I cannot even count the number of times we have been to Goa, together and on our own. But we never get bored of Goa. I don’t drink, like clubbing or eat seafood; and yet I always love going back to Goa.
My most favourite things to do in Goa is to look at heritage buildings, the colorful houses which are so characteristic of Goa, walking around the local markets and of course, sitting by the beach. You can sit and watch the waves for hours. The kids also love playing on the beach so you got nothing to worry about. There is food, right there at the shacks; so you got that covered too.
Since it’s our Anniversary in December, we always plan a vacation during this time of the year. And we almost always go to a beach town, 80% of the time it is Goa.
Our last visit to Goa was a road trip and since it was a memorable experience (though quite a long drive); we decided to take our car this time too.
We were expecting the journey to be long and we wanted to avoid eating junk food (which happens), so I made whole wheat – jaggery cake (a jaggery twist to my whole wheat cake) and peanut laddoos for snacking during the trip. We also carried banana chips and fruits. This time we did not buy any plastic water bottles in the entire trip of 6 days. We were carrying three bottles and I refilled them at every opportunity. The only regret is that we did use the ones provided by the hotel in the rooms.
It took us 9.5 hours to reach our hotel – the Goan Heritage – in North Goa from Pune. We took only 2 short breaks along the way and had terrible experiences in food at both the places. So, we largely depended on what we had packed for the journey.
This was our 2nd stay at the Goan Heritage. It is a beautiful 3-star property right next to the beach.
The five things we love about the Goan Heritage:
Proximity to the beach. You reach the nearest shack on Calangute beach in 10 steps. It is our number one criteria in selecting a property. It has to be next to the beach.
- Space inside the hotel. One of the main reasons we favor this hotel again and again is because of the space it has. When you have a young child with you, you know he’s going to need some space to run around and play. The hotel is laid out well. There’s a beautiful party lawn which is my absolute favourite. It looked surreal with all the lights when it was decked up for a party during our stay. It has a decent sized swimming pool, ample parking space and kids’ play area.
- Affable staff. The staff is extremely polite, friendly and helpful. They made sure that our stay was comfortable and enjoyable.
- Proximity to the market. The hotel is connected to the Holiday Street, which is lined with restaurants that generally serve North Indian, Goan and Continental food. The Holiday Street connects to the Fort Aguada Road. I was thrilled to discover that Mario Gallery and Broadway Book Centre were quite close. I walked to both the places during my last visit.
- Food: Their Breakfast Buffets are good comprising of Indian and Continental options. That’s always my favourite meal of the day since I don’t need to worry about what the little one’s going to eat! Even otherwise, the food is reasonably priced.
There was nothing which I particularly disliked here.
We found a lot of foreign tourists (mostly Russians) in the hotel as well as on the beach. Calangute beach is pretty crowded and has plenty of shacks. It looks beautiful in the evening too with beautifully lit up shacks, music and the beach side lined with candle-lit tables.
We usually don’t have any plans of sight-seeing no matter where we go. We make spontaneous plans. Both of us are laidback people and we don’t like spending our vacation running from one point to another. This time we just decided to spend most of our time by the beach. We stayed at the Goan Heritage for 4 days and then moved to Beleza by the Beach in South Goa for another 2 days.
It is a beautiful 4 star Villa-style boutique resort, which is also next to the beach; but if you need to reach the sea, it’ll take a 5 minutes walk. The serenity and pristine beauty of this side of the beaches are in deep contrast to the lively, more crowded beaches of North Goa; but each has its own merit. Personally, we like a mix of both.
For a clean and beautiful beach, it surprisingly attracts very less crowd and therefore is among the quieter beaches of Goa. We mostly found elderly couples, at the beach as well as the resort. There are only a couple of shacks, so the food options are limited and priced higher.
The five things we loved about Beleza by the Beach:
- The property: This resort is nestled in greenery. It exudes peace and calmness. The Villa style accommodation gives the feeling of holiday home, and there’s quite a lot of space. There’s a swimming pool, spa facilities and a kids’ play area. They have 2 restaurants, one at the reception andanother at the sea-side. The sea-side restaurant called ‘Nazare’ offers a beautiful view of the beach.There’s a huge expansion work going on. When that gets completed, the property is going to be even more fabulous with apparently 42 more rooms and a bigger swimming pool.
- The Villas: The property consists of Villas. Each Villa has 3 bedrooms, 2 common sitting areas, a Kitchenette and a Patio; split into 2 levels. The rooms are spacious with plenty of storage space in the form of wardrobes. The bathrooms are large and gives a sense of luxury. It is particularly well-suited for big family vacations.
- The staff: The staff is extremely polite, cooperative and attentive.
- The beach: Betalbatim, where it is located, is a clean, white sand beach. It is full of tiny crabs and it’s fun to watch them make way back into the water. It is a wonderful place if you are seeking peace and solitude.
- Breakfast: The breakfast here was also a mix of Indian and Continental food, and delicious.
Our only grouse was that the food seemed a bit over-priced, and there were no other food options in the immediate vicinity of the resort.
This was the longest we have ever stayed in Goa. We also visited the MMC (Margaon Municipal Corporation) market in pursuit of cashew nuts, while we were in South Goa. It is like any other local marketplace where tiny lanes converge into each other; selling from clothes to shoes, from spices to sweets. The only things we picked up were cashew nuts and palm jaggery. Being mindful shoppers, we are never tempted to buy the souvenirs. We buy only those things which we need. We didn’t buy anything during our Goa trip – no trendy clothes (which are seldom worn outside Goa), no colorful hats, no beaded jewelry.
Our return drive, though beautiful and scenic, turned out to be extremely long. My husband drove for 12 hours. We took 2-3 breaks for food but at the end of the day, we were like ‘why isn’t Pune coming!’ We probably took a wrong turn and may be the GPS rerouted. We never found out. Personally, I suggest a break journey in Kolhapur to make the journey less tiring and more enjoyable.
Note: It was my personal trip. A few pictures are my own and a few suitable pictures have been taken from the internet, in which case the source has been appropriately accredited.