I have been back in Goa for just under a week and already many of you are asking for recommendations; where to go, what cafe's to drink in; and what boutiques have the nicest and most beautiful offerings. So I thought why not write a quick 'Simple guide to North Goa' so anyone finding themselves between the Arambol and Morjim beaches you can skip the hassle and go straight for the golden hot spots spread around North Goa!
Within this writing I mostly focus on the strip of four main beaches; Arambol; Mandrem; Ashwem & Morjim however I do give a few mentions to a number of locations a little further out in Assagao, Vakator and Anjuna as I believe they are well worth including especially if you are into yoga, ethical and conscious consuming and plant based cuisine.
The reason my main focus is on these beaches is I live on the beach of Ashwem, smack bang in the middle of this beach stretch and for me an those who have also visited Goa, when it comes to a getaway holiday, in my opinion, this strip is the one of best beach area in the North of Goa.
This is a quick guide to North Goa , beach areas and the offerings of Arambol, Mandrem, Ashvem & Morjim. What to do. Where to eat. Where to stay. With a few extra details and personal stories in between.
First thing is first the WIFI in Goa has been a problem for me for the last two years, it seems sometimes like this area in Goa has been cut off from the rest of the world. Once you have crossed the river and made your way towards other areas in the north such as Siolim, Candalim and surrounding areas the WiFi doesn't seem too much of an issues except for when there is the odd power cut which in Goa you cant avoid.
If you are coming to Goa for a long stay and possibly working online then the first section of this article will be of much use to you however if you are looking to come to the area to escape the fast pace and caos of back home and for a few weeks drop off the radar then maybe the first section you can skip.
So my writing starts with this, a few spaces where I have found there to be the most realiabe WIFI, but know that even with these recommendations one day to the next the Wifi may not be working for one reason or another - so please don't hold your breath at any of these spaces!
Really I am not kidding!
For work and to keep up to date with friends and family there needs to be internet connection - it's the reality of the new age and these new age tools, even though if used in excess aren't great, should be utilised especially when you are across the world from your family or your profession is of course working online...
There are two places I have found to have the most reliable WIFI spots and that is "Dunes" which is located In Mandrem Lower village along the beach front or "The Place" A sushi pizzaria on the main road on the way to Morjim beach.
Location : Morjim beach
Located between Ashvem and Morjim on the main road strip just on the left beyond Marbella beach club.
They offer air conditioning and they do very nice Vegan sushi. The space itself is not really my scene however I do find I get a lot of work done when I drag myself to their space to use the internet.
There have been a few occasions when the internet, hasn't worked but if you are staying in Morjim or the Ashvem stretch this space is always pretty quiet in the day and its sometimes nice to sit in the air conditioned room when the mid day heat gets too hot.
Location: Mandrem Beach, Lower Mandrem village
Dunes is found in Lower Mandrem and is located n the beach front. They have a beautiful bridge accessing the back and sun beds on offer with waiter service.
The Dunes space itself is big, with wooden decking and a steady bamboo structure. Its a popular and well known place if you live in Mandrem or the surrounding areas as they all know it has good food, a nice view and Wifi.
Do note that even though this is a perfect location to spend your work days that during the peak of the season the space conducts Yoga teacher trainings and all the student "Yogis" suck up a lot of the Wifi so get there early during their morning guided session to get the bulk of your internet time in...
The space also hosts @Theyogapeoples teacher trainings so if you are ever interested in taking a Course while you are in Goa this might be the place to do it - I have heard many good things about their Mandala trainings and many graduating teachers from this program are teachers around the Manchester and London circuit.
RESTUARANTS & CAFE'S
When it comes to places to eat, places to drink coffee and spaces to chill in the shade I have a few recommendations for you that will be perfect for you to have a memorable experience during your time in Goa.
All these spaces are vegetarian / vegan or have plenty of options.
To find a place to eat plant based or vegan cuisine isn't too hard in India. It is one of the reasons that I love living here - the abundance of vegan and vegetarian fresh & local, made with love food!
The only thing to really watch out for when you are visiting restaurants is to ensure that you ask to have no milk, butter or ghee added as this is used a lot, if not 90% + of the time in traditional Indian cooking.
Usually I don't really branch out anymore when it comes to eating out - our nightly meal usually consists of coconut oil & sesame fried cabbage with greens, tamari, ginger and chili with a large side salad bowl or if I am to dine out I usually buy dal an a side salad. Keeping it simple in my diet usually works best for me so I try to keep it just that while still including many tropical and seasonal fruits throughout the day. But if I do find myself out and about you will most likely be finding me enjoying myself at one of the following locations during the season…
"HOOPS COFFEE SHOP"
Location: Wellness Inn, Ashvem Beach
Of course I can tell you no other place to get coffee, not only because it is actually known as serving some of the best coffee in North Goa and good coffee is hard to find in India but also its owned and ran by my wonderful Partner who owns the space during the season.
The space also offers vegan and vegetarian waffles with new savoury waffle included in the 2019 / 2020 menu as well as homemade plant based desserts and baked goods like peanut butter cashew cheesecakes, banana bread and cinnamon rolls.
The space offers various toppings and people go crazy for their waffles - in the peak of season the space fills fast so its better to visit in the mornings and the evenings.
However with the space opening at 8am and closing 10:30pm everyday between November - April you can come pretty much anytime of the day, any day during your stay.
The plant based desserts vary and they plate each serving with homemade syrups, dark chocolate & finish with dried organic flowers.
The coffee shop is on the main street in Ashvem located inside a space called Wellness Inn (@wellnessinnbeachresort) (with separate accommodation & a space that hosts massage workshops and Yoga teacher trainings throughout the seasons peak.)
It is dainty, its the cute coffee corner with stylish decor and fresh flowers placed throughout every couple of days.
Listen to coffee house jazz while sippin' one of their vegan lattes like blue spirulina or Matcha peppermint. Or if you fancy, have a cacao and wild orange hot chocolate in the chill out space.
RELAX. ENJOY. DRINK COFFEE.
Location: @Wellnessinnbeachresort , Ashwem beach
A very nice restaurant and it is located behind Hoops Coffee shop in the same location at Wellness Inn.
The place is an understatement when compared to the food that it serves.
Obviously for us it is convenient to dine here as we are at the coffeeshop daily however we find ourselves very lucky as the food here is fresh, tasty and its a completely vegan / vegetarian space.
The dishes are simple with a philosophy to only use pure, fresh & locally sourced ingredients with No MSG, minimal oil and with spice being kept to a minimum (unless spicy is your request).
The space itself is simple but on the contrary you are only a few steps away from Hoops coffee with there always being the option to dine in at the coffee space.
"GARDEN OF DREAMS"
Before the main Market strip, Arambol Beach
A very popular space when you visit or if you are staying in Arambol.
They offer food and coffee and the space itself seems very enchanted as you walk through the outdoor door into an open plan, tropical and bohemian space.
The also offer Yoga classes and check out their notice board as usually they have the best events posted and listed so you can keep track as to whats on and whats happening in Goa.
Arambol main market strip, Arambol
I actually haven't been to this place enough. As I am based in Ashwem I don't actually spend much more time in Arambol other than going to my teachers Ashtanga class in the mornings or specifically to the sunset market which is held on the beach every evening throughout the season.
If you like heavily spiced and seasoned food then maybe this menu isn't for you as most of the flavours are kept minimal and simple however they do create nice, healthy vegan and vegetarian dishes.
I recommend the space as this is the place to be when the have their Friday night open mic nights and you will also find many nice performances held throughout the season at this place.
Located at Vauyu Collective Village, Ashvem Beach
Just down the road from Hoops coffee shop this place is beautifully located with a nice view of the ocean. The cafe is located within the Vaayu complex that offers accommodation, Surf and paddle boarding and many events throughout the season where they host various art exhibitions and social events.
Inside is decorated with Various artist works and the whole concept of Vaayu is very beautiful - Their philosophy is to spread awareness about pollution in India and the damage it is causing to the oceans.
Their menu was created by Chef Varun. He is the chef who created the space Sublime in Assagoa and is renowned in the area and has a very well establish style with his gourmet style dining.
The food is beautiful and so prettily presented. They have vegan options such as their nori rolls and create very beautiful and tasty cocktails mocktails, smoothies and juices.
Its a cool place to chill, relax and read a book or enjoying a slightly more stylish dish while looking over the ocean with the dining view being that of the ocean and the backdrops consisting of many impressive art pieces by local and international artists.
Mandrem Village & Arambol Main strip
Mandrem Village & Arambol Main strip
There are two "Cafe" spaces throughout Mandrem and Arambol.
In Mandrem located in the Lower village opposite Dunes and in Arambol on the main market strip.
The Mandrem and Arambol locations are connected to large Lamuella boutique stores that offer a range of Goan brands and independent brands such as Hanamer design, Lamuella, Fara, Chintamain achemesty and more.
They have a wide selection of beautiful pieces and I cannot help but have a look around the stores when I am in the area.
They are not strictly vegan / vegetarian spaces however they do have on offer a number of items to satisfy your dietary needs and the spaces have a sweet white boho theme with many of Goa’s "it" girls hanging there to do their meetings and on line work.
If you are someone in Goa this is usually where you are found on your mornings ordering up their coconut capuchins and surfing the WIFI.
Located at Anahata Retreat, Ashvem Beach.
This restaurant is located at Anahata retreat in Ashwem on the main road on the way out to Morjim.
Its a gourmet style cuisine and the restaurant is located right on Ashwem beach.
I highlight this place which actually isn’t 100 % plant based but is slowly shifting and including more vegan and vegetarian options to cater for not only onsite retreats where the clients are usually on a vegan diet but also to cater to the up and coming popular nature of this style cuisine.
The site last year offered four plant based desserts created by myself;
The bounty cake - Consisting of three layers; A nut base; white coconut and vanilla filling; dark chocolate & topped with pure Cacao & pistachio soil served with Homemade rose syrup and Pistachio Brittle.
The Mango cheesecake; Nut base; A sweet cashew Mango filling served with Rose syrup and sesame brittle.
A raw carrot cake; carrot nut base; Orange cashew cream filling; Topped with Walnut bark and served with Homemade orange syrup;
Lastly, the Citrus tart ; With Almond crust; Lemon citrus cashew filling; served with Orange syrup and sesame brittle.
However this year will have their own offerings of desserts.
They have a few Savoury items that are vegan but the space is working on launching a new vegan menu for this season 2019 /2020 which is very exciting.
"BEAN ME UP"
The environment is very stylish and there is plenty of space.
This is one of my favourite places to dine. It is a little far away to be going to this place often however if I want to indulge or I want to have a nice last dinner with a friend that is leaving or if myself or my boyfriend have a birthday celebration this is the place that I want to be.
Completely Vegan with an extensive menu and if I go to dine you know I am going to order one of their desserts!
Im also looking to collaborate with these guys over the 2019 / 2020 season whether it be on food styling or placing my Goan series art work in the space which I am very excited about!
Its a large chilled environment that you will find in Anjuna.
The space offers throughout the season Yoga and pilates classes, Saturday night movie nights and other events throughout November - April.
The space has a variety of offers from juices to smoothies, lite bites to large meals with a big influence of Mediterranean cuisine offer homemade hummus and tahini dishes.
They are a vegetarian space offering pastries and fresh breads, they sell coffee and have many vegan options inclusive of falafel plates and burgers, salads, super smoothies, vegan chocolate cakes, raw bounty slices and raw cacao bites.
They also have onsite their lifestyle store selling local brand jewellery and clothing as well as cute handmade home decor.
Its a space to visit, maybe to work from your laptop for the afternoon listening to jazz funk or mellow background music, large open shaded space to spend the mornings chilling in the village or to enjoy a nice dinner with friends.
A space which is well known throughout the North Goa community. Throughout my long stays being here throughout the season and previous seasons I have seen many familiar faces dropping in and out of this space and I have been recommending verbally this space to all tourists looking for places to dine.
PLACES TO STAY
Location: Ashvem Beach
Location : Ashvem Beach
Location: Ashvem Beach
Location: Ashvem Beach
"VAAYU COLLECTIVE VILLAGE"
Location: Ashvem Beach
Location : Mandrem Beach
"WIG WAM GOA"
Location : Mandrem Village
Wig wam is actually a space with tipi's and boutique apartments with a small cafe offering a variety of vegan / vegetarian dishes but currently also non veg dishes.
In addition onsite they have a dainty boutique definitely worth a mention - In this boutique they stock items from various English brands that source their materials and designs from India.
They have @denim_stories Jackets - these are beautiful, one of a kind, unique Vintage Indian prints on denim and their new range not only caters for women but now for men too.
In addition this boutique stocks @foolsdust pieces and a larger range of @Dancing_leopard playsuits and dresses .
Wig Wam throughout the season also offers weekly Saturday night events where the community of ex pats and tourists are welcomed to a themed nights of good music, good food, nice drinks and a chilled environment to relax, enjoy, socially network and catch up with friends.
The nights became very renowned very quickly and the place by around 9pm is packed out with people enjoying themselves in the Tropical jungle space located in the Mandrem village.
Watch this space, it’s only been on the scene for the last two seasons and it’s growing at a rapid rate with its offerings and it’s collaborations.
Location: Mandrem Beach
Location : Ashwem beach front.
Two of my favourite english designers here in Goa - Studio Tia and FARA boutique.
Tia and Rachel have stand alone brands. Tia with Studio Tia and Rachel with FARA Boutique and the Alchemy store is their collaboration with one another where both designers stock their creations as well as garments from many other ethical and sustainable designers like @theikatstory , @thewhiteraven and @dianesingh .
The space itself is beautiful and the pieces even more so.
Purchasing and taking home one of their pieces is supporting independent, artisan, ethical brands and conscious consuming as none of the items are mass produced and the brands source materials organically and ethically following the trend and movement of "quality being less' .
Tia has a number of wonderful bikini ranges that are my absolute favourite as well as working heavily creating unique designed with organic Indian cotton and Fara stocks Varanasi silk printed dresses, kaftans and hand illustrated 100% silk scarfs.
So if you find yourself in the ares come and visit @alchemy.goa and drop yourself in their offerings.
During season 2019/2020 I will be at the Alchemy store most of the afternoons and I would love for you to come in and say your hello!
Mandrem Village & Arambol Main strip
"MAGIC GOA FASHION"
Location : Lower Mandrem Village, Mandrem.
In addition to all the boutiques through the beach villages of the North Goa there is a reputation of there many Markets showcasing independent and up and coming designers, traditional furniture and jewellery.
Some of the top markets you absolutely must visit while you find yourself here would be; Anjuna Flea market - held throughout the season between November and April every Wednesday; Saturday night market in Vakator beach also every week throughout the season; Friday Night Market - Hilltop also in Vakator beach; lastly, Sunset Market held every day during the peak of the season on Arambol beach front.
PLACES FOR YOGA
As you know India is the Motherland of Yoga and Goa is a very popular location to attend yoga classes and Yoga teacher trainings.
Below I have listed only a few places for you to practice however know that in Goa the places you can practice Yoga are endless and on every corner you will found an established or new studio offering classes. I suggest you spend a little time experimenting until you find what it is or the teacher that you are looking for.
Location: Ashvem Beach
Daily classes are held at the beach view shala during the season. One is held at 9:30am and the other in the afternoons between 4:30 - 6pm.
Location : Mandrem Beach
A british owned space, it is beautiful and there are many teachers teaching many styles at Ashiyana. They also hold Yoga teacher trainings and 50hr yin teacher trainings as well as hosting retreats for international Yoga teachers throughout the season.
If you stay here the Yoga is not compulsory but they run two daily classes.
"BALU ASHTANGA ARAMBOL"
Location: Arambol main market street
This is the space I practice and the teacher I practice with during my time living in Goa, except Mondays there is no Mysore style practice and Fridays are led class between 6:30 - 8am.
Full Ashtanga primary series is lead everyday 8:45 - 10:20am and various days hold special sessions which as extended workshop classes for specifics such as back bending and inversions.
"ASHTANGA YOGA MORJIM"
Location : Morjim Beach
Many people from all over the world come to Morjim beach in North Goa to practice at this shala space. Some students even booking months and months in advance to them visiting.
"HIMALAYAN YOGA VALLEY"
Location: Mandrem beach
Location: Mandrem beach
So if you find yourself in the middle of North Goa anytime soon I hope that you spend some of your time here experiencing some of these spaces, whether it be to rest your head at night with the sound of the ocean in the backdrop, whether it be practicing Yoga in a jungle shala or one looking one the beach, dining out in an ethical cafe or restaurant or spending your time consciously consuming at one of the many beautiful surrounding boutiques.
With this 'Simple guide to North Goa' I don't think you'll be getting yourself too off track this season and I hope this has given you a few ideas as to how to spend your time in North Goa.
So if you are already here, if you are on your way or if you are planning a trip in the new year I would love to hear from you, I would love to know if you have any questions and would love to see you during your stay!
You’ll find me practicing Yoga in Arambol, sippin’ coffee @hoops_coffee , draping myself in ethical materials while in @alchemy.goa , reading, writing, creating desserts, relaxing or creating art works until March when I will take a trip to Bali to cook plant based cuisine for the guests on yoga retreats and hopefully be taking @alchemy.goa to @baliyogafest before returning back in April to spend my last few weeks in Goa for this season.