Go ahead, defy your overseas friends in their adamant insistence that having fun in Goa only involves drunken dancing in a club and a gorgeous tan from saltwater swimming.
It’s been said time and again that Goa is much more than just the beach. But most of these articles tend to be published during the monsoons when a day at the beach is pretty much a wet blanket. But it doesn’t always have to be so.
Here’s a chance to get away from the crowd-choked areas that call all and sundry during ‘season time’ and still have photographs that will make your social media followers go green.
Karting: Feel a bit of the adrenaline rush and zip around a track where you can’t endanger the general public. You don’t need to be a speed junkie to enjoy karting; a little competitive spirit will do just fine. Children and adolescents find racing around bends bordered by rubber tires quite exciting, so it’s also possible for parents to keep them busy while they catch up on local gossip.
Boating at Mayem Lake: Remember those school trips as a child? Or perhaps even a family trip where you were plonked into a pedal boat and forced to pose with the sun in your eyes? It doesn’t have to be this traumatic. Mayem Lake has its own charm with its placid water, lush greenery all around and a large shady park to finish some reading in. Goa Tourism runs the Mayem Lake Resort with self-contained cottages should you feel like soaking in the vicinity. In the nearby Kumbhar vaddo, artisan families make Ganesh idols out of terracotta – a change from the regular clay idols.
Live in a Portuguese mansion: Pretend you lived in a bygone era without the stiff frills of aristocratic society. There are a number of old Portuguese mansions across Goa that offer a trip back in time. Some built as far back as the 17th century, they are filled with antiques, paintings and curios that each tell a story; and rooms that whisper rumours about the people who lived there over the ages.
Go off the grid: Yes, literally. Leave everything behind and live without a fridge, fan or easily accessible shops. Is the city soul in you already scared? Don’t be. Tucked away in the Western Ghats is a farm that indulges in what it likes to call ‘micro tourism’ with simple eco-friendly solutions, lots of outdoor activities including an overnight trek in the wilderness and a fusion of multi-cultural cuisine out in the wild.
Sounds too good to be true, but Off The Grid certainly delivers.
Pedal your way around Goa: Before the festive spirit leads to all sorts of lazy indulgent malaises, repair that forlorn bicycle and pedal into the hinterland. Stay away from the touristy areas where over-enthusiastic bus drivers can turn your legs to jelly. Try the stretch from Chandor to Quepem and its surrounding areas where you can stop and admire the golden fields.
Stop at the Palácio do Deão in Quepem to admire an ancient legacy of architecture, art and décor, and perhaps grab a bite to eat.
Kayak down a river: Stretch those arms and get yourself up a creek. With a paddle though. Goa has more beautiful rivers than you’ve cared to notice. Exchange loud-mouthed tourists, pesky sand bugs and the stench of jet ski fuel for a light kayak and oars, thick foliage bent double over the river banks, and perhaps a mocking monkey or two.
Goa Kayaking has a number of options.
Stuff it: Eat more spoonfuls of indulgent food than your brain can comprehend. When your workout programmes reward you with a cheat day, an all-you-can-eat buffet is what you ought to gift yourself.
Make some high-flying pals: These will come without the pretentious behaviour affiliated with the human sort. Grab a pair of binoculars and head into thickly wooded areas. You’ll get a lesson in silence (switch those phones off and stop chattering), patience and observation. There’s a vast range of species out there so you might want to lug along a copy of ‘The Book of Indian Birds’ by Dr Salim Ali, the 13th edition of which has illustrations by Goa’s own Carl D’Silva.
Get a personalised introduction to Goa’s avian treasures with Rahul Alvares.
Don’t overthink it; simply get that calendar out and cross out dates. Friends and family will thank you for a refreshing change to the fun times they’re used to.
This article was first published in Goa Streets on November 21, 2014.