Hello, my friends!
Here I am with a new travel article! This time I will talk about my month in North Goa, where I stayed first with two friends and then as a solo traveler. I spent there the entire month of November 2018 and let me tell this straight away: it was one of the most incredible experiences in my life. However, it did not start really well, as I didn’t enjoy my time in the first spot that I stopped at (Anjuna). However, many people love it, so if you have some specific interests you might actually like it. It simply was not for me. In this article, I will take you with me on my journey, from the practicalities (where to stay, where to go…) to the more emotional experiences that I had. Are you ready? Welcome to North Goa.
My Itinerary: Anjuna – Arambol – Mandrem
This was the first place where I went together with my other two friends that I had met in Agonda (South Goa). I had very high expectations for Anjuna, especially because it was described as a very nice hippy place on Lonely Planet, and I hate starting this blog on a negative note, but it was really not a nice experience instead. Apart from the nice Flea Market which is very pretty, this is a place where I felt unsafe as a woman. Many locals are very aggressive sellers, many are drug dealers, and the scene is very, VERY much trance party-alcohol-drugs-sex and the like. To give you an idea, I was asked if I wanted to be a prostitute, buy MDMA, acids etc. several times in one single walk down to the beach. Not the yogi paradise that Agonda was, for sure. On top of this, the beach is very dirty and rocky, not a very pleasant place to hang out and beach sellers are SO AGGRESSIVE that you literally cannot sunbathe in peace for 5 minutes. Also, the number of Indian guys (tourists, not locals) who want to take sneaky pictures of white girls in a bathing suit is really intimidating. Some even follow you to see where you are going to lie down and then take a picture of you without your permission. Unfortunately, this is a thing in some places in Goa, and in the area around Calangute, Baga, Vagator, and Anjuna this is very, very common.
Because we felt so unsafe, we booked a nice hotel which also had a private outdoor area and swimming pool and used our time there to relax after the teacher training. We could not move somewhere else immediately because of logistics reasons, otherwise, to be honest, we would have moved to a different town. After all, a nice hotel in India can be around 30€ a day, and since we were 3 girls, it was as low as 10€ per day each.
We stayed at this place called Ivy Anjuna. Ivy Anjuna is the tipical hotel for westerners, and we didn’t particularly enjoy the idea of that, but yeah… we had to make this choice for our own sanity XD. The place is a high standard, 4* hotel. As I said, there is a swimming pool, a restaurant and sunbeds. It is located close to one of the biggest supermarkets of the area, and 50 mt from a nice restaurant called Eatopia where we had some glorious Indian food. It doesn’t look good on Google, but it is good, I swear. It is also close to the main junction where there is a very big taxi stand. We made that choice specifically to be ready to get on a cab every day and go outside Anjuna to go to the beach (we went to Arambol twice)
For lower budgets, I recommend a hostel the Red Door where a friend of mine stayed which looked really cute
A part from the Wednesday Market, you can visit the temple Laxmi Narayan which is all pink and cute. However: BE CAREFUL with the priest. He is a perv. At least, the one I met. He likes to hug and kiss foreign girls, grope their butts and other disgusting behaviors like that. He did that to me, BIG TIME. Go covered up AND not alone – like I did. It was such a disgusting experience. But the Temple is very pretty.
Arambol is basically what I had expected Anjuna to look like: hippy, busy, full of yoga-related activities, cafes, shops, music bars and so on. It can be a little bit intense from time to time because again sellers can become a bit pushy especially by the northern end of the beach, but still manageable. The shops are lovely, and there is a permanent open market just behind the beach. Note: Arambol is also the place where you find the main Gas station in the area around Mandrem/Ashwem/Arambol etc.
My favorite restaurants/spots were:
Love Temple: food, yoga, chill-out music, fun activities and kirtan every Sunday!
Laughing Buddha: I am in LOVE with this place’s curries. OH MY GOD. ❤
Garden of Dreams: suuuuper pretty location, very cute garden and delicious food!
Twice in Nature: a lovely spot to go to for concerts
Organic Vibes: another great place to go to for music. I would not recommend the food tho: amazing taste but……. The kitchen looked very, VERY dirty. I did eat there… before I had a look at the back-door XD otherwise I wouldn’t have XD
For my taste, this is the best place to be. Quiet, the loveliest locals, the safest food spots, a lot cleaner than average, nestled in the jungle. And THE BEACH. Such a nice, white, powdery sand. I don’t even know where to start <3. For me, Mandrem has been a second house. Don’t confuse Mandrem beach with Mandrem Town. The town is a couple of km inland and it’s where you find more grocery shops, functioning banks etc… but if you wanna hang out by the beach, it is too far without a scooter. It’s also waaay more of a locals place.
I have stayed for a month in a place called White Sand and I 100% recommend it. The rooms are super clean, new, with comfy mattresses and pillows. Also, always hot water, with good pressure too. The best part of the hotel is the family who runs it, to which I am so affectionate. I love them. My room had a sea view that was just… ❤
Surf: In front of the hotel there is a surf school called Salty Soul Surf Shack where I took my surf lessons. The teacher is very nice and patient, he will make you have so much fun!
Wellness: For a massage, go to the AyurClinic Goa. It is a legit ayurvedic clinic with an in-house doctor available for consultations too. I loved my massages, such a nice healing experience. Just one tip: make sure you go with a towel you don’t mind getting dirty because you will be completely soaked in oil after that. Don’t think you can just put your clothes on without staining them!
Walk! Walk by the beach at sunrise, sunset, late afternoon: here and in Arambol you are gonna enjoy the best sunsets and beach strolls of your life. The two beaches are actually connected if you really wanna walk a looooong time.
Dunes: chilled, quiet, delicious and traditional. I loved it. Their palak paneer with naan is to die for XD. You can watch the sunset from there as well since it is right in front of the beach and it also has the cleanest sunbeds for you during the day.
Anu Mama: Lalita, the owner, is the funniest sweetest lady and she makes some great Indian food at any time of the day. It’s more affordable than many fancier places but very tasty and the place looks so pretty. Try the Mama Thali and her pancakes!
Lamuella: in my opinion, the best (but ‘overpriced’ of Indian standards) coffee in town. The food is also nice, and the location is fancy. It is a perfect spot to work because it’s very quiet.
Ashiyana: cute yoga center with daily classes nestled in the jungle
Himalaya Yoga Valley: they normally only run teacher trainings, but they also host great teachers for intensives and workshops.
Ashtanga Yoga Morjim (Sharmila): it is not Mandrem, it’s in Morjim (very close) and it’s the shala of a Certified Ashtanga Teacher. She is great and if you are an Ashtangi spending something like a month in the area, she is the best one you can go to. Make sure you email her (maybe even more than once, she doesn’t always reply) and that you book your spot.
That is all my dear friends! Please let me know if you need to know more, I am happy to help you! I hope you enjoy beautiful North Goa like I did!