Swallys Beach Shack: Baga Beach Goa
It was noon when we arrived, and immediately we lay splayed flat under thatched umbrellas in front of what would become our favourite Beach Shack: Swallys, in Khobravaddo (behind Villa Goesa – a Baga Beach resort). This Baga Beach shack, though just a hut with red plastic tables, was perfect. We sat back, played footsie with the sea, and flipped through an endless menu that offered almost every cuisine under the sun. I ordered fresh-squeezed pineapple juice and Kim, my partner in crime, chose tandoori paneer (marinated cheese baked in a clay oven), which Biltoo, our server, recommended. It was cheese heaven! After filling our bellies (a little more than necessary), we headed to Swally’s private beach, settled into lounge chairs, and began soaking up the sun.
type: beach club
address: Khobra Vaddo, Behind Vila Goesa, Calangute
Baga Beach: south of Calangute Beach / north of Anjuna
Both south & north Goa beaches have long been high on the lists of tourists that come to visit India. From quiet beaches to packed raves and concerts, Goa has a lot to offer. But choosing when to visit can play a large part in the experience, which is why my friend Kim and I choose December to go to Goa Baga Beach, the peak season, when the streets would be glittering with lights and festive Christmas decorations. The weather would also be perfect on the beaches in north Goa, and I welcomed the sun to kiss my pale city-skin.
Of all the beaches in north Goa, Kim and I decided upon Baga Beach, a well known seaside town in the Bardez region. It’s bordered by Calangute Beach to the south and Anjuna Beach to the north; just sixteen kilometers from Panaji, the state capital. Since we were two young girls, traveling to relax and have fun, this beach, with its sandy grounds and constant action, served perfectly. Lounging on a beach chair with a book in-hand while listening to the sea was all I needed to be in paradise.
Experiencing life from beach shacks in Goa… not at a Baga Beach resort
The sand was warm when I woke up, golden and squished between my bare toes. The sun was filtered amber through a screen of moving clouds. Kim was shouting at me from the water, laughing loudly as the big waves kept knocking her down her efforts to move forward. Meanwhile, a little girl, who appeared from nowhere, enthusiastically shoved strings of pearls and odd trinkets onto my lap. Her eyes shone bright, and her hands worked quickly adorning me in her jewelry. “ Nice” she said approvingly, “Very beautiful”. She saw I wasn’t to excited by the possibilities, so immediately whipped out heaps of rainbow scarves. The light had faded a little more, and the sun shone lazily through the thin multicolored material she flaunted before me. It looked like magic. I was sold. “I’ll take it”, I smiled as she excitedly started convincing me on my next purchase, a handmade anklet. This was real life, at least as it can be experienced from a lounge chair near one of the thatched beach shacks in Goa, not at a five star Baga Beach resort.
Eating at Goa beach huts & the start of a passion fruit addiction
Wet, and now getting me wet, Kim decided we were hungry again. Fairy lights glowed brightly in our favourite Goa beach shack, so we joined the rising chatter and boisterous laughter that was overtaking Swallys. Though Swallys may be just one of the many Goa beach huts, it had become our own thatched shack. All the elements for letting lose and having fun were there, and as it is on many beaches in Goa, as evening draws near guests begin collected under welcoming thatched roofs. A boom-box played jazzy tunes as tanned tourists relaxed and ordered their next bite or drink. An older lady with a basket on her head approached, convinced I needed some fruit. “Makka Nakka (No Thanks)” Kim said, pouring over the bible of food we held once again. “Makka Zai! Makka Zai! (You want! You want!)”, she insisted packing a bag of passion fruit and handing it to me. I seemed to be the push-over poster-child for insistent beach vendors. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of a passion fruit addiction, one which would soon make the fruit almost extinct on Baga Beach!
The lively sunset scene at beach shacks in Goa – all in flip-flops
Kim’s order of crispy calamari arrived as we sat gazing and sipping on chilled vino. The music had gotten louder; couples danced and giggling in the sunset. A cool breeze blew through Swallys, sweeping aside many beach curls, and soothing a greater collection of sun burns in the growing crowd. This little Baga Beach shack was filled with life, and we were glad to be part of its infectious scene and relaxed ambience; all while still wearing our comfortable flip-flops, all day long!