The Perfect Weekend Itinerary to Explore the Best of Gokarna


It isn't a surprise that whenever someone mentions a beach holiday to you, all you can visualize is Goa. But that precisely is the problem with Goa – it is too popular. This has taken away the laid-back charm of the place completely in the last decade or so, and it's impossible to actually "relax" on any beach in Goa anymore.

But there is no need to be disheartened, for there is still a hippie paradise waiting for you to discover within our country. I'm talking about the places and things to do in Gokarna – a very able alternative to Goa.

Photo of The Perfect Weekend Itinerary to Explore the Best of Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

Gokarna is a tiny temple town in Karnataka and is, thankfully, still away from the effects of absolute capitalism. Originally getting recognition because of the Mahabaleshwara Temple, which is widely believed to house the "original image to Lord Shiva's Lingam", this sleepy town has recently come into the limelight for its unadulterated beaches (the two primary ones being Kudle and Om) and everything else that Goa once stood for.

If you've suddenly developed an urge to go check out this place and indulge in some of the best things to do in Gokarna, here's a complete weekend itinerary for you to fall back on once you're there.

Day 1

Arrive in Gokarna

Photo of Kudle Beach, Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

The best thing to do in Gokarna is visit at Kudle Beach is to soak up the vibes of the place by breaking the fast while facing the endless sea. Here are two great places to do so:


Photo of The Little Paradise Inn, Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

This is a little beach-facing shack serving international fare at reasonable prices. A fixed Israeli or Continental breakfast will cost you only Rs. 250. The staff isn't very friendly, but the overall experience is nice.

Photo of Kudle Beach Road, Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

Café 1987 is probably the best café on the Kudle Beach road. The food is a bit costlier than other cafes, but it is worth it. The ambience is casual, the staff is polite, and the music is majorly Bollywood. It's a multi-cuisine café so you can order just about anything here. I personally recommend their Chinese fare.

Go sightseeing

Photo of Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna, Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

Once you've rejuvenated from your journey and fulfilled your tummy's demands, you can go check out what's around you. And I recommend the first pitstop to be the legendary Mahabaleshwar Temple. This is the reason why Gokarna came into the eye of the seekers of spiritual emancipation in the first place. The main deity inside this temple is a Shivalinga, which is believed to bring good fortune to whoever catches a glimpse of it. The temple is just a kilometer and a half away from Kudle Beach – a mere 15 minute walk.

Photo of Yana, Uttara Kannada by Srishti (still.winds)

If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you can hire a bike or car and drive till the Yana Village nearby. It's 53km away, which means you will be on the road for around an hour and a half. Famous for its unusual rock formations (as shown in the picture above) called Karst or Asteroids, taking a tour in this village is one of the most exciting things to do in Gokarna for nature enthusiasts.

This attracts many trekkers here, resulting in economic benefits for this tiny village. This place also hosts an annual car festival during Shivratris, so you can plan your trip accordingly if you wish to witness that. The surrounding areas are populated by dense green forests where you can easily chill for a while and enjoy the view before hitting the road back to Gokarna.

Photo of Murudeshwar Temple, Uttara Kannada by Srishti (still.winds)

Your final pitstop for the day can be the world-renowned Murudeshwar Temple, thanks to its second-tallest Shiva statue in the world. It's really not just the physical stature of the deity that is to see here, it's more the ethereal beauty that takes your breath away.

The temple is built on the Kanduka Hill, surrounded by the Arabian Sea on three sides. A 20-storied structure is built close to the statue so that the latter's magnanimity can be enjoyed to the fullest.

Photo of Om Beach, Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

Om Beach is even calmer than Kudle Beach, and hence it's a great place to end your day. There are plenty of rock pools here to sit at and enjoy. And many boats for hire that can help you explore the sea for as cheap as 100 bucks an hour during off-season. Visiting this place is one of the favorite things to do among Israelis and Russians, who have made this a permanent retreat away from the hustle and bustle of Goa. The beach is named after its actual shape – the word 'Om'.


Photo of Namaste Cafe, Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

Namaste Café is located right at the beginning of Om Beach and offers a fantastic view of the sea. Famous for its seafood, this restaurant enjoys huge crowds during peak time. This is a great option to admire the night sky with a chilled beer in your hand, unless you're in a hurry to go somewhere else later because the place is also infamous for its slow service. You must try their veg sizzler.

Photo of Chez Christophe Gokarna French Café since 2010, Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

Probably the most happening restaurant in Gokarna, Chez Christophe fully comes to life only at night. Although located a kilometer away from the main Om Beach, this restaurant will make up for your detour in a musical fashion. Perennially crowded with people playing various musical instruments inside and around, the hippie culture is at its highest here. You must try their baguettes and croissants for sure, while you sip on the whiskey.

Day 2
Photo of Kudle Beach, Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

If you followed Day 1's itinerary, then you've already travelled a lot. So Day 2 needs to be the day to relax and experience the tranquil demeanor of Gokarna. Hence, just go to Ganga Café for your brunch and sit there till late afternoon.

Photo of Ganga Café, Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

Rated the highest amongst all the cafes in Gokarna, Ganga Café is like no other in the proximity. Owned by Nagesh and his genial family, this café provides great views of Kudle Beach. The best part about this place is that no one will frown upon you for sitting idly for as long as you want. Although it's a multi-cuisine restaurant, but I personally recommend that you stay away from the Indian food, as they might make it spicier than what your palate is used to. Just get a beer and some pakodas and spend the entire afternoon here.

Beach Hopping

Photo of Paradise Beach, Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

If you wish to immerse yourself in the true hippie culture, then Paradise Beach is just the place for you. Since this beach is only accessible via either a trek or a boat ride, the population here comprises of people seeking solace from the crowd. Before you jump at the thought of going to this beach, I must tell you that only a few basic amenities are available here – this means there is no electricity and only a handful of shacks selling bags of chips and pakodas. If you are not bothered by such inconveniences, this white sand beach is totally worth your time.

Photo of Half Moon Beach, Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

Just like the one above, Half Moon Beach is also a secluded beach that you can take a ferry to from both Om and Kudle Beaches, or can even trek to from Paradise Beach. You might even be able to spot a dolphin or two here, so I recommend you stay here a while. The number of shacks here, however, is even less than on Paradise, so you might want to carry some eatables with you, if you are planning to be here till sunset. It's a great place for couples


Photo of Prema Hilltop Rooms & Prema Restaurant, Gokarna by Srishti (still.winds)

If after all this time in Gokarna, you've started craving a proper Indian meal, Prema Restaurant will act as an oasis in this desert. The eatery is extremely popular, especially amongst foreign tourists, for a taste of authentic Indian food in a town otherwise mostly known for its western food. Prema's speciality is South Indian, and you'll also get the Udupi-kind-of- food if you care to delve deeper. In all probability, you will be underwhelmed by the facade of this place but let it not deceive you, for it's quite possibly the best restaurant in the whole of Gokarna. Also, it's pure vegetarian.

As Justin Timberlake famously sang, what goes around indeed comes around. If you've been following this itinerary from the beginning, Little Paradise Inn was the café where you were supposed to have your very first meal. This is also the place where you can have your last meal before jetting off to reality. Little Paradise is known so because of its seafood preparations, and hence if you are a hardcore non-vegetarian, Prema Restaurant just won't cut it for you; it's only the prawns at this place that will satiate your hunger.

Though this town is known as a lazy and sleepy town, there are so fun things to do here other than visiting the usual temples:

1) Beach Trekking

The exciting and adventures part of this town are these beach treks. You might wonder why I need to trek to the beach, while one can just walk. Gokarna is situated alongside the hills and beaches are located on the other side. You have to literally trek up and down these Rocky Mountains to get to the beaches. This where all the excitement and fun truly remains.

As I have already mentioned, Gokarna has 5 major beaches – Gokarna Beach, Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Half Moon Beach and Paradise Beach.

Gokarna Beach is in the main town and it is a famous pilgrimage place. Shivathri being the main festival of this town is always celebrated here. This beach is also famous for surfing; however, it is not preferred much by the tourists for an adventure sort parse.

2) You get mouth-watering food here

Gokarna is one town that serves you multi cuisine food. Kudle beach has in numerous shacks that serve you from Italian to Korean and some authentic Konkan food. I loved the Nutella pancakes that were served at Sunshine Café. This café is located in the middle of Kudle beach and gives you an amazing view of the sunset. As I took a Shack here to live I ended up eating here all three days and loved every bit of food I ate. The prawn sukka, Israeli salad, French toast, Sizzlers and English breakfast were the food I tried and trust me, everything I tried at Sunshine Café was just MOUTHWATERING and AMAZING! As you eat your food you get an amazing view of the sun set.

3) Pamper yourself with a Massage

The shacks at Kudle Beach, resorts and hotels offer you some of the most amazing massaged. The most popular therapy are the Kerala Ayurvedic treatments. I enjoyed my foot massage at Paradise Café (much needed after all the trekking) located at Kudle beach. You have various massage option to choose from. It is a soothing experience with some good background music.

4) Yoga

As you just walk across the beach you see people doing yoga and you can join them and learn to do yoga or you can do it yourself. I have seen people doing yoga in the evenings at Kudle Beach.

5) Start Jamming

Kudle beach is opted by a lot of tourists and you will happen to bump into one or the other Musician. We had crazy jam sessions with hand drums, guitar, and didgeridoo. It was one amazing night spent well with so many musicians.

6) Go shopping

You can go to Gokarna town and pick up those dhoti pants, Om kurtas, colorful skirts, bags and lot more. This town has a lot to offer and very affordable price. If you good with bargaining you can carry home a lot of gifts for friends and families.

Getting there

You have plenty of buses to get here from Bangalore, Mangalore, and Gokarna. You have trains as well. If you love riding or driving then there is no looking back as the roads are very well maintained.

Travel Tips

1) Best season to go is from September up to April. Latter to that it gets very hot and humid.

2) You do not necessarily have to stay in a resort, you have plenty of shacks in Kudle Beach and Om Beach to stay up.

3) Withdraw sufficient cash for your stay as you will have trek up and down if you go out of cash as there are no ATMS yet.

4) Carry Odomos and Sunscreen in your bag always.

5) If you are an animal lover than carrying a hand sanitizer as you will find a plenty of dogs at the beaches. If you not into animals then stay away from them. Better safe than sorry.

6) Just break free, meet new people and HAVE FUN!!

So there you go, a complete weekend itinerary to enjoy some of the most sought after things to do in Gokarna to the fullest.

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