I don’t always relax when I’m traveling. I want to see, do, and eat everything – just in case I never make it to Barcelona, Bratislava, or Bangkok again. After a few weeks in the chaotic, loud, traffic-filled, beep-filled, wonderful city of Bangalore, I was excited that there was some relaxation time built into our #escape2goa. While there, I tried my best to embrace the culture of susegad – a term my guidebook described as “a uniquely Goan term that translates as ‘laid-backness’ and is evident in all aspects of daily life and in the Goan people themselves.”
Here are 9 ways to escape (or, to experience susegad) in Goa, India:
(1) Visit one (or more) of the 54 beaches in Goa
The most obvious way to relax in Goa is to take advantage of their beautiful beaches and wonderful weather. It appeared that my “Jersey Shore” beach habits (soaking in the sun and playing in the ocean) differed than those of the other travelers and locals, so I made sure to spend some time trying out more “Goan” ways of enjoying the beach. One late afternoon on Mandrem Beach, I played barefoot soccer with some local children (which gave me a stress fracture on my foot that still prevents me from going to the gym today) and watched the sunset (which did not give me any injuries).
(2) Hang out on a hammock at Ashiyana Yoga Centre
If you are unable to relax at Ashiyana Yoga Centre, you will most likely be unable to relax anywhere. To get there, we walked across an adorable wooden swinging bridge over a river surrounded by palm trees and ended up in an absolute paradise. Ashiyana is a secluded yoga center where you can take classes, earn yoga certifications, and stay for a retreat for a few days or more. In addition to an early morning yoga class, we enjoyed a delicious and diverse vegetarian breakfast and a special presentation about Ayurvedic health from Arth Ayurveda.
(3) Dine Al Fresco with a View
If I lived in Goa and experienced as good weather as we did during our visit, I’d eat outside every day. Luckily, there are plenty of restaurants and eateries on the beach that provide open-air dining to support that dream lifestyle of mine. My favorite spot, Thalassa Greek Taverna, also provided a heck of a view of the Indian Ocean, high above Ozran Beach. I normally recommend focusing on the respective country’s local cuisine when traveling, but this Greek food and the environment it was served in were way worth breaking that rule.
(4) Bike through a small town
While at Casa Menezes, itself one of the most relaxing accommodations I’ve stayed, we spent an afternoon biking around the village of Batim. Biking is one of my favorite ways to explore a new area, especially if you don’t have to be too nervous about the traffic. There were definitely some points during the ride where my legs were working super hard to get uphill, but for the majority of the time, I felt super relaxed as the wind blew through my hair. I loved the opportunity to observe the daily life of Batim’s locals as well as to chat with some of them. One man came out of his home simply to tell us, “I am 92 years old” so I shook his hand. A woman let me hang out with her kittens. We also explored a church we rode past, biked alongside salt mining fields, and sampled some sugar cane juice, which felt so good after such a hot day.
(5) Stroll through the streets of Panjim
When I first arrived in Goa, I was staying in the capital city of Panjim, which reminded me so much of my time in Portugal. The bright, vibrant, but quiet neighborhood of Fountainhaus especially sent me back to that trip I’d had a few years prior. One of my friends told me on my first of many strolls of the neighborhood that there used to be a city ordinance that said you had to repaint your house each year and that one woman in the brightest red house still lives by that rule today.
(6) Wander around the Anjuna Flea Market
I’m not a big shopper when I travel, but I make exceptions when stores, markets, and products are different than what I’d find in the States. We only had about an hour to spend in Anjuna Flea Market, but I could have used more time. While there are the typical touristy things you’d find anywhere (tank tops, elephant pants, keychains), there were also some items more unique to India – gloves made in the Himalayan regions, spices, and tea galore. I bought a king-sized beach blanket for about $2.50 US and an “emerald” stone hippie necklace for about $4 US. I’m still kicking myself for not purchasing the hanging lanterns that I fell in love with, but I already had enough that I was afraid would break on the journey home.
(7) Learn about spices and Indian cooking at a Spice Farm
One of my favorite days in Goa was spent at Tanshikar Spice Farm. We were given a tour by the wonderful owner, Gauri, and walked through what felt like a jungle of spices. She let us smell and sample many of the spices and had us guess what they were. In addition to spices and plants, there were gorgeous spider webs (complete with terrifying, but awesome spiders), bee hives, and a natural bubbling lake. After our tour, we went to the kitchen and learned how to make a few Indian dishes and each tried our hands at making chapati. Mine was absolutely the most misshapen of the bunch, but when I ate it at lunch a little later, the shape didn’t matter. This was definitely one of the best meals I had in Goa.
(8) Fly above the trees
Even though I was almost too scared to hop into the basket of the hot air balloon (as I wrote about in this post), being up in the air with Tiger Balloon Safaris was one of the most relaxing experiences I had in India. The ride was so smooth from takeoff to landing. Sailing slowly above the palm trees in the early morning light – especially when I didn’t know I’d be taking the ride – is something I won’t soon forget.
(9) Treat yo’self with some Ayurvedic treatments
While I didn’t get the chance to visit a spa while in Goa, I know a little about what the experience would have been like due to my time in Bangalore working with an Ayurvedic health center. The therapeutic massages are definitely different than what you’ll find state-side but you’ll get a lot more out of it as well. Just be prepared for tons of oil. To read about some of the other bloggers’ experiences at Devaaya Nature Cure Center, check out these posts from The Travel Tester, and Meg and Cook.
I was in Goa, India to work on the Goa Department of Tourism’s #escape2goa project. Opinions are always and forever my own.