To sum up the destination of Gokarna: one big hippie beach resort. (I saw more dreadlocks on different heads in one day than I have my whole life… even the hippie kids had dreads!)
Unfortunately, in 10 years, we probably wouldn’t recognize the place.
The town of Gokarna is your average tourist pit stop, with lots of guesthouses, shops and restaurants designed to cater to our desires and whims. The town beach isn’t much to look at… Its littered with trash and there are a lot of cows, which means a lot of excrement in the sand.
As the old adage goes, nothing worth having is ??? There are supposedly more than just a few beaches along the coast, including four highly touted areas. Kudle beach and Om beach can be reached (relatively) easily from Gokarna town, requiring only 20 and 40 minutes of walking, respectively. There is also Half Moon beach and Paradise beach (which we’ve heard so much about) but we ended up lolling at Om beach too long to undertake the hour-long hike to Paradise.
Kudle beach is a quiet expanse of flat, mud-like sand enclosed by two rocky hills and boasts somewhat clean and clear greenish water. Sand crabs add texture to the flatness, and the gentle slope of the beach makes it ideal for sunbathing.
Beyond that is Om beach, named for its two curves of sand (somewhat like a 3). I found it to be a more intimate enclosure, with sand made of relatively large broken shells… They weren’t actually large pieces, by any means, but when I let them sift through my fingers I could easily discern the color and texture of each ‘grain’ of sand, and so I sat there for awhile, admiring the effects of time and erosion. (I swear, I wasn’t under the effects of drugs, pop)
The water felt more dirty, though, and there were a few groups of Indian men who kept pacing the beach with, obviously, only one purpose in mind.
Lining both beaches are the requisite palm trees, rudimentary beach shack restaurants, and beach shacks for rent. The expensive, luxuriant resorts we saw in Varkala have yet to set up shop here, so everything has a down-to-earth attitude.
Waves are practically nonexistent at the two beaches, though.
Overall, Gokarna can be a cheap vacation… the beach shacks can start at 150 rupees per night, and with a bit of scavenging, meals can be relatively budget-friendly. Just be sure to ask about portion sizes if you have a tendency to frequent hole-in-the-wall family-run restaurants.