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Which is better Goa or Andaman?

Discussion in 'By The Sea' started by Raffi, Oct 19, 2016.

  1. Raffi

    Raffi New Member

    Us friends are all planning a boys holiday and want to go to some place by the sea. The two options which seem suitable and good to visit are Goa or Andaman. Both fo these destinations look good enough to visit, Goa being very popular and obviously a fun place and on the other hand Andaman being a place where we would get more space on the beach and chill out. We would mostly in a party mood at night and just roaming around the destination during the day.
    We don't know which is better Goa or Andaman....please help decide?

  2. djtravels

    djtravels Member

    An all boys getaway? Then, Goa's the place to be. Especially around Christmas. The tourism is well-developed, you can lay there on the beach while you get served beer after beer, and there's plenty to do. Plus, you can find more info on Goa from friends, from this forum, from travel websites, to the point that you can plan out your whole trip to the T. Its not about the beaches, its about what you can do once you get there.

  3. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @Raffi, welcome to the forum!


    The smallest state of India, Goa, is favourite destination amongst backpackers and foreigners. Mainly because it is vibrant and lively but also has beaches that offer a bit of serenity and tranquility. And Goa is not really just for the beach lovers, it also has other attractions that make it a very diverse destination. It is both a backpacker's delight and a luxurious destination, depending on just how much you're willing to spend. Because of these features, Goa is a hit with many tourists and some had even made the beach destination their home. Just an evidence that Goa is not just for partying, but can also be a safe haven for some people.

    Palolem Beach at Dusk, Goa.jpg
    Palolem Beach at Dusk, Goa (Image Courtesy of Wandering On)

    Next in line is Andaman, a group of islands located off of the Andaman Sea. Its remoteness has some part in maintaining the pristine beauty of the beach destination. But just like Goa, Andaman is not just about the beaches, its landscape is very diverse too. It isn't as visited by tourists and even if you do visit it, the incurred fees will be higher, it's definitely not much of a backpacker's paradise. However, if you're willing to spend more, Andaman would reward you with the most virgin landscapes you can encounter that isn't really that far from mainland India. The beautiful Andaman islands, definitely worth every penny spent on them.

    Radha Nagar Beach at Dusk, Andaman.jpg
    Radha Nagar Beach at Dusk, Andaman (Image Courtesy of Biswajit Dey via Flickr)

    In-Depth Comparison of Goa and Andaman

    1. Ease of Access
    • Goa - Goa is easily accessible and you won't need any permit to visit the state. If going by air, around 29 kilometres away from Goa is the Dabolim Airport, also known as the Goa International Airport. It has plenty of local flights from cities like Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Pune and many more. It also has some international flights from cities of other countries like Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Moscow, Muscat and Sharjah. Flights have different fares, depending on the season, if it's peak season or not, also on how early you book a ticket. But on average, expect to pay around Rs. 3,500 to 7,000 for a flight from Delhi to Goa. From the airport, you have two options, either take buses to reach the capital, Panjim or just directly ride a taxi. The former costs less but journey is longer while the latter costs more, and fits those with plenty of luggage. If going purely by train, Goa is directly connected to Delhi via the different railway stations in the state. The most utilised and busiest railway stations though are the Madgaon Railway Station and Vasco Da Gama Railway Station, both located in the southern part of Goa. If you want to reach the northern part of Goa, you can board a train going to the Thivim Railway Station. By bus, Goa is directly connected to Mumbai so you can reach that city first and then board another bus going to Goa, usually dropping off passengers at Mapusa, Panjim or Madgaon. And lastly, you can also opt for a cruise, from Mumbai to Goa. It's an expensive option, better suited for luxury occasions only.
    • Andaman - Andaman requires an entry permit, also known as Restricted Area Permit (RAP), for foreigners visiting the islands. This permit is given on arrival of the tourist at the immigration checkpoint in Port Blair. Foreigners can also apply for the permit while applying for their Indian visa. Indian nationals won't require any permit at all, except when you need to visit the restricted tribal areas. Now, when it comes to reaching the islands, there are only two ways of doing so, either by air or by ship. If going by air, there are flights directly connecting Port Blair to Chennai or Kolkata. You can also opt for connecting flights from any other city, like Delhi or Mumbai. Depending on the season and how early you book your ticket, fare prices vary, but usually range between Rs. 7,700 to Rs. 14,700. It can go as high as Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000 though during Christmas season. Unlike Dabolim Airport though, the Port Blair Airport, also known as the Veer Savarkar Airport, doesn't have international flights to and from other countries. The airport is merely two kilometres away from the city centre of Port Blair so you can just ride an auto or a taxi to reach the latter. If going by ship, you can choose between three ports, namely: the Chennai Port, the Kolkata Port and the Visakhapatnam Port. The former two has more sailings to the Andaman islands than the latter. The schedules for sailings are not fixed though so you need to check the website of Ship India to know about them. Ship journey is around 60 hours or 2 to 3 days.
    2. Local Transportation
    • Goa - For local transport in Goa, you have plenty of options. To reach one end of the state to the other, i.e. North to South or South to North, you can opt for trains. There are railway stations around the northern part and the southern part of Goa that connect the state into different points. You can also use buses for long travels in between different cities. The government of Goa operates the Kadamba Transport Corporation buses which ply from one city to another. There are also intra-city buses that ply just within different points in a city. For shorter distances, you have three options, namely: auto rickshaws, motorcycle taxis and taxis. Auto rickshaws operate for short distances and they cost minimal too. Motorcycle taxis are great options to avoid traffic or if you want to reach a place at a quicker time. Taxis cost a lot more but they are more convenient and comfortable, especially for those who have loads of luggage with them. There are also boat services and ferry services that take tourists from one place to another island off the sea.
    • Andaman - For local transport within an island, you can choose between buses, auto rickshaws and taxis (Port Blair). Local buses are available in main islands like Port Blair and Havelock. Fare is very minimal though frequency of buses isn't that high. Auto rickshaws are also available in some islands and also charge very low for short distances. If you're coming from the airport, there are taxis that can take you to the city centre as well. For transport between islands, you can opt for boat services or ferry services. Boat services are available for closer islands to the capital Port Blair. Ferry services are available to distant islands like Havelock and Neil.
    3. Accommodation Options
    • Goa - As mentioned before, you can spend as little or as much as you'd like in Goa, even for accommodations. Hostels like Bricks & Bamboo and Backpacker Panda has rates for a single bed as low as Rs. 500 per night. They have dormitories for females only and also mixed ones. These hostels are suitable for bachelors or even a group of friends. There are also cheap hotels not exceeding Rs. 1,000 per night, like Hotel Atmaram and Rudra Holidays. You can find these hotels in North Goa and while there are affordable accommodation options around South Goa too, they are more sparse. Mid-range hotels are available in both parts, like Hotel Riverside (Baga) and Dreamcatcher Resort (Palolem). These hotels have room rates under Rs. 2,000 per night. For luxury hotels, there are also plenty of them around the state like Vivanta By Taj Panaji and The Zuri White Sands Resort and Casino.
    Vivanta By Taj Panjim.jpg
    Vivanta By Taj Panjim (Image Courtesy of Hotels)
    • Andaman - Accommodation options in Andaman are lesser as compared to Goa. Port Blair has the largest collection of hotels, ranging from affordable to high end ones. Hotel Phoenix and Dream Palace are good options for affordable hotels, room rates for both don't exceed Rs. 600 per night. Ripple Resort and Jaimathi Inn are good options for mid-range hotels, with room rates not exceeding Rs. 2,000 per night. There are also luxury hotels in Port Blair like Sea Shell and Sinclairs. Havelock Island has fewer options and most are on the mid-range to the high end, with a few affordable home stays as well. Barefoot at Havelock and Symphony Palms Beach Resort are great options for a luxury stay. Other islands has lesser options and you have to opt for guest houses for a few of them.
    4. Places to Visit
    • Goa - There are plenty of places to explore around Goa. Starting with the state capital which is Panjim, where you can find lots of heritage sites to visit. You need to reach Old Goa and here, you can see the churches built by the Portuguese. Most of the churches are well-maintained and have beautiful mural of scenes depicted from the bible, like the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Basilica of Bom Jesus. The Saint Augustine Church and Monastery is one of the oldest churches in the state and it stands in ruins amidst the city, still worth a visit though as it exudes a different kind of serenity. Once you are done with Old Goa, you can head over to Fontainhas, yet another piece of Portugal in the city. But in contrast to the former attraction, this one has brightly coloured houses, which makes the residential area vibrant. The assortment of cafes and shops also add that charm into the area. The Reis Magos Fort is also worth a visit, located in the northern side of the Mandovi River. It was an important defensive strategy for the Portuguese but it fell into disuse for a long time after the capital was moved to Panjim. For nature lovers, you can go ahead and reach Sanquelim, 40 kilometres away from Panjim. The Arvalem Waterfalls is located here, which is a sight to behold especially after monsoon season. Once you're done with these attractions, you can head on over to South Goa. The attractions in here are quite scattered though, but you can start with Canacona, where the Cabo De Rama Fort is located. It is one of the strongest forts of Goa and seeing its ruins give you just that vibe. Plus, the surrounding beaches of Canacona and Colva can be viewed from here. The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is another must visit in Canacona, where you can spot animals like gazelles, panthers and sloth bears. And lastly, there's the Dudhsagar Waterfalls, reachable by different means of transportation but requires a bit of trekking for its last stretch. It is known as one of the best attractions of the state.
    • Andaman - Andaman also doesn't fall short when it comes to its attractions. Starting with its capital as well, Port Blair, you can visit the Cellular Jail, built by the British to imprison political fighters. Ironically though, for a brief period, the British were imprisoned here too, when the Japanese invaded the islands. The Anthropological Museum is a must visit too, as it highlights the important tribes around the islands. Short excursions out of Port Blair can be at Jolly Buoy Island, Ross Island and Viper Island. The Little Andaman Island can be reached by a ferry ride from Port Blair. It has two waterfalls worth visiting like the White Surf Waterfall and Whisper Wave Waterfall. Another must visit island is the Havelock Island, where the beautiful Radha Nagar Beach (Picture in Overview) can be found. All the beaches here have white sands too, with clear turquoise waters. Barren Island has the only active volcano in South Asia, but you can only visit it via boat ride, no landing on the island is allowed. Diglipur Island also has numerous attractions like the Mud Volcanoes and Alfred Caves. You can also visit the Saddle Peak National Park here, where you can spot endemic animals to the region. The Limestone Caves of Baratang were formed for over millions of years and their natural beauty is stunning.
    Cellular Jail in Port Blair.jpg
    Cellular Jail in Port Blair (Image Courtesy of Andamans)

    5. Beaches
    • Goa - Goa has an assortment of beaches that caters to different types of tourists. If you enjoy crowds, then Baga Beach and Calangute Beach might suit you well. These beaches are rarely quiet, always buzzing with activities and the numerous shacks provide one with enough authentic Goan dining experience. In the south, the beaches of Palolem and Colva are pretty lively. But they're nowhere as crowded as the former two beaches so you can opt for these if you want some fun yet despise crowds. If you enjoy serenity, you can find more remote beaches in both North Goa and South Goa. North Goa is notorious for its chaotic beaches but not everyone knows that beaches like Ashvem and Querim are very scenic, clean and beautiful too. South Goa is known for its remote beaches that have white sands and clear blue waters. Benaulim Beach and Betalbatim Beach are good options, if you want easily accessible beaches that are still quite pristine. Both have white sands, clear blue waters and offer some piece of isolation for tourists. Remote beaches like Butterfly Beach, requires a boat ride, and Cola Beach, requires road travel plus trekking, are the epitomes of untouched beauties. Butterfly Beach is a small beach with white sands while Cola Beach is known for its blue lagoon, an area where the sea meets with the river.
    Ashvem Beach in North Goa.jpg
    Ashvem Beach in North Goa (Image Courtesy of Expedia)
    • Andaman - No matter where you go in the islands of Andaman, white sand beaches would greet you. That's really the beauty of the islands, they are the most pristine beach destinations in all of India and maybe even in Asia. Havelock Island, as mentioned before, has the best beaches, led by Radha Nagar Beach, locally known as Beach Number 7. Elephant Beach, or Beach Number 4, is also a must visit here, where you can find corals as easily as one metre away from the shores. Vijay Nagar Beach, or Beach Number 5, is a secluded beach, perfect for just laying around and soaking in the sun. On Neil Island, there's the Sitapur Beach, known for having the best sunset views in the islands and there's also the Lakshmanpur Beach, with a natural-made rock formation resembling a bridge.
    6. Things to Do
    • Goa - Water sports are widely available in commercial beaches of Goa like Baga, Calangute, Palolem and Colva. Usual water sports like banana boat riding, jet skiing, water scootering and water skiing are available in these beaches. More complex water sports like parasailing and windsurfing can be done on the beaches of Dona Paula, Colva and Calangute. Dolphin boat rides are also arranged in the beaches of Palolem and Agonda. Paragliding is only done in the Pernem Beach in Arambol. And while there are some diving and snorkelling spots around Goa, the experience is not as satisfying as compared to the experience of diving and snorkelling in Andaman. If water sports aren't your thing, you can try cruising along the beautiful Mandovi River, which looks picturesque especially during sunset. The Mandovi River is also the location for both rafting and backwater kayaking. Trekking trails are also available around Goa, like the Dudhsagar Waterfalls trek mentioned above and also Sonsogor, the highest peak in Goa. Spice plantation tours are also available in Ponda, a town a few kilometres away from Panjim. And lastly, you can also indulge in shopping around Goa, the Anjuna Flea Market is the best one out of all the street markets here. Very affordable finds that have good quality flourish here. The Mapusa Market is known for its spices and there's also the Saturday Night Bazaar at Arpora for hippie finds.
    • Andaman - Water sports are available in the Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex, located in Port Blair. Although water sports here are not as extensive as in Goa, you can enjoy windsurfing, parasailing, water skiing, water scootering and boating still. The best activities to do in Andaman would have to be snorkelling and scuba diving. Havelock Island, as mentioned above, has the Elephant Beach, a good location for snorkelling especially for beginners. The Neil Island is also a good location for snorkelling. For scuba diving, the islands of North Bay and Cinque Island. In the Little Andaman Island, Butler Bay is known for being a surfer's paradise. The waves here are high and strong, a good place to perfect your surfing skills. You can also indulge in wildlife trekking at places like Mount Harriet National Park and Saddle Peak National Park.
    Neil Island in Andaman.jpg
    Neil Island in Andaman (Image Courtesy of MGN Happy Stays)

    7. Food Options
    • Goa - Goan, Indian, Italian, Asian and many more cuisines can be found in Goa. Just like your accommodation options, you have lots of dining options too. If you're in a tight budget, you can opt for restaurants like Edward's Cafe (Panjim) and Pesto (Vagator). Both offers Indian and Asian dishes but meals won't cost more than Rs. 500 for two persons already. For authentic Goan cuisine, you can try restaurants like Viva Panjim and The Fisherman's Wharf (Cavelossim). They are on the higher side but they do provide delicious meals that are from Goa. Ritz Classic is another good option in Panjim, it offers Goan cuisine but you won't need to spend more than Rs. 700 for two persons. There are even Italian restaurants around the state like Da Tita's (Majorda) and Tuscany Gardens (Candolim). For Asian cuisines, try out The Tibetan Kitchen (Calangute) and Tao (Panaji). There are also numerous beach shacks around the different beaches of Goa, which offer satisfying meals at a lesser cost.
    • Andaman - As compared to Goa, dining options in Andaman are less varied and you also have less choices. The best restaurants are in Port Blair and Havelock Island. Annapurna is a good vegetarian restaurant option, it offers mainly Indian dishes, all for a very affordable rate. Ananda Restaurant is another good option, in contrast, it has non-vegetarian dishes of both Indian and Asian cuisines. It is very affordable too and you won't need to spend more than Rs. 200 for one person. Chinese restaurants worth trying out in Port Blair are New Lighthouse and Mandalay. As you can see, you mainly get Indian and Chinese cuisines when in Port Blair, also with an assortment of seafood dishes. In Havelock, Full Moon Cafe is a cult favourite, both for the views it offers and also the dishes. The restaurant has Indian, Chinese and a few Asian dishes. Fat Martin Cafe is also a good option, it has both Indian and Asian dishes. Something Different offers a variety of cuisines like Indian, Chinese and Italian. On the other islands, dining options are less and you need to bring your own snacks and water too just to be on the safe side.
    8. Backpacker Friendliness
    • Goa - Goa is very backpacker friendly, you can spend the minimum here and still have a grand time. Dormitories and hostels provide good accommodation options for those in a budget. But there are also other options like beach huts and guest houses where you won't need to spend more than Rs. 400 per night. Dining here isn't also an issue as roadside eateries, beach shacks and food stalls provide one with enough nourishment and can satisfy your tummy without emptying your pockets. As far as the attractions go, if you avoid the water sports, the cruises and the paid attractions, you can still enjoy Goa. Beaches are free to visit and your only expense would have to be the transportation. Buses are very cheap options so go for that, instead of the usual taxis. You can even hire a bike and explore Goa this way.
    • Andaman - Andaman is not really a backpacker-friendly place. Rightfully so, because a place this beautiful does come with its consequences. While you can find cheaper hotels, they won't come as cheap as Goa's dormitories or hostels. Dining here is also more expensive as there isn't much option. Most dining places here are restaurants and cafes, which charge a whole lot more than the ones in Goa. If you want to avoid the water sports, you can do so and enjoy the pristine white beaches of Andaman still. But to explore the beaches, you need to travel from one island to another which costs Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 per person for a one-way ride. That is way more if you compare the transportation expenses around Goa.
    9. Partying
    • Goa - Goa is the party capital of India so there is no case to defend here. For the best night life, North Goa is renowned for that. Baga Beach has the Tito's Lane where there are various fun night clubs that you can visit. The best clubs here are known as the Club Tito's, Cape Town Cafe and Cafe Mambo. Do keep in mind that these clubs require a hefty entrance fee, especially for stags. Anjuna also has clubs like Club Cubana and Cafe Lilliput, both of which have great views of the sea, especially at night time. But South Goa, on the other hand, also has its share of party places. Starting with Palolem Beach, where the Silent Noise Party happens every Saturday, it's a different kind of party where you listen to music on headphones instead of it blasting all around the place. Colva Beach is also the location for the Full Moon Party, attended by several bars along with throngs of tourists both locally and internationally.
    • Andaman - Night life in Andaman is a bit scarce. You cannot do much partying here except when you stay in higher end hotels that has bars or lounges. In Port Blair's Corbyn's Cove, there's Sea Sip but it doesn't qualify much as a club. It does have a few drinks, cocktails, vodkas and wines and there's music on the background too. There's also the Nico Bar, also located in Port Blair, which also serves professionally concocted cocktails. Sea Shell Hotel and Sinclairs Hotel both have bars/lounges which offers a few drinks to guests. In Havelock, both Barefoot at Havelock and Sea Shell Hotel have bars too.
    The Verdict

    Although they are both beach destinations, it is clear that they do have stark differences. Goa is a very bustling place, at least in its central part, with lots of activities to keep you busy. You can indulge in water sports, go party in the numerous clubs, maybe even shop for souvenirs and go for treks too. But if you would like to enjoy sightseeing, Goa also has plenty of attractions that you can visit. Goa's dining and accommodation options are very diverse too, so every kind of budget fits here. If you want to avoid the crowded beaches of Baga and Calangute, you can go to Querim or Ashvem. The southern beaches are more pristine, Hollant, Benaulim, Betalbatim and Patnem, plus many more.

    Andaman is a more remote beach destination, its capital might be busy but never as busy as Panjim. Water sports are widely available in Port Blair too but on the other beaches of the other islands, they are more sparse. But the different islands of Andaman are the most pristine ones out of all the beach destinations in India. If you love snorkelling and diving, there's no better place for those than in the Andaman islands. Beaches in Andaman are rarely crowded too and mostly has white sands with turquoise waters. However, you need to spend more to enjoy the islands as the dining and accommodation options here are on the higher side.

    I hope this helps you.:)
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