I TRAVELLED: with my husband and a four-month-old baby
TYPE OF TRAVEL: baby-friendly, beach, luxury
FOR: 4 days
DATES: March 2021
PRICE POINT: $$$
After a year of no travel, no beach, no sea, no Croatia, this mama has had enough! We decided our first baby vacay will be to Goa, and everyone from in-laws to friends met our decision with skeptical glances. However, Goa turned out to be super baby friendly!
We flew out of Bangalore on the afternoon flight on Go Air. Go Air fares are great, however the risk is of flights getting postponed because they run on such a tight schedule. Not ideal when flying with a tiny one for the first time ever, but our flight to Goa took off on time. Flying with a baby turned out to be amazing! You get to cut all the lines! Why has no one ever told me that travel hack before? Jokes aside, everyone at the airport was super accommodating and we went from car to gate in 15 minutes flat. The COVID protocols are in place but don’t count on social distancing being maintained… Airlines provide you with a shield, hand sanitizer and the gown, but almost no one uses them. Stores and restaurants are all operating regularly at the terminal. This was our first time flying with the baby and the carrier turned out to be a life savior once again! I kept Leo in the carrier all the way to our seats and he was pretty chilled out the whole time. I read on some mommy blog that you should wait to be last to board with the baby so you don’t have to keep them in the seat for any longer than necessary and that was what we did. I fed Leo during take off and made him suck on his dummy the duration of the flight and that seemed to work in terms of ears and pressure. Our return flight was four hours late, which is pretty much the worst news you can get when you are flying with a baby and all the other flights out of Goa were full, but luckily our hotel gave us super late checkout.
Go Air, www.goair.in
WHERE TO STAY
When you hear Goa you think parties, villas with pools or hippie shacks, you think scooter rides and late nights. Well, that might have been true for our previous visits, but this time we decided on two things: a) staying in South Goa, which is a lot more chilled out and family-friendly and b) staying in a resort so we don’t have to venture out too much. We decided on Taj Exotica and I cannot recommend it enough! When I was thinking of everything we have to schlep with us, from the car seat to stroller to something for safe co-sleeping, I wanted to weep. The hotel arranged for all of it! They sent us a car with the car seat, there were plenty of strollers to use on the property and the room had a crib waiting for us. Everyone was so welcoming and went out of their way to make our stay as pleasant as possible. Taj Exotica has immediate beach access, a massive pool, a smaller children’s pool with a slide, a golf course, a tennis court and plenty of space for long sunset walks with a stroller, which for us Bangalore parents who live in the city is the most exciting thing in the world. There is also a kids club for bigger kids and even beach and pool toys so you really don’t have to bring anything with you! There are two spas, a classical Jiva and an ayurvedic Jiva that also offers daily yoga classes. The rooms all have a sea view and there are a couple of standalone villas with private pools if you want to go all out. For an additional charge, the hotel will put an extra cot if you are traveling with the nanny. Unfortunately, the hotel does not have child-minding services.
Taj Exotica, www.tajhotels.com
WHAT TO DO
I don’t generally choose resorts as places to stay but this was a godsend! So much to do and no hassle of moving around with the baby in scorching heath! I highly recommend the relaxing massage treatment at the Jiva spa (ask for that).
Jiva Spa, www.tajhotels.com
EAT + DRINK
The on-site restaurant Miguel Arcanjo is a famous Goan fine dining restaurant and it is truly worth the visit. There is also Lobster Village, which has gorgeous views of the sea and sunset and fresh seafood. The prawns are great and so is the Goan peri peri! Close by is The Southern Deck, one of the most happening shacks in South Goa- make sure to book if you are going for sundowners.
Miguel Arcanjo, Lobster Village, www.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj/taj-exotica-goa/restaurants/
The Southern Deck, thesoutherndeck.com
CULTURE + ACTIVITIES
Well worth the visit is the historic Menezes Braganca House, located about 40 minutes from the hotel. The house is almost 500 years old and full of history and the most amazing artifacts. The Braganca family still uses the house and will happily share their history, from the Portuguese times and the fight for Goan independence to modern days. The ballroom is currently under renovation, but even with that, it is worth the visit.
Menezes Braganca House, www.tripadvisor.in
There is also a water sports provider, Pele’s, right outside of the hotel, and they do everything from dolphin tours to parasailing. South Goa is full of history, beautifully preserved old mansions and churches and the hotel can help organize off-site activities. Or you can be like us and just lounge around for a few days!
GOOD TO KNOW
The only thing I would say is that March is HOT and humid. However, for me who likes to bake in the sun, this meant having the massive pool all to myself in the middle of the day while everyone else was hiding from the midday heat. I got Leo a full-on long-sleeved bathing suit with a high SPF (From my local H&M) so he also splashed around in the pool. The sea is quite rough so don’t expect to do a lot of swimming, more like standing in the shallow and getting hit by the waves.
A very different Goa trip, but maybe my favorite so far. It was so special to take Leo to the sea for the first time and we had an amazing time as a couple as well. I highly recommend Taj Exotica and am already looking to book the next trip!
The Vine pro tip: keep checking the state COVID regulations, as they change almost daily. Currently there is no need for a test coming from Karnataka by air, but that might change.