Last updated on 7 June 2021
Open any social media these days, and you’re highly likely to see someone’s post or Snap holidaying on the sunny beaches of Goa. Now you’re probably miffed that everyone’s going to Goa!
Being the go-to place for parties, Goa is likely to get overcrowded despite the pandemic. Even when travel restrictions are lifted, this doesn’t mean that the threat of the pandemic is over. This is why you need a plan to avoid the crowd when visiting Goa.
As of 7 June 2021, Covid lockdown in Goa has been extended till 14 June, with the only movement allowed for emergency reasons and essential services. Those entering the state, irrespective of the mode of transport, are expected to have a Covid negative certificate that has been obtained 72 hours before entering the state.
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Sure, this sounds like a cliché wanderlust quote. But during a pandemic, when social distancing and isolating yourself should be your top priority, this is what you must do: travel to places that haven’t yet come under the tourist radar. Below are things you can do and places you can visit so that you’re away from people.
This is by far the easiest way to avoid the crowds in Goa. The tiny sunshine state is obviously more popular in the winter and early summer months as the weather is milder. That simply means more crowds and with the Covid pandemic still around, you’re always better off postponing the trip. Hopefully by then, the pandemic will be behind us and things would go back to as they were.
You may wonder what Goa is like during the monsoon. True to the Konkan climate, there’ll be downpours and because of which beaches won’t be the best option. But as monsoon is the off-season in Goa, you can get cheaper accommodation and there are far fewer people around. But there’ll be lush greenery all around you and it’ll give you a breath of fresh air that you’re deprived of in a city. This is the time for hikes and even a limited number of watersports like white water rafting. The casual traveler may also go on a river cruise.
Here are some lesser-known places for avoiding the crowd when visiting Goa.
The popularity of Goa as a beach and party destination has meant that the state has become quite commercialized. But traveling to the far south of the state, near the city of Canacona, you’ll reach Galgibaga Beach.
Located close to the Galgibag River, this pristine beach offers you stunning views of the Arabian Sea. And if you walk south along the one-kilometer-long beach, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the river and the sea on either side.
Galgibaga Beach is also known as Turtle Beach, as it’s one of the three spots where the Olive Ridley Turtles come to nest. Visiting in the winter months is preferable as the weather is milder and marine life lovers might even get to watch as the brave baby turtles make their first journey into the sea.
Being one of the few undiscovered locations in Goa, Galgibaga Beach doesn’t have many hotels and resorts like the other places. But then again, it’s a small price to pay for tranquility.
Nearest Railway Station: Madgaon Junction (40 km away).
Road: Galgibaga Beach is connected to Canacona, which is in turn connected to the major cities of Goa.
When one thinks of Goa, a wildlife adventure isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But you can have just that at the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, where you’ll be able to get back in touch with nature. But as it’s not as frequented by tourists, you can easily avoid the crowd when visiting Goa.
Spread over 86 sq km, the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is among the largest wildlife reserves in Goa. But this place is best known for its flora, with trees that grow over 30 meters tall. From atop the six watchtowers built around the forest near the watering holes, you’ll get to gaze at the many animal species that live here.
For the adventurous souls, there are many hiking trails within the sanctuary. And if you want to sleep with the music of nature in your ears, you can even get permission to set up camp here.
The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to the Kunbi and the Velip tribes. You can interact with them and get a glimpse into their lives, but make sure that you follow all social distancing norms.
Nearest Railway Station: Madgaon Junction (56 km away).
Road: The Sanctuary is connected to Chaudi, which is in turn connected to the major cities of Goa.
History nerds with a penchant for staying in luxury must definitely give this place a visit. Fort Tiracol is located in the northernmost tip of Goa and has a rich history. Conquered by the Portuguese colonists in the 18th century, it was of high strategic importance to them. Many years since then, the fort was reduced to ruins, but it has now been converted into a spectacular heritage hotel.
The fort is located on a cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea and is surrounded by greenery, making for an ideal retreat. While the history of the place still lingers here, the rooms provided by the hotel are anything but (except the tasteful Portuguese design, that is!). You won’t lack for any modern facilities here and depending on your budget, you can choose between a deluxe or a luxury suite. And if you want to delve deeper into the life and culture of Goa, you can go all out and get a heritage package.
As there are only a limited number of rooms here, you need not worry about the crowd and have a socially distanced holiday in Goa.
Nearest Railway Station: Vasco-Da-Gama (56 km away).
Road: You’ll have to get a ferry from Querim Beach, which is connected by road to Panaji.
Divar Island is a location that’s relatively unexplored, which is strange considering all that it has to offer. But for the traveler who wants to avoid the crowds in Goa, this is the perfect place to be.
This island is surrounded by the Mandovi River, which is also known as the lifeline of Goa. You can reach here only by ferry. What you’ll experience on the way to Divar Island is the typical Goan countryside life – acres of paddy fields and the hills of the Konkan. These routes also make for amazing adventure activities including cycling and kayaking through the Mandovi.
The bird enthusiasts would totally love Divar Island too, as the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is in the nearby Chorao Island. Here, they can switch from party anthems to the twittering of birds.
Having escaped from the onslaught of commercialization, Divar Island also is a place where you can enjoy authentic Goan cuisine from the many local spots. So long as you’re not driving, feel free to indulge responsibly in Urak – the milder version of feni.
Nearest Railway Station: Vasco-Da-Gama (36 km away).
Road: There are ferries from Viceroy’s Arch, Naroa, and Ribandar, which are connected by road to Panaji.
Irrespective of the travel restrictions, remember that during a pandemic, you have no excuse to take Covid safety lightly. Here’s what you need to remember before setting out:
Yes, as of 7 June 2021, Goa is under lockdown until 14 June to combat the second wave of Covid-19. Getting interstate and intrastate travel is permitted only for essential reasons.
The winter months of November to February are the best time to visit Goa as the weather is pleasantly warm. But that also means that hotels will be considerably expensive. On the other hand, the peak summer months can get really hot and the monsoons very wet, but you’ll be able to enjoy this quintessential holiday destination with relatively more calm and better deals.
Which part is best depends on what you’re looking for in Goa. If it’s the vibrant nightlife and party scene you seek, then North Goa is for you. On the other hand, South Goa offers quieter beaches.
Here’s an itinerary for your three-day trip to Goa.
For Day 1, explore the beaches in North Goa – Anjuna and Vagator Beach. The evenings you can party away at Vagator or you can enjoy the nightlife at Baga.
For Day 2, you can get away from mainstream Goa and explore Divar Island. Here’s where you can experience Goan cuisine and if you’re not driving, sample some Urak (the milder version of feni). You can then travel to Panjim and explore the city proper.
For Day 3, visit the many beaches in South Goa (Palolem or Agonda). If you’re a nature lover, we recommend visiting Galgibaga Beach in the winter months as it’s the time when Olive Ridley turtles lay eggs there!
No, food is not costly in Goa. We suggest eating from the local shops and eateries as opposed to the beach shacks as they’d be unnecessarily overpriced.
A trip to Goa wouldn’t be overly expensive, but during the peak season, the prices do increase considerably. We suggest keeping a minimum of INR 5,000 to 7,000 for a three-day trip to Goa.
If you have been exposed to Covid-19, you should self-quarantine for 14 days. Keep in mind that even if you don’t display any symptoms, you may still be carrying the virus and could infect other healthy people.
You won’t catch Covid-19 while swimming in a pool. But you’ll need to take care to stay away from crowded pools.
Opt For A Covid-ready Hotel: Most hotel websites now explain the processes in which they’re keeping their premises sanitized. Only opt for such hotels and ensure that the safety norms are adhered to.
Wash Your Hands: Irrespective of where you are, the mask and sanitizer rule applies. Use a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content and wash your hands thoroughly.
Avoid Contact: As far as possible, opt for cashless transactions and avoid contact with common touchpoints like elevator buttons, doorknobs, faucets, etc. If you do, wash your hands before touching your face.
Dine In: Instead of eating at the hotel’s restaurant, opt to dine in as it reduces your exposure to other guests.
Masks And Social Distancing: This is the basic tip when it comes to Covid safety. You should avoid meeting people and if you have to, keep at least 1 meter away from them and wear that mask!
Sanitizing Your Hands: Your hands touch a lot of surfaces that may have the virus on them. Touching your eyes/nose/mouth without washing/sanitizing your hands can risk you transferring the virus into your system. That’s why you must wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Stay Home: In case you come down with a flu or develop Covid-like symptoms, take no risks; simply stay at home until you recover.