Goa is India's smallest and most liberated state. It was actually a colony of Portugal up until 1961, and a strong Portuguese influence still remains. Goa's coastline stretches for around 100 kilometers (62 miles) and its beaches have become extremely popular tourist destinations.
However, Goa has much more to offer than just the beach! It’s especially beautiful during monsoon time from June to September, when nature flourishes, the rain brings refreshment and romance, and Goa takes on a more traditional flavor. Travel to Goa during the monsoon and you'll be able to experience it the local Goan way.
Attractions During the Monsoon Season
Goa's picturesque wildlife sanctuaries are open all year round. The major ones are Mollem National Park and Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. They are harder to reach than Bondla, the smallest and most accessible sanctuary in Goa, though. As well as nature trails, Bondla has a mini zoo and deer safari park, which is great for kids. The imposing Dudhsagar Falls, located on the fringe of the Mollem National Park, is at its best during the monsoon as the water rages down from a huge height.
Another great place to visit during the monsoon in Goa is the acclaimed spice plantation in Savoi, reached by an enchanting drive through dense jungles and hills from Ponda. An evening boat cruise up the Mandovi River from Panaji is enjoyable, and Goa’s historic character-filled buildings provide much interest. Fishing in any of Goa’s rivers is also fun, as too is white water rafting!
Festivals During the Monsoon Season
One of the best reasons to visit Goa during the monsoon is the vibrant festivals that take place. The most popular festival, Sao-Joao (the fertility feast of Saint John the Baptist), is celebrated in late June and involves the interesting feat of men jumping into overflowing village wells to retrieve bottles of local feni alcohol. The feast of Saints Peter and Paul, at the end of June, sees people sailing up river on rafts performing plays and songs. In late August, the carnival-like Bonderam flag festival is held on tiny Divar Island, off the coast from Panaji. Ganesh Chaturthi is also observed in Goa.
Where to Stay
The Wildernest Nature Resort offers enticing monsoon season specials, and it’s an incredible place to stay right amongst nature. Cottages start from 5,500 rupees ($100) per night for a double, including all meals, tax, and activities such as nature walks, eco tours and trekking. This is almost 50% less than peak season rates. You'll also find very enticing monsoon rates at most luxury hotels in Goa.
If you're looking for a more casual experience, Olaulim Backyards is a fabulous eco-friendly homestay located on the banks of the Mandovi River. They offer monsoon packages, including white water rafting and host of other activities. Children will love it there.
Where to Eat
Restaurants that aren’t located on the beach usually stay open during the monsoon. Lloyd’s in Calangute (after the chapel, on the Candolim Main Road) is the place to be on a stormy monsoon evening. It serves delicious Goan home cooking and is open through the night. The atmosphere is friendly and entertaining, with many people passing by and dropping in. You can also try Britto's on Baga Beach for seafood.
Nightlife During the Monsoon Season
Goa's renowned nightlife is minimal during the monsoon, however the infamous Mambo's and Tito's at Baga Beach both rock all year round. The bar at The Park Hotel in Calangute is hip bar with regular DJs. Live musicians can be heard at the more laid back Cavala, near Baga Beach. This place caters to an older crowd. There's live retro and rock on Friday nights and retro, jive, and salsa on Saturday nights from 8 p.m. Check out the listings on What's Up Goa to see what's on in Goa and when. You may also want to try your luck at one of Goa's top casinos.
Goa is well connected to the rest of India by all types of transport.However, the bus can be slow and uncomfortable so try to fly or take the train where possible.
Trains on the Konkan Railway can cover the distance from Mumbai to Goa in less than 10 hours, with the best train being the Konkankanya Express. Most trains will stop at Margao (Madgaon), which is Goa's main train station. Some, such as the Konkankanya Express, will stop at other stations as well.