When you imagine a holiday in Goa, sun-kissed beaches, wild parties, and hordes of hippies probably come to mind. What if I was to tell you this tourist hot spot becomes particularly blissful throughout the Monsoon Season?
Few international tourists realise Goa is a playground 365 days of the year. The idea of visiting during its wettest months might seem strange; but, for travellers who dream of total relaxation, a beautiful backdrop and mellow holiday vibe, it’s the perfect time to chill out in this aspirational destination. Here are some of my favourite ways to unwind and soak up the magic of Goa during the Monsoon.
#1 EXPLORE A SPICE PLANTATION
A trip to India isn’t complete without a visit to a spice plantation. When Goa takes on a slower pace, it’s the perfect time to head towards the lush hills and discover spices in their most natural state. Ben and I visited the Tropical Spice Plantation in Keri (Ponda). Upon arrival, we were welcomed with traditional offerings of flower garlands, kumkum (red, round marks impressed on our foreheads) and herbal teas. Our guided tour immersed us in nature, revitalised our senses and filled our brains with new knowledge about spices. During the gentle stroll, we were able to mingle with buffalos, elephants, dogs, cats, monkeys, ducks and rare species of birds. They were all rather jealous of our buffet lunch, which included a mountain of traditional and nutritious foods served in banana leaves. After our walking tour and spice-infused feast, the only thing left to do was visit the gift shop!
#2 GET YOUR CHEF’S HAT ON IN A GOAN COOKING CLASS
For me, the act of preparing delicious food is wonderfully therapeutic. Once I’d witnessed spices in their purest form, I was eager to learn how to cook with them! Goa is home to many divine dishes, which are unique to the area. Goan Fish Curry is just the beginning, but it’s hard to go past. Ben and I learnt how to make this signature recipe, along with Tandoori Chicken, at the Grand Hyatt. The hotel’s Indian restaurant, Chulha, offers abridged cooking classes for guests, and there are many other courses on offer throughout Goa. No matter which operator you choose, you’re guaranteed to feel inspired by the ingenious use of spices in Indian cuisine. Ben and I realised we had many of the vital ingredients in our kitchen back home. The only problem was we had no idea how to turn them into something special. Well, now we do! And, we can’t wait to cook up an Indian feast once we get back to Australia.
#3 SIGN UP FOR A YOGA & DETOX RETREAT
In this day and age, most of us are bombarded with toxins on a regular basis, from the air pollution we breathe to the processed foods we eat. Goa is home to a number of eco-conscious resorts, which offer detox retreats and aim to give your body a break and health boost. I opted for a 5-day Juice Cleanse and Yoga Program with The Beach House and will never forget the experience. My days were filled with remedial massages, nutrient-rich beverages, educational health talks, colonics, walks on the beach, one-on-one yoga classes, meditation and “me time”. It was bliss. And, I came out the other side having reduced my bio-age by 3 years, improved my ph level from 6 (acidic) to 8 (alkaline) and dropped 2kg. I’m keen to come back and do it all again next year!
#4 LET YOU HAIR DOWN ON A FLOATING CASINO
For a more upbeat way to unwind, enjoy one of Goa’s signature holiday experiences – the floating casinos. Ben and I ventured out to the Deltin Royale, India’s most grandiose party boat for gamblers. We kicked our night off with an epic feast on the middle floor, where buffet treats, alcoholic beverages, cabaret dancers and party beats set the indulgent tone for the evening. It wasn’t long before the gaming zones captured our curiosity. While we’re not big gamblers, it was fascinating watching the different dynamics at play. The air of exhilaration was infectious, and we were absorbed in the action for hours. By the time we caught a tender back to the peaceful mainland and crawled into bed, we were completely spent.
#5 LIVE IN THE LAP OF LUXURY
Few places are more relaxing than luxury resorts and hotels – they’re slices of holiday heaven where your every whim gets catered for. Goa’s stateliest establishment, the Grand Hyatt, is pure comfort and escapism of the finest kind. Ben and I had the pleasure of staying in one of the ocean-view suites, which formed a royal base for our many decedent escapades. The hotel runs daily activities to keep guests entertained during the Monsoon, from fondue evenings and Indian-inspired cocktail classes to yoga sessions and detox days. The spa complex was more like a state-of-the-art sanctuary, offering male and female spas, steam rooms, a gymnasium, relaxation room, indoor pools, beauty salon and enticing massage menu. Meal times were pamper sessions in their own right. Ben and I always savour opportunities to enjoy good food, made with love, expertise and careful consideration. At the Grand Hyatt, every experience seemed to involve those three ingredients. We felt truly taken care of – like the weight of stress and chaos had been taken off our shoulders.
Whatever your chill out style, Goa offers something to help you unwind and enjoy the enchanting charm of the Monsoon Season. From lavish resorts and fun-filled nights to health retreats, educational activities and time with nature, there’s a world of locally inspired adventure waiting to be enjoyed. While Goa is a prized holiday destination throughout winter, it’s particularly breathtaking during the Monsoon when it turns into a lush and peaceful playground. So, make sure you experience Goa’s unique diversity and sample this world-renowned travel destination during the different seasons – not just the sunny ones.