The quintessential impression about Goa as a beach destination needs to be redefined. Goa is not only about the cliched sand, sun, and sea. Goa is a fascinating destination that can surprise you with a bundle of non-clichéd things. Rated as one of the highly visited states in India, Goa is a melting pot of cultures.

With its heritage buildings, old Portuguese-styled houses, local fishermen’s villages, adventure sports, Islands, wildlife, gushing waterfalls, flea markets, and delectable delicacies, colorful festivals, and carnival, Goa has a lot more to offer to the world than just the beaches. If you decide to explore the other side of Goa rather than only walking on the beaches, Goa can be quite a promising destination for travelers. Goa is a land of never-ending contrasts.

Also Read: Traveling to Goa ? Check Out these 5 Top Beaches For Yoga in Goa

Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea
South Goa. Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

I was in Goa on an invitation by Goa Tourism, to attend the Goa International Travel Mart 2019, held at Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium from 23rd to 25th October 2019. The mart was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Goa, Dr. Pramod Sawant by lighting the lamp. Later, the Chief Minister addressed the delegates, Media Persons, and buyers, announcing a few new initiatives to boost tourism in Goa in the coming days.

In an elaborate presentation by Mr. Nikhil Desai, the Managing Director of GTDC, he talked largely about Goa as a complete destination and also how the government and especially the Tourism Ministry of Goa is doing incredible work in introducing a lot of new upcoming travel projects, facilities, and Initiatives. The Government of Goa is also working and endorsing the move to develop Goa as Medical Tourism Destination in the near future. They are also working rapidly to promote cruise tourism in Goa in the coming days.

Also Read: Planning To Explore Offbeat Goa? Beyond Beach Hopping & Night Parties

Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea
Sunset in Goa is always gorgeous. Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

Goa can be overwhelming when it comes to varied experiences. It has something for everyone. If you are not a typical beach lover and like to travel extra miles to explore something unique and offbeat, Goa can never disappoint you. Whether you are a heritage lover, culture enthusiast, adventure junkie, culinary expert, bird watcher, local expert, or just a wandering soul, Goa can take you on a beautiful expedition. Let’s find out what you can do in Goa if you are not just beach hopping and partying at night.

The best way to explore Goa is to hire a car and plan your own itinerary to explore. It has some of the best car rentals in Goa that make your life hassle-free on vacation.

Wander in the Colorful Alleys of Fontainhas

Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea
The Colourful Fontainhas

One of the most colorful neighborhoods in Panjim is Fontainhas. Also known as the Latin Quarter, a visit to these beautiful alleys is worth your time. Located below Altinho, an affluent hilltop area in the center of the city, Fontainhas is like a separate world in itself. Fontainhas is best explored on foot.

The moment I walked in there, I was literary in awe of the most vibrant Portuguese houses located on both sides of the winding lanes. It took me back to the bygone era when this place used to be the residential area for Portuguese administrative officers and rulers. Prior to that, Fontainhas was used as a coconut plantation by an affluent Portuguese Antonio Joao de Sequeira.

Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea
Fontainhas in Panjim

The striking colors of the houses, the distinctive architectural styles, and the names of the narrow cobbled streets trace back to the Portuguese time in Goa. Spend as much time as you can there to observe and absorb the vibes of the place. Don’t miss the White Chapel of Saint Sebastian, built-in 1800, located at the southern end of Fontainhas. One can also experience a stay-cation in heritage houses and luxury GoaVilla there.

There are cafes and bakeries which are more than 100 years old. You can also opt for a lavish lunch at the café and restaurants. Fontainhas is definitely one of the most picturesque areas in the midst of Panjim and definitely a place for a photo shoot. Fontainhas was declared a UNESCO Heritage Zone in 1984.

Stand in Awe of Old Churches

Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea
Se Cathedral in Old Goa

If you ask me what was the one thing that completely spellbound me in Goa, I would say the old Churches. Standing tall with its history and stunning architectural marvels, the Churches in Goa are a delight to explore. They are part of the iconic landscape of the Goa and you can’t miss them in the coastal state. The Church hopping can be quite thrilling in Goa.

The most remarkable of all is the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in the middle of a busy street in Panjim. The giant captivating white church is frequented by travelers. This is one of the prominent landmarks of Goa. Apart from that, I was completely blown away by the giant architectural treasures like Se Cathedral. This is the biggest of all churches and convents in Goa.

Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea
Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa

The oldest church, Basilica of Bom Jesus is another popular church in Old Goa, dating back to 1594. It is also one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture. It has the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier. Another famous church is the Church of our Lady of the Mount which offers spectacular views of Chorao islands and the Mandovi River.

The Church of St. Cajetan in south Goa is surely a stunner when it comes to architectural designs. Another most visited one is the Nossa Senhora de Penha de Franca, an architectural spectacle. Located in Panjim, the church flaunts extravagant interiors with high ceilings and stained glass windows. Apart from these churches, Goa has numerous churches in every nook and corner. Below are the few must-visit ones on your next visit….

  • Rachol Seminary
  • Church of St. Francis of Assisi
  • Church of St. Ana
  • Church of Mae de Deus (Saligao)
  • Reis Magos Church
  • Church of Our Lady of Rosary
  • Nunnery of Santa Monica

Go On a Bird Watching Tour

Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea
Birds on Calingute beach Goa. Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Bird watching in Goa is another exciting activity that many are not aware of. If you are a naturalist or a nature lover, you can happily indulge in Goa’s Wildlife, especially bird watching in Goa as it provides quite a few places for bird watchers. In recent times, birding trails in Goa have started gaining popularity and a lot of tourists are opting for bird-watching tours in the beach capital of India. Goa has more than 420 species of birds and many are endangered.

Goa has also started hosting Bird Festival for bird lovers. There are a few prominent places in Goa for the Birding tours. One of the top places is Carambolim Lake. This is a quiet lake and is considered a paradise for birds as you can see herds of birds in the colder months. Another exciting place for bird watching in Goa is Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to numerous species that flock here to nest in the marshy mangroves. The best way to spot the birds is to take a canoe ride through the terrain and spot them on the edges of the river.

Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea
A Small Bird on a tree, Goa. Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

Soccorro Plateau is a haven for bird watchers. Another favorite spot for bird watchers is Cotigao. Known for the tall trees, some of which reach 100 ft in height, this sanctuary is the preferred choice for wildlife lovers. You can spot birds like the white-bellied woodpecker, velvet-fronted nuthatch, white-eyed eagle, heart-spotted woodpecker, rufous woodpecker, etc., easily here.

Apart from these prominent places in Goa, you can also visit the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, and Moira Backwaters, Verna Plateau, Divar Island, etc., for bird watching in Goa. You can also watch migratory birds on Morjim Beach.

Go on a Waterfalls Trail

Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea
Magnificent Dudhsagar Waterfalls. Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

If you are a nature lover and enjoy cascading waterfalls, Goa can charm you with a few popular and hidden waterfalls. If you are a trekker, it’s even better as some of the waterfalls are located on offbeat terrains that require advanced trekking skills. The most popular one is the iconic Dudhsagar waterfall which is one of the most picturesque waterfalls located on the border of Goa and Karnataka.

The Hivre Waterfalls in Valpoi attract a lot of tourists and nature lovers throughout the year. To reach the waterfalls, one needs to go through Thane village. It requires moderate-level trekking as well. The Tambadi Surla Waterfalls require you to trek through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary to reach this offbeat waterfall. But your effort to reach this mystical waterfall is worth it once you reach there. Not many people know about it due to its location exclusivity. Located within Madai wildlife sanctuary, Netravali waterfall is a sight to behold.

Around 172 km from Panjim, this waterfall is quite popular among tourists. One of the most scenic waterfalls in Goa would definitely be the Charavane Waterfalls. Situated in Charavane village, the lush greenery around the waterfalls makes it spectacular. It also requires travelers to trek through the forest and the village. There are numerous waterfalls hidden in the deep forest in Goa. However, find out a few popular ones for your next waterfall trail in Goa here

  • Kesarval Waterfalls, Verna Plateau
  • Karmalya Waterfalls
  • Arvalem Waterfalls
  • Sada Waterfalls
  • Kuskem Waterfalls

Before you go on a waterfall trail in Goa, you need to keep in mind a few things. Since the waterfalls are not located on a motorable road always, one needs to trek through jungles, wildlife sanctuaries, rocky patches, and villages. So, make sure that you wear comfortable trekking shoes. Always carry water bottles and enough food with you. Avoid trekking on a dangerous slippery path during monsoon as it gets really scary at times. Do make sure that you carry an extra pair of clothing, and a first-aid kit with you during your waterfalls trail in Goa.

Spend Some Quiet Time on Divar Island

Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea
Panoramic view of Old Goa, the Mandovi river, and the islands of Divar. Photo Courtesy: Joegoauk Oldgoa, Flickr

Away from the touristy beaches, if you wish to spend some quiet and quality time with your loved one or your friends, Divar Island is the perfect choice for you. With the leisurely walk, languid exploration, and soaking in the virgin beauty of the lush green surroundings, Divar Island has everything you wanted for a relaxing vacation far away from routine life.

Located on the banks of the Mandovi River, the Divar Island was once home to a large section of the Hindu population in Goa. But after the Portuguese started religious prosecution, the villagers left the island to settle in other parts of Goa. It made the entire village empty and now only the remnants of temples and other monuments are seen here. Also, the spread of the dangerous plague epidemics was another reason for the villagers to leave Divar Island at that time.

Divar Island is not the preferred destination in Goa for beach party-goers. So, the visitors to the serene island are peace-loving wanderers who like to travel a few extra miles for unique experiences. With some high-end Resorts, Cottages, and Home-stays, Divar Island has become ideal for people who are looking for unique expeditions. The island is divided into three villages, namely, Divar Piedade, Malar, and Naroa. The island is accessible by ferries on the Mandovi River from Old Goa.

Don’t miss the famous Bonderam festival, which is celebrated during the monsoon on Divar Island. It attracts lots of locals and tourists from all across the globe. The villagers organize a lavish feast on the last Saturday of August, which is also known as the feast of the harvest. Apart from that, you can also visit the 16th-century Church called Our Lady of Compassion Church which was the first Christian church in Divar.

It is located on the hilltop of the picturesque Piedade village. Beside the church, you can see the ruins of the Kadamba Dynasty. There was an ancient Ganesha temple once, destroyed later by the Portuguese. Saptkoteshwar Temple is another attraction in Naroa village. It used to be one of the popular religious sites which were destroyed by the Muslim rulers in the 14th century.

The temple was re-constructed again, but the deity was moved during Portuguese rule. Don’t miss the 400 years old Sao Mathias Church in Sao Matia. This is the village from where the Portuguese started their mass religious conversions on the Divar Island.

Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea

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Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea
Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea
Why Goa needs to be explored beyond Sand, Sun and Sea

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  1. Villas in Goa

    Your blog opened my eyes to a whole new side of Goa! I’ve been there for the beaches, but your insights into the diverse experiences beyond sand, sun, and sea have me itching to plan another trip. The offbeat suggestions are fantastic and promise a more enriching Goan adventure. Thanks for broadening my travel horizons!

  2. giày đá bóng

    The article has extremely quality content, I appreciate it, your article will surely bring a lot of useful knowledge to everyone. respect you

  3. Dealz cloud

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    Dealz cloud recently posted…Dealz cloudMy Profile

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  5. MyLine

    Goa is not just for the sands and sea but also for the beautiful architecture and culture of this place. I also adore the colonial style of architecture. The Colourful Fontainhas depicts the Portuguese influence over this state. Dudh Sagar Falls looks incredible, everything looks amazing!

  6. parco

    Thank you for sharing this article with everyone, the content is very good and the image has quality, hope that in the future you will continue to share for everyone to refer.

  7. Nisha Patel

    Goa is really a beautiful place and your article has introduced Goa in a very nice manner. I’ll surely visit these places and suggest my friends and next time when I visit Goa I’ll make sure I take a walk on these hidden unexplored places 😉

  8. Mark Jonson

    Hi, Parnashree, you look so beautiful and your post is amazing. I was huge like Goa I love this place. Thank you, Parnashree for sharing this information.

  9. The Untourists

    For me, the beaches and parties of North Goa are not an attraction at all. But I guess many many people go there only for that,it’s India’s own Ibiza.

    A little into Goa, and you find it’s so gorgeous. Those forested hills, paddy fields, those typical colourful Goan houses, the wonderful Joie de vivre everywhere in the air…

  10. jeewan garg

    Very Useful Information. I just came across your blog, But surely read your other blogs also.

  11. femmetrip

    it so nice to read your article we want to visit our travel agency for traveling in india

  12. yogansh

    thanks for sharing this information .

  13. Mary Smith

    Thanks for sharing this blog with everyone, have given very good information for Goa beaches. I will plan Goa trip as well as.

  14. Mounika

    Thanks for introducing this other side of Goa to us. i have a dream to go goa trip definitely sounds like something that’s up my alley. Would love to experience getting to go Goa.

  15. parco

    Thank you for sharing this article with everyone, very good content and quality images

  16. Anshul Sharma

    Wow! It looks so amazing. I would love to explore all these places on my next trip to Goa. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article. 🙂

  17. Nirali Jain

    Last year I visited goa. Something that I loved in goa is Dudhsagar waterfalls. It’s really an amazing place. I am never gonna forget these places. Seeing Waterfalls is the best places in my life.

  18. George

    Great article. Thanks for sharing the valuable post.

    Have a nice day.

  19. Daniel

    Wow, what a place Goa is! Your brilliant writing has made the destination looks more vibrant. Will certainly visit Goa one day.

  20. myline

    The Colourful Fontainhas is very amazing and interesting. I would love to visit there someday.

  21. escorts service

    it is really good and great Thanks for introducing this beautiful side of Goa to us keep it up thanks a lot

  22. Devesh

    Thanks for sharing a great post!

  23. Aafrin Sheikh

    I love Goa.Goa is a beautiful place for travel.thanks for sharing this wonderful information about Goa.

  24. Tony Taylor

    Your blog is provides the Interesting information always.Thanks to sharing the great information..

  25. Yukti Agrawal

    I too believe Goa is much more than sands and sea. Many people go to Goa for sea but they miss the beautiful architecture and culture of this place. I too love the colonial style of architecture and living of Goa. The Colourful Fontainhas depicts the Portuguese influence over this state. Dudh sagar Falls looks incredible.

  26. Jas

    Thanks for introducing this other side of Goa to us. Divar Island definitely sounds like something that’s up my alley. Would love to experience the Bonderam festival too!
    Jas recently posted…50 Most Instagrammable Places in SingaporeMy Profile

  27. Chef Mireille

    I would love to go on a trek to see some of those gorgeous waterfalls. To go strolling through the Latin Quarter is so pretty. It is so interesting to see the Portuguese effect in Goa with its unique architecture. Nice to know there is more to Goa than beaches.
    Chef Mireille recently posted…Cafe Loki – Traditional Icelandic Cuisine in ReykjavicMy Profile

  28. Clarice

    These new upcoming travel projects sounds so exciting. Kudos to the Government of Goa for making this initiative. I would love to experience these new attractions.

    A staycation in one of heritage houses or luxury Goavilla sounds lovely. Thank you for sharing this. Can’t wait to visit the old churches as well.

  29. Mike

    I love cities with colonial roots and rich local culture. We a special affinity to former Portuguese colonies for thier architecture, like that incredible Bom Jesus church you wrote about! I’ve also been to Northern India and have been dying to go back and explore the south, particularly Goa– it looks like another world!

  30. Anda

    I know so little about India and the more I read the more I’d love to visit this wonderful country. I had no idea there are so many things to do in Goa. Two of things I’d love to do is explore the Waterfalls Trail and explore the churches in Old Goa. The Basilica of Bom Jesus looks so grandiose!

  31. Bhushavali N

    Now this something that I completely love. Its not often you get to read about the unpopular side of the popular destinations. The mosaic & tiles work at Fountainhas looks splendid. I wonder if it has any connection with Nek Chand, who made similar work in Chandigarh. Good to know its protected now by UNESCO. Divar island looks so gorgeous and serene and peaceful – my kinda place! I knew only of Dudhsagar and Netraveli falls, whoa, there are so many!!!
    Bhushavali N recently posted…Wadden Sea & De Schorren Marshland (Texel – Netherlands)My Profile

  32. Linda (LD Holland)

    When we visited India, we unfortunately missed Goa. I love all the colour in Fontainhas. Those tiles absolutely do remind me of Portugal. Our daughter is an ornithologist. And she would want us to take pictures of all the birds we saw bird watching. I am sure there are birds she has never seen before. But I would probably prefer to visit the waterfalls. Although I am not sure about trekking through the jungles. Definitely a lot to see.

  33. Aarti Krishnakumar

    lovely post.. I was in Goa in Sep, and we did visit quite a few offbeat places, including Fontainhas and Houses of Goa.. so much to see and soak in…

  34. shraddha_raletta

    Great! Information you have been shared, it’s really very impressive and easy to understand please share more useful information like this. thank you

  35. Niranjan R

    That’s a lovely post. Glad to see the focus beyond the beaten to death trail of Goa. Love the islands of Goa. Divar is absolutely peaceful.

  36. Raghvendra Singh

    Thanks for your post, Wonderful article. Beautiful pictures these are! All the places look amazing. I feel so excited about visiting these places on my own.


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