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Located on the west coast, Goa may be the smallest state in India but it packs a mighty punch. A string of easygoing beach holiday towns overlooking the Arabian Sea, its coastal strip is divided into two distinct parts, North Goa and South Goa. Between the two areas sits the state capital of Panaji and the former Portuguese capital of Old Goa, whose monasteries and Catholic churches are a popular side trip from the more commercial holiday resorts along the shoreline.
If you’re after nightclubs, beach bars and restaurant shacks during your holiday in Goa, head to the northern resorts of Calangute and Baga, where you can spend the days having fun on the water and the evenings drinking cocktails and partying the night away.
Rummage for trinkets and spices at the legendary Anjuna flea market, or admire the illuminated religious structures of Panaji from a twilight cruise along the Mandovi River. If you’re a foodie, make a beeline for the Friday market in the town of Mapusa, where you can tuck into authentic Goan street food and buy colourful Indian textiles to take home.
Down in the south, the pace of life slows right down, with rest and relaxation the order of the day. Some of Goa’s finest spa hotels are tucked into the casuarina trees behind the beaches of Arossim, Utorda and Benaulim, some of which offer holistic Ayurvedic treatments, meditation classes and yoga sessions for tranquillity-seeking travellers.
Paddle through lotus ponds on a kayaking tour of the mirror-flat Sal Backwaters near Margao and see kingfishers, lapwings and Indian swallows close up. Or take a snorkelling day trip out to Grande Island off the coast of Vasco de Gama and spot dolphins en route before enjoying a traditional Goan barbecue on the beach.
Have a Goan holiday in the heart of the action or far away from the hustle and bustle – either way you’ll find every kind of hotel option along Goa’s coast, so you can kick back, stretch out and enjoy the laid-back beach vibe.