I am not a beach person. In fact, I always thought I would reserve beach destinations for when I can no longer endure adventurous trips.
Gokarna is an exception to it. I have been to this beach town twice in the last 2 years and, given my penchant for the mountains, it says a lot about the place.
Gokarna is one of those places where you just go, sit by the beach and watch the days go by. No Goa-esque parties, no crowds, just picture perfect beaches, sea-facing cafes and a peaceful vibe.
So if you have a long weekend coming up anytime soon, you can follow my 3 day Gokarna Itinerary to make the most of your trip.
How to Travel to Gokarna:
Before we get down to the actual itinerary, it’s important to plan your travel to reach the place.
The nearest airport is Goa. From there you will have to take a 5-6 hour bus ride to reach Gokarna.
If you have a bit more time, you can even take a train. Gokarna has its own railway station.
And of course, you can take overnight buses, if you don’t mind the 12-14 hour commute. For those staying in Mumbai, Pune or Bangalore, this option can be quite convenient too.
I stay in Mumbai and I have used train and bus, and they generally take the same amount of time. So it all depends on your comfort levels.
A day in Gokarna starts by the sea. No matter where you are staying (we will come back to that later), you are never far away from a patch of sand. I love starting my trip with Om beach.
It gets its name from the twin curves of the beach. But more than the shape though, it is the color of the water that I find most appealing. The sand disappears into varying shades of blue. And the water is cleaner than most beaches that I have seen in India.
It’s a good idea to walk into Namaste Café around afternoon, sit down for lunch and just gaze at the magnificent waters. The café lies on the beach and affords spectacular views of the sea. The first time I came here, I spent hours sitting at this café and just chatting with my friends.
Once evening arrives, you can walk by the beach, sit on seaside rocks and just wait for the sunset.
More than beaches, i would say Gokarna is about its sunsets. I spent 3 days here and every day, i remember seeing a distinctly different sunset. It’s almost like a thriller movie. You really don’t know what to expect.
You can explore other beaches in the morning here. Kudle and Gokarna beach are great for a refreshing dip in the morning. The water is calm, making it ideal for swimming.
In the afternoon, you can go for the 5 beach trek – a trek along the 5 beaches bordering the shores. The highlight is Paradise beach, a cute little beach wrapped around by cliffs, and with small coconut groves in the midst of it. It ends in just about 100 meters.
You will often find travelers camping here, often chilling in hammocks, doing yoga by the sea and or just enjoying a swim.
The only way to reach this beach is by ferry or by hiking. I did both ways. And a bonus was spotting dolphins, which i wasn’t expecting at all. But it’s quite common to see dolphins around here, or so they say.
The unique thing about Paradise beach is this phenomenon known as bioluminescence. It’s a bluish glow produced by phytoplanktons and visible when the weather conditions are perfect. To witness this surreal glow, you have to do a night trek, or at least wait until it gets dark.
I couldn’t do the night trek due to time constraints, but like all places i have been to, i have another reason to come back.
And of course, sunsets like these.
Note: The last ferry from paradise beach leaves around 6.00 pm. So if you want to wait at the beach after dark you can return back to Om beach by a 40 minute trek. And if you camp there, you can always take the morning ferry to return.
You can visit the main town today if you are interested in temples or you want to shop. There isn’t much to do in the main town though.
Or you can pick a beach of your choice and just chill at a beach side shack with some beers.
In the evening, or afternoon, you can catch your train/bus and head back home.
Note: Keep cash handy with you as there aren’t too many ATMs here. Also places like Namaste café don’t accept payments in cards for alcohol.
Where to stay in Gokarna
If you are looking for a budget place to stay, then Zostel Gokarna is the best place. Perched on a mountain top, it affords unobstructed views of Gokarna beach. With a great café and a lot of open spaces, it’s totally worth every penny.
P.S. I am a big time Zostel fan. But this review is unbiased.
Mid-range to luxury
There are plenty of beach side resorts like Kudle beach resort, Kudle beach view resort and Sanskruti resort.
I have stayed in Sanskruti resort. It’s a little expensive, but has amazing cottages.
Best time to travel to Gokarna:
Best time is October to February. In the summer months it can get quite hot. I have traveled in both October and December and the weather was quite pleasant.