Goa has a large Christian population and a number of Portuguese speakers, whose way of life is a blend of European and Indian, although there is a larger population of Hindus (66 percent) whose ancestors didn’t convert to Christianity. My family was among the many that came from neighboring regions and put down roots in the state after its liberation in 1961. Goa celebrates this diversity.

Goa is lovely during monsoon (June to September) when the countryside is a patchwork of green. October through March is fairly pleasant, but avoid the summer months of April and May, when the temperature can reach an unholy 36°C (97° Fahrenheit), and the humidity will send you scampering back to your air-conditioned hotel room. December is the most popular time of the year for visitors, when every corner of the state celebrates Christmas and New Year.

Both have beaches and delicious food, but offer different experiences. Many visitors come to the north for the clubs and all-night beach parties. (The Saturday Night Market in Arpora—a busy mix of people, food, and music—is a good spot to experience what North Goa is all about without partying until dawn.)

Hit the smaller festivals. The Goa Carnival is the state’s best-known festival, but there’s plenty to see at the more low-key ones. In August, the tiny island of Divar celebrates Bonderam, the reenactment of a feud between two clans that once lived there. Or you could head to the village of Talaulim for Touxeachem Fest—literally, the feast of the cucumber.

Alcohol is more lightly taxed in Goa, making beer and wine cheaper than in the rest of India, and thanks to centuries of wine-sipping Portuguese influence, attitudes towards alcohol are also more lenient. Drinking in public areas was widespread until recently, but a new amendment to the law can now lead to a fine of up to 10,000 rupees ($150) for drinking in a ‘No Alcohol Consumption Zone,’ which includes beaches, public roads, and highways.

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