Goa might be the smallest state in India, but it is also the go-to holiday destination for people across the country. The words 'Goa Trip' evoke memories and stories in everyone’s hearts, whether you recall running wild with your friends after your 12th board exams, or simply enjoying a relaxing beach holiday with your family. Goa thrives on tourism and is the place to go to let your hair down and have fun. While Goa is a travel destination with something for everyone, most people who visit think of Goa having two distinct and individual personalities. Over the years, people characterize Goa by region, North and South - with the capital, Panaji, falling in between. Before you plan your Goa trip, it’s important to know which part of Goa you would like to visit, since attempting to see the whole state in a short span of time is difficult. While North Goa is the high energy, party locality of the state, South Goa is the place you visit to enjoy nature’s beauty and relax on the beach. Here’s a breakdown of the two very unique experiences you can get in this one glorious state!
Atmosphere - If all you want from your vacation are long relaxing sunset walks on deserted beaches, reading a good book by the pool at a high end resort, and endless time to spend with the people you’re with, South Goa is the destination for you. Known for some of the most scenic beaches like Palolem, Majorda and Butterfly beach as well as a completely relaxed atmosphere, it is definitely much less crowded and tourist centric than its counterpart. North Goa on the other hand is usually bustling with crowds of tourists and is the perfect part of Goa to be in if you want to go pub hopping and clubbing, meet new people, get lost in the crowd, and dance the night away. While you might be able to sneak in some alone time, the pace of North Goa will definitely keep you on your toes. It’ll be difficult to find empty deck chairs or a dearth of crowds on Baga or Calangute beach, but you can always visit Ashvem Beach, a relatively deserted beach far north, for a bit of peace and quiet.
Nightlife - There’s a reason college students from all over the country flock to North Goa any chance they get, and that is for the amazing nightlife and party culture in the area. From iconic clubs like Curlies near Anjuna beach, Tittlie and Antares in the Vagator area or Club Cabana and Tito’s in Baga, there are endless opportunities to enjoy a night on the town in North Goa. Bars and pubs in South Goa however, are few and far between, so if you plan to party all night and nurse your hangover through the day, North Goa is where you want to be.
Activities - If you want to get your adrenaline pumping with some extreme water sports activities like jet skiing, banana boating, or parasailing, you’ll find many options in Calangute and Baga beach in North Goa. The North is also the perfect place for some retail therapy, and if you’re looking to traverse flea markets, update your beach wardrobe and buy some souvenirs, you’ll find a host of options in this part of the state. However, if you want to escape the beach for the day and find some activities to do away from the water, South Goa is definitely the better option. Home to a large variety of wildlife sanctuaries like the Netravali wildlife sanctuary, it is the best option for visitors who want to go bird watching or hunting for exotic spices. Rock climbing and camping are also great activities to try out in the south.
Sightseeing - Goa is famed for its beautiful churches, temples and Portuguese architecture. In the North, tourists can visit Fort Aguada, a Portuguese fort and lighthouse on Sinquerim beach and Chapora Fort, where many iconic scenes from the movie “Dil Chahta Hai” were shot. There are also many lesser known churches like Church of St. Catherine, St. Antony’s Church and Church of St. Lawrence as well as awe-inspiring ones like Basilica of Bom Jesus. South Goa churches are known for their grandeur, and some of the best to visit are Three Kings Church, Our Lady of Hope Church, Rachol Seminary and Velim Church. The South is also home to the BigFoot Museum, which wonderfully depicts Goa's history and culture. You can have fascinating experiences in both the North and the South of Goa, that makes it hard to choose between both.
Food - While South Goa has some amazing places to eat, most of the restaurants are on the more gourmet and expensive side. Restaurants like Martin’s Square and The Fisherman’s Wharf are the perfect place to try out “feni” concoctions, cocktails made from the local Goan liquor. North Goa, on the other hand, is known for its beach shack culture, where you can have exquisite seafood, including “butter garlic prawns”, my personal favourite, at fairly reasonable prices. You can also try local Goan cuisine at restaurants like Spice Goa and Viva Panjim. However, if you want to go to places known for both their exquisite food and great ambience, restaurants like Tulum, Olive, and La Plage in North Goa are where you should make your reservations well in advance.
While North and South Goa have an equal number of pros and cons, we hope this article gives you a little more clarity on where to plan your next ideal Goan vacation!