There’s nothing more quintessential than backpacking through India. Popularized like crazy by Eat, Pray, Love, the country has lured travelers for decades with its bright colors, beautiful views, charismatic people, and flavorful food. It seems like there’s something for everyone, and in Goa, the state that stretches along the Arabian Sea in Western India, that certainly holds true.
Goa is known best for its stunning beaches, and it’s the perfect getaway from the bustle of the rest of the country. For those of you with a craving for adventure, there’s plenty to keep your adrenaline pumping. If you’re hoping for something a little more laid back, there are relaxing pastimes, too!
Whether you want a hostel on the beach, or would rather opt for one of the many elaborate hotels in Goa, the state has so much to offer. And while you’re there, you’ll find a nearly endless list of options to keep you busy during your stay. Here are some of our favorite activities.
- Scuba Dive off the Coast
- Snorkel by the Beach
- Get a Bird’s Eye View in a Hot Air Balloon
- Kayak Along a Winding River
- Give Surfing a Go
- Take a Bike Tour
- Visit a Wildlife Sanctuary
- Trek to a Waterfall
- Go Shopping at the Anjuna Flea Market
- Go on a Dolphin Tour
- Visit a Spice Plantation
- Explore Devil’s Canyon
- Check Out Goa’s Caves
- Soak Up Some Sun at the Beach
Scuba Dive off the Coast
If you’re already a certified scuba diver, Goa is a great place to test out the water. Scuba diving enthusiasts from all over come to check out the local sea life off the coast. Bring your own gear or rent once you get there. If you haven’t been certified, don’t worry, because there are a number of places to receive your certification while you’re there. Combine your trip to India with a diving certification you can take with you around the globe.
Snorkel by the Beach
For those of you who aren’t keen on diving to the depths or undergoing an extensive diving course, snorkeling might be for you. The beaches in Goa are out of this world, and all you need is a snorkel and mask to be able to explore the expansive waters while you’re there. Check out the local fish and sea creatures without having to load up on gear and experience first. You’ll find plenty of places along the beach to purchase snorkeling gear once you’re there. Visiting the beaches of Goa is definitely one of our top travel tips in India.
Get a Bird’s Eye View in a Hot Air Balloon
What better way to take in the sights and grandeur of India than from above? Hot air balloon tours are an exciting way to see some new sights and get your adrenaline going without having to do any of the technical work involved! Just hop aboard and relax while your balloonist gives you a bird’s eye view of the land below.
Kayak Along a Winding River
While the open water off the coast gets the most praise, Goa has an expansive maze of rivers and backwaters that are a little tamer and just as exciting to explore. Check out one of the many options for kayak tours in the area. Paddle on flat water for a couple of hours or set out for a half or full day on the water. It’s a great activity for groups, too!
Give Surfing a Go
Whether you’re an avid surfer or have never stepped on a board before, you can test your luck on the beaches of Goa. The water can get rough, though, so if you’re a beginner be sure to utilize one of the professional surf instructors available on the beaches. Setting out on your own is not recommended unless you’re an old pro!
Take a Bike Tour
Biking is an easy way to get around in India, but they also present an opportunity to experience the landscape at a slower pace. Whether you’re wanting to get from point A to point B without hailing a taxi, or you just want to scoot around on wheels for an afternoon, bicycles are an easy option. You can opt for a guided cycling tour with prearranged stops, or you can just rent a bike to explore on your own.
Visit a Wildlife Sanctuary
There are a number of wildlife sanctuaries in Goa that are rife with so many species of plants and animals. The undisturbed setting makes for spectacular sightseeing, scenic hiking, and the chance to get up close and personal with the local wildlife. There are several wildlife sanctuaries in Goa, ranging in size and variety. Here are some of the most popular ones to visit:
- Molem Wildlife Sanctuary
- Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary
- Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Trek to a Waterfall
Goa is a veritable paradise for adventure-seekers. If sitting on the beach isn’t your speed, perhaps trekking to a nearby waterfall will be. There are so many terrific treks you can do, either guided or on your own. Here are a few of the most popular waterfalls to trek to; start here!
- Nethravali Waterfall Trek (in the Madei Wildlife Sanctuary)
- Pali Waterfall Trek
- Tambdi Surla Waterfall Trek
Go Shopping at the Anjuna Flea Market
Goa has several big markets, but the flea market in Anjuna is by far one of the most popular. The beachfront market occurs every Wednesday and has become a neighborhood staple, attracting visitors from all over. Here you can find everything from spices to handcrafts and clothing and everything in between. It’s a great spot to look for souvenirs or to pick up something you might have forgotten to bring on your trip.
Go on a Dolphin Tour
If you spend any time in the water, either surfing, snorkeling, or even just laying on the beach in Goa, you’re likely to catch sight of a dolphin or two. But in order to get the full experience and guarantee a sighting, you can book a dolphin spotting tour. There are a number of companies that run tours out of the beach towns, so just ask at your hotel for their recommendations! Some even have a money-back dolphin-sighting guarantee.
Visit a Spice Plantation
If you love Indian food, then you’ll want to get a first-hand look at the spices that make those dishes great. There are several plantations in Goa that offer tours and give visitors a unique look into their process. Spices make great souvenirs to take back home, too! You can see where the spices are grown, learn about the way they are harvested, and then pick some up to take with you. If you’re not big on spicy food, you can always just observe without tasting!
Explore Devil’s Canyon
Located in Mollem National Park, this pristine spot is situated on the way to Dudhsagar Waterfall, so it’s easy to combine the two in a day trip. The canyon surrounds a pool of deep, green water, which some visitors have described as eery. The scenery is gorgeous, but swimming is prohibited. It’s a good spot for catching sight of some local wildlife, though, as well as taking some stellar photos.
Check Out Goa’s Caves
When I think of a cave, I usually think of a small, dark hole in a rock that’s pretty unimpressive. But the caves in Goa are certainly nothing like that. There are several famous caves you can visit that are as historic as they are elaborate. Most of them are adorned with ancient carvings and are truly a sight to see. Here are some of the most highly rated ones:
- Rivona Caves
- Arvalem Caves
- Khandepar Caves
- Lamgau Caves
Soak Up Some Sun at the Beach
Lastly, and most obviously, one of the best activities in Goa is also the simplest. Goa is famous for its beaches, so load up on sunscreen, pack your towel and sunglasses, and head to the water. There are so many beautiful beaches to choose from, laced with tall palm trees and dusted with white sand. And if you want to stay right on the beach, there are so many amazing hotels in Goa to choose from. So pack your bags (and your swimsuit) and get ready!