Getting to Gokarna
Here are typical distances to Gokarna from some of the major towns of India:
- Bangalore – Gokarna: 500 km via Tumkur, Hiriyur, Chitradurga, and Haveri.
- Mangalore – Gokarna: 230 km via Kundapur, Murudeshwar and Kumta.
- Goa – Gokarna: 160 km via Karwar and Ankola.
- Hampi – Gokarna: 325 km via Gadag and Hubli.
To reach Gokarna by train, look for the station called ‘Gokarna Road (GOK)’ on IRCTC.in. There are trains to Mangalore, Goa, and Bangalore from GOK. I would not recommend the train from Banaglore to Gokarna because the travel time is 16 hours, as against 10 hours by bus. If you are visiting from Bangalore, taking a private or government bus (KSRTC) is a better option than the train. I prefer sleeper buses from private operators. Ticket fares in 2014 were around ₹650. If you like to drive or bike down, then the route from Bangalore to Gokarna makes for an interesting journey. The toll road from Nelamangala to Haveri is excellent. After that, you get to see typical country side life. It would take you anywhere from 7-10 hours to drive down to Gokarna from Bangalore.
Getting around in Gokarna
Having your own ride makes it so much easier to travel between beaches in Gokarna. Expect to pay a minimum of ₹100 for an auto rickshaw ride otherwise. For instance, Gokarna to Om beach is a fixed rate of ₹150 by auto.
This is certainly expensive, because the distance is just 5 km. Auto rickshaw rates are fixed by the union, so don’t bother haggling. Most auto driver are happy to give you their mobile number, so you can fix up a ‘day package’ with them. The beaches are also connected by ferries. Charges depend on the number of people available at the time of your departure. These guys too are willing to work out ‘day packages.’ I would not recommend renting a ferry for a ‘beach sightseeing’ package because you will not get to set foot on the beach. For those who want something laid back, bicycles are available on rent in Gokarna. This can be a good option if you are staying in the town. To visit the beaches, I recommend renting a two wheeler if you find one. Unlike in Goa, the concept of two wheeler rentals for tourism has not yet caught on in Gokarna.
Staying in Gokarna
You can either stay in the town of Gokarna where road access and food is easy, or stay with the drifters on Om Beach or Kudle Beach. If you really want to get in touch with your gypsy roots, you can also stay right on the beach. Half-moon beach would be ideal for a night under the stars. Here are some of the popular brick n’ mortar staying options for the less adventurous:
- Haripriya Residency in Gokarna. Good reviews and clean rooms. They even have a website.
- Namaste Cafe in Om Beach. This place is right next to the shore. A VFM place, and you are better off doing an advance booking by calling them up.
- Gokarna International. There are two of these. One in Kudle, and one in the town.
- SwaSwara. An exotic resort for those who like their privacy while doing Yoga (otherwise it is absolutely acceptable to do a headstand on the beach).
This is certainly not an exhaustive list. Gokarna has a number of other lodges, but do watch out for seasonal crowds that may leave you stranded if you have not made an advanced booking. I have personally stayed in Namaste Cafe and I like it because of its proximity to the beach. Heck, the waves crash into the foot steps of Namaste Cafe during high tide. The place has a restaurant that serves world cuisine. Italian, Continental, Greek, Indian or Sea Food. They are all on the menu but food is expensive and nothing to write home about. But hey, you should be getting your calories from the beer.Go to page 3