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first time

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first time

hi going on the 29th friday on qatar airways from manchester.staying at the sunset beach for 18 days .as its our first time to goa instead of asking whats the best shack etc could the members give us one tip to get the best out of our holiday



Viceroy's Arch
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Calangute, India
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1. Re: first time

The best advice I can offer you is to give yourself a day or two to get over the culture shock......then go with the flow!

I'm sure you'll have a great time.


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for Baga, Arpora
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2. Re: first time

Open your mind, accept what you see and just enjoy yourself.

Newcastle upon...
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3. Re: first time

Like wolf said, give yourself a couple of days, sit back, dont plan too far in advance and enjoy!

Stockport, United...
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4. Re: first time

It's going to be a culture shock to begin with give yourself a couple of days to settle then lap it up.

Coventry, UK
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5. Re: first time

Chillax! Don't expect it to be like anywhere else you have been, and you will get into the flow in a day or two.

But that first cheap beer and curry will help the chilling process.

Edited: 26 March 2013, 07:58
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6. Re: first time

Lots of great restaurants right on your doorstep and your hotel is very close to the beach. Enjoy it.

Redditch, United...
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7. Re: first time


Have a read of WWFC_Steve's first timer trip report from January, it is a brilliant read:

First time to Candolim trip report.

Hi all, firstly I just want to thank every one of you regular forum posters for all the gems of information you post on here. I thought it was only right that I shared some of our experiences with you.

I apologise if it’s a bit long and maybe boring for some of you but i enjoyed reading trip reports on here before we’d actually visited Goa.

I thoroughly researched Goa before I went, to the point of obsession really. No end of times did my Mrs tell me to ‘give it a rest’, lol. She wasn’t saying that when we were there though.

We flew with Thomas Cook from Manchester airport on Thursday 6th December at around 9am. Flight was fantastic.

This was my first time on a jumbo, I wonder sometimes how these things actually take off. The journey down the runway seemed an eternity. Seats were very comfortable in cattle class, LOADS of leg room (I’m 5’11”) food was very good and so was the in-flight entertainment, even though it was on a loop and not controllable like the Thomson flight we had earlier on in the year.

We landed at Dabolim airport around midnight. It’s like stepping back in time it really is. LOVING all the plastic Indian statues dotted around the place, look really classy, ha ha ha. Stood at immigration for around 2hrs wondering what the hell was taking so long, I think it’s done on purpose for some cruel reason. Got through and our luggage had already been taken off the carousel and placed on the floor (unlike arriving back in the UK). Here was my first experience of the Indian corruption I’ve heard so much about. We both purchased 600 cigarettes each from the airport (knowing full well we were not supposed to).

My OH’s were safely in her hand luggage, mine were in the duty free carrier bag. “You cannot bring so many cigarettes into India, you must pay” was what I heard. Hmmmm, if you think I’m paying mate you’ve got another thing coming. “I’m not paying anything” was my reply, “you must”, “well I’m not” “but”, “but nothing, if I’ve got to pay then I’ll have 200, my OH will have 200 and you can throw the remaining 200 in the bin!!!! The guy looked confused and once again told me I need to pay. “Well I’m not paying mate” and I walked past him, slightly chancing it a bit as I didn’t know what to expect. Amazingly he let me walk past and out the airport we went……..NEARLY.

An armed guard tried exactly the same thing with me, I side stepped him and informed him I’d just paid ‘that man over there’ he wanted to know how much but I just said ask him and walked on by. It was at this point I turned to look at my OH, the look on her face was absolutely priceless, she was terrified. Don’t worry about it I said, I knew they’d try something……..feeling very pleased with myself, lol.

We got the coach transfer to Candolim, I was going to try a taxi, if it had been daylight then I would’ve but after a long tiring journey I really couldn’t be ar$ed with haggling in an country unknown to me, especially after so many ‘porters’ were trying to snatch our cases and wheel them the 20 foot journey to the coach.

We arrived at the Country Inn And Suites around an hour later. WOW, I was not expecting this, the hotel looks lovely in the pictures but its sooooo much better in real life. Checked in and settled into our room for some much needed rest.

We woke around 11am the next day and headed out from the hotel to find the beach. My OH started pulling my arm saying look LOOK! It’s a cow I said, well what’s it doing here? There’s loads of them everywhere apparently. WHY didn’t you tell me? You told me to stop telling you what I’ve read on Tripadvisor so I stopped. We’ll see them on every road, at all times of the day and even on the beach. Honestly, right up until the very last night, every time she saw a cow aimlessly wandering down the middle of the road she chuckled.

The first day was spent finding our feet, we can both say we settled right there and then. We didn’t have to wait a few days we just got it straight away. Lovely friendly locals saying hello, the beeping of horns every single minute of every hour, the cows, the dogs, the smells, the driving. It’s a total assault on the senses but we loved it all. We walked on the beach from almost the very bottom of Candolim (for the regulars our hotel is right by Horizon Grill and Chocolatti) to Calangute. It probably wasn’t that far in actual fact but we walked for what seemed like hours. Some domestic tourists chatted pleasantly to us during our stroll and walked a short distance down the beach with us. I’d heard about them wanting their photo’s taken with western tourists so I was waiting for it, then it came. My OH’s face was a picture, she whispered to me “why do they want a picture”? Dunno I said but told her I’d also read about this and it was nothing to worry about. About 5 pictures later we said our goodbyes and carried on with our walk. “Anything else you’ve read that’ll probably shock me then” loads I said but if we come across something I’ll let you know.

We stopped at a shack for some lovely food and a few drinks then found our way back to the main road and walked the road way all the way back to our hotel. If anyone wants to settle in quickly I advise you to do this, it’s a fascinating walk back.

We looked around a few shops and stalls after some beach towels. The prices quoted for newbies like us are amazing. I honestly think you’d get cheaper towels from Harrods if you paid full price. I think we got 2 for around £5 and that’s probably expensive, once we’d paid, the woman seller asked us if we would give her them back once we’d finished with them!!!! I missed a trick here and certainly will be quicker next time. Get a cheaper price by promising to give the towels back, it’s got to be worth a shot, lol. The women stall holders near Victors restaurant and Whispering Palms were great. Always saying hello every day when we walked on by heading to Candolim beach. Hardly ever did they try the hard sell with us, they seemed happy enough just chatting.

Saturday 8th December. Night Market

Here was my first experience with the ‘taxi mafia’ I’d heard so much about and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be! You don’t even have to look for a driver, they easily find you. Taxi mate, taxi, Baga taxi, every 5 minutes that’s what you hear. Taxi to David Guetta mate (this was the night in Baga the Guetta concert was on) yes please I said but not to the gig, just the night market. 500rps, too expensive came my reply, tell you what I said, if I find someone else cheaper on the main road I’ll let you know. 450rps was quoted next. Ok, let me change some money and I’ll be with you. Earlier that day I’d been to this little shop to change some traveller’s cheques. Sanjay the owner said if you come back again no need for passport. Needless to say I went there every time I wanted to change money, it saved carrying my passport with me etc etc. I changed the money and Sanjay asked me where I was going. Told him the night market and he called a taxi driver from outside, told me 350rps and he’s ready to leave now. BARGAIN I thought so in we jumped and headed off, purposely looking the other way when we drove past our already waiting taxi!

The traffic getting to the market was MANIC. Traffic jams galore with horns tooting aplenty. Our taxi driver suggested we get out and walk the rest of the way as it was only about 2mins away. We did so and dodged and weaved our way past scooters, tuk tuks and cars, along the pavements, through bars and at one point walking down the middle of the road. (Trust me this was the safe option, cars stationary in both lanes too close together for scooters to weave in and out of. The scooters are a pain in the backside when there’s a traffic jam, anything goes for them)

The market was HUGE, maybe there are bigger ones in Goa but this was fine for us. Live music being played on the stage just as you enter, plenty of food and drink choices and the place was absolutely heaving with people. A real hustle and bustle market, people shouting out about their goods, haggling, eating, drinking, the smells it was great and we loved it. Most of what they sell is tat, cheap tat at that. We looked around for a few gifts for people back home, we knew we were heading to Cola beach for 2 nights soon and we needed a bag to carry our clothes in. We purchased a bag, some cushion covers for home, a new purse for the OH and some other bits and pieces.

After a good few hours wandering round we found a nice little food stall and had 2 plates full followed by a few drinks, listened to the live music watching everyone dancing and having a great time. We’d already settled into Goa and liked it but just being there at that moment we both knew this was the holiday for us.

Monday 10th & Tuesday 12th December - Cola Beach.

We booked this 2 night trip direct with Peter Fernandes online before we went, www.colabeach.com His driver picked us up in a mini bus and after a 2.5hr drive south we arrived. We all got out the bus and headed down the steep stone steps to the tents. It was at this moment that the bag we bought at the night market decided to fall apart. Without warning the handle snapped and the bag hit the floor with a thud! Once we got to the tent I unzipped the bag and the zip came right off the end of the zipper, quality purchase I thought, lol (just to let you know, the cushion covers we bought turned into a ball of frayed cotton after the first wash)

THIS PLACE IS PARADISE. We all sat down for an initial chat, got a tent allocated to us then you’re free to do whatever you like, which is probably lye there in awe at how beautiful Cola beach is. A sweeping cove which when the tide is out reveals tons of rocks and rock pools. Teaming with wildlife its great to have a walk along looking for crabs, starfish, small fish and other mysterious looking sea creatures.

Food was included, breakfast, lunch, afternoon cuppa with cakes and dinner. It was all very nice, eaten in a very nice setting right on the sand. I lived barefoot for our 2 night stay here, it felt quite liberating for some strange reason. On an evening there was some soft music playing in the shack and some local dancers came down and put on a show. Afterwards they light a decent fire in a fire pit and we sat round until the early hours drinking and chatting with other guests staying there.

It’s a beautiful place and I would fully recommend it to anyone.

Friday 14th December – Mandrem beach

A taxi driver who was always parked outside our hotel casually asked us one day if we fancied a trip to a better beach. Being a beach lover my ears pricked up straight away. I already had plans to visit a few other beaches but this just made the whole thing easier. Santos suggested Mandrem beach in north Goa. After negotiating a price I was happy with we arranged a day and time and that was that.

8am 14th December Santos was outside our hotel waiting for us and off we went. I must say, he was a VERY considerate and safe driver which in Goa is a blessing really. About an hour later we got to the beach. We loved it here, it was peaceful with hardly anyone around, a few shacks to choose from and the sea seemed to go miles out at low tide compared to Candolim beach. We spent the day relaxing in the sun enjoying a few drinks and something to eat from our chosen shack. An afternoon stroll along the beach with the sea washing around our ankles was great. There are lots and lots of starfish and sea creatures in shells along this beach. After we spotted our first starfish we noticed that they were everywhere just slightly buried under the sand. It was a fascinating afternoon mooching along looking at the sea life. We had a few more drinks in the shack (can’t remember the name) then walked over the little foot bridge and found Santos asleep in his car.

I happened to mention to him on the journey back why he slept in the car? He just said it’s better for us if we want to leave. I then attempted a discussion on it being better for him to arrange a time with us to be picked up and why doesn’t he go back to Candolim or another nearby tourist destination and earn some more money? This seemed completely lost on him so I quickly dropped the subject, lol.

Later that night after an evening meal we were in Friends bar having a nightcap before heading back to the hotel when my OH spotted Santos. I walked over and asked him to join us for a drink. The look on his face was a picture and after a minute or so he walked over to the bar with me and joined us. He was 35 (the same age as us) and was born and bread in Goa. He told me he’d been a taxi driver for 10yrs now and lived down near Coco beach somewhere with his wife and son. He was also telling me about a Tsunami (or the after effects of one) that ruined Coco beach and that it used to be a beautiful place.

I could’ve swore the morning he picked us up he’d had a monster drinking session the night before, not that I could smell alcohol but the red eyes and pupils looking like pi$$ holes in the snow suggested he had. Apparently not, he was tea total and never touched a drop. I have my suspicions though, lol. We had a good chat for around an hour then I asked him about Dudhsagar falls, we arranged a price and time with him then went our separate ways.

Monday 17th December – Dudhsagar falls & Sahyadri spice farm.

Yet again Santos was bang on time for our pick up. He told us it was around a 2hr ish drive to the falls so we sat back and admired the scenery on our journey. We stopped off close to the falls and purchased some bananas to feed the monkeys with.

When we arrived it was total chaos and I mean CHAOS. There must’ve been 100 people trying to pay a single man for the jeep transfer to the falls. He was walking around with a huge wad of money in his hands with taxi drivers galore shouting at him for a jeep number. Santos sorted out our jeep with the gaffer and we were off. A ‘guide’ got in the jeep and asked if we would like him to accompany us on the drive, no fixed payment but he would appreciate a tip. We were all ok with this so we carried on. Now, here’s a tip. The ‘guide’ told us there was a charge for taking camera’s up to the falls and we were told it costs X amount of Rupees per camera (I can’t remember exactly how much). I’m almost certain he pocketed the cash because nowhere did we see any signs or anyone looking official to ask for proof of payment etc etc. If you take this trip just tell the guide you don’t have a camera and keep it in your bag until you get to the actual falls. We were joined in the jeep with a (very lovely) Russian family, husband wife and two children. The VERY bumpy ride to the falls lasted around 45mins, our ‘guide’ was fairly informative about the local area but for all I know it could’ve been all bull$hit, lol.

The trek on foot to the falls is a wonderful jungle type walk, a very lovely place. We fed plenty of monkeys and made our way to the foot of the falls. It’s a beautiful place BUT there are tons of people milling around. My OH went for a swim, our guide asked me for a banana and told me to watch the water. He started throwing the bits near to my OH and all of a sudden the fish seemed to go mental. Huge carp (I think) were splashing everywhere trying to get the food being thrown in. After admiring the view for a while we headed back to the jeep and started to make our way back.

The ‘guide’ told me the Russian family wanted to get some PROPER Fenny from a woman cashew farmer (I think that’s the correct terminology). We pulled over at a little shack and wandered inside. The lady came over to us, produced two large glasses then poured the home made Fenny, half filling each glass. The Russian guy slammed his down in 2 or 3 huge gulps …….. then spent the next 10 minutes coughing, spluttering, spitting and generally holding his chest and throat. I nearly pi$$ed my pants laughing at him and so did our ‘guide’. I had to try some, no bottoms up from me though. I had a fairly hefty gulp and OMG that stuff is proper moonshine, paint thinners springs to mind. It burns and is generally vile BUT I dread to think what the alcohol content is. We all got back in the jeep without making a purchase and carried on with our journey back.

We stopped off at a place called Devils Canyon and it’s a gorgeous scenic canyon just slightly off the beaten track. Had some photo’s then made our way back. I tipped the guide as he’d been quite funny during our journey then went to find Santos and headed back to Candolim.

That folks is it for the trips we did during our stay. We spent most days lazing around on the beach just admiring everything in sight. We walked to the beach every morning, visited a different shack every day then walked for an hour or so along the beach heading towards Calangute. We walked back the road way most evenings (5pm ish) stopping at different bars/restaurants along the way. Sipped on large Kingfishers during the day and PLENTY of Honeybee in the evening.

The food we ate, the people we spoke to, just everything about the place we loved. I can’t think of a single thing that I didn’t like. I can totally understand that it’s a Marmite place, love it or hate it, we fortunately loved it. Even the local dogs who seem to ALWAYS stick to their certain bit of ‘turf’ were lovely. A bit flea ridden and lots of mange but none were aggressive, not towards people anyway. One night I went to Newtons and bought a pack of dog treats, I gave them to every single dog I saw on my drunken walk back to the hotel.

A few notable places we ate were Horizon Grill (I was given a great tip by our waiter Miguel here on our first night. If any locals ask you if you’ve been to Goa before JUST SAY YES, you were here last year, 2 yrs ago etc etc), Friends Bar, Cato Loco (The Mad Cat) this was our favourite during our whole stay, amazing food and service, The Bistro, chocolatti for afternoon t and cake lol and a few others whose names escape me. We’re not ones for sticking to what we know; we tried a different shack every day, a different restaurant every night and drank in numerous places in-between. We always seemed to end up in Friends bar for a nightcap though.

GOA GOT TO US. Even while we were there I was online using the hotels free Wi-Fi trying to get prices for next December. We will definitely be back, I can guarantee that.

We are going to try somewhere in south Goa later this year, possibly Cavelossim but that’s certainly not set in stone yet. If I can get 3 weeks off work we’ll be having a little tour around south Goa. A week in one guest house, 3 days in one tented resort, 4 days in another then a week in another guest house. Hopefully we’ll squeeze a few nights in Candolim too.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be stalking the forum regularly over the next 11 months until I go, also maybe asking for recommendations for south Goa.

I hope you enjoy my (overdue) trip report guys.



Jersey UK
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8. Re: first time

A friend has just been for her first time, i advised go with an open mind and give youself a couple days to settle in, but no more than that as you dont want to waste all your holiday settling in.

The first few days she was unsure.. but then loved it. she is returning November.

My first night i didnt want to stay in the hotel, we were there for three weeks,

felt better the next morning, still hate it after 18 visits!!!!

He makes me go!!!!

My advise, enjoy every minute,


north wales
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9. Re: first time

make sure you put plenty suncream on it will be very hot

Bengaluru, India
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10. Re: first time

i like the best calamari going always when i am going goa a four times year i spent all my time calamari beach shake tree there also

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