A beach vacation is the perfect getaway for a couple and a family to relax and be undistracted. Being an Executive Chef of a famous hotel is very rewarding but makes my time with family less. I wanted a respite from the normal routines of my work and city living. May of last year, I decided to take a two week vacation with my wife and 3 teen-aged kids to Calangute Beach in Goa, India. The sight of soft sand beaches, fishermen hauling their nets in high tide, women selling fruits on woven baskets and swaying palm trees, such were the moments I remembered about our family vacation in Calangute Beach. Read on to know more about this “Queen of Beaches”.
We took a 24 hour flight from San Francisco to Dabolim Airport. From here we took a pre paid taxi for a one hour drive to get to Calangute. We stayed at the All Seasons Beach Classic which is just a few meters away from Baga Beach the northern part of Calangute. It is one of the most popular beaches in Goa. We tried the numerous water sports like the Banana Ride, Para Sailing, Jet Ski and Boat Ride. I loved the shacks and hang around with a chilled beer in my hand. There are Lots of fun things to do around here. My son got inked and my two daughters got their hair braided. My wife and I had a relaxing massage at those reasonably priced shacks. Lots of enterprising locals were offering anything from fruits, anklets, jewelry, massage, threading and braiding. We dined at Zanzibar (cool place and great variety of fresh seafood!), during the day and have karaoke every night at St. Anthony’s. Brittos cannot be missed too, they have great spicy masalas. Nightlife gets more interesting as the shacks along the shore gets lighted and good music ruled the atmosphere. We rent scooters to easily get around and explore this number one beach in Goa.
The next attraction we explored in Calangute was the Candolim Beach. It is the second largest beach in Goa. A wide beach with soft sand and sun beds facing the sea. It is a bit quieter than Baga Beach but still littered with hawkers selling “this and that”. It is a straight beach that stretches from Fort Aguada in the south and Calangute in the north. Off the shore and within sight is the River Princess, a 240 meter carrier that ran aground the Candolim – Sinquerim coast in June 2000. The Beach Road has the nicest restaurants and bars and the beach not that crowded. While here we checked out the Anjuna Flea Market to shop for some hippie clothes and souvenirs. The kids bought joss-sticks and love bangles. The market is only open on Wednesdays. I loved the taste of the barbecued mackerels being sold on the stalls by the road. We also tried the Uned, a Goan style bread roll and it was yummy! The majority of the market was under cover so we got a little respite from the sun. We stopped at Looda’s Bar on the edge of the market for some great food and Indian fusion music.
During our stay in Calangute we checked out Mr. Mac a famous tailor there. His shop is located at Naikawaddo Nizmar Resort. I wanted to have a special suit done for my functions at work. Mac was a really nice guy who is a pleasure to do business with. From the moment we stepped on his shop he offered far superior service than any other tailors I’ve met. He is extremely helpful and spent a lot of time showing me the high end fabrics he has available. Mac was meticulous in getting the details, measurements and listened well to the styling options we chose from his UK catalogues. He is really passionate and that is reflected in the quality of his work. I had 3 suits done and a dress for my wife. His shop is complete, my son bought a good leather shoes and the girls went for the accessories more like belts and scarves. 2 days later I returned to pick up my suits and the dress and couldn’t be more pleased. They were remarkable. The dress fits my wife perfectly and the suit, immaculate. Mr. Mac is truly a great sartorial pride of Calangute.
Nightlife at Calangute was made livelier at The World Famous Decades Bar. This British owned bar and restaurant offered live music every Monday, Thursday and Friday. The live band was brilliant. The host and hostess, a lovely British couple was very hospitable. Bar staff and waitresses were friendly. The Chef even gave in to my kids request for a cheeseburger. For dinner we were served excellent food, a yummy Chicken Jaifrezi, Vegetable Noodles and Spicy Mushroom Masala. We were delightfully entertained by their Karaoke, Pool Tables and multi TV screens to watch football and basketball aside from the brilliant live band that performs something different every night. The kids enjoyed a game of Bingo (with great prizes!). To top it all off there was free Wi-Fi and exceptionally clean toilets. The atmosphere there was homely and inviting. It is a perfect place to relax and chill out after a day at the beach.
Aside from exploring the beaches, we also tried Scuba Diving at Goa Aquatics. It can be found in Little Italy in Gaura Vaddo Calangute. The staff members were extremely supportive and friendly, which made our first time diving experience smooth. We started off with the Discover Scuba Diving Program. Anindya is a fantastic trainer and patient in teaching all the necessary instructions we need to keep in mind during our pre dive training. Each of us was suited with their rented equipment and gears. We were also assigned a crew for each family member to guide and help make our diving safer. We then head off to Grande Island, the only dive site in Calangute. It was fun being with them to explore the ocean floor. It was a well organized dive they also took underwater photographs of our family. PADI Master Scuba Diver Anindya and his crew were superb. It was a wonderful underwater thrill to experience with my family.
After our diving tour, the kids were too exhausted to go out that night so we let them rest at the hotel. My wife decided to spend some night out quality time together. We checked out the Club Cubana. It is located in Xim Vado Arpora Hill, Calangute. As soon as we parked our scooter, a 4 x 4 SUV took us up to the club from the main entrance. Only couples are allowed to enter. For 1400 Rupees we got unlimited drinks and an elite nightclub experience. The ambience was perfect for a nightclub, king size mirrors at every corners made an impression of another entrance. We joined other couples at the blue lit swimming pool and danced the night away while the DJ played loud funky music. Inside this club we found private rooms for VIP guests guarded by a bouncer at the door. Its hilltop location was just awesome. We had the best couple bonding time on this club.
On our last day, we took the Day Tripper Tours & Travel. It’s a good value day tour of Grandes Island of Calangute. We visited a local village and a cashew factory. An added bonus was a visit to the spice farm. We even had the chance to see dolphins, ride and wash an elephant. We swam at the beach and had a decent meal of fresh chicken, fruits and vegetables before heading back to our hotel.
We returned to America full of laughter, memories and sense of reconnection. There is nothing more therapeutic for a family than an extended bonding time together. Going off somewhere free from the many entrapments of urban living is oftentimes a blessing. We truly had a great time in Calangute.