That’s how I would say if anyone asks me how the place felt.
Gokarna is a small town located in the southwestern coast of Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka and an hour south of the Goa border by train. It is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage centers in India.
And Yes! Gokarna becomes the place whatever you want it to be for the few days you stay, it also lets you enjoy your days however you imagined to live without any rules and responsibilities.
Gokarna or Goa or Pondicherry?
I would say that every place has its uniqueness and culture. Not only these places are famous for beaches and beverages, but also famous for its historic old town roads and temples. Goa is a place that has more beaches when compared to Gokarna, so exploring all the beaches would be quite difficult.
Gokarna and Goa are popular with tourist beaches while Pondicherry is popular for its artistic colonial buildings, churches, temples, and statues in the old part of town that still preserves much of the colonial ambiance.
Seasons/ Best Time to visit Gokarna:
Normally Temperature ranges from 14°C – 40°C in Gokarna. The Place will be fully populated during Shivratri and Ganesh Chathurthi since the place has temples of Lord Shiva. The weather is mostly dry at the summer season (March-June) as the temperature goes up-to 40°C. So, summer and the rainy season is usually off-season in Gokarna.
September to March is the suitable time to visit the place since the weather is pleasant and moderate, neither too cold nor too hot. This is the best time to visit as the humidity and heat are also at its least. December-January (especially New Year) is the peak season, also the time hotels are very expensive compared to other seasons. Many Private/Public Parties will be conducted during New Year’s Eve and Night.
Several adventure water sport activities such as boating, surfing, water-skiing, parasailing, and banana boat rides are the fun activities that you can indulge in Gokarna beaches at this time.
Do you think reaching Gokarna is quite easy?
Haha! It’s quite easy to reach from anywhere. Gokarna is about 450 kilometers from Bengaluru, 238 km from Mangalore, about 59 km from Karwar, 866 km from Chennai (TamilNadu), 525 Km from Kerala. Gokarna can be reached in various ways such as by Plane, Train, Car, Bus, or Bike. It would become an awesome trip for bike riders since the travel includes curvy roads, hills, highways, etc,
We reached Gokarna by bus from Bengaluru. It took about 9-11 hrs journey to reach Gokarna where I would say our bus journey was not much enjoyable experience since the overnight journey was horrible due to the bus condition. I suggest you prefer buses once after surfing about the bus ratings in Google/other booking apps.
There are many State Government and private bus services are available from Bengaluru to Gokarna as well as from other places of India. Sugama Travels, Vijayanand Roadlines – VRL, Sea-Bird, Seabird Tourists, Spd travels, SRS Travels are few private buses that provide night journeys as well as a countable day journey from Bengaluru and the ticket fare ranges from 600 -1500 bucks depends on the season time and availability of the seats.
If you are visiting Goa first and then traveling to Gokarna, its just 1-1.30 hours journey by train & 5-5.45 hours journey by bus to reach Gokarna. People from every region of India have domestic bus services to Gokarna. One thing you want is to dive into google and search for the available services from your region.
The nearest Airports Dabolim Airport is appx 106.2 Kms away from Gokarna. Other nearby Airports are
- Hubli of 123 Kms away
- Belgaum of 150 km away
- Mangalore International Airport of 187.4 Kms away from Gokarna.
After reaching the Airport you can reach Gokarna either by Train, Bus or Cab as per your convenience.
If you are traveling by train, pre-booking the tickets is a better option than booking in the last minute of travel. IRCTC gateway provides the available trains to Gokarna. The very nearest railway station is Gokarna Road-6 km from the town and 20 mins travel takes you to Gokarna beach. KSR Bengaluru Karwar Express, Matsyagandha Express, Poorna Express, Marusagar Express, and Mangalore Local are the Daily Local Trains available.
The other nearest station is Ankola which is about 20-25 km from the town. Few other nearby Railway stations are Kumta Railway Station(32.8 Kms), Honnavar Railway Station(47.8 Kms), Karwar Railway Station (74 Kms). Once you reach the station you can take either Bus( Private/Government) or Cab to reach Gokarna.
Stay and Food in?
There are so many hotels available with beach views having an affordable budget. Beach Resorts are expensive than the hotels away from the beach but as a whole, if you count traveling charges to visit the beaches from normal hotels is almost the same when you stay in beach view resorts. But if you expect the place to be neat and tidy, I’m helpless. I would suggest preferring Beach view Resorts than normal ones.
Food is provided in the same place you stay in, worrying about it can be avoided. One advantage is that there is no restriction to have food only in the Resorts/Hotels you stay, you can have your delicious seafood in other Cafes/Resort nearby since billing for food is separate from room charges. Beverages are also available at cheap price.
What to see in Gokarna?
Beaches and Temples are the main places to explore.
Gokarna Beach is the main beach having a Brahmin area look with temples and a lot of holy cows around. I would say that this place is fully populated & polluted among all other beaches. Apart from a few temples and shops, there is nothing special to be explored here. So, my suggestion to you is to visit this beach first and visit the other beaches not to get disappointed with your trip.
The very first beach you will reach from the main beach. This beach is where most of the tourists stay comparing to other beaches since it has a lot of cafes, guesthouses and beach resorts. Kudle beach stretches long with sand which looks beautiful along with the blue sea which is quite crowded and most acquainted with foreign travelers. This place is best suited for swimming, diving, playing volleyball as well as water sports and also situated very close to Om Beach & Gokarna Beach.
Yeah! Kudle Beach lies between the main beach and Om beach which is 6-7 km from the main town. The north side of the beach connects to the main beach, while the south end leads to rocky hills leading to Om Beach. The place becomes quite deserted during the off-season when most of the shacks are closed and visitors on the beach are less.
The beach is shaped in a way that it appears to be in the shape of religious symbol ‘Om’ and is named because of it. It is 6.5 km away from the town while it is visited by travelers, backpackers, and hippies. It has two coves adjacent to each other which make the Om shape beautifully.
Om Beach is the spot for water sport activities like bumpy banana ride, speedy jet ski ride, surfing, para-sailing, etc. Namaste Cafe is the well-known shack you could find on Om Beach. You will experience the breathtaking view of the sunset on this beach and don’t miss to click groupies with your gang when sun signouts for the day.
Half Moon Beach:
Half Moon Beach is located south of Om Beach, named since the beach is in a half-moon shape. This beach is very secluded with fewer visitors and can be reached only by trekking into the hills or by boat/catamaran. Trek to Half Moon Beach from Om Beach is such an awesome one where we climbed the rocks and hills with bushes while enjoying the scenic beauty of the sea. You will enjoy the trekking to its most when you go as a gang along with other trekkers.
Even during the peak season, this beach is less populated with tourists. Undoubtedly the best beach if you are seeking solitude and ‘away from civilization’ end. Activities like swimming, kayaking, paddle boats, trekking, camping, etc are the ones you can enjoy here. Hardly one or two cafes you can find on this beach and sometimes you need to inform the Guards/Police before camping here.
This Beach is also one of the secluded places with limited tourists also known as Full-Moon Beach. This is present south to the Half Moon Beach, it is reachable only by trek/boat. The beach is populated only during the peak season and less populated during the off-season since the rocks present makes swimming quite dangerous. But it is a wonderful place for photographic lovers. The breathtaking view of the Arabian Sea on day time while the bright moon and twinkling stars at night time are all that one has to look at while spending time on the Paradise Beach.
Where to go after exploring Gokarna?
Since Goa is only about one hour by train from Gokarna, it is one of the best places to explore. Few other places include Kumta (32 Kms), Karwar(60 Kms), Yellapur(75-80 Kms), Udupi (178 km), Mangalore(230-235 Kms), Murudeshwar(80 Kms) & Jog Falls (112 Kms).
Safety for solo female travelers?
Solo traveling always gives a sense of freedom & independence, coming out of our comfort zone and it becomes one of the interesting stories to tell people when you get back home!
I have noticed that cab facilities like Uber and Ola are less when you are looking at night times, so I suggest that traveling alone at night can be avoided. Apart from this Gokarna is a safer place for female solo travelers where no one would bother you when you are enjoying your own company.
Days to be Planned/Counted:
I would suggest planning for 2-3 days is sufficient in which you can explore all the beaches in 1-2 days and do the shopping for 1 day.
Precautions/Suggestions to be taken care:
- Have cash in your hand before reaching the beaches since ATM’s are nowhere to be seen when you enter the beach areas.
- Handy cash would be helpful since no online transactions are available in most of the local shops/Autos.
- Use of Sunscreen is advice-able while visiting beaches at day time.
- It is advice-able to ask the owner/in-charge of the place you stay in for ‘Safe’ & ‘Unsafe’ local areas.
- Don’t wear or take expensive jewelry while traveling.
Finally, I had a bunch of stories to tell people I see and I hope you too will have.
Have a safe trip along with your loved ones!