Located in the west of India, the state of Goa is a former Portuguese colony as well as a region possessed of rich and diverse cultural and recreational attractions. The following five recommendations should give the uninitiated someplace to start experiencing some of what Goa has to offer.
1. Ponda. Existing as they do at the geographical center of Goa, the city and surrounding villages of Ponda are also the beating heart of Goa culture and history. While visiting, make a point to visit the many farms, parks, spice markets and plantations that the area teems with, as well as the profusion of festivals, temples and eateries that abound.
2. Dudh Sagar Waterfall. Dudh Sagar Waterfall is among the highest waterfalls in India, and indeed the rest of the world. This natural spectacle is at its peak during the rainy season, when its frothy output resembles a giant, milky explosion from the heavens.
3. Dona Paula Beach. A popular beach in a region famed for its sandy shores, Dona Paula has a great deal to offer visitors willing to endure the crowds. Situated just four miles from Panaji, the area is named for the daughter of a viceroy, Dona Paula de Menzes. The beach offers ample opportunities for shopping, accommodations, the observation of wildlife, water sports, and recreation. Note that sun worshippers would do well to avoid Dona Paula. It is best to avoid the area during the rainy season from June to September.
4. Agonda. Visitors seeking a more relaxing beach experience can find it just 15 minutes from the more famous beach in Palolem. Though lacking the calm waters preferred by swimmers elsewhere in Goa, Agonda has the benefit of being situated in one of the rare popular locales in India not served by cell service. Take a load off and relax.
5. Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. The second-largest wildlife reserve in the region goes by the name of Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. Located roughly 12 miles east of Ponda and a little over 30 miles from Panaji, the park features a mini zoo, sprawling deer park, a natural habitat, and botanical and rose gardens.