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Goa has moved on from being a hippy destination of the 60s and 70s and now has an appeal to both mainstream tourists looking for beautiful, relaxing beach resorts and younger independent travellers looking for a rave destination and backpacker's hang-out.

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Goa – does it still deserve its legendary status?

palolem beach goaOur travellers have now reached Goa and Rodney Appleyard and Dan Thory set out to discover if this Indian state still has its appeal. Goa has a reputation as a tourist paradise, blessed with scenic beauty, palm-fringed beaches, picturesque villages, temples and a friendly and hospitable people. It's also rennowned for it's parties, music, dancing and its laid back approach to life. This is what they found ...

'Goa's reputation as a paradise haven was established in the 60s and 70s when hippies and travellers landed there and created their own alternative free world. The general lifestyle policy at that time involved doing anything you wanted! Some people have suggest that Goa has lost its magic since that legendary era, and criticise it for being over-run by tourists who don't appreciate the original Goa spirit. This might be true for the initial visitors, who still live there with their families, but Goa's lack of exclusivity means that more people can now enjoy the states breath-taking environment and/or its exhilarating parties. In Goa you can still find some of the most relaxed and beautiful beaches in the world, experience the wildest nights of your life or you can choose to escape the crowds and find peace and quiet in a stunning environment.

Anjuna, Baga and Palolem are the three most diverse resorts in Goa. It takes about 6 hours to travel from the top end of the Goa coast to the bottom, so you can imagine the choice available, but these three areas provide the most variety.

Anjuna, a place to party
rave in anjunaAnjuna is the place for 3–4 day parties without sleep. Anjuna is next to Vagator, and these resorts are joined together by celebrations at Christmas and New Year. Parties spring up spontaneously all over this area during this season, but they can also be shut down by the police just as quickly too. It is similar to being back in England sometimes – chasing the next venue for the rave to continue.

Parties are also organised on the beach throughout the day and night, but the biggest venue is "The Hill Top". This is in the middle of Anjuna and Vagator. The party here lasts for 3 days non-stop at Christmas Eve, and 4 days at New Year's Eve. It is an open air venue, surrounded by palm trees. Indian women sell cups of tea, cakes and food on mats laid out for the people who need to take a break from dancing to psychedelic trance. Some people manage to stay at the venue from start to finish, but other people go home, sleep and come back for more dancing the following day.

Baga for music, dancing and clubs
The resort of Baga, which is just South of Anjuna, is much more suitable for package tourists and people visiting Goa for a couple of weeks. It features many sophisticated restaurants, classy bars and nighclubs. The music in the venues varies from mainstream house, to pop music, jazz and even classical music in some of the restaurants. The biggest night-club is "Titos", which often hosts DJs from the Ministry of Sound. This is a very big open air disco with an extremely friendly atmosphere, including many shows too, such as fire-eaters, belly dancers and singers. Titos attracts a wide range of people, including local Indians too, mainly from Bombay. These visitors make a big effort to entertain Westerners. You might even find yourself surrounded by a small crowd of them clapping and imitating your dance moves. The scene in Titos can be quite wild, although it is not as hedonistic as Anjuna's night-clubs.

Palolem, the ideal beach resort
beach huts palolem goaPalolem is the place to go if you are looking for a perfect place to relax on the beach, without any night-clubs, classy restaurants or loud music. Palolem is probably the best place in Goa for non-stop beach-life. The bay is extremely scenic, with an island next to the main coast and a backdrop of forest. The beach is very clean, the soft yellow sand sweeps out beautifully along the whole stretch of the bay and the water is clear, blue and clean.

The best thing about Palolem is that all of the accommodation is built on the sand. The beach huts are very comfortable, and they are close enough for you to hear the waves crashing onto the shore at night to help lull you to sleep. Visitors do not need to leave the beach for their entire stay in Palolem. They can eat, drink, sleep, log onto the internet, wash their laundry and ring home, whilst only 20 metres from the sea at all times. It is one of those place where people arrive for three days and end up staying for three weeks.

Goa's appeal
So, despite many people saying that Goa has lost its special appeal, we discovered that the region still has enough variety and excitement to satisfy fresh visitors, intrigued by the party scene and Goa's paradise beaches.

During our visit we talked to English born Allan Austin, who has been living in Goa since '88 and now earns a living from his own para-gliding business in Anjuna. He told us about life in Goa and how it has changed over the years. Read his account here...

Text © Rodney Appleyard; photographs © Dan Thory 2003

Recommended places to stay, restaurants and night clubs.

Anjuna Beach Resort – clean, spacious rooms with a friendly restaurant, walking distance from the town and beach.
The Nine Bar – Party revellers go here to find out about the big parties.
Rose Garden Motel – Set on the beach, serves delicious seafood and Indian vegetable dishes.
The Flea Market is infamous in Anjuna because it has the atmosphere of a mini-festival. You can buy unique Indian artefacts at this open air fare. It is open only on Wednesdays.


Angelina – Near to Titos. Rooms have big balconies.
Titos – Hottest nightclub in town. Women are allowed in for a free, but men have to pay.
Fiesta – Enjoy sea views, Mediterranean food and prawns steamed in red wine.

Ciaran's Camp – 20 bungalows on the beach in Palolem's longest established hut camps.
There isn't one!
Sun 'n' Moon – Very relaxing, with hammocks, good music and cosy seating areas under the palm trees.