If You Haven’t Been to India, Then You Have to “Goa”!

The notion of an unpeopled beach paradise coupled with effusive, friendly locals, and prices that are gentle on the pocket makes Goa, India a logical choice for those seeking sun and sand in the Asian subcontinent. Goa is located on the southwestern coast of India and is the country’s smallest but richest state, largely in part due to tourism. Since the 1970’s both foreign and Indian tourists alike have flocked to its sugary white sand beaches looking for anything and everything in between a pulsating nightlife scene and untempered relaxation. Having visited the colorful and tumultuous city of Cairo earlier in December, I was looking for the latter.



The Northern part of the state (North Goa), has acquired an “anything goes” reputation throughout the years, stemming in part from its widely tolerant views. Throughout the 1960’s, North Goa had become known as a hippie haven, attracting both liberal minded and intrepid travelers. Although today, hippies have mostly vacated the environs, North Goa has still maintained its unfettered and wild reputation.  As I was trying to avoid the raucous partygoers, I headed due south to the more tranquil part of town where beach shack living and open-air bars are the order of the day.


South Goa is indeed the place for those looking for grown-up relaxation and looking to luxuriate in the stillness of the mind and body; there is less likelihood of playing “beach-mat overlap” with other tourists in South Goa.

Although the major crowd-pullers for South Goa is its white washed shores and architectural wonders, the potpourri of flavors found within local Goan food will leave visitors tantalized. Goan food is the bold intersection of two contrasting religious ideologies- Hinduism and Christianity. Goan Hindu cuisine is primarily pescetarian and vegetarian and uses considerably less “heat” than Goan Catholic cuisine. Typical Goan Hindu dishes include fish curry, dried fish, and fried fish enlivened with onion and coconut. Goan Catholic food caters to a range of palettes. While heavily influenced by the British, Kokani and Portuguese (whose 400 years of colonization left indelible imprints on the region), Goan Catholic food revolves around four different iterations of masalas- xacuti, caldin, vinegar and curry base- with each differing in the amount of aromatic spices used.








Although rice and seafood are considered to be the main staples of both types of Goan cuisine, meats such as beef and pork have equally become prominent features of Goan fare. Dishes such as pork vindaloo, a meat dish brimming with top notes of chilies, garlic and vinegar, and chouricos (spicy pork sausages) have strutted onto just about every menu.



Whether you are a pescetarian, vegetarian, or “meataterian”, you simply have to amble between several of the family-run beach shacks on Cavelossim beach in South Goa to experience life like a true Goan-simple, uncomplicated and happily unhurried. As you saunter from shack-house to shack-house, you will find that most menus offer standard Indian fare -moderate to fiery versions of vindaloos, chili frys and rich and spicy curries –in surroundings that are unpretentious and reminiscent of visiting your grandmother’s house on Sunday afternoons. It is this convivial atmosphere that is redolent of Goan hospitality and wins your repeat service.




Any one of the beach shacks along the shores of Cavelossim beach are ideal for saluting the morning sun, lingering over a post- meal rum punch or feni (a locally distilled Indian spirit), engaging in dialogue with locals, and watching the pink-hued sunsets of the Arabian Sea.  The temperate weather in December makes this “picture postcard”  panorama achievable; temperatures hover in the low to mid-eighties, making it optimal for exploring India’s equatorial shores.



(local Kingfisher beer and local Indian spirit, feni)



(last photo in series- photo credit, Indian tourist)

Hopping from beach shack to beach shack on Cavelossim beach is the perfect approach to lazing away a warm, sultry afternoon and evening. Beach shacks offer up local Goan delicacies, impeccably executed with a plethora of seasoning and spices, in a casual, relaxed vibe. When you have had your fill of Goan delights, you can always answer to the calm, azure waters of the Arabian Sea, which persistently beckon you for a swim. One thing is for sure- whether you have a hankering for authentic, traditional foods, blissfully secluded beaches or buzzing nightlife, a trip to the glorious white shores of India’s richest state will surely cure the winter blues.



Leave a Reply