Gokarna is a small town situated in the western coast of India in the state of Karnataka. Well known as a spiritual hub, Gokarna also boasts of beautiful serene beaches. I was lucky to have been able to make a short trip to this beautiful town. Before we start with the itinerary, let me brief you on how to get there.
Travel – How to get there:
Gokarna is accessible by Bus and train. The travel time is same for both the bus and train from Pune/Mumbai. Nearest airport is Dabolim, Goa. I had traveled by bus to Gokarna and returned by train.
You could book private busses from popular bus booking sites which have a halt at either ‘Gokarna Cross’ or ‘Madangeri’. We were traveling from Pune and the bus fare for Air conditioned sleeper bus till Gokarna Cross came upto INR 3000.
Another way of travelling would be taking the train which is much cheaper in comparison to a bus or flight. You will have to take a train to Margao, Goa and from there take another train ride to Gokarna which takes about an hour from Goa. Together the train travel would cost around INR 450 for Non AC.
Gokarna Main Beach:
We started our bus journey at 7 pm from Pune and reached Gokarna Cross next day at 5:15 am. We took a local auto rickshaw that costs INR 350 for entire vehicle to the main Gokarna beach. It sits three people at a time. It was a 20 minutes ride. The public bath and washrooms had opened at the beach around 5:45 am. We freshened up and waited at the shore to experience the break of dawn at the beach. What a beautiful site ‘twas to watch the sky lit the entire shoreline. The beach isn’t lonely at this hour and there are plenty of locals and tourists who are already relaxing on the beach.
After spending an hour at the beach we visited the famous century’s old Mahabaleshwar temple which is situated right in front of the beach and is at walk-able distance. Most temples here don’t allow you entry if you’re not a Hindu. We admired its beauty from the outside and watched the priests and locals worshiping in good faith.
You could take a local ride to Kudle beach. We wanted to explore the streets so we decided to cover it on foot. The walk to Kudle beach from Gokarna beach is about 25 minutes and can be easily navigated using Google Maps. Kudle beach had multiple shacks and though we were keen to reach there for breakfast at the famous Shiva café we had breakfast at Om shanti Shack right next to it as Shiva Café was shut for the season. The food was good and there are both local cuisines and continental food available here at affordable prices.
If you check the maps, it will navigate you to a route that takes about an hour to reach Om beach by foot. However there is a pathway that has been built from Kudle that connects to Om beach directly in around 25 minutes by foot. You could ask the locals and they will direct you to a route that starts at the end of the Kudle beach shoreline that leads to the Gokarna cliff. From there downhill is a path to Om beach. If you’re not up for the walk then you could easily avail a local transport directly to Om beach.
We reached Om beach by foot and dropped our luggage at Namaste Café as we were to stay there the night. There was still some time left for our check-in at the hotel, so we decided to check the ferry time for Nirvana beach from the ferry point. We missed Nirvana as no boats were available that day to Nirvana. You could try your luck to get there by boat ride costing INR 350 per head. We relaxed for a few hours at Om beach until our rooms were ready.
Namaste Café is a popular lunch place and might have a little waiting. The food is amazing and the stay is really cheap and comfortable too! The café opens right at the front of Om beach. Must try the sea food delicacies here.
Om beach-Half moon beach-Small Hell Beach-Paradise Beach trek
Om Beach View Point:
Post lunch time we decided to relax and start our trek to the famous Paradise beach. We started the trek around 4:30 pm. The trek from Om beach to the Om beach view point is easy and can be trekked with slippers on. The view of the entire Om beach from the view point is breath taking.
It is a 15 minute trek to Half Moon beach if you get the trail right else it might take about 20-30 minutes depending on how good you are at navigating. To finish the trek faster it would be best to have a word with the locals so you avoid reaching dead ends. The half-moon beach is not very big and has very few tourists. There are ferry service available here to take you to paradise beach directly or even to take you back to Om beach by boat.
Small Hell Beach:
Small hell beach is a little difficult to reach by slippers and I would suggest to carry shoes as you have to do a little bit of rock climbing to reach this beach. It is the tiniest of the beaches in Gokarna and is quite secluded.
One has to cross the Hell’s cliff from Small hell beach to reach here. It is a bit of a task if you’re not wearing the right shoes. Once you cross over the cliff, paradise beach is just 2 mins walk from there. You will see tourists camping at Paradise beach. We took a ride back by boat to Om beach after reaching Paradise beach. The trek was tiring as we had already covered half of Gokarna on foot. The last ferry is at 6 pm so we didn’t want to miss it out!
The boat ride was serene and peaceful as we watched the sunset. If you do not wish to trek you could instead take boat rides that are available at Om beach ferry point that take you to all the nearby beaches priced at INR 250-350 per head. Depending on the rush they may or may not stop at the beaches for pictures. There are also boats that start from Gokarna main beach as well.
In all we covered all the main beaches in the entire Gokarna coast in 24 Hours! There is a famous cave, ‘Yana caves’ that can be visited in Gokarna as well. It is a 45 minute drive from Om beach and takes about a day to cover. This could be covered the next day.
I would say you could plan a stay of 3 nights if you want to take it slow and relax. You could cover a few more temples and Yana caves. Alcohol is not served here, however you can carry your own liquor. My favorite beach was Kudle beach.
Gokarna is a very peaceful place with very few commercial areas and indeed gives a break from the hustle and bustle of city life!