Firstly, I'd like to say a big thank you to all who have contributed to this forum. I found it fantastic when planning my first (and hopefully not last) holiday to Goa.
We stayed in the Lui Beach (Sinquerim end) in Candolim. I've posted a report in the hotels section. I'd would recommend anyone to stay here - it was clean and basic with friendly staff and quite a few returning guests.
After trying the beach near the hotel we preferrred to walk up further than the River Princess as it wasn't so pebbly there. The beach shacks were great - fab food, great staff. Even the constant flow of beach sellers didn't put us off - I usually found that a polite "no thank you" to everything that was being offered and not promising "later" or "tomorrow" was enough to make them leave me alone. I also took a tip from here and told a rather persistant one that we were there for 3 weeks, rather than the two weeks we had booked for.
We didn't have a favourite beach shack, we tried a different one most days. The only place I didn't like was the Sea n Sand shack (a couple of doors away from Stringfellos) as one of the shack lads kept asing if we wanted a massage and we kept saying no, he even brough a book out with testimonies in. I threatened to walk away from the shack if he didn't leave us alone. I wish I had done as he was a pest all day. It was also the only place I didn't leave a tip.
The restaurants were fantastic. We went to some close to the hotel and walked up to the beach road and tried some up there. My favourites were Infernos, The Mermaid, Jikonis and The Curry House. I also really like the Himalyan which was close to our hotel. The food was excellent, at a good price and the staff were good. During the day, Cafe Choccolati was excellent for lunches when we weren't at the beach. The only place I woouldn't go back to would be Ruffles - very bland food and an "entertainer" who told unfunny jokes and laughed louder and longer than anyone at how funny he was.
We organised trips through John's boat tours, very reasonabley priced, reliable and safety conscious. We went to the waterfalls, dolphin spotting and BBQ, and to Anjuna with them. The staff were really friendly, spoke good English and were happy to point out landmarks as we were travelling alosn.
The driver for the waterfalls trip was good (despite the scary driving!) he pointed out loads of places of interest and kept asking if we wanted to stop and take photographs. John's do have a website with prices on and as a guide we found that our rep rpices were nearly twice as much as what they were charging.
Despite the police pulling down the shacks at Coco beach when we went for the BBQ it was a good day out.
We decided to go to Panjim one day and took the local bus. We were fortunate enough to be befriended by an English couple who gave us more tips and pointed us in the right direction once we had left the ferry and even shared a taxi with us back to Candolim as the bus was full. I thought that the prices in Panjim may be lower than the UK but in many sports shops the prices are the same. It was a good experience though and going to Shere e Punjab before heading back was fantastic. The portions are HUGE!
We took the local bus into Calangute one day. It was so much busier than Candolim! It was nice to walk around there for a couple of hours but I'm not sure that I would have liked to stay in Calangute - a bit busy and manic for me!
One morning we decided to walk down to where the fort sticks into the sea. There's not really much to see there, until you look out onto the beach and enjoy a fantastic view across the beach.
We had a fantastic holiday, an experience that I would recommend to others, and I am grateful to all on here who gave us advice and also the people we got talking to in resort that gave us more advice and tips.