Club 21 is the natural heir to the original 21 Coconuts shack, which for years was the only shack on this stretch of beach. Originally owned and run by a German couple Sonia and Thomas, it was a haven of tranquility on an empty beach, with potted plants, marble floors and a long red carpet running from the water’s edge to the door, to protect people’s feet from the scorching sand.
Now owned and run by Raju, Sagar and Nilesh (always known as Manager), it is still the only shack worth visiting on the beach. Raju used to work as a waiter for Sonia and Thomas when just a teenager, and when they moved on he took over the shack. A licensing problem (involving the bribery of a few local officials no doubt) meant that they lost the original 21 Coconuts name to another man, who set up in competition right next door.
However it is easy to see where all the fun people hang out!
The red carpet is still there, faded to a dull brown now, and the marble tiles are no longer in place, bu the shack is a shaded oasis of greenery with a great mix of friendly staff, like-minded customers, good music and the most wonderful food. And if there’s cricket on TV, there will be cricket at sunset too. Fast bowlers always welcome!
Other shacks on the beach offer the usual standard food, but at Club 21 you will get excellent freshly brewed coffee, home-made muesli and curd for breakfast, freshly squeezed fruit juices, and delicious salads which are washed in bottled water and very safe to eat.
Sagar does all the cooking himself, and his chicken chili fry is famous. He also cooks locally caught fresh fish every day, depending on what the fishermen have caught.
Club 21 is the perfect place to watch the famous Goa sunset. They guys put on some atmospheric music, the whole place chills out, and with a drink in your hand you sit facing the sea as the sun sinks into the horizon. It is the perfect end to each perfect day.
Highlight of the week at Club 21 is the barbeque, when a feast of food is served up along with great music, dancing, a bonfire, fireworks and – if Raju is feeling brave – fire-eating! It is not to be missed, and it usually goes on until the early hours. But you will always be brought safely back to the road through the trees, accompanied by one of the guys with a torch.
Local characters include the Massage Ladies – Geeta (opposite), Suna, Champa, Ganga and others. They will give you the most wonderful full-body massage with the best coconut oil right on your sunbed. What a way to end a hard day’s sunbathing. Waiters Nitin and Ola are the best double-act on the beach. They will serve you and keep you entertained at the same time.
There are a few jewellers from Kashmir who work in the area of Club 21. They are good guys who will make you anything you like, from a simple silver chain to the biggest diamond ring you ever saw. Manzoor, Pintu and Nisar are some of the good guys to ask for.
Sanjay is the shoe seller who will do you a good deal on a pair of fake Reeboks so your expensive sandals don’t get ruined by the Goa red earth!
There are plenty of Brits and others who came and never went home.
Debbie from Essex (2nd from left) now lives in Goa with her husband Sonu, and is a regular at the shack. Sonu is a fantastic chef and is often the guest cook at the Club 21 barbeque. Bo from Sweden is a lovely man who divides his time between his home in Sweden and the “patrao’s table” in Club 21. Peggy is a teacher from the north of England, and she is usually seen in a floating white dress or immaculate bikini looking every inch the millionairess. Her man Manzoor is a great jeweller, and knows all the gossip! Vanessa and Barry (the two on the right) are the ones getting even more mahogany without the use of a sun umbrella for shade, but then again they are the brownest foreigners there! And then there is myself and my sister Annette who are there in November or February. We will be the ones sitting there looking blissed out!!!
Club 21 is the best place to spend your holiday. You will meet lots of new people, both tourist and Goan, and you will be made very welcome. Tell them Mairead sent you and they will look after you well!!!!