Friday, 8 March 2013 11:30 AM
Like many popular destinations, some parts of Goa have become tourist traps. While this isn't to say these areas don't merit a visit, it's also worth considering that if you want to see the 'real' Goa, you'll have to be prepared to head off the well-worn track and delve a little deeper.
Thankfully, this isn't too difficult in India's smallest state. At a little over twice the size of London, you don't need to cover vast distances to get from place to place and can hope to see a good deal of the region's top attractions in the space of a single trip. In fact, there are some incredible yet relatively untouched places to visit located just a stone's throw away from some of the state's busiest cities.
But just where should you be looking to get a taste of authentic India?
Just outside Ponda, near the coastal city of Panjim, lies Keri Village. Perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of the nearby urban centres, Keri Village is known for its Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is an ancient system of traditional medicine native to the subcontinent that seeks to improve health using diet, herbal treatments and yogic breathing.
Another beautiful village to visit is Loutolim, which lies across the river to the south of Ponda.
Here you will some wonderful examples of Portuguese architecture – evidence of Goa's colonial past. For some 450 years, right up until the 1960s, Goa was an enclave of Portugal, and during this time the southern Europeans left their mark on the state's architecture, cuisine and music.
India might have since retaken administrative control of Goa, but the Portuguese influence lives on.
Of course, a visit to Goa would not be complete without spending some time on its world-renowned beaches.
Sadly, not all of them have managed to retain their statuses as pieces of paradise thanks to over-development and over-use. But luckily, there are still plenty of areas where the natural beauty of the Goa coastline has been preserved.
Utorda Beach near Majorda is one such haven. A TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice 2013 winner, this idyllic stretch of sand is praised highly by visitors for its cleanliness, peacefulness and crystal-clear waters.
Regarded as one of Goa's best-kept secrets, Utorda Beach is the perfect place to kick back and relax with a feni-based cocktail. This local liquor is made from coconuts or the juice of the cashew apple and is best served with cola, tonic or lemonade to create a refreshing sundowner.
To see these Goan gems for yourself, shack up in nearby Majorda or Panjim, where you can get some great value accommodation complete with swimming pools and other leisure facilities.
From there you can explore the area by hiring a motorbike, or if you're not feeling quite so adventurous, you can pay a driver to take you where you want to go. Don't bother with self-drive – it's often more expensive than hiring a chauffeur.
The locals are very welcoming and used to dealing with English-speaking tourists so don't be afraid to ask your hotelier for a few recommendations of where to visit during your stay.
Ultimately, whether you spend time in the north, south or central part of the state, with a little effort it isn't hard to get in touch with authentic India on adventure holidays to Goa.
Click here for more information on holidays to Goa with Monarch.