?
I have explored a lot of Goa over the past few years, and I think I know the place well enough to be adding my two cents – or the brand new 500 rupee note, if you please – to this debate.
But first things first, here is a little information on Goa as a tourist’s heaven and one of the most popular beach destinations in the world:
How to Reach Goa:
Goa By Air: The Goa International Airport is called Dabolim Airport, an is situated at about 30Km away from Panjim (The capital). Read about my experience of travelling Goa from Delhi with Air Asia.
Goa By Train: The train journey from Bombay to Goa is a scenic winding ride with stunning panoramic views. All trains from major stations go either to Madgaon and Vasco-Da-Gama.
Goa By Road: Goa by road is also a good idea for those who love the thrill of long drives along spectacular landscape. A lot of Bus Operators (private and Government) run between Goa and Mumbai, Goa and Pune and more.
Most Famous Beaches of North Goa:
Baga Beach, Anjuna Beach, Calangute Beach (Please read about my recent experience of staying at ibis Styles Goa Calangute), Candolim Beach, Vagator beach, Miramar Beach, Arambol beach, Dona Paula Beach and more.
Most famous Beaches of South Goa:
Mobor Beach, Colva Beach, Varca Beach and Cavelossim Beach (I recently stayed at Dona Sylvia which is right on Cavelossim Beach, and the review is coming up very soon, so stay tuned).
[ Update on 24 April 2017: My review of Dona Sylvia Beach Resort Cavelossim Goa is now live. This resort is a big reason why I fell in love with South Goa. ]
Best time to visit Goa
From October/November till around April. I personally love Goa in February start and in November.
Now, lets address the North Goa or South Goa debate. Like I mentioned earlier, until my last Goa visit, I loved both part equally. But things changed this time. I realized that I relished South Goa more, if only a tad.
How did an unbiased Goa buff turn into a South Goa favoring girl? This can be chalked up to growing up, I think. Seriously. When I was younger, Goa meant parties and a vacation buzzing with water sports, adventure and fun. But now, as a mother and a family traveler, I prefer relaxed, quiet and less crowded places that move at an easy pace.
And this is exactly where the North Goa or South Goa difference becomes clear.
Let me give a quick and very basic comparison to further explain the North Goa or South Goa contest:
- Parties: North Goa. Although Goa is all about having a good time and South Goa has a pretty cool party scene going as well, North Goa is the most popular party hub for the Indian travelers.
- Beaches: South Goa, hands down. While North Goa has a barrage of well-known beaches like Baga, Anjuna and Calangute etc, they all tend to be a bit crowded and hence, not as clean in the high season as you’d like. South Goa has pristine beaches that will take your breath away.
- Touristy: North Goa. While South Goa has an ease about itself, North Goa busy and fast paced, it is electrifying and buzzing all day long.
- Weather: Silly point because both parts of Goa have the same tropical weather, but somehow South Goa seems a little less humid. Might be just me, though!
- Nature Lovers: South Goa. South Goa has the best beaches in terms of cleanliness, no crowds and pristine beauty.
- Churches: North Goa. There are a lot of stunning churches, cathedrals and chapels in North Goa. Most of these date back to the Portuguese era.
- Food. Equal. A trip to Goa is as much about Goan food as it is about the beaches and the lifestyle. And food is equally good in both parts, no division here.
- Shopping: North Goa. There are many local markets here, like the flea market at Anjuna, Mapusa, and Arpora. Almost every street in North Goa is full of shops where you can get everything from swim wear to medicines.
- Wildlife: South Goa. Go to Palolem beach for dolphin sighting and head to Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary for a thrilling time amidst nature – South Goa is great for the wildlife lovers.
Apart from these differentiation points, where to go in Goa also depends on your personal choice. In my opinion, Goa is good for everyone and the answer to the North Goa or South Goa question depends on your individual preference.
If you want an electrifying time at lively and busy beaches with tons of partying through the night options – go for North Goa.
If you want to enjoy Goa at a slower pace with calm surroundings, serene beaches with the undiluted essence of Goa – South Goa is for you.
This is exactly what happened to me! Maybe age and being in a different stage of life has made me prefer South Goa a little more now. I hope you remember how much I loved the calm beaches in Phuket, and that also points to the same change in me.
For anyone who travels to Goa, there is no restriction to staying restricted to one part. Go, divide your time between north and south Goa and enjoy the very unique vibe of both by all means! After all, travelling is all about exploring, right?
Plan your Goa trip soon and let me know which part do you prefer – North Goa or South Goa?