A Guide to Anjuna Beach, Goa
Characterful and charismatic Anjuna Beach in tropical North Goa, India has much more to offer than the famous Flea Market. Anjuna still retains it’s hippie roots and today attracts a mixed crowd and offers a refreshing change from the crowed, noisy sands of package holiday magnets Baga, Calagute and Candolim.
Anjuna became popular back in the days of the ‘Hippie Trail’ and is most famous for it’s popular Wednesday Flea Market and crazy trance parties. The parties have calmed down somewhat, although there is still plenty to offer for Techno or Pys Trance lovers, but this laid back piece of Goa’s coastline is still a long time favourite of hippies and the plethora of popular yoga schools both in Anjuna and nearby neighbouring village of Assagao slightly inland keeps yoga enthusiasts coming back each season.
Anjuna village itself is pretty spread out, you’ll probably want to hire a cheap scooter to get around but I love the feeling of space that you get from zipping around the village through the green paddy fields and exploring inland villages and other beaches.
Although Anjuna could be described as a little scruffy, it’s refreshing to find that despite the tourists there is still a local feel around the village, especially in the early evenings when you will see local Indian ladies immaculately dressed up in gorgeous, colourful silk sarees on their way to the temple of the shops and children playing on the scorched play fields in the middle of the village.
You’d be forgiven for being a little disappointed upon reaching the dusty bus stand at the Northern end of Anjuna Beach where countless tourist stalls sell the same tat under their blue tarpaulins and the red cliffs tumble down to the sea.
But persevere, it gets better. Walk along the red, dusty track, past the stalls that line the cliffs, ignoring the calls of ‘look at my shop’ (and the weird offers to buy drugs) and you will come to the beach in just a few minutes walk.
In the maze behind the dusty track above the cliffs are many budget accommodation options. To get the cheapest deal don’t try to book online, just arrive early in the day and have a scout around and check out some rooms before committing.
Scattered along the cliff top path with views over the Arabian sea are many restaurants, my stand out, cliff top favourite is the Guru Bar which has a great, laid back atmosphere and a huge, and highly affordable menu, with cocktails and cuisines from all around the world represented from less than 100 rupees.
Even though it’s on the cliffs you can still sink your feet into the sand and hear the roar of the waves. Guru Bar also often has live music on and is one of my favourite hang outs.
After Guru Bar, walk just a little further along the cliffs and you will finally reach the beach! From here it stretches out golden and sandy. This top part of the beach is wider and less dominated by shacks – just watch where you swim as some parts can be a little rocky underfoot.
Recently the ocean at Anjuna can be a little rough some days but for me this adds to the fun. Take a stroll along the beach and the beach shacks become more concentrated but there are some good options here to choose from and most serve varied cuisines and drinks for only a few dollars a dish and offer sun beds to relax on in exchange for your custom.
Lilliput has a great view over the beach from the upper level making it an awesome place to watch the sunset and people watch with a cold kingfisher and they often has loud dance parties into the night.
One of my favourite places to eat on the beach is the Sunset Bar, which does delicious, tasty curries for a very reasonable price with a nice view of all the action on this busy part of the beach. Next door, Janet and John’s is more expensive but often has a seafood barbecue, live music and fire dancers on in the evenings.
Carry on down the beach further and there are a couple of cute wooden shacks where you can spend the day in a quirky, kind of beach side treehouse.
The rocky part in the middle of the beach is the location for the famous Anjuna Flea Market every Wednesday but you better haggle hard if you want to pick up some bargains.
Over the rocks and down to the most Southern end of the beach is quite a nice bay which is a lot calmer for swimming and a good place to come if the sea is a bit rough. Curlies and Shiva Valley dominate this end of the beach and often have loud parties into the night but are also nice places to spend the day.
At weekends the beach becomes considerably more busy with domestic tourists who come to relax on Goa’s laid back shores and frolick in the shallows, often fully dressed.
Also, don’t be surprised if you see a herd of placid and holy cows wandering slowly down the beach on their daily morning migration and don’t be too worried about the dogs – they are pretty friendly and love nothing more than to be made a fuss off and fed some scraps as they lie in the shade under the sun loungers.
To get the most out of Anjuna, or anywhere in India for that matter, you will be rewarded by taking things slowly. It’s easy and affordable to rent a little house in Goa, let the laid back vibe relax you into passing the lazy tropical days at your own pace, getting to know locals and other expats and perhaps taking a course in Yoga, enjoying the luxury of time to pursue other hobbies or just relaxing on the beach and exploring the area on 2 wheels.
Every day I feel so lucky to call Anjuna home, even if only for a few months. If you also want to escape winter and the 9-5 find out how I rented a house in Goa and how to live in paradise for less than £10 a day.