Esquire Travel Guide: Goa
Goa isn’t just beach raves, hedonism and tie-dye hippies; head North and you’ll find miles of deserted Instagram-worthy beaches, some of the best restaurants in the region and boutique, low-key and low-cost hotels that have all the charm that Dubai’s beach behemoths lack. Our pick is Morjim, a quiet and protected cove that’s home to Olive Ridley turtles, kitesurfing sunsets and just a short distance away from Ashwem and Arambol beaches.
Words by Andy Buchan
Stay | Paros
Goa’s equivalent of glamping, Paros is a set of eight air-conditioned tents set 100m from the beach and within walking distance of both La Plage and Sublime. The food is excellent and the service friendly and efficient, and they’ll provide transport, car hire or babysitters if needed. Go all-in on the breakfast, and try the pineapple and Nutella pancake… it’s a bit good.
Shop | Arpora Night market
The 45-minute round trip is well worth it — the stalls stretch for miles, selling all manner of tourist tat (and pretty much anything and everything else, to be honest). If/when you get bored of the shopping, there are more live bands, bars and food stalls than you could shake a glow-stick at. Get down before 8pm, though, as it gets very, very busy. And be prepared: haggling is virtually an Olympic sport, so go in hard and stay low.
See | Arambol
This bohemian village, a short drive north, is a hub for alternative travellers, and has one of the best-looking beaches in the north. Take a dip in the hot thermal lake, explore the jungle valley with its spectacular Banyan tree or take a sunset yoga or meditation course to regroup and clear the mind.
Dine | SUBLIME
You’re spoilt for choice along this 5km stretch of shoreline, but Sublime stands out. With your feet nestled in the sand and a lychee lemongrass vodka martini in hand, try the clams with Goan chorizo — a beefy, salty, incredibly rich stew — or the ginger battered calamari with apricot chutney. For something more traditional, but with an international twist, the saffron and fenugreek risotto comes with yellow tandoori prawns and spiced carrot and cucumber raita. Order what you want for dessert, as you’ll struggle to spend more than Dhs150 for two.
Drink | Jade Jagger’s Boutique, Ashwem
Open from January to April, you can browse the hand-made collection of Jade’s latest jewellery range, or sip one of the (strong) cocktails on a sunlounger and hope that Mick is in town to serenade the sunset. It’s handily just a short stroll from La Plage as well, making it an excellent post-lunch/pre-dinner watering hole.
Party | Hilltop
If you’re keen to sample some of Goa’s renowned nightlife, Hilltop is your best bet.
A short taxi ride away, come for the panoramic cocktails and the cheap drinks, then stay for the psy-trance (every Sunday) or techno (every Friday). There are strict licensing laws, so all outdoor venues close at 10pm, but you’re never far from a party in Goa, even in the more secluded north.
When In| Morjim
Morjim is home to one of the best kitesurfing beaches in the region, with a strong onshore wind. Experts can freestyle, bump and jump in the afternoon thermals or you can get lessons from firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, watch the friendly beach dogs run around trying to catch the lengthening shadows.