An Insider’s Guide to Goa
After months of writing and organizing, it’s here! The first and last guide to Goa you’ll ever need.
I always like to refer to Goa as its own island in India because it’s so different from the rest of this country.
Nestled along the South Western coast along the Arabian Sea, Goa is where the untamed jungle meets gorgeous beaches.
It’s become known hippie’s paradise in the last fifty years – an escape from the more hectic growth and chaotic bustle India has become known for.
Most people who travel through the country usually end up in Goa to rest and reset.
Who am I?
On my very first trip, I was one of those people.
After three months backpacking through India, I ended my trip in Goa. My senses were in overdrive, and I was incredibly sick with dengue fever. I had two weeks left of my solo trip, and I was just about ready to go home.
But those last two weeks wound up changing everything.
One evening while I was out at a bar, a drunk Brit, with hair as long as mine, bumped into me, dropping his very girly drink on my foot. This is how I met Ben, my boyfriend of the last 5+ years, and the person who introduced me to a whole new side to Goa I’d never have seen on my own.
From meeting his local friends in Anjuna to going to his hideaway in the South, Ciaran’s Cabin (still one of my favorite beach shacks) and eating the best sea bass of my life, and falling in love with both the boy and the beach town, I knew I’d be coming back before I boarded my flight back to the U.S.
I wound up returning three months later and have called Goa home ever since. It’s been over 5 years now that I’ve lived here. If you’d asked me what my twenties would look like as a nursing student in Ohio, I could never have predicted the kind of adventures I’d have in this little paradise.
To name a few:
- I’ve traveled all over the state finding hidden beaches in our old Omni van more times than I can count, picking up locals who get a kick out old-school school rickety, makeshift taxi.
- Ben and I have rescued and fostered a number of furry pals, and we’re currently parents to two dogs, Omni and Shanti, and one cat, KitKat.
- Most of my mornings are spent drinking coffee from the balcony of my house and watching the monkeys jump around on our coconut trees and land with thuds on our roof – sometimes they even peak in our windows to get the dog’s attention.
Five years in, and I feel like a part of the Goan community. I’ve become friends with many of the local fashion designers; I know lots of the restaurant owners, and I’ve even gotten to know the animal rescue community with our countless trips there to help animals we find injured.
Why did I write this guide?
I want new visitors in Goa to get the same insider experience I got on my first trip!
Calling Goa home for half a decade and seeing firsthand how life and tourism here has changed since my first arrival, I can tell you most of the information about Goa that’s out there right now is no longer relevant.
Most big travel sites are just recycling the same outdated information from each other. Goa has grown so much in tourism that the cool hideaways are now run of the mill places that feed into what they think a typical tourist wants — Bollywood music and popularized Indian food.
I wrote this book because I realized there were still a lot more secrets to share beyond what I’ve already written about on Hippie in Heels. The thing about Goa is that if you just show up here and try to follow a Lonely Planet, you’ll leave disappointed thinking Goa is just “meh”. But, if you see it from a local’s point of view, you’ll fall in love with this state.
What exactly is in this guide to Goa?
I’ve laid out everything I could think of in this guide, and I consulted with local friends for even more insider secrets. These are all the kinds of tips I’d overload my best friend with if they were coming here!
Here’s exactly what to expect in this book:
- Chapter 1: An Introduction – More about Goa’s history and how I came to call it home
- Chapter 2: Before You Leave: A Travel Checklist – This chapter has multiple sub-chapters that cover tips for booking your trip, the best airlines, when to come, detailed visa guides, monsoon season tips, which area of Goa to stay, how long to stay, safety and local culture tips, currency and budgeting, health care, packing tips, and more! I cover every step of planning your trip.
- Chapter 3: Getting Around Goa: Arriving and Exploring – transportation tips and how to get around locally from arriving at the airport to taking a motorcycle taxi, local train, or bus in and out of Goa.
- Chapter 4: Adventures and Attractions in Goa – what to do for adventure and culture from wake-boarding and surfing to visiting secret caves and cool undiscovered art galleries (plus the touristy places you’ll want to check off your bucket list)
- Chapter 5: Goa By the Sand: Where to Stay and Eat – This is a huge chapter that covers ALL the beaches along the coast. It has everything from what to do in each area, the best places to stay (budget, boutique, luxury), yoga vibes, where to eat, and where to party and shop! The beaches covered are Arambol, Mandrem, Ashwem, Morjim, Vagator, Anjuna, Calangute, Candolim, Baga, Utorda, Majorda, Colva, Varva, Cavelossim, Mobor, Betul, Agonda, and Palolem.
- Chapter 6: Panjim & Other City Areas – Here is a full guide with what to do, where to stay, eat, and shop for those looking for some things to do in the city of Panjim and it’s surrounded areas like Old Goa.
- Chapter 7: Into the Jungle: Inland Goa – Inland Goa is often forgotten about but has so much to do! I cover boutique hotels, eco-resorts, jungle adventures, local hideaway restaurants, and more in this chapter. I live in a small village which is talked about in this part of the book. The towns I cover are Siolim, Saligao, Sonaulim, Mollem, Olaulim, Chorla, Assagao, and Bicholim.
- Chapter 8: Volunteering in Goa: Ins and Outs – for those that like to volunteer while they travel, these are the most reputable places to volunteer
- Chapter 9: Kid-Friendly Goa: What to Do – where to go and what to bring if you’re visiting with kids plus 14 fun things to do with them
- Chapter 10: The Hippie in Heels’ Map & Bonus Tips – a little map & all my personal bonus tips and super inside secrets
- Bonus: Goa Photo Journal – just some of my favorite photos over the years
Here are some of the common questions I answer:
- Should I go to Goa during monsoon season? Will the shacks be open?
- Should I go to North or South Goa?
- Is it safe to come alone as a girl? Where can I make friends?
- How long should I stay?
- Where can I find a truly off-beaten local experience?
- Can I volunteer in Goa?
- Is it safe to bring my kids here?
- Where are the best places to party and see that hippie scenes of Goa?
- What is the best yoga retreat and where can I learn yoga teacher training in Goa?
The book comes in a PDF format, so you can view it from your PC, tablet, phone, Kindle– anything with a screen.
Gumroad is a 100% secure site, and I will not have any of your credit card or Paypal information. I’ve purchased ebooks from other bloggers from this site before, which is why I trust it.
Once you pay, Gumroad will send you an email with a download link. Once you’ve downloaded it to your computer, it’s yours!
For the UK and European citizens, there is VAT, which you’ll see when you check out. I believe there are no taxes for US and Indian citizens.
Bonus: I have also made sure to add an extra condensed version of the ebook to put on your phone while traveling. Instead of 30M MB, it’s only 3 MB. It’s just an added free bonus to the main version if you’re trying to save phone space!
What People Are Saying
“Whether you’re a backpacker or luxury traveler, this is the book you need to get the most from your Goa vacation. Goa is a long stretch of coastline with diverse destinations. Without the right information, it’s easy to end up at a place that’s unsuitable for you, or miss out on the best that Goa has to offer you. Rachel shares all her invaluable, and hip, local knowledge in this comprehensive book. I write about India travel for a living and have been to Goa numerous times. Not only are Rachel’s recommendations insightful and spot on, she covers many things that even I didn’t know about.”
— Sharell Cook, India Travel Expert for Tripsavvy (formerly About.com India Travel)
As an India travel blogger, I get asked for advice on Goa all the time. My #1 recommendation is Rachel’s ebook which gives you all the insider tips you’d ever need. The ebook is clearly laid out so that you can quickly find the info you need while also being beautifully designed with countless full-color photos interspersed throughout. If you plan on going to Goa now or anytime in the future, it’s a must read!
— Asher Fergusson, India Travel Writer at AsherFergusson.com
“It’s honestly such a helpful book. Everyone who visits Goa needs to read this book and I am so grateful for the open advice Rachel gives to her favorite places in Goa – I get to see Goa like a local, now, too!”
– Anna R., Graphic Designer
“I have been waiting for this book for years! I visit Goa every season for a two week holiday and the last couple years, whenever I have questions about Goa, I email Rachel and ask her for tips before my trips. She’s always staying up to date on what’s changed each season. It doesn’t take long reading this book to see that she really poured her heart into it – and she doesn’t hold back, she really tells all the places she loves to go so that you know the “secret” Goa. I like that it’s not just about partying and beaches but that it talks about the cool artistic stuff going on in Goa and how to see the jungles, too.”
– Michelle C., Marketing
This book is the kind of travel guide that would incite wanderlust in just about anyone. Rachel obviously knows her stuff and she describes Goa like a vast, lush wonderland. If you’re looking to find a new place to explore or go back to somewhere you’ve been before and see it in a new light, this e-book is perfect for you! I loved it!”
– Tess M., Travel Writer
“There’s a lot of valuable and useful information in the book that you just won’t find elsewhere. Well done Rachel Ann!”
–Mariellen W., India Travel Writer at Breathedreamgo.com