Goa in winters is blissful. While the state does not disappoint in the rest of the seasons as well, it is in winters that the glaring Sun softens its rays, even sending some shivers down your spine if you are a late night stroller. No wonder the hype of visiting Goa in December never fizzles down. Winters in Goa are a balmy affair, and even as the hospitality industry wakes up from its summer slumber, life stays soothingly calm. Goa in winters, and especially in winters, can very well qualify as the setting for William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
You can lazily spend some winter days in Goa – walking the soft, slightly warm sand on its beaches, go for long swims in the lagoons, gorge over delicious food in restaurants that are warmly-lit by strings of Christmas lights, cycle around the villages in South Goa, take swigs off freshly-fallen coconuts around the groves in Ponda, wait for dolphins by the beach at Palolem, take your camera for an outing around Fontainhas, have a heady evening at Thalassa, or just loiter around Little Vagator.
Goa winters are all about Susegad
Go slow, turn lazy, even enjoy a siesta like the Spaniards do – winters in Goa are all about Goa’s favourite word, Susegad (the relaxed, laid-back attitude towards life). Ask me and I would gladly swear by packing up a picnic lunch and a book, and going for a swim by the lagoon in Agonda, my absolute favourite in Goa. Swim to your heart’s content, doze off by the beach, gorge over your picnic lunch, read, repeat. While the crowd makes a beeline for the more happening places in North Goa, I prefer cutting off and away from the crowd and do nothing but siesta.
Gorge over Goa’s best food
A Goan summer is only for the bravehearts, and monsoons are when the state hits snooze mode. If you have it, and I cannot deny the lure of this, good food will be found in the village homes all year. If only you can brave the heat and that humidity. Ask me, and Goa becomes a food haven in winters; from the plush yet contemporary eats such as Venite in Panjim, La Fayette in Chorao, Thlassa in Small Vagator, or Zest & Bom Bom in Agonda. Goan winter is also the perfect time to cycle to the nearby villages, stay with the locals, wake up to the divine smell of freshly-baked bread, and loiter around in the cool (literally) verandahs.
Sunrise cruises and kayaking in River Mandovi
When I write cruise, I do not refer to those faux steamliners that you would find in the harbour area around Old Goa and Fontainhas. Justifying the tag of a sucker-for-local experiences, I would rather go to the fisherman boats, easily found around the village beaches in Agonda, Palolem, Patnem and Colva. If you have chosen a homestay, your host can easily fix you up with one of boat people.
I can easily spend a day on those boats, roaming around without setting a foot on land, cozily bunking in, equipped with picnic lunches and a pair of binoculars. Binoculars, as the river banks are home to birds that you might not have spotted elsewhere. And crocodiles! Goa is winters is more about experiences such as these rather than the regular party-hopping that you might have assumed.
Sleep under a starry sky by the ocean
Yes, that. Because Goa is one of the safest Indian destinations that I have travelled to. Most of the Decembers, around my birthday, I can be found in South Goa. While the days are all swims and sleeping, my evenings in the wintry Goa are for late night walks, watching stars pop up in the blue-black sky, looking at the tiny, bobbing lights of the boats somewhere at the horizon, flitting in and out of slumber on a deck chair, my feet comfortably feeling the soft, blissfully cold sand. With some luck, a dog or two might be your only company. Almost all the resorts and beach shacks stay up late into the night, making such nighttime experiences quite safe as well.
Get wild in Goa winters
Count in all the wild experiences here, from the Dudhsagar Trek to afternoons spent in its wildlife sanctuaries such as Cotigao. I liked the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary as well, only to realise later than it is hailed as one of the 25 hotspots for biodiversity in the world! Other than wildlife sanctuaries, Goa is also home to a number of spice plantations.
Ask me more about what to do in Goa in winters and I would say, flop down in the sand, breathe in freedom, watch a sunset and life would be good again. At least in those moments, till the next sunset.