We budget slow travelers needed a vacation! So a North Goa vacation in India seemed like a good place to ring in the New Year, since it’s known as more of a party place than South Goa.
Overall, I agree with that assessment, but these descriptions are not absolute. You can still find quiet parts on North Goa beaches, and rowdy beach bars on South Goa beaches.
North Goa vacation
The beach in North Goa, India, is just as spectacular as the beaches I loved in South Goa. However, there is a bit more trash because there are more tourists.
But kudos to the town of Morjim, where we stayed. I saw collection crews picking up litter in the mornings during my sunrise jogs.
The foreign tourists
North Goa draws a younger travelers, and young-at-heart travelers, from the West. You’ll see the type of meditation-pants-wearing, dreadlock sporting peaceniks you’d see in places like Bali or Phuket. While South Goa seems to attract more family-oriented pleasure seekers.
Safe to say Russians are in both areas of Goa. There are two direct flights from Russia to the nearby Vasco airport. And many restaurants have menus in Russian!
However, locals tell us there are not as many Russians now as before the war it started with Ukraine. Most middle-class Russians are not taking vacations at the moment, and sadly, many men are fighting in the war.
As we witnessed last year, average Russians avoiding the war stay on Turkiye’s Turquoise Coast and in Belgrade, Serbia. Wealthy Russians flocked to the UAE because that government made it easy for Russians to set up businesses while they wait out the war with their fighting-age sons.
There are plenty of Indian tourists around North Goa, just as in South Goa. This region of coastline is the best in their country – and so they certainly do take advantage of it with vacations!
I read a local news article that five-star hotels in Goa (both North and South) were nearly sold out over the December holiday period, but middle-range hotels had sluggish occupancy rates. It seemed the majority of middle-class Indians also were not taking vacations at the end of 2023 — at least not to Goa.
Walk down the beach at sunset, and you’ll see everyone lining the water’s edge taking photos. Wait until dusk, and you’ll hear booming music from every beach shack trying to compete with each other, and you’ll see spotlights slicing the night sky from every shack, too.
This didn’t happen in quiet South Goa. (Read my report from there, here.)
We stayed in Morjim in North Goa. Most clubs and beach shacks shut it down before midnight, however. Except for antiSOCIAL, a new club that has a reputation of turning down the music when the cops stop by, and then turning up the volume when they leave.
I was amused by a lopsided ‘article’ in Conde Nast Traveller’s Indian edition. It raved about how great the music and parties were at antiSOCIAL, so we checked it out for New Year’s Eve.
We sat on beach rocks and didn’t pay for admission, being old and thrifty – and I don’t even drink alcohol. But we didn’t feel like we missed anything from what we could see on the beach. And old or not: I would never stay anywhere near antiSOCIAL because it’s LOUD.
Meanwhile, there is a turtle sanctuary a bit further south in Morjim. The ‘olive ridley’ sea turtle won’t try to lay eggs on a beach with excessive lights and noise, so how it will work out with places like antiSOCIAL booming into all hours of the night – I don’t know.
Related: Sea turtle release in Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Cows also sometimes walk the beaches in North Goa. Oddly (because this is India), we never saw any cows at all on the beach in South Goa.
One restaurant worth mentioning…
I’d be remiss not to mention a beach restaurant in Morjim because we saw hundreds of people march down the beach during our stay to eat there. It’s called the Burger Factory. For Indian beach food, it’s expensive – $5 for a beef burger. But for foreigners like us – bargain!
Theo was highly pleased with his beef and pulled pork burger, and I had the best tasting veggie burger I’ve had in a long, long time (ever??).
North Goa or South Goa for your vacation?
So, north or south? Parties or relaxation? Certainly you can find parties in both places – as well as quiet places. Just remember the North is noisier. Sometimes a lot noisier.
You could theoretically have both, like us: one week in each area. But if we were to come back for a month – as is our typical budget slow travel duration – for me, the answer is South Goa.
Thanks for reading, “North Goa vacation from our vacation lifestyle.”
Vagabond: (n) A person who wanders from place to place without a home or job. (adj) Having no settled home.
Long-term stays; use buses and trains with infrequent flights; the faster you go the less you see.