Destinations India

Beyond India’s Party Capital: 6 Offbeat Things to Do in Goa 

It’s time to scrap the conventional ‘things to do in Goa’ list and explore a different side to India’s party capital.  

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear ‘Goa’? Parties, bars and beaches? While Goa offers plenty of venues for a good time, there’s so much more to the ‘party capital’ of India. For instance, did you know the state is home to approximately 400 species of exotic birds, is covered in 60% forest and that some of India’s oldest rocks are found here? 

Discover a different side to India’s holiday hotspot with our round-up of non-conventional things to do in Goa.   

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1. Go on a feni-making and tasting tour 

Feni, a kind of spirit, is a proud invention of Goans. It is mainly made from cashew apples or coconuts but has many variations. When in Goa, the best way to try out this heritage spirit is to go on a farm tour and see the magic happen right in front of you. Watch farmers harvest cashew apples and extract the juice – the friendly ones might offer you a sip as well. See how they store it in an earthen pot to ferment before the distillation process begins. The only time you can witness feni-making is between February and May, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly. End the tour on a high note with a feni tasting to toast your Goa travels.     

2. Embark on backwater adventures 

If you are in love with the deep blue, then you must experience the thrill of water activities in the scenic ‘pearl of the orient’. Take a boat ride on the serene backwaters: sit back and close your eyes and let the sound of the paddle hitting the water calm every nerve in your body. For adventure lovers, kayaking activities on Sal Backwaters is your chance to paddle through lotus ponds and mango groves and see migratory birds own the skies. A sunset backwater cruise is a must for die-hard romantics. Sailing through the calm, watching the daylight fade with someone special by your side is an unforgettable experience.  

Aerial view of the backwaters in Goa

3. Explore well-kept spice plantations 

As discovered by the Portuguese, Goa grows the best quality spices in India. Once the Portuguese started trading, the city became a spice trading centre for the French, Dutch and British. To explore the making of these amazing spices, visit the state’s immaculate plantations. The 200-year-old Savoi Spice Plantation is spread over a vast 100 acres and offers a serene experience as you wander past a greenery of spices, medicinal herbs and fruits. Near the Mandovi River is Pascoal Spice Village, home to multiple spice farms, each dedicated to a particular spice. Take a relaxed tour, try tasty home-cooked food and pick up some spices to take home.  

4. Experience Goa from above on a hot air balloon ride 

Out of all the experiences Goa has to offer, a hot air balloon ride over its tropical landscapes has to be the most breath-taking. Since the activity is completely dependent on weather conditions, it is advised you travel between October and March, when the winds are more likely to be in your favour. As you float above the city, witness the golden shores, lush greenery and calm backwaters – sights that transport you to a tranquil place. There are various companies that provide this service, and it usually takes an hour to complete your hot air balloon ride. Choose to ride with others or book a hot air balloon exclusively for yourself.   

Hot air balloon ride in Goa

5. Go on an ocean trek in Arambol 

Discover the secluded areas of Goa on an ocean trek through Arambol Beach, where you’ll be enthralled by the beauty of the sea, sand and sun. The trek begins at the Paliem plateau and takes you through a beautiful grove of cashew trees, before you reach the gorgeous Arambol Beach, where you can dive into a freshwater lake and sink your feet into medicinal mud on the banks of the stream. The journey continues along the coast, where the endless Arabian Sea accompanies you like a true friend until you reach Keri Beach – one of Goa’s most secluded spots and a sight to behold. This is a chance to escape the crowds and take time away from Goa’s crowded tourist beaches.  

Arambol Beach

6. Visit beautiful churches 

Portuguese nuances are evident across Goa, and the most beautiful architectures can be witnessed in the form of churches. A Baroque- style wonder is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, constructed in the 16th century. It holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier and is one of the seven wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World. Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Panjim is one of the most famed churches of Goa, with many movies shot in its premises. Se Cathedral proudly owns the largest bell in Goa – Golden Bell – and has intricate wood and gilded carvings that will leave you at a loss for words to describe its beauty.