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Anjuna is the northernmost of the big tourist beaches of North Goa. The touristic development starts at Fort Aguada and stretches along the long sandy beach through Candolim, Calangute and Baga. Three towns that have merged into each other over the years. We’ve been visiting Anjuna and north Goa for decades, a look at how it’s changed over the years. You can decide if it’s spoiled or better now. We still love it.
At Baga a stream and a headland separates Anjuna from the sandy strip and gives the little town something of a separate identity.
Anjuna is, of course, famous for its Wednesday market. Anjuna flea market has been running since the hippie 60s and is still going strong. We were very pleased to see that Anjuna Market still retains much of its identity although it is bigger than ever, stretching up the road that used to be a dirt track. It’s grown so much that it now has a makeshift carpark in what was padi field. Another post about Anjuna Market is coming soon.
Along the beach there are more beach shacks, restaurants and bars, but there still aren’t the shore to shore beach chairs of it’s 3 bigger cousins to the south. The old town of Anjuna appears much as it was 20 years ago, I know because that was when I first visited.
The Portuguese style houses and narrow lanes still stand, but along the main roads you’ll find more of everything. More makeshift stalls selling T Shirt, jewellery and pants, cafes and guest houses .
The dirt roads have gone, they’re newly sealed, there is a small Dominoes pizza place and a huge club now stands on the clifftop to the northern side. You won’t find women drying cow pats on sunny walls for their cooking fires as you once did, but the cows and goats remain.
It was on the clifftops that we saw the biggest changes. Where we used to sit on red dirt under palm trees for a cold Kingfisher at sundown, rows of restaurants and stalls have gone up. Walkways have formed between simple buildings and stalls. It’s a rabbit warren up there now.
But for us Anjuna still has charm. We enjoy this scene, we’re not looking for deserted beaches and the off-the-beate- track experience ( not that such a thing really exists). We enjoy life and energy, choices in where we eat, free wifi, easy access. Heck we even like trance music. If you like your beaches quieter you need to be further north or far to the south ( avoid Colva Beach).
We do not take drugs, we never have and we do not go to the parties, we’re in bed by then. In Anjuna you won’t spend much of your day free from the smell of marijuana smoke, but the vendors were OK. They smiled, said hi, asked us discretely if we wanted hashish and when I said “No, not with children.” They never asked again. I like that, I hate being badgered to buy drugs as we were in Luang Prabang.
The vendors of more legal tourist merchandise were far more persistent. There is no way we could walk past a stall without being invited to look.
“Looking is free!”
“Yes madam, everything 100Rps.”
“How much you pay those pants? You want more colours, best price!”
We love it. Some people find it intrusive or annoying, we love the exchange. After a few days you get to know the women a little, you start to get smiles and hellos, but they still invite you to buy. The older women in traditional Karnataka costume are still there, still looking splendid.
North of Anjuna you’ll see big changes too. Big and Little Vagator were almost unrecognisable for less pleasant trashy cliff-top development. The little ferry over the Chapora River has long gone, in its place is a modern bridge and main road, the dirt tracks and cow carts on that side of the river have gone too. Riding around on bikes we could still find the villages, water buffalo and waving children, but we had to look a little harder.
We enjoyed our time in Anjuna very much, ( another post to come), the changes and development haven’t spoiled it , we think. We were there in the quiet season, April, the hot time ( it wasn’t too hot). There were few other tourists around, a handful of Russians, one or two backpackers, a very few Indians. ( the 3 southern beaches were very busy with Indian tourists, this is Indian summer holiday time). In the busy season I guess the experience would be completely different. We caught what was possibly the last Wednesday market of the year, the vendors’ licenses run to May, they were all ready to pack up and return to Karnataka and Kashmir for the wet season.
We stayed at Poonam Hotel Resort in Anjuna and would recommend it for its very low price, great pool, good location and pretty garden. Click through to check prices. We received no incentive from them. Anjuna is anotheer of our favourite places along with Fort Kochi, Rajasthan, Varanassi, so many! If you’d like more insight into travel in India, visit our India Travel Blog page.