Go Green In Goa With These 5 Responsible Travel Organisations

The spectre of rapid urbanisation threatens Goa's rich biodiversity. The following organisations take responsible and sustainable tourism seriously and seek to preserve the natural heritage of the state
The pool at one Nature's Nest Goa's residences
The pool at one Nature's Nest Goa's residencesCopyright: Nature's Nest Goa

A visit to Goa in November 2021 was an exercise in hypocrisy. I may have gone dolphin watching with an ethical travel operator like Terra Conscious and pedaled across Chorão island with Cycling Zens, but the same evening I engaged in a rambunctious, booze-fuelled nightlife trail. Travails of my travels, I suppose.

My heart, though, doesn't lie in barhopping but with the good folks dedicated to promoting responsible tourism in India. Here are my top five picks of Goan organisations that you should link up with the next time you're in the paradisiacal state.

Wild Otters Research

An otter in Goa
An otter in GoaCopyright: Wild Otters Research

'Where did all the otters go?' Speak with any resident of Goa who has lived there for a few decades and this question will inevitably be on their lips. The semiaquatic mammals were rampant in Goa but as the state experienced swift industrial development, their population began to dwindle due to illegal sand and iron-ore mining.

Wild Otters Research was established in 2014 and focus their efforts on research projects, otter documentation, educative and awareness programmes, and empowering young people to promote otter conservation. They are a small team based on Chorão island and have members who are part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) SSC Otter Specialist Group.

Terra Conscious

Dolpins in Chapora Bay
Dolpins in Chapora BayCopyright: Terra Conscious

There are hundreds of unregulated dolphin watching boats that operate in Goa who overstep on their habitat, disrupt their movements and incessantly dump garbage in the sea, among a dozen other condemnable practices. Terra Conscious is a responsible marine tourism initiative trying to change this.

I met with founder and director Puja Mitra on one of their ethical dolphin watching excursions. We maintained a safe distance from the dolphin pods and were fortunate to spot eight or nine humpback dolphins swim and forage along the Goan coast. The organisation also provides scuba diving and nonmotorised sports services.

Nature's Nest Goa

The Dudhsagar Falls
The Dudhsagar FallsWikimedia Commons: Lizloy1992

Staying in Goa presents a stark choice: you either live in a resort which has a complete disregard for environmental concerns (looking at you, North Goa establishments), or you accept that we owe care and kindness to the natural world we inhabit. Nature's Nest Goa exemplifies the latter. Their ecotourism lodge is near Dudhsagar Falls on Goa's eastern border. Visitors can go on photography tours, birding, herping, trekking, and learning all about the company's solid waste management and conservation research.

Sea Eagle Cruises

The 'Sea Eagle' yacht
The 'Sea Eagle' yachtCopyright: Sea Eagle cruises

Rent one of Sea Eagle's yachts, choose among their five cruise packages (or create your own), and sit back for a thrilling ride along Goan countryside. But I hear you ask: what is a luxury yachting experience doing in a list of responsible tourism initiatives? Well, luxury can come with a conscience too.

Puja Mitra from Terra Conscious told me that the company's 'Sea to Mountain Cruise' is not only a wonderful and educative experience, but has strict rules that respect the natural world such as prohibiting the dumping of garbage among the mangroves. Visitors stop at Karapur village, which has a rich ancient history, before proceeding to the Sahyadri mountain range, where visitors can see the unique flora and fauna. A short nature walk is the cherry on top.


Saraya premises
Saraya premisesCopyright: Saraya Goa

Saraya can be described in many ways: bohemian, rustic, artsy, homey. But the ecostay-cum-cafe-cum-art gallery-cum-creative space needs just one word: plentiful. Visitors can be left feeling they've reached the island set of the reality show, Survivor, when they arrive at Saraya.

It's not hard to imagine why – the location is set amid the natural world, the in-house cafe has an authentic wood-fired oven for pizzas, the living space consists of tree houses and earth houses which make full use of the natural surroundings, and the colourful art space displays works by local artist Godot at the time of visiting. Saraya is a welcome escape into peace and contemplation and far away from the stereotypical image of Goa as a brash party place.

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