One of the greatest – and most deceptive – dangers in Goa is to be found right in front of your beautiful bit of beach. The Arabian Sea, with its strong currents and dangerous undertows, claims dozens of lives per year, many of them foreign. Though some of Goa's beaches are now overseen by lifeguards during daylight hours, it's most important to heed local warnings on the safety of swimming, and don't, whatever you do, venture into the water after drinking or taking drugs.
Theft from rooms is something to watch out for, particularly on party nights at places such as Anjuna and Vagator, or if you’re renting a flimsy beach shack at Palolem or Arambol.
Some foreign women find Goa anything but a relaxing beach holiday and reports of harassment are disappointingly common. For many foreign women, beach dress code is dramatically different to that normally preferred by Indian women. This has led to problems with some groups of young Indian men coming to Goa for no other reason than to stare at scantily clad women. It’s an unpleasant situation and one that both groups hold a certain amount of responsibility for. Many foreigners do seem to forget that they are no longer at home and that dress standards here are different, and the harassers seem unaware that their behaviour would be considered by foreigners to be unacceptable. The best solution is to aim for the quieter beaches and just give in to the fact that things that might be normal elsewhere, such as topless sunbathing, are taboo in some places and by doing it you are only likely to cause problems for yourself. Though the harassment rarely steps beyond staring or a few comments there have been instances of physical attack.
Acid, ecstasy, cocaine and hash – the drugs of choice for many party-goers – are illegal (though still very much available) and any attempt to purchase or carry them is fraught with danger. Fort Aguada prison houses some foreigners serving lengthy sentences for drug offences.
Possession of even a small amount of charas (hashish) can mean 10 years in prison. Cases of corrupt policemen approaching hapless tourists and threatening to ‘plant’ drugs on them, or simply demanding a relatively large baksheesh (bribe) on the spot are becoming less common than in the past, but the possibility of such occurrences does remain.