The second half of our beach vacation was surprisingly different from the first. Gokarna is definitely quieter and less developed than Arambol. It seems that new restaurant/accommodation joints are opening every year, but there isn’t much else. And yet the demand still exceeds supply, especially on long weekends (we were there for Republic Day). There are three main beaches: one in town used mostly by pilgrims, Kudle Beach, and Om Beach. The beaches are smaller and separated by rocky cliffs of green, red, and black.
Getting to Gokarna from Arambol was a long process involving two taxis, two trains, a security checkpoint looking for drugs, and a lot of waiting around. We left at 8 am and arrived at 5 pm, just to get 200 kms south. We travelled with a French girl and a Finnish guy, which helped pass the time and split the cost of the taxis.
By the time we got to Om Beach, none of the places mentioned in our guide book or reviewed on TripAdvisor had any space left. The best we could find was a dark, cell-like concrete room with shared pit toilets for $5 a night. I was pretty grumpy after all that and was not impressed by our new accommodations.
The next morning Chris went for a run to Kudle Beach and checked for available huts there. Most places were full, but he found space at Sea Rock Cafe, which had basic huts for $4, rooms with pit toilets for $8, and rooms with western toilets for $12. We splurged for the western toilet and larger room. Our experience with huts in Gokarna made us appreciate how good the rooms were at Laughing Buddha in Arambol.
Arambol and Gokarna were our first experiences waiting to find a room until we arrived in the place. We didn’t really have a choice as it’s the modus operandi. All other accommodation has been booked online directly or through a booking website. The benefit of finding accommodation when you arrive is you know what you are getting and you can shop around. The downside if it is busy is you end up walking from place to place and finally settling on something less than ideal. It’s easier when all accommodation is in one central place, but I still prefer booking ahead.
We spent our time in Gokarna relaxing on the beach, swimming in the wicked surf, hiking between beaches, and building sand castles. We went to one yoga class, but it was too advanced for us – with a lot of time spent on head stands and pretzel poses. It’s three days later and I’m still sore.