If you are looking for a short weekend getaway in Karnataka, to escape from the daily hustle, just want to sit back and relax at a beach and watch the sun go down and if Goa is too crowded for your liking? Gokarna is a fine choice for you, with a mix of spiritual temples with a very old and fascinating mythological history about the Shiv Ling and Hippie Shacks along with clean and secluded beaches; you will not realise how the weekend went by.
Since there is no airport in Gokarna, I suggest Bus to be the best mode of transportation for tourists as the main bus stop is very close to all the famous beaches where you want to set up base for the weekend. It will cost you hardly anything to hire a rickshaw from the Main bus stop, where they are very easily available and would take you about 5-10mins to reach any of the beaches you want to stay in. I suggest Kudle Beach for a first timer although there are plenty of options. All shacks have private rooms at the back, rent one out and they have at least 2-3 variants depending on how big your group is. Choose wisely and I would suggest not to look for anything fancy and spend too much on the rooms because I guarantee you will be spending most of your time out of it, but do make sure you pick one with attached restrooms as the common bathrooms are not always very well maintained. Start your day early with a sumptuous breakfast and a chilled beer/ cold glass of fresh fruit juice. All shacks face the beach and you will love that morning breeze hit your face while you enjoy your food and beverages. Try out some English breakfast options as the cooks at the shacks are good at it considering the number of foreign customers they cater. All beaches are a small trek downhill and if you are planning on sightseeing, make sure you plan your entire afternoon, as it does not make sense for one to make a stop back at the shack in between. I suggest take a boat ride to the adjacent beaches instead of trekking to the top and taking road transport, as you don’t travel on a motor boat every day to work, now do you?
Visit the adjacent beaches, take a dip, relax and do not worry about getting your clothes wet because you dry up soon thanks to the sun. Do visit some of the local temples, the best part of temples in Gokarna is they all have a very fascinating story to tell. Try out some local coastal cuisine at any of the shacks – White rice and Seafood curry/coastal veg curry would be my choice. Make sure you have finalised on a spot where you want to sit down with some snacks to enjoy the beautiful sunset which for me is the most stress relieving part of the trip, “just sit back, sip on my beer and watch the sun, go take a dip in the sea”.
Evenings are best to take a walk on the nesting beach, a small pocket torch would be handy although there will be plenty of light from all the shacks. If you feeling lazy that is perfectly alright, no one is judging you, you are here to relax anyway, sit by the sea with your legs shoved in the sand. If you are lucky you might find locals and foreigners setting up campfire for the night, you can ask if your shack has any such facility and avail it or just go join the party.All travellers in Gokarna in my experience are very welcoming and social. Enjoy the music and the chitchat, followed by dinner of your choice and a good nights rest.
I suggest Gokarna to all Groups and Solo travelers; solo travelers check out Zostel at Paradise beach. They have a unique business strategy and are open to solo and small group tourists exclusively, they prefer people socializing than catering to large groups, it is very easy to strike conversation and make new friends there.
Gokarna would be the best choice if you are a water fanatic and are looking for a small beach getaway for the weekend, do not expect lavish beach parties although you are allowed to start a party of your own along with the people around.