A sleepy beach town located on the west coast of India, Gokarna is synonymous with revitalized existence. While Goa is about activity and adventure, Gokarna is more about tranquillity and peaceful relaxation. The environment is what makes it perfect for the same.
The comparison between Gokarna and Goa is predictable considering both are speckled with beaches on the west coast and are merely 140 km from each other. But while Goa is more frequented by Indian tourists, Gokarna plays host to foreign tourists, solo backpackers, and the travellers who seek rejuvenation in the serenity of the coast.
The geography is equally fascinating considering that Gokarna is located at the confluence of the Arabian Sea and River Kali. If this has got you wondering, rest assured that there are plenty of things to do in Gokarna. This could be attributed to the fact that Gokarna is blessed with plenty of temples, beaches, and even some magnificent landscape that is often not discussed much.
Some exciting things to do in Gokarna are listed below:
Treks are for the mountains while the beaches are for walks, some might say. But that’s what the geography of Gokarna does – it combines two very different experiences for a holiday unlike any other. Most of the beaches here require you to cross the hilly landscape to get to them, and while some might have easy accessibility there’s nothing like a day that begins with a trek in the morning and ends with a walk on the beach at sunset.
Thus when the context is things to do in Gokarna, there is a host of beaches that offer this experience. Some of the most popular options would well include the likes of:
This is one unique experience considering that this stretch of the coast is surrounded by a range of hillocks while the beach itself is interspersed with rocks. This makes it a rocky beach and you may enjoy walking while you watch the waves crashing against the rocks or simply feel the water gently lapping against your bare feet on the sand.
There is more to Kudle than this, considering that you could visit one of the numerous shacks located on the beach for a relaxing meal or just snacking while you watch the waves. When in ‘suspended ‘ existence for some time you are not going to wonder as to ‘what to do in Gokarna’ rather you would wonder what to do without Gokarna!
The name is symbolic considering that ‘OM’ is a religious mantra in four different religions, including Hinduism, but more so because the beach itself is shaped like the symbol from which its name is derived. If you would like to visit this beach you will have to traverse hills which separate Kudle from the Om beach. This is best achieved by trekking up one side of the hill and then descending on the other side to Om Beach.
A favourite destination for tourists and locals alike, the beach is about tranquillity and relaxation, maybe even enjoying some delicious seafood bites at the few shacks one can find here.
Half Moon Beach
Yet another beautiful beach which you will need to tick off on your list of things to do in Gokarna. Once you move to the other side of Om beach you will come to the Half Moon Beach, one that’s more like a lagoon rather than a beach. While restaurants and shacks are not in abundance here, the seclusion of it makes Half Moon Beach perfect for some quiet time or even Yoga and meditation. The freshness of the sea breeze and the sound of the ocean waves offer an environment that makes it perfect for just that.
Although this beach may appear later in your list of things to do in Gokarna, it is definitely not the least important of the beaches. This could be attributed to the fact that Paradise Beach is the furthest from town and hence the last beach that you will visit due to its location.
The virgin beach is unspoiled by rampant tourism, making it a definite visit for anyone seeking some tranquillity on the coast. The calm waters and serene surroundings are perfect for a leisurely swim. What makes it even more fascinating is the fact that there are only two modes of approach. One is by trekking across the hills and the second is to travel by water. If you do not want to walk you could take a fast motorboat or a ferry.
A word of caution being although the trek across the beaches is relatively simple and needs no specialized training if you are unable to walk due to medical reasons or otherwise then take a ride. And not a ride by the road. There are quite a few boats that would take you to each of these beaches by water. How about that for a true blue experience of the coast?
Yoga by the Beach
One of the most interesting things to do in Gokarna is practicing Yoga by the sparkling waters of the sea, the perfect backdrop for a leisurely yet rejuvenating activity. Early mornings or during the sunset, pick your time of the day and head to any of the many beaches in Gokarna to truly immerse yourself in the serenity of the coast. There are numerous options available and you could either opt for a session on Namaste Yoga Farm or some of the resorts depending on personal convenience and inclination.
Gokarna is a Hindu religious centre for pilgrimage and is often referred to as the Kasi of the South. Thus it is not surprising that temples and Gokarna are quite an attraction for pilgrims. How about visiting some of these when you’re out exploring the sights and sounds of the place? If you are a tourist with an inclination for religion you will find the temples in Gokarna a treat to visit. The most popular one being Mahabaleshwar Temple, from 4th Century CE.
The temple is located in the heart of the town and is arguably the most important of all the temples in the region. Legend has it that Gokarna owes its name to the temple and is about 1,500 years old. Thus predictably it has to be amongst the ‘must do’ options when you create your very own things to do in Gokarna option check sheet.
Rejuvenate with Ayurveda
A magnificent backdrop of hills and sandy beaches accompanied by a panoramic view of tranquil water just about creates the right time for a relaxing body massage. It all gets even better when it involves Ayurveda, something that’s been a part of the Indian culture for centuries now. All that you would need to do is, find the right variant, be it a full-body massage, a simple head massage. How about swapping the pedicure for a rejuvenating foot massage while on a holiday?
If the agenda is things to do in Gokarna then a message is quite an option to consider.
There can be no vacation without tasting the local delicacies, something that gets all the more enjoyable when it involves seafood and a plethora of choices. From the spicy fried fish and Goan fish curry to a delicious lobster meal or a platter of squid rings – when in Goa, the options are endless! And when on a holiday, eating is simply the easiest choice to make, so how about immersing yourself in the mouth-watering delicacies and giving your palate an absolute treat!
Vegetarians wouldn’t need to worry much either. In order to cater to the niche yet the diverse bunch of tourists and globetrotters who visit Gokarna, the place has diverse cuisines ranging from Italian pasta to the conventional Indian thali that comes with a range of different flavours. Do not shy away from stepping into the smaller food joints and local restaurants either! Usually, these are the kind of places that offer the most authentic of flavours in coastal towns. The age-old adage of ‘appearances are deceptive’ holds true for some of the most distinguished eateries in Gokarna.
Like Goa, Gokarna too has its fair share of water sports. The more adventurous could target Om Beach. When the season is right, you would definitely want to experience water sports and will not be disappointed. For a striking aerial view of the Gokarna coastline then one of the best things to do at Gokarna is parasailing at Om Beach – an activity that shows you why the beach is named so.
The sport is safe and the technique simple: A particularly strong rope which is first tied to the speedboat and securely attached to your parachute harness at the other end. Once the speedboat cuts through the water, you will be miraculously ‘lifted’ in the air and will feel the rush of breeze on your ears and will even have an opportunity to witness the beautiful vista below you.
Om Beach is a hub for water sporting activities such as water – skiing, surfing, parasailing and even banana boat rides.
The locals will tell you that you can parasail through the entire year other than monsoons. Conversely, the famous banana boat ride at Om Beach is one of the more adventurous things to do in Gokarna. This is far more adventurous considering that the objective is to stay on the long and narrow boat. This is easier said than done and rest assured that it is just a question of time as to when you will get thrown off the boat into the water.
If you enjoy a night walk then Gokarna has a special treat waiting for you. One of the most enjoyable things to do in Gokarna is to take a night walk all the way from Kudle Beach to Gokarna Beach. When you take a night walk in unfamiliar surroundings then it is of critical importance that you choose the right trail.
This is considered as one of the best things to do in Gokarna considering that the trail by the sea is well-marked and quite wide. Thus you can navigate the trail with ease even at night. If it is a bright moonlit night then the experience only gets better, with the sound of the waves to keep you company.
From trekking to the many beaches to yoga by the sea, rejuvenating Ayurveda massages to exploring the religious significance of this stretch of the coast, Gokarna, offers a plethora of options for the unconventional traveller. One of the most common comparisons that tourists make is between Gokarna and Goa. And while the latter has got the right atmosphere and avenue for the partying youth, this beautiful little temple town by the coast.
In a crux, the two coastal towns can scarcely be compared considering that while Goa is all about activity, crowds, loud music and commercialized food, Gokarna is more about peace, tranquillity, and rejuvenation.