There must be more to Goa than 'sunburn, sarongs, sea and sand'.. my challenge was to escape to the hinterland and leave behind the tie-dye at Anjuna market in search of the ultimate hidden slices of holiday paradise that may or may not still exist on the south west coast of India.
To my delight I found what I would honestly call a secret paradise, an eclectic collection of beach houses and tents know as "Elsewhere". It really is a secret, so much so that my driver asked directions nearly every hundred metres until we found the end of the road - a dead end dirt track outside a local village house where we had to abandon the car.
Access is over a seventy metre long wooden footbridge across a salt water creek to a spit of land jutting out into the sea. This deters all but the hardy, although I am assured you do not have to carry your own luggage!
The properties are 19th century Portuguese villas that are the ancestral homes of the current owner Mr Denzil Sequeira. Lovingly restored in 2006 they offer accommodation that sits directly on the beach. It was utterly romantic and I wished I had been there other than for work.
Muslin draped across hand-made bamboo four posted beds, pastel wooden shutters, barefoot dining with feet in the sand, the sound of waves to lull you to sleep. It captured my heart.
Although you are hidden from the world as you know it, one of the most popular restaurants in Goa, La Plage, is less than a mile away, as is Olive Ridley's Restaurant. A local driver is no more than a stones throw away.
For those of you that are not beach lovers - is that possible? - and wish to discover the interior of Goa there is a wealth of choice on offer. The spice plantations, famous mansions, notably Menezes Branganza's house, and the old churches of Goa would keep you busy. Life slows down in the hinterland and the chosen mode of transport may become the bicycle rather than the car.
Panchavatti, a home that has been recently opened up to visitors by Lou Lou Van Damme provides an oasis of calm that is hard to find anywhere, let alone in Goa in the high season! It is peaceful and offers the ultimate refuge from the sometimes overwhelming frenzy of Goan beaches. Here you can take a dip in the pool, practise yoga, explore the library and CD collection or simply read. All your meals are prepared by the resident and friendly cook, so you really do not need to lift a finger.
Together, what a great combination - you know where I will be on my next holiday!!