The most obvious picture when you imagine Goa includes beaches and shacks. But, there's so much more to Goa than just that. The cuisine, the backwaters, the walks, wellness retreats and places you never thought could exist in Goa. 

So, next time you plan that Goa trip, take a detour from the shacks and do some of these things, instead. 

1. Ditch Goa beaches for the Goa backwaters.

The Olaulim Backyards are the other side you didn't know Goa had! The Olaulim village located amidst the lush green hills with Bastora and Porvorim on opposite side, is known for its picturesque landscapes and you don't need any conveyance to get around. 

For the most parts, a large number of photographers are known to go for endless strolls around the village to capture breathtaking stills.

2. Ditch the outdoors and stay inside for a change. 

I was lucky enough to find the most precious looking villa in the heart of Calangute - Summertime Villa was the perfect hideout when you want to leave behind the rave parties and unwind amidst nature. 

The villa is filled with racks full of books and a fridge full of beer and wine so you never have to step out for your stock, if you don't want to. 

The staff around the villa is as warm and welcoming as it gets and they prepare any of the meals you ask of them. 

Priced at Rs 25,000 approximately.

3. Ditch the Italian seafood for authentic Goan crab. 

What's a trip to Goa without some delicious crab? Not a trip at all. This is beautiful place - both inside and out - known to serve some of the best crab there is on offer. You can either just hop over alone for an uninterrupted meal, or with a friend, or two... or a date. It's just that perfect. 

You should definitely try out their Calamari Recheado and the Drunken Lobster here.  

Price for two: Rs 2,000 approximately. 

4. Ditch fenny and try Goan whiskey, instead. 

I know that Goa is famouos for its Fenny, but, this award-winning single malt from Goa is a city delicacy of its own. Created using 6-row barley from the foothills of the Himalayas and the whisky is blended with ingredients from Goa and is barreled in the city as well. 

The whisky has been hailed as 'The Great Indian Single Malt' and is best experienced when in the city of its origins, itself!

Prices start from Rs 2,100 for an entire bottle.

5. And ditch the fancy cruises for the ferry rides in Goa.

Goa has a backwaters area that remains unexplored for the large part of it.  

Ditch the fancy cruises at Panjim and opt for the layman mode of transport when in the interiors - the ferry ride -  to explore Goa the way the real Goans still do. 

The jetty used to be the primary mode of transport for most coastal areas long before bikes and modern boats came to be. 

The quiet hum of the jetty, accompanied by still waters, clear skies and a landscape that is right out of a travelogue will have you stunned! 

Prices range from Rs. 10 to Rs 55. 

6. Ditch the beach-side shacks for Goa's very own Gunpowder.

Source: b'Goa.me'

It's hard to miss this one when you're driving along the Assagao route. The Portuguese-style villa is home to antiques that you can buy. Let the staff lead you to the backyard where you're served the most authentic Goan curries that will make you want to stay till you've wiped your plates clean, not kidding. 

Source: b'TripAdvisor'

Try the Prawns Mappas; a country-style prawn curry with coconut milk, the Toddy Shop Meen Curry; a Kerala-style sour curry with coconut, and the Pandhi curry which is Gunpowder's version of the Coorgi style pork curry, sweet and sour and served semi-dry. 

Price for two: Rs 2,000 approximately. 

7. Ditch the night clubs for an open-air hill-top soiree. 

Located on Ozran Beach in Small Vagator, the restaurant and beach club is the latest addition to some of the best places to spend a night out in the coastal town. The menu has been specially curated by celebrity chef Sarah Todd, herself. 

Definitely do try the warm Goan pork sausage with calamari salad, the roasted quail in a Sri Lankan yellow curry as well as Sarah's version of the Crab Xacuti. 

Price for two: Rs. 2,000 approximately. 

8. Ditch the 'FOMO' and detox with some meditation. 

This quaint little wellness retreat is the perfect way to detox and take in the true essence of Goa. The retreat has two yoga shalas where you can register to be part of a group yoga retreat or even host one yourself. The stay and the culinary experience here is curated mindfully, keeping the wellness of the guests in mind. 

Bookings start from Rs 6,000. 

9. Ditch fancy hotel food for the street-side homely kitchens. 

Goa is full of home-made bakeries and little kitchens that keep preparing food throughout the day. Run by women who come to work by 9 in the morning, these little kitchens have a varying menu through the day - different for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Here's what you should try: The mutton samosas, the chicken patties, the pork vindaloo served with oven-baked bread and their evening biscuits. 

Prices range from Rs 50 to Rs 200, depending on your appetite! 

10. Ditch the crowded cafes and bars for some alone-time in a Goan bistro. 

I came across this hidden gem while I was strolling across the streets of Panjim, right opposite the harbour port for the cruises. This old-world cafe with wooden architecture transports you to a time when Goa was still untouched by any hint of modernity. 

While the hot chocolate here is to die for - and is served with the in-house baked biscuits that melt in your mouth - you should definitely go all out and dry some of their flatbreads, grills and salads. 

Price for two: Approximately 500 to 1,000 based on your appetite. 

11. Ditch the late-night drunkenness for some early morning breakfast for kings. 

I really thought I had witnessed the best breakfasts, until I hopped down to this cozy little restaurant and bar right at the entrance of the Calangute stretch. 

Wake up earlier than usual and reach here by 9 am to devour a king-size breakfast complete with eggs, toast, sausages and bacon, coupled with some delicious smoothies and softly playing music to fill you up. 

Price starts from 1,000 to 2,000 depending on your appetite. 

12. Ditch the flea markets for an exploration of Goa's architecture and belief. 

While there are the popular churches of Dona Paula, St Francis Xaviers and the Don Bosco church that continue to get the well-deserved tourist attention, take some time out to visit the lesser known churches around the towns. 

Visit the Mae de Deus Church at Saligao, the Holy Cross Church at Bambolim which is supposed to have some miraculous power to those with earnest prayers. 

In the interiors of Goa, a lot of the churches remain closed to the public in the day time. So, when I was told not to expect much, I accepted it would be a miracle and a conspiracy of the Universe if a church would, indeed be open when I visited. I visited about 3 on my way - all were closed to the public; except this one. Turns out this church has a kind of miraculous structure outside that attracts people across different faiths. Here's what I Believe - there are no coincidences in this life. My prayer was meant to be answered to the exact specification I had willed it, for better or worse. The Universe chose it for the better. And sometimes That's all the proof you need to know that your heart is in the right place and your path, in the right direction. #PowerOfFaith #Universe #Prayer #HolyCrossChurch #InGoa #Bambolim #ChurchesOfGoa #Miracle #Signs #MeantToBe #Gratitude #FromWhereIStand #LiveThere #SoGoa

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Explore Goa like never before and fall in love all over again. 

Creatives by Nupur Agarwal & Kumar Sonu.