The pristine Anjuna Beach in Bardez in North Goa exists as a stretch of 20 kms of white sands along the coast of the Arabian Sea. It is a favourite haunt of the hippies, backpackers and honeymooners and is often infamously referred to as the freak capital of the world. Life in Anjuna is one big party; it’s a non-stop holiday throughout the year. Discovered by the hippies in the 60’s (it’s often considered to be the last bastion of these nomads, many of whom have stayed on) it is famous for its trance music and full moon acid house rave parties during the tourist season that have characterised the party scene in the picturesque village of Anjuna, a five square mile village dotted with palm groves and green fields snuggled between the Arabian Sea and the tall hill rising above the beach. The lovely St Michael’s Church lies in the village centre. This fishing village has now developed into a tourism hotspot. The beach is distinguished by a curious arrangement of rocks projecting into the sea at the entrance of a natural cove that is known as the Jewel of Anjuna popularly known as Ozran. There are lots of historical places to see nearby like the Chapora Fort (where the popular Bollywood film Dil Chahta Hai was shot) or the Albuquerque Mansion which was built in 1920.
The famous and one-of-its kind Anjuna Wednesday Flea Market attracts large crowds where hawkers peddle everything from Kashmir and Tibetan handicrafts to apparel, accessories, trinkets, fashion jewellery, souvenirs, popular Goa Trance cd’s as well as Ayurveda massages/elephant rides or you can visit tattoo/henna artists/hair stylists.
The tradition of the Flea Market started way back in the 70’s when the hippies would sell off their wares to make a quick buck or to go back home. The crowd is an eclectic mix; the hippie folk, the domestic tourists who stare unblinkingly at the former with their eccentric attire and dreadlocks, the chartered tourists from Russia and Europe who visit sun-soaked Goa to escape the cold winters back home and of course the fun-loving and pleasant locals. The Flea Market is one of its kind, and situated right on the beach; you must visit this place just for the experience if nothing else. The bustling atmosphere and beautiful setting make for unforgettable retail therapy! And bargaining is a must; you would be surprised at the ridiculous levels the price will plunge to!
It is quite safe to swim in the sea at Anjuna Beach especially at the Southern end with the rocky protrusion that makes it a perfect swimming spot. The beach is also relatively unexplored and less crowded as compared to the Calangute/Baga belt and foreign tourists flock to the beach. The beach is about four kilometres from the Candolim Beach so take a trip to Anjuna if you want to escape the maddening crowds of the Calangute Belt. In sharp contrast the Anjuna-Vagator belt isn’t commercialized so it provides a welcome respite from the madness of the other more famous beaches of Goa. If lying out in the sun the whole day working on your tan or swimming in the ocean isn’t your thing, there are lots of activities to keep you busy. Bungee Jumping, Paragliding, Parasailing, Surfing, Snorkelling are some of the activities tourists can indulge in at Anjuna. The beach is dotted with cafes, eating joints, palm covered shacks serving authentic Goan cuisine and delicious seafood and some hip European styled bistros. Health food lovers can visit the German Bakery; the Shiva Valley shack is also quite popular or you can simply enjoy a chilled bear at a beach side shack soaking in the sunshine. Most of the shacks and food joints are located at the North Anjuna Beach; the Flea Market is located towards the middle while the Little Anjuna Beach in the South is where one can enjoy a leisurely swim.
Curlies at Anjuna is an institution in itself and a visit to Anjuna is incomplete without a refreshing stopover at Curlies. This famous beach shack attracts tourists from across the world and for good reason. Located right on the beach front, you can choose between lounging on a beach-bed or enjoying a drink by the waves. The view from the upper deck is lovely and is a perfect spot to enjoy a good read.
The music scene is avante garde at best; in fact the record label Anjunabeats of the EDM group Above & Beyond even released a track AnjunaBeach in tribute of this unspoiled beach. The Goa Trance is an experimental albeit noisy variant of the conventional EDM and requires a bit of an acquired taste to enjoy. The uniquitous Goa Trance cassettes are readily available. The music is a great leveller; people from all over the world from diverse cultures and backgrounds, whether it is the executive on a corporate retreat or the hitchhiking nomad; they become one under the psychedelic experience.
Anjuna has a slow and easy culture, a very relaxed aura with an unconventional crowd making for an idyllic getaway. Good food, drink, alternative music, free-flowing nomadic lifestyle, all night beach parties, spectacular sunsets and fabulous people. What more can you want!