Goa has 54 beaches, all with different things to offer, so you’re spoilt for choice on where to pitch your beach towel.
Baga, one of Goa’s most famous, might be smaller than its neighbouring beaches, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in things to do. By day, it’s perfect for lazing on the white sands, surrounded by fresh fruit sellers and tightrope walkers, or signing up to parasailing and dolphin-spotting trips. And, by night, you’re treated to the lively Goan nightlife – you’ve got everything from Bollywood beach parties to clubs hosting big-name DJs here. But if you fancy something a little quieter, head to Arossim Beach, where the only noise you’re likely to hear is the waves lapping the shores. The beachfront has little more than a few food stalls, and is a great place to snap a dreamy sunset pic.
Goa is famous for its long stretches of perfect sand, so how does Kerala compare? Kerala has some beautiful, quiet beaches – they’re just smaller and further apart than the ones in Goa. But stretching out on a sandy coast isn’t the only way you can relax in Kerala. It happens to be the birthplace of Ayurveda – a 5,000-year-old holistic massage and therapy technique, and the treatment everyone wants to try.
Goa’s the best place to go for snapping up some bargains. You’ve got the Anjuna flea market, where more than 500 stalls pop up every Wednesday, the Saturday Night Market, and Mackie's Night Bazaar. For soaking up a little culture, the state’s former capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Goa, has a handful of archaeological museums, churches and cathedrals to explore. If you fancy getting back to nature, there are plenty of spice plantations and wildlife sanctuaries to have a look around – in fact, around 20 per cent of Goa is a wildlife sanctuary.
Cultural sights are in abundance in Kerala, so this is the resort for you if you’re keen to combine lots of sightseeing with your beach break. There are 13 different wildlife sanctuaries and national parks to explore. And that’s before mentioning the famous picturesque backwaters, where you can take a leisurely boat trip and do some animal spotting. You’ve also got seven World Heritage Sites to tick off, which are all 16th-century forts, as well as tea gardens and traditional villages, where you can get a taste of local culture.
Food in Goa is much more meat-heavy. The locals reckon a dish without seafood is incomplete, with kingfish – a type of mackerel – being the most popular choice. A lot of Goan food has Portuguese influences, thanks to the state’s 400 years of Portuguese colonisation. UK favourite, vindaloo – a spicy curry made with pork, chicken or lamb – even has Portuguese roots.
Goa and Kerala are both known for their super spicy curries, but cuisines differ between the two regions. Kerala is famed for its lentil-based vegetables stews, steamed rice cakes, deep-fried doughnuts and banana chips. What’s more, meals are often served on banana leaves for that authentic touch. The food is also traditionally vegetarian in Kerala, so if you’re veggie or vegan you’ll find more options here.
Goa’s event calendar is pretty jam-packed all year through. Religious dates include The Feast of Our Lady of Miracles - a festival that brings Christianity and Hinduism together with food and masses. Then, there’s Goa’s carnival, an annual celebration with dancing, live music, colourful floats and acrobats, which is enjoyed from dusk til dawn over a four-day period.
Every January the skies of Goa become home to colourful kites during the International Kite Festival. Expert kite-flyers from all corners of the globe come to fly their dragon, stunt, traditional paper kites, as well as huge, hand-stitched Kathakali kites fashioned after a traditional Indian dance. And Goa is the perfect place to host the all-day event, with strong winds helping them fly to whopping heights of up to 40 feet.
There are loads of festivals throughout the year, plus ancient practices specific to the area that you can get involved in. Onam is the biggest festival in Kerala, and is celebrated between August and September. It’s 10 days long and features traditional Kathakali dance, games and boat races. There’s also Keralan New Year, Vishu, which is celebrated in April, the Nehru Trophy Boat Race, held between July and September, and religious festival, Makaravilakku, in January. Whatever time of year you’re in Kerala, you’ll also find lots of all-night temple festivals, complete with fireworks and music.
On our Multi-Centre holidays, you can combine two destinations in one trip and get the most out of your holiday. Browse our Multi-Centres page to see all the exciting itineraries you can build yourself.
Authors: Selina Akhtar and Abi Payne-Humphries
Another hotel in South Goa is . Just 20-minutes from bustling Margao, it’s set in 45 acres of landscaped gardens and is right next to the beach.
Keys Resort Ronil is right next door to Baga’s famous beach, so it’s perfect if you want to make sure you secure your spot on the sands.
Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia Resort gives you some of the best views over Cavelossim’s coastline, and has one of the biggest pools in Goa.
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