Gokarna, situated on the west coast of India in the state of Karnataka is popular amongst backpackers and travellers for its pristine beaches, temples and laid-back lifestyle. I had been reading and seeing lot of blogs and posts on Gokarna. Taking advantage of the long easter weekend, I with my couple of mates decided to do a road trip to Gokarna.
After asking some locals and getting some information from fellow travellers we decided to hike on the Gokarna beach trek. Gokarna Beach trek is one continuous trail which connects multiple beaches of gokarna giving magnificent glimpses of the beaches and the landscapes around them. It has multiple starting points from Kudle beach, Om beach and Belekan Beach. To beat the heat, we woke up at 6.30am drove to Om beach from where we would start our trek.
Om beach is well known by everyone and has two beach curves which when glimpsed from above appears to resemble the religious Hindu symbol of “Om”. We had been told this beach is usually crowded, and even early in the morning we could see small groups of people relaxing at different parts of the beach. There was a local ferry service available on the beach which gave a ride to other hidden inaccessible beaches on the trek but we decided to hike instead to enjoy the landscapes. We spent sometime on the Om beach to click some pictures and enjoy the relatively empty beach before it was overrun by crowds. Walking slowly towards the eastern end of the beach we reached a small shack from behind which a hidden trail climbed up to lead to the beach trek trail.
Initially the climb was steep with the trail going all the way up to the top of the small hill where it leveled out into a forest. We climbed up non stop on this path and reached the top within 15 minutes.
At the top an alternative path opened out into a small clear space over the cliff offering beautiful views of the Arabian Sea and the Om beach. There was hardly any breeze in the air and the temperature being in high twenties, the initial climb felt more difficult. But the view offered from this lookout point put a smile on our face and seemed to rejuvenate us. We stood there admiring the view.
After 10 minutes we started walking again. Now the path seemed a bit more difficult traversing up and down and weaving in and out of the forests occasionally giving us glimpses of the sea. After about 15 more minutes, we reached a narrow part on the trail which hugged the cliffs on one side and opened up to a beautiful ocean on the other side. It felt good to stand on the edge of the cliffs looking out over the sea with a pleasant breeze blowing over our face every now and then. These were the gokarna cliffs that we had heard about and were as beautiful as they had been described by others.
From the cliffs, the trail climbed down now into a bush covered area and finally opened up onto a small beach called Half Moon beach. It had number of shacks around offering cheap stay and food but most of them were empty. The beach itself was empty and had soft sandy stretch interrupted frequently by rocks and boulders. It was getting hotter by the minute as sun inched slowly upwards in the sky. We stopped here to drink water and enjoyed the pleasure of having a beach all to ourselves, which I must say is a very rare thing to happen in India.
From half moon beach the path went over few tricky rocks and boulders and into shallow ponds made by the crashing waves before emerging out again to take us back into the forest. Now the trail was much more difficult and treacherous, taking us over a part of the cliffs which had a very steep fall over the ocean. This part is also known as the hell’s cliffs probably because of the difficulty level. It took us around 20-30 more minutes to get past hells cliffs. By now we had started to run out of water and it felt like we would be facing major issues with keeping ourselves hydrated.
Fortunately, immediately after hell’s cliffs, the path climbed down and led to Paradise beach. One of the most famous beaches of Gokarna and accessible only by foot or ferry, Paradise beach has been attracting travelers a lot. Unlike half moon beach, paradise beach had quite a few people who were relaxing out there. Fortunately, we also saw a lone coconut vendor on the beach and gladly bought some coconuts to quench our thirsts. Immediately coconut water had a magical effect on us, suddenly bringing colour back to our faces and making us feel energetic. With this new found energy, we decided to go for a swim.
The water was cool and clear refreshing us and sucked away all out tiredness. Being a secluded beach, it felt more relaxing to swim here and enjoy ourselves away from the ever existing crowds. Paradise beach also had some impressive graffiti art sprayed around on boulders, rocks and a broken ferry landing spot. It was known that paradise beach at times holds secret night parties but there was no verification of the same and the adventurous would have to trek down there at night to find out how true it is.
After about an hour on the beach, it was getting hotter and to trek back seemed like an impossible job to do. We decided to jump into a ferry and headed back to om beach. Having heard about this beach trek, the cliffs and hidden beaches, I must say it was truly an amazing experience and I would love to do it once again but this time I guess camping overnight on the paradise beach would be something I would look forward to. Such an amazing place with such a beautiful vibe, Gokarna has found a new admirer in me.