Goa or Varkala?
What a wonderful question it is. These are two the most visited places in India, the only two places where the beach is actually available for swimming, where the coast is perfect for laying on the beach bed and a relaxing day. But where to go?
Goa is India’s smallest state and is located on the Western coast of India. The interesting part is that Goa has the highest GDP per capita among all Indian states. Panaji city is the state’s capital, but Vasco da Gama is the largest city. Goa is former Portuguese province.
Varkala is a costal town located in the South Indian state of Kerala. This beach town stands on the edge of red cliffs, and is famous also for its natural springs and as a pilgrimage centre.
Climate. Being in the tropical zone and near the Arabian Sea, the climate of Goa is warm and humid for most of the year. The month of May is the hottest, with day-time temperatures touching 35oC. Goa has a short cool season, which lasts between mid-December and February. These months are marked by cool nights with temperatures of about 20oC. There are no extremes in temperature and no clear demarcations from one season to the other except for the monsoon. Monsoon season is from June to October. The peak season is from November till February. Varkala’s climate is very tropical and humid as this place receives rain from both the southwest and northeast monsoon, so there are intensely heavy downpours. April and May are very hot and humid months.Monsoon season is from June to August and late October to December. The peak season is from late December to March.
Places to visit. Well, it is clear – as Goa is a state and Varkala is just a small town, for a traveler and explorer Goa will be more appropriate. In Goa state you can move from place to place, in every discovering something new.
Recreation. In both places – Goa state and Varkala town – you will be able to find Ayurvedic treatment centres, ashrams and yoga training halls. Though Varkala is specifically famous for Ayurvedic centres, meditation and yoga, so if you go for that – try Varkala. All those places are more concentrated there.
Coast. The shore in Varkala can be quite challenging as waves are huge and currents are strong. In Goa state almost all the beaches are good for swimming. The beaches in Goa are much wider, free and abundant in number. Varkala`s beaches are comparatively shorter than Goa and mostly rocky. What you should know – in Varkala you will be asked to pay for the beach bed and umbrella. Each costs 200 INR per day, it is possible to get the price down till 100 INR. In Goa beach beds and umbrellas are free for use in the restaurants along the coast if you just buy a drink. Goa offers the best and the cheapest water sports in the country. Here you can try diving, jet skiing, banana boat ride and parasailing. In Varkala it is possible to enjoy boating, canoeing and kayaking.
Souvenirs. In both places you will be able to find many handicrafts, jewelry, traditional clothes and many more interesting things. Though in Varkala sellers also have huge variety of Nepal`s and Tibetan products. On the other hand, Goa it is cheaper for shopping.
Restaurants. The price for food can be the same in both places, it always depends on the restaurant you choose. Of course, there are more fancy places and simple ones. In Varkala you can enjoy your meal while watching sun setting from the cliff, in Goa take a meal in the sea side restaurant – you don`t even need to go anywhere! Though if we should rate the food we have tried in many places across Goa and in some restaurants in Varkala, we would say that Goa has better food quality and flavour.
Bars. Goa is definitely more appropriate for the beer and drinks. Life music you will be able to find in both places, though the MRP (maximum retail price) for the drinks in Goa state is 70 INR while in Varkala it`s more than 150 INR, if the alcohol is available at all.
Nightlife. Nightlife is ranked much higher in Goa, though Varkala is already called “the New Goa”. Goa’s party scene is famous across the globe as the nightlife is extremely energetic there. Varkala is good just for some live music concerts, not for parties. At least for now.
People. In Goa you will meet people who like to enjoy the relaxing day on the beach and have a party in the night. In Varkala you will find more hippie-style people, leisure travelers that are looking for their inner self trough Ayurveda and yoga.
Dangers. If you are a girl, especially traveling alone, remember that in India, also in these touristy beach places, it is better to dress properly. In both places we saw men walking along the coast with their phones and making photos and videos of girls in the bathing suits. What helps – just go swimming with a T-shirt and get some sun away from crowds of locals. Though there are less photo shooters in Varkala as it is much smaller beach and there is no opportunity to escape.
Conclusion. Go to Varkala for views, go to Goa for booze! But to be honest, both places have their own special charm. Varkala is just starting to bloom as a tourist destination while Goa is in it`s peak. In both places you will find adventures, sightseeing opportunities, coconut palms, local markets, beach shacks and great enjoyment. It all depends on what are you looking for. Read our suggestions and go ahead!