Best for: Lovers of massages on the beach, deep techno sunrise raves and raw vegan cafés. Attractions: Decades ago, the hippies, backpackers and party starters took custody of this former Portuguese colony. That queer mix of Catholic guilt and Indian innocence transformed it into a tolerant tourist mecca. Goa didn’t earn its hedonistic reputation for sex, drugs and trance by accident. Recently it has attempted to rebrand itself as a popular destination for Indian honeymooners (spot the new brides by the proud jangle of their red bangles). It’s also become a refuge for Delhi and Mumbai’s gay set, especially following India’s 2013 regressive re-criminalization of homosexuality. Distractions: Like Ibiza, Gran Canaria and Mykonos, the region of Goan is now a victim of its own success – the traffic and garbage a testament to progress without principles. Those phat party beats also keep pumping all night long… unless that’s what you’re up for. Romance Factor: Since a honeymoon is generally more about cuddling than cruising, Goa’s lack of a visible gay scene may be just what the registrar ordered. The Arabian Sea sunset is picture postcard perfect, with the ocean waters warm, inviting and, yes, clean.
Gay or nay? Like much of the rest of the world, Goa’s gayness is nowadays mostly app-friendly. There’s a busy gay club every Saturday in a hotel back room in the tourist area of Candolum promising, a “full monty English breakfast” to those who can go the whole distance. While the Goan guys are attractive, friendly and eager, gay life here is still underground, somewhat tentative and rather repressed. Handle with care.