Chill out on Varca Beach
As one of the most beautiful and calm beaches in southern Goa, if you’re looking for solitude, Varca Beach doesn’t disappoint. Most resorts enjoy their own private stretch of white sand, so you won’t need to travel too far either.
Adorned with palm trees and backed by rich vegetation, Varca Beach’s natural beauty makes it the perfect spot for lounging in the sun. If the heat gets too much, take a dip in the tranquil ocean or cool down with a refreshing drink in one of the many beach shacks here.
For the more active visitor there are a number of watersports on offer, from parasailing to jet-skiing. If you miss the buzz of the beach crowds, the region’s main resort, Colva Beach, is a 20-minute drive north.
The freshest seafood in the region
Varca beach is a traditional fishing village and you’ll find some of the freshest seafood in the region here. With the Arabian Sea providing so many treasures, most restaurants will have an extensive seafood menu from red snapper vindaloo to prawn rishado and special fish thali, all at affordable prices perfect for cheap Goa holidays.
Be sure to leave room for the distinctive Goan dessert of bebinca. Made with just four ingredients – eggs, maida, coconut milk and sugar with a hint of nutmeg and ghee – this south Indian delicacy comprises of between seven and sixteen layers baked one at a time.
Explore the River Sal
With Goa’s third largest river on your doorstep and a multitude of organised boat tours to take advantage of, you can submerge yourself in the daily life of the River Sal and its glorious natural offerings. Hop on a traditional wooden boat and sail towards the Arabian Sea, watching local fishermen work along the way and observing the multitude of exotic birds in the area.
The water here is teeming with playful bottle nose dolphins. For the best chance to spot them, head out on an early morning cruise along the river and watch them frolic around the head of the boat.
Experience city life
To experience the quicker pace of Goan culture, head to the city of Margao – the region’s commercial capital. This city is packed with locals, historical landmarks and bustling markets. With impressive churches and beautiful temples to explore, you’ll also find a number of old Portuguese mansions and back street canteens serving up home cooked curries.
The people of India are said to be some of the best negotiators in the world – but with a little practice you’ll be haggling with the best of them at the Margao Market. The huge, covered shopping hub offers the best selection of dried spices, with their sweet aroma filling the air as you browse locally produced soaps, sweets and exquisite fabrics.
Explore the region's spice plantations
Spices were what initially attracted the Europeans to India, and on a tour of the rich spice plantations it’s easy to understand why. Just under an hour’s drive from Varca Beach in the heart of central Goa near the town of Ponda, you’ll find a number of plantations. Here you can learn how local spices are grown, inhaling the fragrances of nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander and cardamom.
Watch how employees climb betel nut trees that stand over 30 metres above the ground, moving from tree to tree to collect nuts. While you’re there, be sure to sample locally produced craft spirits such as feni or urak, distilled from the fruit surrounding cashew nuts or coconuts.