Gokarna, which means Cow's ear, was the last town we stopped in the Karnataka state, the one just north of Kerala. There was a quaint feeling there that we did not feel at Guruvayor, also a temple town. The Southern Indian food continued to be delicious with meals, called thali, served with basmati rice and chapatis. In Kerala, we usually got lower grade rice and no chapatis with meals. The chai was stronger and less sweet than in Kerala, just the way I like it. And the beaches, oh, my God, or I should say, oh my Shiva, the patron God of the town – the beaches were just phenomenal.
There are four main beaches on the southern side of town: Kudle, Om, Half Moon and Paradise and no public transport between them except boats or our own feet. Peter and I walked the 8 kilometers from Gokarna to Paradise Beach during our first day, passing through all four beaches and taking in the breathtaking views afforded to us from vantage points high up on the hills.
We met lots of interesting characters when we stopped for a cold drink or a bite to eat at each beach. The place attracts a lot of westerners who are happy to stay in shacks as there are no established hotels or guest houses in any of the beaches except for Kudle, which is closest to Gokarna. We stayed in town where more options were available.
After our beach hoping the first day, we took a boat from Paradise to Kudle beach and went to bed with hundreds of pictures in our heads of barren headlands with views to the sea, sand beaches, boats, rocks and restaurants along our way. The next day we went back, more interested in swimming than exploring.
The beaches reminded me a little of Brazil and a little of Greece, specially when I saw temples on top of the hill with a vast sea down below (Greece) and beaches filled with coconut trees (Brazil). The sea water was very clean and without current, which was perfect for doing laps. We considered staying at one of the beaches for a while but neither of us had the stomach for staying in a shack with no private bathroom and very little space, although it sounded very romantic. So we decided to move on, but I know this is not my last trip to Gokarna's beaches.