Goa is not for folks who wish to laze all day long tanning under the hot sun. It offers plentiful opportunities for outdoor activities that make use of three main sources of energy: water, earth, and sky. The sky is the limit with endless options available like parasailing, hot ballooning, or Hang Gliding while those with a fetish for the water could opt for scuba diving, snorkelling, or other water sports. Goa proposes so much variety in its activities that in fact makes planning the trip a lot more difficult, especially if you wish to explore the state in more detail. The following activities mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg.
Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
Goa is an excellent destination for discovering wrecks with it reputation as the third major diving destination in India. Major diving sites revolve around three locations i.e. Grande Island, Pigeon Island, & Agatti Island. To discover marine life and know more about the seas Suzy’s Wreck, Davy Jones Locker, Shelter Cove, Umma Gumma Reef, and Bounty Bay off the Grand Island are a good starting point. To get the optimum experience the months between November and April are the best ones for underwater visits.
Water Sports in Goa was limited only to star-rated hotels until recent times. Now, most of the beaches in Goa offer you an infinite number of options in water sports where you can choose from parasailing, jet skiing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, kite surfing, windsurfing, catamaran sailing, and banana rides. Calangute beach is known for its display of a wider choice of water sports options. Small courses can be attended at the National Institute of Water Sports in Panjim if you want to be a pro at any particular sport.
Water sports availability in Goa: Surfing, Wind Surfing, Parasailing, Jet Skiing, Canoeing, Hang Gliding, Kite surfing, Microlite flying, Banana Rides, Speed Boating, Sailing, Yachting, Dingy Sailing, Wake Boarding, Catamaran sailing.
Enjoying and experiencing a good catch of fish can turn out to be a rejuvenating experience. Angling as a recreational sport is achieving popularity in Goa with more and more tourists coming just to experience the memory. Mid October to mid-December are the best months if you want a big fish caught trapped on the hook. Vagator Beach, Chapora River, Baga River, Fort Reiss and Calangute Beach are the best spots for angling with licensed commercial fisherman providing you with the necessary gear. For the more serious fishers, they can indulge in activities like fishing on the shore, full-day deep-sea fishing expeditions, and spearfishing off the island of Grand and Bat Island.
Dolphin and Crocodile Spotting:
Dolphin and Crocodile Spotting is one of the major attractions in Goa. Not everywhere in the world can you avail yourself the opportunity of spotting a crocodile in the wild involving a lot of danger. The best time to decide on this activity is from October until May when the rains have disappeared. River cruises are arranged from the Mandovi river to the Zuari river and also along with the marshy water areas where crocodiles could be tracked.
Equally impressive is Dolphin spotting carried out on the Mandovi, Zuari, Sal and Chapora rivers. Cavelossim and Varca beaches are also famous for dolphin sightings. Early morning is the best time to head out for this activity.
A Goa vacation is never complete without a river or sea cruise surrounded by the romantic waters of the Arabian Sea and the Mandovi river. Goa operates sea cruises from Mumbai, which proceed straight to Goa or reach via Kochi and Kadmat Island. Cruise ships are well equipped with modern, state-of-the-art technologies with onboard restaurants, clubs, and other royal recreational facilities.
Goa Tourism Development Corporation arranges for regular river cruises on the Mandovi river and is categorized as Daytime, Sunset or Moonlight cruise. If you are lucky enough, you can spot some excellent wildlife among the blue waters and lush green landscape. For special or private moments, personalized cruises like the Sun Set Cruise, Sun Down Cruise or the Full Moonlight Cruise are arranged.
Blessed by nature with turquoise blue water and emerald green scenery, Goa is one of the most favoured picnic spots for families and couples alike.
The state is culturally rich with intrinsically carved temples, magnificent churches, and the long-standing history of the Indo-Portuguese blend. Here are some excellent picnic spots where you enjoy a fulfilling day with your family laying out the mat and munching out snacks from the picnic basket.
Colva Beach, Calangute Beach, Carambolim Lake, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Aguada Fort, Chapora Fort, Terekhol Fort, Carambolim Lake, Mayem Lake, Cabo de Rama Fort, Rachol Fort, Mormugao Fort, Reis Magos Fort, Corjuem Fort, Naroa Fort.
If you are an avid nature lover with an inclination to spot wildlife in their natural surroundings then Goa offers you the chance of bird watching of all kinds from nesting, aquatic and migratory. The only major bird sanctuary in Goa is the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary spanning over two kilometres and located along the River Mandovi. Saligao Springs and Mayem Lake are some other great spots where you can view some exotic birds like Jacana’s, Pygmy Goose, Comb Duck to the regular herons.
Some other option for avid bird watchers would be the Santa Cruz marshes and Charao Island that to offer some good opportunities for spotting rare species of local and migratory birds.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons/Júlio Reis
Goa takes pride in its unending landscape of dense forests home to many animals and rare species of wildlife. Conserving nature and protecting wildlife Goa includes in its territory one National Park, one bird sanctuary and five wildlife sanctuaries. The largest one is the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. These sanctuaries also are the perfect destinations to camp and trek in Goa.
Trekking and Camping programs are arranged by Goa Hiking Association and Goa Youth Hostel Association between October to December every year.
Bondla forest Sanctuary
Highlights: Zoological Park, Deer Safari Park, Sambar & Spotted Deers, Botanical Gardens, Nature trails for trekking, Gaur – state animal, Matti & Rosewood tree forests, Panther, jungle cat, leopard cat, toddy cat, deer, wild boars, porcupines, anteaters, squirrels.
Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary & Mollem National Park
Highlights: Gaur – state animal, Deer, Wild Boar, Tiger, Panther, Jungle Cat and Leopard cat, Dudhsagar falls, Devil’s Canyon, Lord Mahadev’s Temple, Nature Interpretation Centre, Ghat Road, Sunset point, Bhandaras, Mineral water springs, Bolcornem Nursery.
Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Highlights: plankton, shrimps, prawns and small fish in its water channels, Mangrove plantations, migratory birds between November and January.
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
Highlights: Birds like Indian Pied Hornbill, Larger Golden Backed Woodpecker and the Great Indian Woodpecker, Nature Interpretation Centre, dense forest vegetation, Talpona river, Jeevothan Partagal Math, Bhandaras and salt licks.