Updated: Jan 19, 2020
"When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing - just sitting and looking at the sea or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs, or waves rippling on a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?"- Ralph Marston
This feeling was mutual for me when I visited Gokarna. The calm pristine beaches, the local market, the local folks engaged in their daily activities, doing their chores, people bustling around the town, foreign tourists walking the streets with Om printed cotton kurtas, buses moving around in that small little town. That smell of fresh mud... All these memories are still imprinted on my mind whenever I think of Gokarna. It is a memory never to be forgotten but only to be craved for more.
Gokarna has some of the cleanest & beautiful beaches in all of western part India. There are five famous beaches which one must visit while in Gokarna. I must admit not all the five beaches are squeaky clean but you will get to see the clear water and clean sand from the third beach onward. Generally, tourists prefer to trek through all the beaches which can take almost an entire day.
I am one of those people who gets all pumped up thinking about trekking but doesn't really do it. Yet, I am going to share my advice like an experienced trekker. 🤫
Start your trek from early morning. Reach Gokarna Beach first because that's the only beach which is quite crowded and no one swims in there. Well, I mean at least not the ones with whom you would love to get into the sea. You know what I mean? 😂 And the beach is not like a hidden gem which you would save for later. FINISH IT FIRST. Chill out, have some tea, bun maska or pani puri in one of the many stalls set up on the beach.
After breakfast head towards Kudle Beach, the second in the list. Now, this is at a distance of ~4 km, so if you have already rented a scooter/bike, head towards it via your transport vehicle. Else, go for a trek. There are some shortcuts to reach over here, you will have to check from the local folks or see for directions. When you go via scooter/bike, you have to park your vehicle near a yoga center (don't recollect the name) and go downwards through a rocky, uneven way with boulders lying around. It takes around 5-7 minutes to reach the beach. I started panting & gasping for breath after I hit the beach. All hikers do pant & gasp after 7 minutes not-even-close-to-hike experience, right? 😒😃
Next in the list is Om Beach. People say the shape of the beach reflects 'Om' in its pattern. Something like this - ॐ but without the half-moon and dot pattern called chandrabindu in Hindi. My skepticism was at its peak while on the way to the beach but the moment I saw this beach I was sold. Clearwater, surrounded by mountains on one side, tourists taking a dip in the sea, some great restaurants lined up for you to chill down. You get the picture. The shape of the beach is not exactly like Om as described but almost like it if you run your imagination wild.
From here you can take a ferry to reach Half Moon Beach or cross the mountain to get to the beach. It is a very less frequented beach and you will want to spend some quality time here with yourself. The sun had already dipped in the background when I reached here. I couldn't take many good pictures of the sea but welcomed the peaceful surroundings.
The last beach in the list is the Paradise Beach which is the least frequented among all. If you run out of time, try visiting it next day early morning. It is very close to Half Moon Beach. I was not able to visit this beach, however, would love to hear your experience in the comment section below.
Where to Stay & Eat?
Gokarna has a plethora of options varying from cute cafes to seafood shacks. The best part of it all? All of them situated by the beach. Just randomly choose any of them as per your mood or by eeni meeni mini moh. Restaurant no. 2 sold to my stomach! 😉
I stayed in MG rooms located very close to Gokarna Beach. The hotel has since then been permanently closed, but you can look out for some beautiful sea-side resorts or hotels in booking.com
There aren't many rental services in Gokarna. I checked with the hotel staff for the information and they directed me to a place within Gokarna town for rentals. It would feel like a shady deal being made for a vehicle but who cares at this moment? Just ensure you take pictures of the vehicle from all angles to avoid falling in penalty traps later.
Ways to reach Gokarna
I would never recommend flights if you are reaching Gokarna from Karnataka/Goa/Mumbai/Tamil Nadu. Book a train or bus to enjoy the journey. I booked train tickets via IRCTC. It is convenient & cheap. Gokarna has its own railway station called Gokarna Road which is some 10 km away from the main town. Alternately, book a bus through KSRTC, if you don't have the ritual of throwing up on the way. ;)
You need to take an auto from the station but bargain and final an amount before you sit. There are also local public buses available, however, the timings fluctuate.
If you have 1 more day, which place should you visit?
Karwar. I did visit Karwar the other day just to see what it has to offer. Karwar is very close to the Goa border hardly one town away from there. From Gokarna, it is 60 km by road. You will find some clean, blue water beaches which will leave you awestruck. Recommended places are Tagore Beach, Karwar Beach, INS Chapal Warship Museum, and Tilmati Beach. If you are a seafood lover, head down to Amrut Hotel or Swetha Lunch Home to experience the local delicacies & enjoy the freshness of the seafood.
How much would it cost for a weekend trip?
If you only plan to visit Gokarna, here's the breakdown for 2 people:
Return train/bus tickets from Bangalore to Gokarna - ~4400 ₹
Auto from Gokarna Road to Gokarna town - ~200 ₹
Stay in Gokarna for 2 nights - ~1200*2 = 2400 ₹
Scooter rental for 2 days - ~350*2 = 700 ₹
Food & drinks per day - ~3000*2 = 7000 ₹
Miscellaneous (Shopping, etc) - 1000 ₹
Total cost for a 2-day trip: ~16000 ₹
If you also want to include Karwar in your trip, include 2000 ₹ more for eating in Karwar and for an extended stay, just increase the price for scooter, stay & food.
Let me know in the comment section about your experience in Gokarna.
If you loved our article, please follow us on Instagram @themindfultripper.