I had many expectations before leaving for Goa a couple of weeks back, mainly because of what I heard from others who had been there earlier. Not sure if my expectations got over the board, but I somehow felt that Goa is an overrated tourist place.
Firstly, it may have the longest running coastline and the largest number of beaches, which is why it is stormed by foreigners in majority. But then, what is the point because all beaches more or less look similar and serve the same purpose. There are better tourist places in India or at least ones that are equally good.
Secondly, there were a lot of apprehensions built into our 'all-girl' minds about the safety of this place. Why is Goa made to sound so notoriously unsafe for women? We felt very safe despite no male company. Staying in a good hotel in a decent locality can do no harm to you, whatsoever. Just make sure you are aware of your actions and surroundings.
Goa looks best in monsoons, but that would leave you compromising on a variety of water sports. We stayed in a cottage on Miramar beach near to Panjim. For shopping, you may go around the flea markets on Baga and Calangute beaches or the upmarket boutiques in Panjim. I didn't find anything worth buying though except for a few junk accessories.
Stayed at: Miramar Beach Resort by GTDC (Go for the Deluxe AC rooms. They are good).
Food: Avoid the food in its restaurant, but do treat your taste buds to the lovely chat flavors and coffee available in the food court there. You would have to explore different places for tasty food. Delhi Darbaar, Forest Veg Food Court in Panjim can be tried.