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How to Reach Gokarna
Goa to Gokarna
There are different options for this route. You can catch one of the many KSRTC buses between Goa and Gokarna. The fares are super cheap and the buses are regular. The major stops between the 2 cities are Karwar and Ankola. You can catch a bus to one of these cities and then take a bus to Gokarna from there. Fares are from Rs 25 to Rs 70, depending on the route.
Gokarna is a tiny temple town located on the coast of Karnataka. While this often leads people to believe that it's a small town filled with nothing but temples, priests and pilgrims seeking peace, they couldn't be more wrong. Well, technically, they would be right but there's a lot more to this place than just the temples. Gokarna, infact, is a popular hippie destination famous for it's beaches. Two of the most popular Gokarna beaches are Om beach and Kudle beach. Unknown to regular tourists, there are a bunch of hidden beaches which are accessible only to those who seek adventure. This is exactly what I was looking for when I set out to Gokarna for 2 days on a weekend.
Where to Stay in Gokarna
Okay so here's the thing about places to stay in Gokarna. Most people go for the Gokarna beach resorts immediately. Book such resorts if you're travelling with your family or in a large group. However, if you're a young couple, a solo traveller or a bunch of friends out to explore, the Gokarna Zostel is your best friend. They have dorm rooms, private cottages, a cafe overlooking the Gokarna beach and a funky common room (see image above). They also organize tours and walks at super affordable prices. Plus, you'll meet really interesting people there!
Watch the Sunset
It's a no-brainer that we've all seen sunsets, and some truly magnificent ones too. One of the most serene sunsets I've ever experienced was at Gokarna. Maybe it was because it was my first solo trip, or because I managed to meet a bunch of truly amazing people. Whatever the reason may be, sitting on a cliff by myself, with gentle winds playing with the stands of my hair and an endless ocean ahead of me, I witnessed a magical moment that lasted a while. The spot where I watched the sun go down is located off the kudle road, on the right hand side of the road, when you're facing the kudle beach. Look for a makeshift playing ground where some youngsters are playing cricket, opposite to the kudle beach parking lot. Go towards the cliff that you see farther from the ground.
Explore the Town and Visit the Gokarna Temple
Given that the Gokarna temples are a major attraction, it would be a sin to not visit them! Just kidding, I didn't visit the temples on my Gokarna trip either. But you mustn't skip out on exploring the charming old town. As you walk down the narrow lanes with houses packed closely on both sides, you'll find some commonality among all the houses. Almost every house has a white rangoli - a pattern drawn outside the house and a diya lighting up the outside. I would recommend walking around the town right after the sunset. The heat can be unbearable during the day. Besides, watching the diya filled lanes and the priests performing evening rituals is enlightening. Pun intended.
Gokarna Beach Trek
Although Om beach and Kudle beach are the most popular beaches in Gokarna, there are 3 other not-so-famous Gokarna beaches that are relatively unexplored. These beaches are Belekal beach, Paradise beach and Half moon beach. While most treks start from Om, take you to Half moon and Paradise beach, they require you to trek back to Om beach. A better alternative is to get to Belekal beach by an autorikshaw (tuk-tuk), trek to Paradise beach, Half moon beach and finally Om beach. This is the route that my gang followed. It look us 6 hours, But we took it easy, bathed in the sea and had a humongous breakfast at half moon beach!
Start the day early at 6 am so that you can catch the sunrise at Belekan beach!
Explore the Gokarna Food Scene
After you're exhausted from the early morning-afternoon beach trek, take some time to chill and explore the food scene. Zostel's in-house Mantra cafe overlooks the Gokarna beach, as shown in the picture. I would come back just for that view! Kudle beach has a bunch of shacks serving decent food which you can enjoy while watching the waves. Namaste cafe at Om beach is another popular albeit over-hyped spot. Personally, I think you can find hip shacks serving better food at lower rates at Om beach. Find a shack, sip a healthy juice and rejuvenate before you head back to your city after a break.
Best time to Visit Gokarna
Anytime is a good time for Gokarna! Just avoid the monsoon season from June to August. You won't be able to enjoy the beaches and treks during this time. Also, if you can't bear the summer heat, then I don't suggest visiting Gokarna in May either. October to April is the best time to plan your trip to Gokarna. While there aren't many Gokarna attractions, beaches, treks, temples and a hammock will be your best friends during your short vacay in Gokarna!
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