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Goa’s Slow Tide is a Time Capsule Disguised as a Beach Shack

Experience the Goa of the 60s at Slow Tide – a new-age beachside shack in Anjuna, Goa – that will have you feeling like you’re camping under your very own coconut palm in the tropics.

LF Says: ★★★★

Slow Tide Goa

Hippie stories come alive at Slow Tide in Goa. Photo © Ishita Sitwala

I first came to know about Goa and its part in the hippie rush of the 1960s and 70s in a documentary I watched years ago. The film “Last Hippie Standing” portrayed an idyllic way of life that brought people from all over the world to the shores of Anjuna Beach, in Goa. These free spirits, who came to be known as hippies, lived in communes and spent their days dancing away while celebrating life’s simple pleasures and their rustic lifestyle. As the tourism industry grew and took shape over the years, the visiting hippies were gradually replaced by tourists. But the hippies that stayed and made Anjuna their home became a part of its magic.

A decade after watching the documentary, I was standing at the newly opened Slow Tide, reliving the stories about the old hippies of Anjuna. Though the hippies came to Goa as outsiders, they assimilated with the local culture over time. People like Amsterdam Dave or American Carl may have come from Europe or the States, but they became every bit as Goan as those who were born here. Their anecdotes, such as that of Sailor Fred – who sailed all the way to Africa on his catamaran – and Vidal Angel’s art and dreadlocks, have become folklore of sorts. 

Slow Tide Goa

All the views lead to the sunset at Slow Tide. Photo © Ishita Sitwala

A beach shack for the 21st century

Slow Tide is a new-age beach shack that would offer a wandering hippie the same hospitality and community experience as from the days of yore. Conceived as an ode to the culture of assimilation that summarized the Goa of the 60s and 70s, it is built, I am told, over ‘San Francisco’, which was one of Anjuna beach’s first shacks from the 1960s. 

Upon entering Slow Tide, it is immediately noticeable how well the space blends with the natural landscape of Anjuna Beach. Slow Tide plays with the elements using natural materials like laterite and bamboo, to create a shaded haven with an interplay of light and shadows, that lend it an open feel, hinting that at heart it is no different from sitting under a coconut palm on the beach. 

Slow Tide Goa

A long community table at Slow Tide that encourages visitors to engage with each other. Photo © Ishita Sitwala

All views lead to the sunset

Slow Tide is spread over two floors and houses multiple areas for seating. It features a bar area lined with a cornucopia of labels, and a main area with high tables and chairs adjoining the bar. A stairwell descends towards a more private area and an infusion bar. It also holds a long community table that encourages visitors to sit and engage with each other. For bigger families, there are low-seated dining areas on the second floor. The two terrace seating areas, which offer an unparalleled view of the sun and the sea, hold two beautifully made swing chairs, which I am told were handmade and gifted by Sailor Fred, an Anjuna resident and one of the original hippies.

Another area that captured my attention was the sandbox. While beachside establishments usually find a way around the continuous sand coming in, Slow Tide embraces it wholeheartedly. The sandbox brings the beach right into the restaurant. It is the designated play area for the many dogs that Slow Tide has adopted, and doubles as a space for bonfires and private events. During high tide, the Arabian Sea comes up to kiss the shack’s stairwell that descends to the beach. True to its name, Slow Tide is one establishment where you can sit back and watch the rise and fall of the tide as the day goes by.

Slow Tide Goa Acid Erick cocktail

Acid Erick – a refreshing take on tequila.

A menu that embodies the spirit of Goa

The spirit of cultural assimilation is also carried into an experimental menu by an enthusiastic team that turns the rich produce of Goa into otherworldly dishes. But ironically, what I remember Slow Tide the most for, is what potentially obliterates its memory – its innovative and ingenious cocktails. The Mackerel Para Olives, an appetizer of traditional pickled fish served with succulent olives, was a perfect balance with Acid Erick – one of Slow Tide’s 12 signature cocktails named after the old hippies of Anjuna. Acid Erick is a refreshing Tequila cocktail mixed with watermelon, yuzu, and basil, among other ingredients. Served in a high-ball glass, with a block of clear ice and a colourful blotter paper with a caricature drawing, Acid Erick is named after Anjuna’s resident Santa Claus who went around full-moon parties distributing his “gifts”.

Slow Tide Goa Amsterdam Dave cocktail

Amsterdam Dave has a sprinkle of beet dust!

Slow Tide also diverted my otherwise non-vegetarian palette with some vegan preparations. Never have I found ‘drumstick’ in a more exciting form than the Moringa Fritters with Pumpkin Salsa, or ‘broccoli’ as relishing as the Catalonia Grilled Broccoli. These experimental vegan plates perfectly complemented a glass of Amsterdam Dave – a lemon balm gin-based cocktail with muskmelon cordial, lime, and a sprinkle of beet dust.

Note the favorites!

If there’s one thing that I wish I could simply take away from their menu, and hide in my mouth forever, it would have to be the Red Snapper Crudo. An array of delicate and cured bite-sizes of the famous Goan Red Snapper served with a chilled sauce and toasted poha on the side, it definitely came out at the top. But the Spiced Pineapple Curry accompanied by the Sri Lankan Pol roti flatbread was a close second that I absolutely gloated over.

Slow Tide Goa Carlo's Lulas Rechadas

Carlo's Lulus Recheadas

Before I could decide on a dessert, another drink magically appeared. This time, Starco Junction, a fizzy Chorizo and pickle-flavoured vodka cocktail. Named after the famous Starco guest house, which is a landmark in Anjuna, Starco Junction is a savoury mix of traditional Goan flavours in a glass. After a generous helping of the Chocolate Mousse Cake that melted in my mouth, daylight started to fade, leaving Slow Tide bathed in a golden hue.

Though the day had gone by, I rested reassured that there would still be more to explore of Slow Tide on my next visit. Pondering over the infinite stories of unusual lives the Anjunkars lived, and the rich yarns of fables they left behind, I wondered if I had been born a few decades too late. Slow Tide has that effect on you.  

Slow Tide Goa Jaffna Crab

The Jaffna Crab

LF Says: ★★★★

Coordinates: Dmello Vaddo, Anjuna, Goa, India