Grab your sunglasses, swim gear, and yoga mat. It’s time for a journey to the land of sun, sand, spices, and spirituality.
Tucked into the southwest coast of India, Goa draws in more than 5 million domestic and international tourists per year, according to government statistics. Clearly, the state has become a bucket-list destination.
With a fascinating blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures, 65 miles of unobstructed coastline, coconut-infused cuisine, an easygoing atmosphere, and a reputation as a spiritual sanctuary, Goa doesn’t just delight. It inspires.
A volunteer abroad trip here will enhance your life in ways you can’t yet imagine.
Traveling To Goa, India: Key Background Info
Goa has a visibly different atmosphere than the rest of India. Portugal colonized Goa in the 16th century, holding onto the land until 1961 (when India annexed Goa). Those four centuries as a Portuguese colony have left an indelible mark on modern Goan culture.
When traveling in Goa, you’ll taste the Portuguese influence in the cuisine and see it in the baroque architecture of places like Old Goa, the former capital. The churches and convents here been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
As you traverse the region, keep in mind Goa’s history goes back 10,000-plus years (scholars state rock carvings date back to the Mesolithic Period). Before Portuguese rule, the Adil Shah Dynasty, a Shia Muslim dynasty, had control of Goa.
Today, nearly all of the Goan population identify as Hindu (65%), Catholic (27%), or Muslim (6%). Religion and spirituality shape the culture of Goa. Hindu temples dot the state, offering residents and visitors a place to rejuvenate the mind and body. And yoga and meditation regularly take place on the beach.
Given the state’s spirituality, Goa naturally became a destination for hippies in the 1960s. If you want self-improvement through travel and spiritual exercises, few places top Goa.
When you touch down in Goa, you’ll discover an impressive place. Goans approach life with a tolerant and go-with-flow attitude, and seize the good moments when they come. As you spend time here, you’ll understand this is a place where you can find fulfillment.
Volunteer Travel In Goa, India
Volunteer travel not only offers you an affordable way to travel in Goa, it also enables you to give back to local communities in the state.
But what can you do as a volunteer in Goa?
You can help in many ways. Though India’s richest state, Goa still faces challenges with combating poverty and gender inequality, as well as with ensuring long-term community and environmental sustainability.
As a volunteer in Goa, you can:
- work with children living in poverty
- empower women who’ve been marginalized by a male-dominated society
- assist with community development and construction projects
- care for the elderly
- do environmental conservation work
To help you plan your volunteer adventure in Goa, we’ve listed some great volunteer abroad organizations below. Have a look and see if any programs catch your eye.
Featured Organization: GoEco
Recognized as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization in 2015 by GoAbroad, GoEco offers more than 150 projects throughout the world, including several volunteer programs in Goa, India. GoEco focuses on community development initiatives that help society’s most vulnerable. Their efforts in Goa help children living in poverty, women coming from abusive home situations, and elderly people without a support network.
If you want to volunteer in Goa, definitely consider one of these two GoEco programs:
Teaching and Community Work in Goa
Price: from $770 for two weeks
Duration: 2 to 8 weeks
Support, care, and educate Goa’s community members that need it most. GoEco lets you contribute to two volunteer projects in Goa each weekday. A typical day could consist of helping out at a women’s shelter, teaching English to children who can’t afford school, and/or providing companionship at an elderly home. You may also work at an animal rescue center and on community construction projects. You’ll see your impact right away as your help gives disadvantaged individuals better security and stability.
Past volunteers have great things to say about this program, like Neal:
“The Teaching and Community Work in Goa project was a great experience that has provided me with lifelong memories. I would highly recommend this experience. Go in with an open mind and you will have a blast.”
Another great thing about this project is that GoEco arranges time to experience Goa. You’ll get to visit a spice plantation (yummy!) and shop at a local market. On weekends, you’ll have time to relax on the golden beaches.
So, want to volunteer in Goa with GoEco? Then click here to apply!
Road Trip and Volunteer Travel in India
Duration: 4 weeks
Explore authentic India through cultural immersion, travel, and community service. For this action-packed road trip, you’ll traverse the diverse states of India, including Goa. Highlights of the trip include:
- Visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra
- Touring Dharamsala, a town on the edge of the Himalayan Mountains
- Taking an Indian cooking class and catching the sunset at Monsoon Palace in Rajasthan
- Exploring Bollywood and all the sites in or near Mumbai, like the Gateway of India and Elephanta Caves
You’ll spend the final 10-plus days in Goa. First, you’ll have the opportunity to chill at Anjuna Beach, get an Ayurvedic massage, do yoga, and visit Old Goa. During the last week, you’ll volunteer in Goa by working on a construction/renovation project and teaching in a school.
Sound like a wonderful experience? Apply on GoEco’s site!
Featured Organization: Frontier
Established in 1989, Frontier placed more than 103,000 volunteers and interns overseas in their first three decades. As one of the most trusted names in volunteering, Frontier has become known for their inspirational and affordable volunteer abroad adventures. They have more than 400 high-quality volunteer travel programs. Many of their projects do important research as well (they’ve published more than 600 research papers).
For those looking to volunteer abroad in Goa, India, Frontier has you covered with these two programs:
India Teaching Adventure
Price: from two weeks $945
Duration: 2 weeks or longer ($395 for each extra week)
Help slum children break the cycle of poverty. As a volunteer in Goa, you’ll work at a shelter or school that supports Goa’s most vulnerable children. Many of the children come from neglectful and/or abusive home situations. They need proper care, attention, and education so that they don’t end up on the streets. Teach English, play games, make music, do art, and more. By doing so, you’ll help the kids gain valuable skills and build self-confidence.
When you’re not helping out at the shelter or school, you have ample things to do in Goa. See sites like Fort Aguada, a well-preserved 17th-century Portuguese fort, and Shri Shantadurga Temple, an elegant Hindu temple dedicated to the Goddess Shantadurga.
Already packing your bags? Register for this program first!
India Road Trip + Volunteering
Duration: 4 weeks
Want to mix travel in India with volunteering? Then choose this program. Explore the capital of New Delhi, see the Taj Mahal, journey to the Himalayan foothills in Shimla, and wonder the immense deserts of Rajasthan. And complete your incredible adventure with 10 days in Goa.
In Goa, you’ll enjoy the sites and scenery, as well as volunteer in a variety of projects. You may work at a women’s shelter, medical clinic, and elderly home. You can also volunteer as a teacher and offer a helping hand on an environmental project. You really have the chance to do a lot of good here, whether you’re serving as a conservation volunteer or medical volunteer in Goa.
Ready for an amazing adventure? Apply on Frontier’s site!
Featured Organization: Kaya Responsible Travel
Featuring hundreds of ethical work, study, and volunteer abroad opportunities, Kaya Responsible Travel’s community development and environmental initiatives create lasting change around the world, including in Goa, India. If you want to travel and volunteer in Goa, consider Kaya Responsible Travel. They’re an award-winning volunteer abroad organization.
Read over these two volunteer programs in Goa:
Women’s Empowerment and Community Volunteering in Goa, India
Price: from $1,469 for two weeks
Duration: 2 to 12 weeks
Give women in Goa access to better futures through this initiative. This project focuses on education and support to expand the horizons of women in rural and disadvantaged communities, where gender inequality is higher. As a volunteer for women in Goa, you’ll teach English, personal finance, and computer skills. You’ll also host jobs skills workshops and human rights awareness conversations. Such volunteer efforts empower women to achieve independence for themselves and create a more inclusive and fair society.
During free time, the lush palm trees and sandy beaches call you to relax and have fun. Swim beneath Dudhsagar Falls, take in the sunset at Butterfly Beach, taste all the Goan food you can, and more.
Do you want to work on a women’s empowerment project in Goa? If yes, then sign up here!
Experience India and Volunteering Tour
Price: from $1,519 for two weeks
Duration: 2 to 3 weeks
Work with children from low-income communities in the slums of cities like Jaipur, before traveling to Goa. Support staff as they arrange classes, games, and activities, like music concerts. Your work will help the children see how education can improve their futures.
For the travel portion of the tour, you’ll see famous Indian landmarks and learn Bollywood dancing, yoga, Henna painting, and Indian cooking. You’ll get several days to traverse Goa. Highlights include hanging out on Baga Beach and spending the day with a fishing family in Goa.
Does this tour sound awesome? Click here to apply!
Top 10 Things To Do In Goa, India
Though India’s smallest state in terms of size, Goa has all that you need to have the trip of a lifetime. From sitting on the beach to eating fresh seafood to trekking in the jungle, Goa stirs the senses and the soul.
In addition to finding the right volunteer program in Goa, plan your travel itinerary. To get you started, we’ve highlighted 10 ideas below!
1 – Enjoy the beaches: Goa’s charm lies in its beaches, the majority of which are in North Goa. For lots of activity, visit Anjuna Beach. For tranquility, check out Mandrem Beach. For postcard-worthy views, go south to Palolem Beach.
2 – View the colonial architecture: The Basilica of Bom Jesus (built to house St. Francis Xavier’s remains), stands as perhaps the best example of baroque architecture in India. Also, visit Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church and Se Cathedral (they’ll amaze you).
3 – Visit the Hindu temples: Hinduism plays a core role in Goan society. Goan cultural experts recommend visiting major temples like Mangueshi Temple, Brahma Temple, and Naguesh Temple. These spectacular temples will give you a spiritual high.
4 – Savor the cuisine: Try the fish curry once, and you’ll come back for seconds. Vindaloo originated in Goa too.
5 – Explore the history: See Adil Shah’s Palace, the oldest surviving building in Panaji, Goa’s capital.
6 – Find your inner Zen: Go on a yoga retreat near Anjuna Beach, and reconnect with your soul. Meditation centers abound as well.
7 – Tour the parks: As noted by The Times of India, Goa has lots of green space. The best parks in Goa include Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can see bears and wild boar, and Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary (known for its bison). Journey to Dudhsagar Falls as well. These places stun with their beauty.
8 – Go scuba diving: Dive into the Arabian sea, where you’ll encounter lush coral gardens and even shipwrecks (as The Economic Times details).
9 – Spend a day in Panaji: Lonely Planet recommends spending a day or two in Panaji, the capital of Goa. The city pleases at every corner, with old bookshops, artsy boutiques, colonial-era architecture, modern malls, and cozy bars.
10 – Experience the nightlife: Timeout calls Goa India’s party capital—and for good reason. The entertainment scenes around Vagator Beach, Baga Beach, and other areas guarantee you can have a blast.
4 Cheap Ways To Visit Goa, India
For those thinking about traveling to Goa, the combined costs of a flight, hotel, and activities can get high. Fortunately, you have lots of cost-saving strategies, like the affordable volunteer abroad programs we mentioned above.
Simply put, volunteering in Goa doesn’t have to get pricey. These five tips can enable you to enjoy your volunteer travel in Goa—without breaking the bank.
1. Search for cheap plane flights to Goa
If you’re flexible with dates and routes, you can find a good deal. A lot depends on timing too. Search and compare prices well in advance.
CheapAir.com has helpful data on when to buy an international flight. For instance, if you’re traveling to Goa from the United States, flights should have the lowest price about 54 days beforehand.
2. Save on lodging in Goa
TripAdvisor allows you to easily search for hotels in Goa according to your budget. Though nicer accommodations easily exceed $100 USD per night (6,917 Indian Rupee), you can snag comfortable lodging for under $20 per night.
Additionally, know that when you sign up to volunteer or teach in Goa, the organization typically includes lodging and meals with the total fee. That saves you money.
3. Apply for volunteer abroad scholarships
Our article here lists volunteer abroad grants and scholarships. Apply for some of them before traveling to Goa on a service adventure.
Furthermore, consider searching for a volunteer program in Goa on Abroadly, Volunteer Forever’s booking platform. By applying through Abroadly, you’ll automatically get the chance to win a $500 scholarship. And you’ll have access to Volunteer Forever’s crowdfunding platform (see how that works here).
4. Volunteer elsewhere in India, then vacation in Goa
India has all sorts of volunteer opportunities. Consider volunteering in another city first, then traveling to Goa. This could save you money if you choose an affordable volunteer abroad program.
For example, with International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ), an award-winning volunteer abroad organization that’s been around since 2007, you can volunteer in Kerala, India, a southern port city. Projects include women’s education, medical volunteering, and special needs care. IVHQ’s programs in Kerala start at just $360 for one week. And Goa, which lies about 650 kilometers north of Kerala, can be reached easily via plane once you complete the volunteering program.
Plan My Gap Year is another volunteer abroad organization with low-cost programs in India. Established in 2011, Plan My Gap Year sends more than 4,000 volunteers overseas per year. Teach English, serve as a medical volunteer, or work with disabled children in Faridabad, a city just outside Delhi. Fees begin at only $579 for two weeks. After you finish volunteering, you can find affordable flights from Delhi to Goa through carriers like AirAsia and Air India.
Traveling To Goa: Making Your Dream Volunteer Abroad Trip Happen
Now you know all about traveling and volunteering in Goa. All that’s left to do is book and go.
To make your dream volunteer trip to Goa go as smoothly as possible, check out some of our resources, like:
- This guide on how to volunteer abroad for free
- This article on volunteering and interning in India
- This tutorial on how to fundraise your volunteer abroad trip
By carefully planning and utilizing your resources, traveling to Goa for a volunteer abroad trip will go wonderfully. And as you make a positive difference in Goa, you’ll make fun and meaningful memories that last forever.
Nick Callos · Writer
With a BA in English Literature & Writing from Boston College, Nick researches and writes about volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs worldwide. He has studied abroad and taught English in Chengdu, China, and aims to help fellow travelers make a lasting impact on the communities they visit.