Gokarna is like a small little chilled out Goa, which in a way is really nice but also super quiet so, I imagine, could get boring after awhile. Fortunately I was only there for 2 nights with my friend Tobs. We drove down on a Royal Enfield from Arambol which is awesome and I highly recommend doing if you are brave enough for the Indian traffic. In total it took 5 hours and would have been nicely uneventful if it weren’t for Tobs’ DSLR camera falling out my backpack and smashing into pieces on the road!
Other than that and stopping for some food and beer we pretty much drove straight through. We arrived just as sun was setting, parked the Enfield and went to explore Kudle Beach (pronounced cuddly). We hadn’t planned ahead or booked anything and quickly found most places were full, so we caught a tuk-tuk to Ohm beach, about 1km away, but had no luck there either! Eventually we settled on a cheap 500 rupee room on Kudle beach which I thought was fairly decent and even had a view of the beach. Tobs wasn’t too stoked about the shared bathroom but we were out of options by that point.
After checking in we joined some other friends at a nearby restaurant on the beach for some beers and food. Towards midnight the power went out and it was completely pitch black and deathly quiet. Nobody even said anything, we just sat in silence and stared upwards at a night sky more dense with stars than space.
The next day after a decent breakfast we embarked on the 5km walk to Paradise Beach, a beach only accessible by foot along a rocky coastline path. The scenery along the way is unbelievable – by far the best I saw while in India and strong competition to most other coastlines. We stopped at a tiny beach shack along the way on the otherwise-deserted half-moon beach and had a coffee and some biscuits.
Paradise beach turned out to be a small, secluded cove full of palm trees, with some hammocks here and there and a Hindu shrine. Some other travelers were hanging around and there were a few tents, indicating some were sleeping here. There were also a number of locals who presumably lived nearby, selling coconuts, drinks and snacks. I must say, by comparison to the Koh Rong island beaches in Cambodia, ‘Paradise beach’ might be a slightly presumptuous title. However, I could totally see myself camping here for a few days – dependent on how intrusive the locals are (in India, camping can turn you into something of a spectacle).
After chilling for a few hours enjoying coconuts, snacks and playing with puppies we decided to join some others on a boat back to Ohm beach, rather than try hike the 5km again in the fading light. This turned out to be a lot of fun, with the sun setting and some big swell coming in.
It was Shiva Ratri festival that evening which is one of the most sacred Hindu festivals so after getting back we walked down to town to investigate. Unfortunately queues to get into the temples were huge but we did enjoy some local music and went to one smaller temple on a hill with nice ocean views. While there we bumped into my German friends from Goa and chilled with them for a bit before getting food and heading to bed.
I’m sad I didn’t have longer to spend in Gokarna as I would have liked to camp on Paradise Beach and I think there is a lot more to the surrounding area to explore. It’s also super chilled out and quiet, which is a nice respite to the rest of India. If you have a chance to visit I would recommend spending 5 days to a week. It’s slightly cheaper than Goa too, except for alcohol.