Hippies and hipsters unite in Gokarna. An area in the Karnataka state of India, along the West coast, lies a series of beaches to fit whichever level of hippie lurks within.
The most well known among the beaches is Kudle. Restaurants, guest houses, hotels, yoga (small world side note: check out Gokarna Yoga Garden and you’ll find a beautiful space and a lovely teacher from Toronto), spas, and even a tattoo parlour make up the perimeter just off the shoreline. I particularly enjoyed having an ayruvedic massage — talk about total relaxation for the whole body. Two masseurs worked in unison rubbing oil head to toe in a constant flow. This treatment is highly recommended!
Want something a little less lively? Om Beach is a step up in terms of goings on. Seemingly made up mainly of young Israeli tourists tanning and playing frisbee all day long. Here, there is a range of accommodation styles: you can find basic shacks with communal toilets and showers for as little as $3 a night or splurge on luxuries like option of a room with a private bathroom for a whopping $12. A note for the tech-addicts: WiFi has yet to appear here.
Looking to really rough it by living as simply as possible without many distractions? Half Moon Beach may be for you. Only a couple of restaurants, shacks, and tents dot the tiny alcove. I heard but did not see that even farther along you’ll find nothing, just space to hang your hammock and totally and completely relax.
If you start feeling over-chilled out, take a day trip to Murudeshwara and see the second largest Shiva statue in the world at an impressive 123 feet.
On a food note, there is lots to choose from. Because these beaches cater to tourists there’s a wide range including Indian, Italian, Chinese, Israeli, and continental. My favourite beverage to start the days with was a cup of ginger lemon honey tea and fresh lime and soda the rest of the day (both of these I’ll be recreating back home). For food, my favourite Gokarna-specific dish was a dessert: kudle cake with ice cream. And, surprisingly, the best Italian food I’ve had in ages from Kudle’s Tasty Home German Bakery (handmade spaghetti, fresh herbs, lots of garlic, and yak cheese).
One thing comparable across the board of beach options is the evening agenda. As there’s so much activity during the day, the nightlife on both beaches consists mainly of bonfires and sing-a-longs.
No matter which beach you choose, you’ll never be too far from Gokarna city. Here you can find a colourful market with fruit, clothing, jewellery, or basic everyday items (soap and cookies, for instance), as well as an ATM, Internet, post office, restaurants, temples (though tourists aren’t allowed inside Hindu temples in Gokarna, the outside and what you can see from peeking in is fine), and transportation to your next destination.
Take a look at the gallery for some of my favourite shots from my stay in this lush beach paradise!
Gallery photos by Emer Schlosser
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