Gay In: Goa – A 2020 LGBT+ Travel Guide

goa beaches sunset

If there’s anywhere in India where you can feel comfortable as an LGBT+ traveller, it’s in unconventional Goa. Being gay in Goa is as widely accepted as being a hippie or being a vegan or being a stoner. Because in Goa – well, pretty much anything goes!

You see, Goa is unlike anywhere else in the country, and truth be told it’s not the ‘real’ India. Goa is the haven to escape to when you need a break from the ‘real’ India. It’s a place to party, unwind, and enjoy the magnificent beaches that adorn the 100km coastline.  

At the same time, Goa is a place where minorities can feel more relaxed. Having tattoos, piercings, blonde hair, white skin, dark skin or a same-sex partner isn’t going to attract much-unwanted attention here. Eccentric Hippies have been visiting Goa since the 1960s, and the tourism boom has resulted in a far more relaxed and accepting culture relative to other parts of India.  

We recently spent a bit of time in Goa, and after backpacking through the likes of Jaipur, Mumbai, and Varanasi, we were grateful for the dose of freedom. While we never felt uncomfortable in any part of India purely because of our sexuality, there were indeed times where we felt out of our comfort zone. That’s just India. So it was nice to retreat to open-minded Goa and let our hair down.

In this travel guide, we outline all the best places to go in Goa as an LGBT+ traveller. You’ll find a list of gay-friendly hotels and bars and our top tips as an LGBT+ couple in Goa. We will also touch on LGBT+ rights and social opinions in India, to help you prepare for an incredible, and most importantly, a safe, trip of a lifetime.

Gay in Goa - LGBT travel guide
Gay in Goa Baby

Gay in: Goa – 2020 LGBT+ Travel Guide

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LGBT+ Rights in India

OK, before we get stuck into our LGBT+ travel guide for Goa, let’s quickly talk about LGBT rights in India. As an LGBT+ traveller, it is vital to familiarise yourself with the current legal & social situations in any country you plan on visiting. By understanding the situation and acting in tune with your surroundings, you can avoid any unnecessary issues along your travels.

When it comes to LGBT+ rights in India, the past 20 years have been a long and volatile road. A series of significant wins and disappointing setbacks meant that LGBT+ activists, along with the LGBT+ community, took one step forward and two steps back again.  

Thankfully, September 2018, in a historic decision, saw acts of homosexuality decriminalised in India. With that came an apology to the LGBT+ community, and a ruling that LGBT+ people are just as entitled to be protected under anti-discrimination laws as everybody else. Gay marriage and same-sex adoption are still illegal, but currently under consideration.

While the change in the legal situation is a leap in the right direction, there is still a way to go in India. Unfortunately, despite the law, it can take a while for social opinions to catch up. India is still very much a socially conservative country, and tolerance towards the LGBT+ community is going to be a long road.  

Thankfully Goa is the exception, and all travellers are welcome to enjoy what this beautiful state has to offer. In fact, November 2019 will see the first-ever Gay Pride event in Goa, so if you’re in the area, be sure to go and wave your rainbow flag in support.  

Surprisingly, the transgender community has a longer history of acceptance in Indian society than that of lesbians, gays, or bisexuals. The minority group, known as ‘hijaras’, live quite openly in India; however, still, face the risk of discrimination and rejection among socially conservative communities.  

GAY LGBT TRAVEL GOA
Travel is for E V E R Y O N E

Gay in Goa – Where to Go

Goa is India’s smallest state; however, make no mistake, nothing about Goa is small. The truth is, Goa is bigger than some countries, so you’ll need to have a good idea of what you want to experience in Goa when planning your trip.

You see, many have the misconception that all Goa has to offer is beaches. And while over 60 gorgeous beaches indeed adorn the 100km coastline, that is not all that defines Goa. With stunning historical sites and sweeping national parks, to bustling markets and wild nightlife, for those keen to explore, adventure always awaits.

To put it simply, Goa roughly divides into the North of Goa and the South of Goa. If you have the time, we recommend spending time in both, so you can appreciate what each side has to offer. The North is home to the majority of famous attractions and nightlife, so it tends to be the most atmospheric of the 2. Whereas the South is far more laidback, boasting quiet beaches, yoga retreats, and various watersports.  

As an LGBT+ traveller in Goa, there is no area which is out of bounds. Having said that, you might feel more at ease in the popular tourist hubs where you’re likely to be in the company of other LGBT+ people. The smaller villages, on the other hand, are often more conservative, so you may need to act more discreetly. Again, it depends on what you want from your experience and how much you are prepared to adapt.

After spending a bit of time in Goa, I’d like to say we know it pretty well. We don’t claim to have covered it all as that would take months; however, based on our experience, we have collated a list of what we believe to be the best Goa destinations for LGBT+ travellers. 

Gay in Pernem – North Goa

For a fine balance between a relaxing getaway and time spent sightseeing, Pernem is the ideal district to choose in Goa. Situated at the most Northern part of Goa, Pernem is most famous for its abundant natural beauty, which I can confirm is pretty spectacular.  

We based ourselves close to Arambol beach during our time in Pernem, which honestly, left us with mixed feelings. On the one hand, Arambol retains an element of hippy culture, where you can find drum circles, vegan cafes, and hash aplenty. On the other, many beachside establishments primarily cater to Russian clientele or families, resulting in quite the mixed bag.  

Nevertheless, Arambol is a great base to explore the various attractions dotted around the North of Goa. But if Arambol isn’t to your taste, you can try out nearby Mandrem instead which is a bit more laid back. Either way, as an LGBT+ traveller, you’re sure to be in like-minded company.  

goa beaches sunset
Stunning sunset scenes in Goa

Gay-Friendly Hotels in Pernem – North Goa

While most hotels in Pernem will happily welcome LGBT+ travellers, these hotels, by reliable resources, are acclaimed to be gay-friendly. Here I list a hostel, budget & mid-range, option to try to cater to various budgets and interests.  For more places to stay in Pernem, check the latest prices here.

Hostel $ – Happy Panda Hostel – Arambol

We rarely stayed in hostels during our time in India, simply because private rooms are so cheap. However, when we did, we would often locate a hostel by the Happy Panda chain as they always live up to their great reputation. For around $5, you can secure a bed in a dorm, and the facilities are relatively good. If you’re looking to meet people and socialise, Happy Panda is the place to be.

Check rates & availability for Happy Panda here.

 Budget $ – Madrid Home – Arambol

During our trip to North Goa, we stayed at Madrid Home in Arambol which set us back around $12 a night for a private room with a bathroom and kitchenette. The room was basic but had hot water, air-conditioning and wifi – which is pretty much everything we need for a comfortable stay. What’s more, the owners were incredibly hospitable, and we were made to feel like part of the family. It’s sweet actually -they continue to check in with us even now, just to see how we are!

Check rates & availability for Madrid Home here.

Mid-Range $$ – Wigwam – Mandrem

We love seeking out unique places to stay when we travel, and if we’d of had the budget, we would have stayed at Wigwam. Wigwam is a seamless combination of bohemian glamping and minimalist living, set away from the hustle and bustle in peaceful Mandrem. Guest rooms are a mixture of luxurious wigwam style tents and spacious apartments, sporting names like Pocahontas. An exceptionally cool place to stay if you have the cash.

Check rates & availability for Wigwam here.

TOP BEACHES SOUTH GOA PALOLEM BEACH
Stunning beaches across Goa

Top things to do in Pernem – North Goa

Relax on Mandrem Beach

Mandrem Beach is a quiet, gorgeous and palm-fringed stretch of bay, ideal for chilling out. Although we stayed in Arambol, we’d often find ourselves here getting our tan on or reading a good book. We spotted some cute & colourful beach huts on Mandrem Beach which we figured would make an awesome place to stay. You’ll also get a perfect sunset view here, so relax & enjoy with an ice-cold beer at one of the beach bars.

Visit the Sweet Water Lake

Head North of Arambol Beach, pass various beachside shops & restaurants, and eventually, you’ll reach a rocky outcrop. When the tide is in, you’ll have to clamber over these rocks to get to the Sweet Water Lake. The lake is one of the more off-beat attractions in Goa and what you’ll find is a place of peace and tranquillity. A freshwater lake, encompassed by rolling green hills and sweeping jungle. Something about the serenity of the lake is incredibly endearing and calming. We highly recommend checking it out!

Take a Day Tour

Just because you are staying in Pernem, there is nothing to stop you taking a day trip to explore other areas of Goa. Bardez is the next district South of Pernem, and it’s worth visiting here on a Wednesday or Saturday when the big markets are going on. It’s also worth making the journey to Panjim where you’ll find Goa’s cultural sights, such as the vibrant Latin Quarter, and Old Goa. See our section below for organised day tours you can take in Goa.

Climb Arambol Mountain

Let’s get this straight; the word ‘mountain’ is quite misleading in this instance. The hike to the summit isn’t strenuous at all, and anybody of a reasonable fitness level could complete it in less than 15-minutes. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful panoramic view from the top and a great spot to catch the sunrise or sunset. Paragliding is a popular activity that takes place off the mountain top and can be fun to watch. That is, of course, unless you fancy taking the leap yourself!

Arambol mountain Goa
Arambol Mountain Goa
Other Things Worth Knowing
  • For good food in Arambol, check out Cool Talk Cafe for a decent coffee & breakfast. Shimon’s Falafel serves up some of the best Falafel and Israeli food we’ve ever tasted. For experimental vegan dishes, head to Organic Vibes and the beachside shacks are reliable for great local food. Read this guide to vegan food in Arambol for more info.
  • For nightlife in Pernem, your best bet is to head to Morejim if you don’t fancy the 30-minute drive to/from Anjuna. Morejim has several clubs & bars, playing all kinds of music. While there are no specific gay-bars, you’re unlikely to run into any trouble here!
  • During the high season, a drum-circle can be found playing on Arambol Beach every night around sunset.  
  • There are several wellness-centres in Arambol & Mandrem, where you can practice yoga or meditation.  

Gay in Bardez – North Goa

Exuberant Bardez is the district South of Pernem, and it’s where you’ll want to base yourself to be in the heart of all the action. Here is where you’ll find Goa’s busiest beaches, psychedelic parties, bustling hippie markets, and a thriving gay community of expats and locals. You could say it’s the most relaxed district in Goa, and certainly the most lively.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to stay in Bardez, but we spent plenty of days (and nights) here, and we loved the vibe. If we were to return, we agreed we would base ourselves in Vagator, which is quieter than neighbouring Anjuna and a great place to escape to when you need a break from all-night parties.

Out of all the districts in Goa, I’d say that Bardez is the most gay-friendly and where we felt most at ease as an LGBT+ couple. While there isn’t much going on in regards to a gay-scene, you’re in the company of like-minded people, and everybody is super relaxed and open-minded.

Gay-Friendly Bars & Parties in Pernem – North Goa

While there are no specific gay bars in Goa, we experienced no trouble at these famous bars & trance parties. Let’s face it; everybody is too busy having a great time!

Shiva Valley – Shiva Valley is the Godfather of psytrance parties, and it’s where the scene all began in Goa. Notorious for its legendary Tuesday night parties, you can expect to dance the night away until dawn.  

Hilltop – For those who can’t handle the all-night parties anymore (us!), Hilltop put on some epic day events instead. The theme is still very much psytrance and psychedelic, but you can be tucked up in bed by midnight!

UV Bar – If psytrance is a bit intense for you – it’s certainly not to everybody’s taste – UV Bar put on techno house events on selected evenings. 

Hilltop north goa
Day party at Hilltop North Goa

Things to Know

  • Most parties only run during the high season, and event dates are sporadic. What’s Up Goa have a semi-reliable events calendar to help keep tabs on what’s going on.
  • Drugs such as LSD & MDMA are easy to come by amid the party scene of Anjuna; however, unless you know a person, be careful with what you are taking. Quality and potency vary wildly, and unfortunately, drug-related deaths happen every year in Goa. Furthermore, police are cracking down on those caught in possession of banned substances. While you are unlikely to see any jail time, you could be looking at a hefty on the spot fine. All things considered, it’s not worth the risk.  

Gay-Friendly Hotels in Bardez – North Goa

While most hotels in Bardez will be happy welcome LGBT+ travellers, these hotels, in particular, are acclaimed to be gay-friendly. Here I list a hostel, mid-range & luxury option to try to cater to various budgets and interests. For more places to stay in Bardez, check the latest prices here.

Hostel $ – JUNGLE by thehostelcrowd – Vagator

Slap bang in the heart of all the action in Bardez, JUNGLE is a lively and social hostel, perfect for those looking to party or make new friends. With cheap and cheerful dorms or private rooms, it’s an ideal choice for solo travellers or couples. Facilities include a fully equipped kitchen, a common room, and a beautiful garden area, as well as various organised activities to encourage guests to mingle.

Check rates & availability for JUNGLE here.

Mid-Range $$ – Fiesta Beach Resort – Baga

Fiesta Beach Resort is an excellent choice for those with a little higher budget. Located in the heart of Goa’s pulsating nightlife scene, it boasts an outdoor pool, which is what you need to recuperate after a night out on the town. With breakfast included each morning and gorgeous private rooms, it’s definitely worth the extra pennies for that added bit of comfort.

Check rates & availability for Fiesta Beach Resort here.

Luxury $$$ – W Goa – Vagator

The W Hotels chain has an excellent reputation for being gay-friendly, and W Goa is no different. This resort has got to be one of the best luxury resorts in all of Goa, boasting spectacular hilltop views, an epic rock pool, and on-site spa centre. With a delectable buffet breakfast, luxury private rooms, and a variety of on-site restaurants, this is the ideal place to treat yourself.  

Check rates & availability for W Goa here.

Top Things to do in Bardez

Check Out the Famous Markets

There are 2 famous markets in Bardez. The first is the iconic Anjuna Flea Market, held every Wednesday during high-season. Anjuna Market is aptly known as the hippie market, said to originate as far back as the 60s. In the day, you can shop around for bargains – anything from funky clothes, handmade jewellery, and local goods. In the evenings, it’s a cool place to chill out with a beer, and often live bands are playing. The other is Arpora Saturday Night Market. A buzzing affair featuring a plethora of market stalls, pop-up bars, and food stands. Both are well worth checking out!  

Anjuna hippie Market Goa
Anjuna Hippie Market Goa
Check out Anjuna and Vagator Beaches

There is no better cure for a hangover, than fresh ocean air and a gentle stroll or swim along the beach. Anjuna and Vagator Beaches are gay-friendly beaches and equally beautiful; however, personally, we preferred the latter simply because it’s quieter. You’ll find plenty of beachside restaurants along both, serving a variety of global fare. Be wary of the beach hawkers selling sarongs or offering beauty services – they can be very persistent. Pretending to be asleep is our favourite tactic!  

Take a Day Trip to Old Goa 

If you are at all interested in Indian history, a day trip to Old Goa is an opportunity to visit a spot of real historical importance. This area was once considered the ‘Rome of the East’ and features several UNESCO listed buildings such as Basilica of Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral. With time to spare, you could also check out Fountainhas – The Portuguese Latin quarter, with colonial buildings, cobbled streets, and quaint cafes.

Other Things Worth Knowing
  • While great dining options are abundant throughout Bardez, our favourites include Artjuna Cafe for delectable breakfasts & bakery items. Thalassa is a popular Greek restaurant, although a little on the pricy side. You’ll find the cheapest, and arguably the best, local food in the modest beachside shacks. The local Goan curry to try is fish or chicken xacuti.
  • Candolim Beach is another gorgeous spot in Bardez and is a popular destination for family and couples holidays.  
  • Head to Chapora Fort one evening for a beautiful and peaceful sunset view.  
Sunset at Chapora Fort Goa
Sunset at Chapora Fort Goa

Gay in Canacona – South Goa

On the complete opposite end of the scale, you have the serene district of Canacona. Situated in the most Southerly part of Goa, Canacona is famed for its pristine beaches, water sports, and yoga retreats. In an ideal world, you’d spend a few days in the North getting around all of the attractions, before hitting the South Goa beaches to chill out.

We stayed close to Palolem Beach during our time in Canacona, and it was the perfect base for our South Goa adventures. Which truth be told wasn’t a lot, because we were knackered after our week in the North. However, if you’re not one for sitting still but your partner is, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained while they lap up the beach. It’s also a great place to bring along little ones if you have them.

In regards to a gay-scene, well, you won’t find much of any scene in Canacona. Nightlife, in general, is low key and a weekly silent disco is as wild as it gets. That said, Palolem and Agonda are gay-friendly beaches and buzzing with tourists. So nobody is going to bat an eyelid if they suspect you are gay.

Gay-Friendly Hotels in Canacona – South Goa

While most hotels in Canacona will be happy welcome LGBT+ travellers, these hotels, in particular, are acclaimed to be gay-friendly. Here I list a hostel, mid-range & luxury option to try to cater to various budgets and interests. For more places to stay in Canacona, you can check the latest prices here.

Budget $ – Apricot Service Apartments – Palolem

When we stayed in Palolem, we planned to be there for a little while. So we were thrilled to find Apricot Service Apartments, where we had plenty of space to work, cook, and create a home away from home. For under $20, the apartment had air-conditioning, kitchenette, hot water, and a balcony. It was a great base to chill out, but also conveniently located to enjoy the beach and restaurants nearby.

Check rates & availability for Apricot Service Apartments here.

Mid-Range $$ – Palm Forest – Palolem

We walked past Palm Forest many times during our stay in Palolem, and it always struck me how peaceful and beautiful it looked. Located just a stone’s throw away from the beach, Palm Forest is very eco-friendly, combining modern luxuries with sustainable materials. With beautiful private chalets, healthy ala-carte breakfasts, and an on-site yoga shala, you’re guaranteed to end your stay fully revitalised.

Check rates & availability for Palm Forest here.

Luxury $$$ – White Resort – Agonda

White Resort is another spot that caught our eye when we spent the day at Agonda Beach, so we popped in for a beer and had a nose around. I guess you could describe this place as simple, but luxurious at the same time. As you can imagine, the resort is pristine, boasting a beautiful pool and bar area. The luxury guestrooms come equipped with an outdoor shower and private seating area, where you can sit listening to the waves. If you can afford it, this is one of the best places to stay in Canacona.

Check rates & availability for White Resort here.

Things to do in Canacona

Spend the Day Beach-Hopping

The best beaches in Goa are in Canacona, and you can even find some that are completely remote. One of our favourite things to do was cruise the coastal road on scooters, on the lookout for a new beach. We discovered popular beaches such as Palolem and Agonda, as well as hidden gems such as Butterfly Beach and Galgibag. For more information, check out our blog post, which covers all of the best beaches in the South of Goa.

TOP BEACHES SOUTH GOA PALOLEM BEACH
Sunset at Palolem Beach Goa
Try Out Some Watersports

If you’re more adrenaline seeker than beach bum, you’ll be pleased to know that Canacona is famed for its myriad of water sport activities. From jet skis and windsurfing to scuba diving and stand-up paddleboarding, there’s plenty to keep you entertained for hours at a time. You’ll find most watersports are available at Palolem Beach. Don’t forget to have a suitable cover on your travel insurance when taking part in any water sporting activities.

Dolphin-Spotting

Another cool thing to do in Canacona is to go dolphin-spotting. Again, this activity is most accessible from Palolem beach, and there are several beach shacks where you can book a tour. Most boat tours leave around sunrise, as this is the best time to spot the majestic creatures at their prime. You could also combine your tour with some island-hopping.  

Visit the Spice Plantation

If you fancy a change of scenery from the beach, we suggest taking a trip to Tanshikar Spice Plantation. Located in the heart of the jungle, where they harvest various spices such as vanilla, cashews, chillies and several others found in Indian cuisine. It’s a unique and educational experience and includes a delicious buffet lunch. Only, we ask that you refrain from any elephant tourism activities that may be offered as an extra. This article explains the horrors behind animal tourism and is worth a read before travelling to India.

Other Things Worth Knowing
  • For great food in Palolem, we recommend Karma Cafe for excellent vegan dishes and delectable bakery goods. Little World is another excellent choice for healthy meals and has a delicious chai recipe. Magic Italy does great Italian by Indian standards, and there are various local restaurants in town and along the beach. On Agonda Beach, we recommend checking out the swanky White Resort.
  • The weekly silent disco is on every Saturday night during high season. You’ll find the party at Silent Noise Club on Palolem Beach.
  • There are various Yoga Retreats and Meditation Centres in this part of Goa. Aranya Yoga Ashram, in particular, comes highly recommended where you can take part in daily classes, retreats or teacher training. They also hold a highly regarded cooking class here.
  • Agonda and Galgibag beaches are designated turtle hatching sites. You can look, but don’t touch, as the baby turtles hatch between November-March.  
  • Accessible day tours in South Goa include wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, and waterfalls. See the section below titled ‘Day Tours in Goa’ for more information. 
Galgibag Turtle Beach, Goa India
Galgibag Turtle Beach, Goa India

Day Tours in Goa

Organised day tours are a convenient way to explore all that Goa has to offer, without the hassle of having to plan out everything yourself. Generally, we like to explore places independently; however, if we have limited time and a lot to cover, we always try to find an affordable day tour that allows us to see it all.  

Day tours are also a great way to get to know a place on a much deeper level. Most tours include an English speaking guide, so naturally, you get to hear all about the local history and culture. Here are some day tours in Goa that are worth considering or you can check out the full list on Klook or Get Your Guide.  

Goa Full-Day Private Tour

To experience Goa’s extraordinary history, architecture and culture, the full-day private tour is a great all-rounder. To start the day, you’ll visit famous temples such as Shree Manguesh and Shree Mahalsa. Following that, you will go to the Sahakari Spice Farm to learn about the various spices and enjoy the surroundings. Finally, you’ll conclude the day in old Goa, marvelling historical buildings such as Basilica of Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral. Price includes hotel-pick up, venue entrance fees, and air-conditioned transportation.

Check rates & availability for the Goa Full-Day Private Tour here.

Dudhsagar Waterfalls & Plantation Tour

If you fancy something a little bolder, the waterfalls and plantation tour is one we highly recommend when visiting Goa. This tour includes a fun-filled day of off-beat adventures, including an off-road jeep safari and trekking through a national park on the hunt for waterfalls. You’ll also visit the Spice Plantation, where you’ll enjoy an included buffet lunch. Dudhsagar Falls is one of the biggest waterfalls in India, so you don’t want to miss this tour when visiting Goa. Due to the transportation by jeep required to get you through the river and rough terrain, this is one activity you can’t attempt alone.

Check rates & availability for the Dudhsagar Waterfalls & Plantation Tour here.

Malwan Scuba Diving and Water Sports Trip

Goa is famed for its myriad of water sport activities on offer, and this tour allows you a taster of all of them. Learn how to scuba dive and discover the underwater reefs, shipwrecks, cliffs, and tunnels off India’s coastline. Afterwards, go wild on the jet skis, bananas on the banana boat, and try your hand at Parasailing. With all activities included in the price, this tour provides excellent value for money relative to booking individually.  

Check rates & availability for the Malwan Scuba Diving and Water Sports Trip here.

Explore Goa with a Gay Guide

To see all the best sights of Goa with a gay and local guide, check out India Gay Travel Buddy. The site allows you to connect with a local guide or travel companion, who can show you the sights while ensuring you a comfortable and enjoyable trip. For now, this service is for gay men only.

Gay in Goa – Tips & Advice

Respect Social Etiquette 

While the culture in Goa is far-more relaxed relative to other parts of India, you are still likely to encounter some conservative locals. In this circumstance, it pays to be respectful, and make a good name for other tourists. Trip Savvy has some great tips on general social etiquette in India. Although they may not always apply in Goa, it’s good to familiarise yourself and exercise them as you see fit.  

Avoid Public Displays of Affection

You could say this falls under the category of respecting social etiquette; however, it’s important to note that this isn’t a rule just for gay travellers. Public displays of affection are discouraged even among straight couples, and best kept to a minimum, even in Goa. 

Staying Safe in Goa

As a whole, Goa is considered one of the safest places to travel in India. There is very little crime, and reports of violence toward foreigners are rare. That said, we always advise exercising caution when exploring any new destination, and there are some things to aware of when travelling in Goa.

First of all, it pays to make yourself aware of the common tourist scams in Goa, so consequently, you can avoid them. There is also the odd report of pickpocketing and bag snatching. But so long as you avoid dodgy areas or walking alone at night, you should encounter no trouble.

Motorbike accidents are not uncommon in Goa, and a lot of the time caused by inexperienced drivers. The roads in Goa are, for the most part, in good condition. But, if you aren’t confident on a bike, the crazy India traffic can be intimidating. Practice somewhere quiet before attempting the bigger roads, and always wear a helmet. You’ll also need an international drivers license should you be pulled over by the police. We got stung for £20 on this, so I can confirm it does happen.

I’ve already touched on drugs, but I’ll reiterate. Please be wary of any substances that you choose to put into your body. Sadly drug-related deaths happen every year in Goa, so I suggest avoiding them altogether. Indian booze is also pretty potent and can leave you with a nasty hangover, but nothing you won’t recover from.

Finally, be aware of natural hazards in Goa. The ocean currents can be strong, so only swim along beaches where it is safe to do so. You should also be vigilant when taking part in any adventurous activities. Come home with memories – not a nasty injury.

Expect to be asked for A LOT of selfies
Travel Insurance

With that, don’t even think about going to Goa without travel insurance. Should you need health care while travelling in Goa, you will want the best money can buy. Travel Insurance could be your saving grace.

We always recommend World Nomads for travel insurance, as they are affordable, offer a variety of packages and add ons, and allow you to make amendments to your policy while travelling. Say, for example, you go scuba diving or hiking a mountain, World Nomads will amend your plan accordingly. It’s a super handy feature that we’ve used numerous times including the time we trekked to Annapurna Base Camp.

If you need further convincing, read our article on why you need travel insurance. Or get an on-the-spot quote from World Nomads using the form below.

Getting Around in Goa

If you are confident driving a scooter or motorbike, this will be the most convenient way to get around Goa. To rent a bike in Goa will set you back around between 400-1000 rupees per day, depending on the model you want. But for your information, it’s pointless riding around the streets of Goa on a Royal Enfield so save yourself the cash. It is usually possible to negotiate a discount if you rent for more extended periods. 

Public buses are the cheapest way to get around Goa, but long distances and the Indian tendency to stop every few hundred metres often results in a long and tedious journey. Express buses are ideal for travelling between districts as they skip the bus stops in between. This article is by Travelling Finns on how to use the bus network in Goa is incredibly useful.  

Finally, you have local taxi companies and tuk-tuks. Both are opportunists when it comes to tourists, so be sure to haggle hard on the price. If you can, I would avoid them altogether as they are generally a huge rip-off. Sadly, Goa is also one of the only places in India where competitive taxi app OLA is banned.  

Festivals in Goa

Akin to other areas of India, Goa is a very festive place, and you’d be unlucky to visit without encountering some kind of celebration. Check out this article for all the best 2020 festivals in Goa, so you can try to tie one in with your trip. Don’t forget, 2019 will see the first Gay Pride event in Goa, so if you’re heading that way, go and show your support!

Festivals in Goa
Best Time to Visit Goa

The best time to visit Goa is during the Indian Winter (November-March) when the weather is perfect for sunbathing and sightseeing. At this time of year, cooler temperatures accompany a pleasant sea breeze, and there is very rarely any rain. Goa is at its peak during December and January, and you could struggle to find accommodation unless you book months in advance. With that comes inflated prices, congested roads, and crowded beaches, so we suggest avoiding this time altogether.  

On the lead up to Monsoon, March-May, temperatures can get uncomfortably hot. During these months, many Goan residents retreat to cooler hill stations or the mountains. Monsoon hits from June-September, and again it’s probably best avoiding Goa during this time.

While I’d like to think I’ve covered most things in this comprehensive travel guide for Goa, if there’s anything I may have missed, you’re sure to find it here in this guide to backpacking Goa.

Meeting Other Gay People in Goa

Being an LGBT+ traveller in any new place can be a daunting prospect, so we find it helps to connect with other LGBT+ people in the area. This way, you can share experiences, and perhaps they can answer any questions or concerns you might have. 

We suggest using social media to locate other LGBT+ travellers or locals in Goa. You can use Facebook, for example, to find dedicated LGBT+ groups in your area. There is a group I recently discovered called Goa Rainbow Trust, featuring information on the upcoming Pride event in Panjim.

Similarly, dating apps can be a great way of connecting with like-minded people – and not necessarily for a hook-up. If you’re lucky, you could find yourself connecting with a local who can give you a full insider low down of the local area. The Delta App is India’s first-ever LGBT+ app. We always suggest using a secure VPN when using dating apps internationally.

Well, that concludes Gay in: Goa – A 2020 LGBT+ Travel Guide.  If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here!

Stay adventurous and Happy travels.

Charlotte & Natalie x

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