Scenic view where the sun and the sands meet, beach vacations are all about fun. A little less Goa and more of a spiritual destination is Gokarna. It lies in the western coastal region of Karnataka and attracts Shiva devotees across India and is known as one of the pilgrimage places for the Hindu. Due to its laid back and scenic beaches, it attracts many westerners and younger generations. Gokarna is known for 5 well know and amazing beaches-Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Paradise Beach, Half Moon Beach, and Nirvana Beach.
Reaching Kudle is easy. It’s about 10 minutes drive from the bus stop. The auto ride would cost you Rs.100 to get to the place. Now you should know that no transportation can take you to the footstep of your hotel or the beach. The muddy road ends a kilometer away and you will have to trek to go to the beach.
Kudle beach has so much to offer. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in Gokarna and one can find decent affordable hotels on this beach to stay. We stayed in a place called Hotel Gokarna International. Travelers choose this place as it’s just a jump away from the beach and we had chosen rooms facing the beach and need I say about the view. The hotel is decent for a 2-3 day stay and has a café which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner though none of it comes complimentary with the stay. Besides Gokarna international, there are 2 other popular ones – Jasmine Café and Shangri-La guest house.
Since Kudle is easier to access when compared to other beaches, you will see a lot of tourists who take a swim at the beach. The most crowded time is during the weekends where the locals come out with their families. Otherwise, this will be a very peaceful isolated beach. A beautiful stretch for a walk by the waves and clean waters for swimming, you could have not asked for more. Because you are a few steps away from your hotel rooms, you can chill on the beach even until early mornings.
Om beach is not far from Kudle. It’s a small trek away which might take you around 45 minutes to reach if by foot. You will know you have reached Om beach from the road view. It is an amazing site to be in this place especially during dawn and dusk.
The beach shore is shaped in the symbolic way of the Hindu chant Om and thus the name. Sky view gives you answers to why the beach was named Om. A Shiv ling sits right in the centre of the beach and many devotes come to visit the beach as they consider it holy. The beach has a few places to stay over. Namastey café is one the most popular ones among others. Rasta café is popular among foreigners. Rasta café however is a shack stay which makes it all the more nature friendly. The place is completely dark after dusk and the only light comes from the moon. On no moon day, you sure will need company and help of a torch but not very safe.
If you are staying off beach limits, then Om Beach resort is recommended. It has semi-luxurious rooms and many other facilities when compared to stays on the OM beach itself.
Om beach comes in between Kudle and Half Moon beach. Half moon beach comes closer to one end of Om where Rasta is located. The beach is about 20 minutes trek away from Om. The pathway of the trek is very narrow and adventurous. But at the end of it all, comes a beautiful isolated beach called Half Moon Beach. People existence is nil and only a few people drop by, those bypassing to reach paradise beach. A small stretch of the shore and since it is isolated, gives you a sense of peace.
Another trek away is the Paradise beach. Purest, cleanest and the closest to Mother Nature, this beach is also often referred to as White Sand beach. This beach is often out of reach for people but is open a few times. Due to its distance, people seldom visit here and mostly by boats. Boat ride could be fun, but they are missing out on the splendid trek. The beach has no shops or stays.
Besides the beaches, Gokarna is well known for its Shiva’s temple. The temple is in the city limits and people who come to visit Gokarna cannot miss a visit to the temple.
Transportation : It’s best you travel to the place by your private transportation or avail bus services as there are ample available. If you want to enjoy Gokarna, then it has to be by foot since most of the places have limited access to vehicles and you have to trek through hilly regions to cover a few beaches.
Best time to Visit: Make sure to plan your trip off the rainy and the sunny seasons. Optimal time to visit Gokarna is between Octobers to February. Rains will spoil the travel. You cannot escape tanning, but you can at least reduce the risk of skin burns during the hottest days in summer.
Stay: You can opt to stay either in the city limits of close to the beach. Tourists who come to visit Gokarna for its beaches can choose hotels/stays near the beach and those who are visiting for pilgrimage can stay close to the city.
Clothes & Essentials to carry: Do not carry too many things with you as you will have to carry it around while trekking and most of the trekking trails are narrow and slippery. Ensure to carry your swim wear, change of clothes, warm clothes for the night (only during winters), and comfortable sandals and sports shoes for trekking. Make sure to carry sufficient water whenever travelling. Since it is a humid place, you will need a lot of water to quench thirst. If tanning is not what you expect, don’t forget to carry some sunscreens.
Beverages: Café’s on the beach serve beer, but if you need something beyond it, you will have to travel to the city to buy some.
Activities: There are several beach activities that is available provided the sea is safe. Banana boats are the most famous one of them. And then there is a regular boat rise which takes you to far away and unattended beaches in the region.
Shopping: Don’t expect to shop in any of these beaches. Apart from one shop on Om Beach, you will not find any other shops unlike Goa.
Food Joints: What better than seafood in a costal location. Lobsters, crabs, fish and prawns are some of the famous food around Gokarna. Namastey café and Rasta café both serve good food.
If you are looking for a relaxed vacation, hit the road that takes you to Gokarna. You will be able to find peace with yourself.