An account of 4 days spent in Gokarna on a backpack. This is an adventurous, budget and experiential trip which involves exploring Gokarna with a tent.
Reach Gokarna Bus Stand/Railway station
Start the trek to Paradise Beach
Camp at Paradise Beach
Ferry back to Kudle Beach
Relax at Kudle Beach
Camp at sunset point
Enjoy Kayaking and Surfing
Swim at Vibhooti Falls and visit Yana
Depart from Gokarna
HOW TO REACH
Gokarna is situated below Karwar on the Northern Coast of Karnataka. The rail network and the road network can take you to Gokarna from all major cities like Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai.
Nearest airport is Hubli (200kms).
Train station is Gokarna Road which is 10 kms from the beach. Local buses & taxis are available from station to the beach.
I took Matsyagandha express (12619) from Mumbai to reach here and it arrived at 5 am (1-2 hours late than ETA). Took local bus at 6 am from Main Road outside the station.
WHAT & WHEN TO DO
- Arrive at Gokarna Station. You can wait in the waiting room there till 6 am and then head to the beach as I did.
- Take a local bus from the main road about 400 m from station gate. You’ll get them at 15 minute intervals.
- Reach main beach and have breakfast at restaurants around bus stand.
- Freshen up at pay and use bathroom at main beach. Start the trek and head to the temple visible on the hill to the left.
- Go up the stone steps from temple and keep trekking along the shore till the point named “Labyrinth” on google maps.
- Keep trekking on the trail and you’ll arrive at Kudle beach entrance.
- Rest, relax and swim at Kudle beach and eat or drink till 12pm in the shacks.
- Continue trek towards OM beach. The trail starts with some steps, then you can follow the shoreline and reach Om Beach via a Park at the end.
- Have lunch at Namaste cafe at Om Beach.
- Continue Trek from Om Beach to Half Moon Beach.
- The trail is well marked but wild enough for an adventure.
- Reach Half Moon beach and relax for a while or continue to Paradise beach.
- Reach Paradise via the same trail and set up your camp.
- No restaurants, shacks or vendors here; so carry food packets of choice for your dinner.
- Start your day with watching Dolphins early morning near Paradise Beach and take the first ferry to Kudle Beach.
- Have Breakfast at Uma Maheshwari Cafe just at the start of Kudle beach.
- Spend the whole day at Kudle beach playing Beach Games, Kayaking, Swimming, Trying food from cafes and relaxing till evening.
- Head to the sunset point near Kudle Beach, marked as the Labyrinth on maps.
- Watch the sunset. Camp at the same spot. There are no laws pertaining to camping at public spots in India in general, so wait till the crowd clears so no hindrances are caused.
- Start with a beautiful sunrise view from your camping spot on the hill.
- Head to Main Beach
- Explore Local Market near the beach. Opens from 9 am onward.
- Head to Namaste Samudra Cafe on main beach. Get Surfing lessons with Cocopelli Surf School.
- Relax and enjoy sunset
- Rent Local bikes after sunset from the shops outside bus stand.
- Take the bikes to Belekan beach and ask the last shack owner for the trail to Paradise beach.
- He let’s you park your vehicle in his shack for ₹20/bike for the night.
- Start your night trek from Belekan Beach to Paradise Beach via clearly marked trail (also on google maps)
- Reach Paradise and camp there for the night.
- Start your day with the trek back to Belekan beach and take your bikes to Vibhooti Falls.
- Reach Vibhooti falls with breakfast on the way.
- Swim in the Falls
- Go to Yana caves and check out the rock formations.
- Return to Gokarna and spend time on beach or depart from Kumta/Karwar via which ever means of transport you plan to take. ..
WHERE TO STAY
I carried my own tent and for the three nights I stayed there I camped at –
One of the best properties to stay on a budget in Gokarna is the Halfway Home, near Kudle Beach! The place offers the best authentic South Indian Food. It is maintained perfectly with quality accommodation, bathrooms and facilities like good wifi! Highly recommended if you plan on not camping.
Go ahead and check them out if you’re in a dilemma of choosing the right property, it won’t disappoint!
Other than this, there are lots of shacks with rooms at Main beach, Kudle beach and Om Beach. Also 1 or 2 at Half Moon Beach. Belkan beach also, but not worth staying there.
The Zostel at Kudle is another great option if you want to like staying there.
Main bus stand has a few good luxury hotels around it as well.
For the ultra luxury lover a must stay place is – Kahani Paradise Resort with their infinity pool and beautiful atmosphere.
Camping at Paradise is safe but avoid on new year eve and times of holidays when there may be maximum crowd as there might be some routine checks by cops for drugs and alcohol and they may hinder your camping.
Camping at Labyrinth was a bold move we chose to take as in the evening a cop came there asking everyone about their accommodation and checking for drugs and alcohol. We told him that we were put up at a shack at Kudle Beach and he was convinced. So we set up camp only after dark and every one was gone. We had no problem at night. However it should be avoided as the winds on the hill top are pretty strong and the ground is rocky.
WHERE TO EAT
Namaste Samudra Cafe at Main beach had the best food we had on our trip.
Bhagwan cafe main beach
Halfway home, Kudle beach for good south Indian meals and Kombucha
Uma Maheshwari cafe at Kudle beach had good view and decent breakfast of pan cakes and aloo parathas.
Namaste cafe at Om Beach seemed good place to eat.
We had South Indian breakfasts at restaurants outside bus stands. They were not that great. We sat and ordered some food from random shacks at Kudle beach twice or thrice. The food was not that great anywhere. We had one or two meals from highway restaurants. Again not that great food but works if you are not a foodie like it worked for us.
HOW TO TRAVEL AROUND
- Gokarna is small place and you can choose to trek from one beach to other.
- Plus you can take ferry to all these beaches rather than taking your vehicle.
- Railway station and some other far off beaches are connected via local bus systems from the bus stand.
- Rent a scooter for travelling to other off-beat places a little away from Gokarna. Bike Rental starts at ₹300-400 for 24 hours. Ferry rides start at ₹100.
- Autos are available but we didn’t feel the need to use them.
- Don’t carry alcohol or any other substances with you anywhere as there’ll be frequent checks at different places throughout Gokarna.
- Have these things at the shacks only.
- Camping is good at Paradise beach. Other than that there wasn’t any clear undisturbed place in Gokarna area where you can camp.You can try camping it at Labyrinth like we did.
- If you plan to trek and camp like we did, carry as little luggage as you can. As you’ll carry it everywhere with you.
- Use a refillable bottle with you and ask the shack owners to fill it. So you don’t have to spend money on buying bottles and don’t have to worry about the trash.
- There are great places like the Nirvana Beach and Honey beach nearby Gokarna that are worth the visit if time permits.
We were too tired on the first day with all the trekking and all of us carrying luggage for a 4-5 day trip. But the sleep was blissful at the Paradise beach in our own tents with other people also camping around us. We relaxed the next whole day at Kudle beach and didn’t think of our camping spot for that night. We had no mood to take a ferry back to Paradise so we decided to camp on the hill next to Kudle beach and find some spot there.
When we reached the top, we realized that this was also a sunset point and there were people around. Then a cop came checking us for cigarettes or drugs and asking about our accommodation. We didn’t have anything on us and lied to him saying we are put up in a shack at Kudle beach. He left us there and soon everyone disbursed after sunset.
Now it was already dark so we had no option but to sleep there. We found a good enough flat ground to set up our tent and hurriedly but quietly got in the tent hoping that the cop doesn’t come back to hackle us at night. Luckily no one came back and we slept peacefully and woke up with a great sunrise view.
On the third day we had planned to sleep at Belekan beach. But when we reached there, there was no place to camp there . A good shack owner came and offered us his premise to camp and also directed us to the paradise beach trail and told us that it’s safe to trek at night and a lot of others do it as well. So we decided to go to Paradise and trekked at night there. It was quite a wonderful trip we had with such things happening.
PICTURES FROM THIS TRIP
Combine this Trip with nearby locations or check out other versions of this trip taken by our Xplorers that may help you to find out your kind of trip here – GOKARNA
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