Finding out sun, sand, and solitude, all in one place, is quite a difficult task. But for sure not impossible! India has some incredible beaches that have escaped the commercialization, and are just perfect to savor the solitude with the sound of breaking surf.
Located in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnatak, Gokarna is a small town famous for the Mahabaleshwar Temple and four most secluded and pristine beaches—Om Beach, Kudle Beach, Halfmoon Beach, and Paradise Beach—that are separated from one another by hills. Each of them has its own appeal and allure.
Om Beach is the most happening with lots of shacks with few basic amenities. The beach is accessible by metalled road. You will have to cross over tiny seaside hills to reach out to other three hidden beaches. Boat rides are other options.
Halfmoon Beach is more secluded and less popular than Om beach and a trek away from Om beach down south before Paradise beach. Up the cliff, the path to Half Moon beach is not clearly marked. The forest is thicker and walking paths can only be recognized by the usage. In Halfmoon Beach, except us and the shack owner, all were travelers from either Europe or Israel.
Paradise Beach is a tiny protected cove. The beaches are so quiet and cute that sometime people even spend months soaking up the sun and relaxing by the Arabian Sea. Undoubtedly, international travelers outnumber the domestic travelers. The beaches have just family run places with stone benches for tables and fresh vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals.
Gokarna is also a holy town for Hindus. The Mahabaleshwar Temple houses a huge lingam of Lord Shiva. Make sure you check out the huge chariot near the Ganpati Temple that carries Shiva idol through the streets while people throw bananas at it for good luck during the Shivaratri Festival in February and March.
How to Reach
Gokarna is located in the state of Karnataka, India. The town is 147 kms from Goa, around 500 kms from Bangalore, 538 kms from Pune, and 696 kms from Mumbai. Madgaon (125 km), Mangalore (225 km), Dabolim (140 km) and Bangalore are all well connected to Gokarna by KSRTC. Tourist bus services are available from Bangalore to Gokarna.
Trains on the Konkan railway stop at Gokarna Road station, 15 minutes from town, as well as Kumta and Ankola stations, both around 25 kilometers (16 miles) from Gokarna.
Dabolim, Goa is the nearest airport. From there, it is a four-hour drive through the scenic landscapes to Gorkana.
Visitors can access Om beach by car or rickshaw but Halfmoon, and Paradise beaches can only be reached through a 20 minute hike through hills and rocks. Paradise beach is a small protected cove. You may take a boat to reach Paradise beach. Walking is the best way to enjoy the beach and sea breeze all through your walk. Early morning or late evening is the best time.
Where to Stay
If you really want to enjoy quaint, secluded beaches of Gokaran, hotels will not be the right choice. Book a hut/ shack right on the beach to experience the life by the sea. Namaste Cafe is a popular place to stay on Om Beach. There are several luxury resorts such as the Om Beach Resort and SwaSwara to cater for those who prefer comforts. The Om Beach Resort has a traditional Ayurvedic center, while Swaswara focuses on yoga and meditation. In shacks you will definitely get the fanciest menu cards but very basic food. If do not like experimenting with food, stick to the likes of toast, eggs, and fruit juice.
When to Visit
The best time to visit Gokarna is from October to March, when the weather is warm and pleasant. April and May are hot summer months, and the temperature easily reaches 38 degrees Celsius then. But accommodation can be difficult to come by in the peak months of December and January.
Care should be taken when walking between the beaches at night and it is best not to go alone. Swimming can also be dangerous as some areas have strong under currents.