This post is the ultimate guide to the hidden gems in Goa. We will explore 6 hidden gems as well as the best locations to stay in Goa for couples and families. The best hotels to stay in Goa is in this post as well.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means, if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please read my Disclaimer Policy for more information.
Where is Goa?
Goa is a state within the Konkan region in India. Goa has Maharashtra to its North, Karnataka to its East and South, and the Arabian Sea on its West. Being a former Portuguese colony, the culture is a unique mix of Hindu and Roman Catholic Christians.
Due to this, the vibe in Goa is different from the rest of India. It is one of the most peaceful states in India. Goans are easy-going and acknowledge their Hindu roots. Goa is a hotspot for both international and domestic tourists.
Its rich culture combined with an easy-going lifestyle makes it a popular tourist destination. For first-timers here, there is plenty to do such as visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Panjim. Or, one can visit the hidden gems in Goa and experience the beauty this state has to offer.
Goa can be divided into three areas which are North Goa, South Goa, and Central Goa. A further subdivision is between coastal areas and the interiors. The coast has beautiful beaches while the interiors are home to wildlife sanctuaries.
Do you know that Goa’s sister city is Hawaii?
What is the best location to stay in Goa?
North Goa is the supreme party scene in Goa. Tourists come here for its beaches, nightlife, and islands. The best beaches in North Goa are Baga and Calangute. Baga and Calangute are areas you want to consider if you enjoy the nightlife, traffic, and crowds.
There are plenty of restaurants, hotels, and hostels to suit your budget. Check out the 10 Best Restaurants in North Goa to suit your vibe and budget. CNN gives an excellent description of where you can stay, eat and play in North Goa.
Panjim or Panaji is the capital and administrative city of Goa. This city is on the banks of the Mandovi River. The features of this city include terraced buildings, red-tiled roofs, and the riverside promenade.
The landmark which stands out is Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church. The church was a chapel for the Portuguese sailors from or to Lisbon. Sitting high on a hill, the church was the first sight the sailors from Lisbon saw as they came to Portuguese India.
This church is home to an ancient bell retrieved from the ruins of Our Lady of Grace Church in Old Goa. Panjim has the honor of being one of the oldest cities in Asia as it was recognized as a city on 22nd March 1843.
South Goa is perfect for those seeking solace, peace, and calm. This district is the quieter neighbor of North Goa. The beaches are cleaner as it is less crowded. Another feature of South Goa is the relatively fewer things to do here.
These engravings are believed to be 20,000 to 30,000 years old and are located on the banks of the Kushavati River. In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Kushavati is a city in the Kosala Kingdom. The carvings were discovered in 1993 according to the Goa Tourism Development. The locals knew about the carvings much earlier.
Do you know that these rock carvings were discovered by coincidence?
What are the hidden gems in Goa?
Cumbarjua Backwater Canal
The first in our hidden gems in Goa is the Cumbarjua Backwater Canals. Cumbarjua is about 12 miles from Panjim. This is about a half hours drive. The name is from the Konkani words “kumbhars” who were potters who lived in the area. According to the locals, the island was once a peninsula.
These backwater canals are the habitat of the Indian Mugger Crocodile. This 9 mile canal connects the Mandovi and Zuari rivers. A unique custom is the worship of crocodiles which is known as Maange Thapnee. This canal is on The Better India, India.com, and India Times.
The second in our hidden gems in Goa is Sinquerim Fort. Sinquerim Fort is also known as Fort Aguada. This fort is about 8 miles from Panjim which is a half hours drive. This 17th-century Portuguese fort overlooks the Arabian Sea on Sinquerim Beach.
The name of this fort is derived from “Agua” which is the Portuguese word for water. There is a freshwater spring within the fort which made it a watering point for ships arriving from Portugal. This fort was built in 1612 to guard against Dutch and Maratha invasions in Goa.
The third in our hidden gems in Goa are the Arvalem Caves. These caves are 20 miles from Panjim which is an hour’s drive. These caves are believed to be carved during the 6th century. The locals refer to these caves as Pandava Caves as the locals believed the Pandavas from Ramayana stayed here one point in time.
Netravali Bubbling Lake
The fourth in our hidden gems in Goa is the Netravali Bubbling Lake. The Budbud Tal and Budbudyachi Tali are some of the names of this mysterious lake. Tucked in a small village is Netravali Bubbling Lake. This place is 48 miles from Panjim which is an approximate 2 hours drive.
The temple on this ground is Lord Gopinath and according to local belief is that once one chant “Om”, the lake starts to bubble. Another belief is that when one starts to clap, the bubbles appear. However, these are just assumptions and have no scientific evidence. This lake is featured on Times on India and India Times.
The fifth in our hidden gems in Goa is Betul Beach. This beach is about 31 miles from Panjim. Betul beach is unique in that there is a stretch of sand which is the confluence of the Sal River to the Arabian Sea. If you are looking for a white sandy beach with a beautiful view, this beach is for you.
The sixth and last in our hidden gems in Goa is the Chorla Ghats. The Chorla Ghats is a nature destination located on the borders of Goa, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. There are several waterfalls to trek for the adventurous or you could simply enjoy nature.
What are the best hotels in Goa?
This hotel spreads over 75 acres of sprawling greenery and lagoons. The Leela Goa is India’s only beach and riverside resort as it sits at the confluence of the Sal River and the Arabian Sea.
For an ultimate luxury experience, arrange a pick-up with their upgraded range of BMW X5 and 7 Series. This resort a wide range of rooms and suites to choose from. This resort is on The Telegraph UK. This hotel is also kid-friendly.
This beachfront resort is on Ashwem Beach. Anahata is the fourth chakra or the Heart Chakra. The name of the resort resonates with the meaning of the heart chakra which is balance, calmness, and serenity. This resort believes that yoga is for everybody.
Do you know that Chapora Fort was featured in the Hindi movie Dil Chahta Hai?
Imagine staying in a 350-year-old home, that is Siolim House. This house was built using the ‘casa do sobrado’ style. Siolim House was once the home of the Governor of Macau and his family.
This hotel sits in a quiet corner of Dolphin Bay. Guests have the choice of staying in an individual room or an entire villa. There are four villas to choose from which is Leela Villa, Sunrise Villa, Sunset Villa, or Arjun’s Tea House.
Do you know that Reis Margos Fort predates Fort Aguada and once housed viceroys from or en route to Lisbon?
Is Goa worth visiting?
Several like-minded businesses have formed a Collective of Responsible Tourism in order to practice and promote sustainable tourism. Goa has a laid-back lifestyle, 100 miles of coastline, and delicious food. Check out the Top 10 Foods to Try in Goa and the Best Restaurants in Goa.