Most tourists head to Goa for the hedonistic beach lifestyle. If you want to have fun in the sun, the best time to visit Goa is during winter when the days are endlessly clear and warm. Crowds and prices surge in December and January, though. The monsoon season, from June to September, can be enjoyable if you head inland and spend time in nature. You'll save on travel costs too! Here's what to consider when planning your trip to Goa.
The Weather in Goa
The state's tropical climate means that it never gets cold in Goa. Daytime temperatures consistently remain above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) throughout the year. Winters are dry and less humid, with every day being bright and picture-perfect. Minimum temperatures of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) ensure delightfully balmy nights.
Summer in Goa runs from March through May, with daytime temperatures around 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius) on the coast. However, nighttime temperatures and humidity rise to uncomfortable levels. By May, the minimum temperature has reached 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) and humidity above 70 percent. Towards the end of May, the weather becomes sultry and unsettled as the southwest monsoon approaches. There may be isolated thunderstorms and rain.
The southwest monsoon arrives in the first week of June and lingers until the end of September. You can expect a lot of rain in June and July, easing off in August. The rain is unpredictable. On occasions, it will continue almost non-stop for days, while at other times, the downpours are only brief. The temperature dips slightly during the monsoon season. Although humidity levels increase to about 85 percent on the coast, the rain provides some refreshment.
Expect hot and humid weather in October after the monsoon has departed. It usually becomes more pleasant towards the end of November or in early December with the approach of winter.
As Goa is located close to the equator, there's little variation in the number of daylight hours throughout the year.
Goa's Peak Tourist Season
Mid-December to mid-January is the most popular time to visit Goa. Families flock there over the Christmas-New Year period to escape the dreary northern hemisphere winter. Accommodations book up, and prices double or triple. Hotels in Goa typically hold compulsory gala lunches or dinners on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. These cost anywhere from 4,000 rupees (around $56) to 10,000 rupees ($140) per person, adding to the expense. North Goa is much busier than South Goa. Traffic jams are particularly problematic along the Candolim-Baga stretch. Getting to and from the airport can also be challenging due to traffic congestion.
Tourist Attractions in Goa
Many of Goa's tourist attractions close during the off-season from May to October. This includes beach shacks, markets, water sports (when the sea is choppy during the monsoon), and some restaurants and accommodations. The infamous party scene dies down as well, although there are a few bars and clubs that remain open. Goa's spice plantations, national parks, museums, and casinos are open all year round. The Hop-On-Hop-Off sightseeing bus runs daily all year round too. It's a convenient way of seeing Goa's tourist spots, including Old Goa.
Winter (December to February)
Goa is at its most vibrant during winter. Everything is operating, and there are plenty of parties and events taking place. As Goa is a predominantly Catholic state, the lead up to Christmas in December is especially festive. Early December can be an excellent time to go as the hordes of tourists are yet to arrive. However, you can mostly avoid the crowds by visiting South Goa, or by waiting until February. You're likely to get a better deal on accommodations in February, too, as hotels are no longer charging peak season prices.
Events to check out:
- International Jazz Festival (early December) features live jazz performances from international musicians.
- Feast of Francis Xavier (Dec. 3) is a large fair in Old Goa dedicated to Saint Francis Xavier, a Christian missionary whose mummified body is kept in a casket in Bom Jesus Basilica.
- Serendipity Arts Festival (Dec. 15-22) is an eight-day interdisciplinary arts festival featuring numerous projects across multiple venues.
- Christmas (Dec. 25) celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Midnight Mass is held in churches all over the state on Chrismas Eve.
- Epiphany or Three Kings Feast (Jan. 6) honors the Three Kings of Magi who brought gifts to baby Jesus. There are grand processions and the crowning of three kings from three villages.
- Goa Tattoo Festival (January) brings together tattoo artists from around the world in a celebration of tattoo art.
- Goa Carnival (February) is the state's most iconic event, renowned for its colorful street parade.
- Goa Food and Cultural Festival (February) is a five-day event that showcases Goan cuisine and lifestyle.
- Grape Escape Wine Festival (February) is a four-day celebration of the state's wine culture with live music, grape stomping, wine tasting sessions, and food stalls.
Summer (March to May)
The tourist season winds down in March, as the heat and humidity climb. Hotels generally drop their tariffs at the start of April. Some bars, restaurants, and beach shacks close by mid-April, but there are still plenty of options available. With a few exceptions (such as Curlies in Anjuna), the remainder of the beach shacks and huts pack up in May. The harsh May weather means you won't feel like doing much during the day (apart from swim), but discounted hotel rates successfully draw domestic tourists on summer vacation. Alternatively, ditch the beach and explore the Western Ghat mountains in Goa instead.
Events to check out:
- Holi (March) is India's famous festival of colors.
- Shigmo (March) is Goa's version of Holi; this Hindu festival features traditional song and dance, as well as a parade.
- Goa Vintage Cars and Bikes Festival (April) brings out more than 100 vintage cars and bikes from across India.
- Spirit of Goa Festival (April) is a three-day event that revolves around the state's traditional local brew, feni. There's live music as well.
- Goa Heritage Festival (early May) promotes the state's heritage with guided walks, exhibitions, food stalls, and handcrafts.
Monsoon (June to September)
Rainy days and rough seas rule out beach fun during Goa's monsoon season, although the weather starts to clear up in September. Cheap flights and accommodations predominantly attract domestic tourists at this time of year. You'll find most of the action happening in North Goa, as South Goa is quite deserted. However, it's recommended that you go inland to experience the state's flourishing national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. White water rafting is possible. Goa's Fontainhas Latin Quarter is an exciting place to see, as well. Aim to enjoy local life.
Events to check out:
- During Sao Jao (June 24), men jump into overflowing village wells to retrieve bottles of local feni alcohol as part of this fertility feast of Saint John the Baptist.
- Sangodd (June 29) is a monsoon celebration of local fishing communities, with people sailing upriver on rafts while performing plays and songs.
- Bonderam (fourth Saturday of August) is a parody of disputes over property on Divar Island. It includes a carnival with a street parade.
- Ganesh Chaturthi (September) is an 11-day festival dedicated to Lord Ganesh, featuring beautifully decorated statues of the god that are paraded through the streets and immersed in water.
Post-Monsoon (October and November)
The couple of months after the monsoon are a transitory time in Goa and are classified as the shoulder season. Although prices generally increase at the start of October, decent deals can still be found. The sun is out, but most beaches are still quiet, particularly in the south. Watersport businesses are operating again by mid-October. The beach shacks, huts, restaurants, and markets open up by mid-November. Goa receives an influx of domestic tourists during the Diwali holidays in November.
Events to check out:
- Oktoberfest Beer Festival (October) brings out live music, dance performances, food stalls, games, and lots of beer.
- Narkasur Parades (late October or November) are celebrated on the eve of Diwali when effigies of demon Narkasur are paraded on the streets before being burnt to celebrate Lord Krishna's victory over the demon.