How to Escape Tourist Crowds in Goa

Goa | © solarisgirl / flickr

Boasting beautiful beaches, water sports, Goan-Portuguese architecture and culture, a hippie vibe, vibrant seaside clubs, buzzing flea-markets and a lively nightlife, it’s no surprise that Goa is the most popular holiday destination in India. Around five million tourists flock to this smallest state of India every year. It might seem that no matter when you visit, throngs of people are inevitable. Here Culture Trip have a compiled a guide on how to escape the tourist crowds in Goa.

Time your visit

The best time to visit Goa depends on what you want to do and see. If you want to relax on the beach in peace and quiet or indulge in water sports, opt for early autumn season (October) or mid- spring season (March-April), when the sun worshipers and adventure junkies are away. The temperature ranges from 20°C to 32°C in these seasons.

If you’re looking for great deals on hotels, flights and other activities in Goa, like shopping, partying or water sports that can be expensive, visit off-season, i.e. summer (April-May) or Monsoon (June-September) and you’ll be rewarded with fewer tourists in your midst. Due to frequent downpours during monsoon, water sports are not available in Goa. However, during summer season (April-May), you can indulge in water sports either in morning before 10 am or after 4 pm when the temperature cools down. The average highs in summer are around 30°C- 35°C during daytime and falls to 26°C after the sun goes down, while during monsoon season, the average high is around 30°C and the low is around the mid-teens. However, the off-season is perfect to explore Goa’s cultural and historical landmarks without having to bump shoulders with tourist crowds.

Water Sports Goa

Follow the ‘Alternative’ Route

While there are certain places that are synonymous with Goa – Baga, Anjuna, Calangute, Old Goa, Tito’s Lane and the colourful flea markets – the smallest state of India has so much more to it hidden in plain sight and worth-exploring.

Where tourists go for relaxation and water sports

Baga, Calangute, Anjuna and Candolim Beach – these beaches are heaving with tourists.

Where to go instead

Hit the unexplored and peaceful beaches, for instance, Butterfly Beach where you can indulge in dolphin watching and paddle boating, plus the serene atmosphere and plenty of rocks add to the charm. Enjoy the spectacular views of the sunset and indulge in wading or swimming at the Hollant Beach, South Goa. Away from the tourist crowds, head to Arambol Beach where you indulge in activities like kitesurfing and paragliding.

Butterfly Beach, Goa

Hollant Beach, Goa

Arambol Beach, Goa

Arambol Beach Goa

Where the tourists go to party

The traditional spot for party revellers in Goa is North Goa – Tito’s, Mambo’s or Curlies. A night out at these popular nightspots will set you back almost INR 2,500 ($38).

Where to go instead

To slip away from the herd, head in South Goa to Gatsby Pub in Colva and treat yourself to a cocktail of your choice or bust some moves on the uncongested dance floor instead; or visit Neptune Point at Palolem Beach and be a part of the Silent Noise Party that involves plugging in headphones and listening and grooving to the music that spans across different genres – pop, hard rock, trance, etc. A night out at these spots in South Goa will only cost you up to INR 500 ($7.7)

Silent Noise Club, Palolem Beach, Goa.

Where the tourists go for shopping

Anjuna Wednesday Flea Market and Saturday Night Market at Arpora are a haven for shopaholics, but the high influx of tourist crowds has resulted in sky high pricing.

Where to go instead

Escape the hordes of shopaholics and make your way over to Dona Paula beach which is dotted with numerous shops selling everything from clothes to edibles, plus they are not overpriced nor overcrowded. There are several flea markets held here every day with varying themes, so you can shop anytime and any day. Or visit Calangute bazaar, which opens on Saturday from 6:30am until 12pm and specializes in Tibetan and Kashmiri stuff.

Calangute Bazaar

Where the tourists go for picknicking

Grand Island is the epicentre of family fun and picnicking. The island offers a plethora of water sports and during the high-season it is swarmed with tourist crowds, leaving no room for peace.

Where to go instead

Take respite away from the hustle and bustle by spending a day at Divar Island, which is as beautiful as Grand Island but with significantly fewer crowds. It is perfect for those looking for peace and exudes a Goan countryside vibe. To get there, take a ferry ride from Mandovi River.

Divar Island, Goa

Where the tourist crowds go for reminders of the Portuguese era

You’ll find the bulk of tourists at Fort Aguada and Chapora Fort (Dil Chahta Hai point)

Where to go instead

Cabo De Rama, located in South Goa, this fort features old cannons and the ruins of the erstwhile Portuguese armed forces. Fort Tiracol, nestled near Querim beach, North Goa, is a 17th century Portuguese fort, now converted into hotel, known for its beautiful architecture and design, plus the spectacular views of the Indian Ocean. For a quintessential Goan experience, head to Fontainhas, which is the heritage colony of Goa and India’s only Latin Quarter. It’s best known for its quaint cottages and houses with colourful walls, overhanging balconies, attractive facades and red-tiled roofs. Plus, these places are picture-perfect, so you can take a click or two, without being photobombed by masses of tourists.

Cabo de Rama, Taluka Cabo da Rama, Canacona, Goa

Fontainhas, Altinho, Panjim, Goa

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Time your sightseeing strategically

If you want to visit the tourist hotspots, (for instance, beaches like Baga, Calangute or Anjuna; forts like Aguada Fort and Chapora Fort; and UNESCO World Heritage Sites and architectural wonders – 16th century Basilica of Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral; and colourful flea markets, like Saturday Night Market and Anjuna Flea Market) get an early start before 9am as crowds tend to be fewer first thing in the morning or go after 4pm, which gives you an hour or two to explore before closing time. Both strategies can help you escape the tourist crowds and still get to see the major tourist magnets in peace.

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