Goa to Gokarna
After many recommendations to visit Gokarna, we decided to head down there during the Elections in Goa for 4 days on the 2nd of February. It only takes 1.5 hours by train from Canacona (Palolem) and costs 25 Rupees (30p) or you can go by motorbike.
This was to be our first ever Indian train experience and we were looking forward to it! It was a quick journey and the train was comfortable enough. Watch the new Lion movie to see what the trains are like out here (ashy blue seats, bars on the windows and dark isles)
As we arrived in Gokarna we started talking to a French lady next to us on the train that had been travelling to India every year. She told us not to get a taxi or tuk tuk, as the bus stop was 1 km away and much cheaper (10 Rupees). We followed her, ignoring the shouts from the taxi and tuk tuk drivers, politely waving to say no thanks! Another girl cottoned onto what we were doing and joined us in our walk.
The bus was also another mode of transport we hadn’t tried here before. We managed to save a 250 Rupee tuk tuk ride (£3). Savvy travelling! It took us 20 mins to reach Gokarna bus station where the bus stops in the centre of town. From there we had to hop onto a Tuk Tuk to reach Kudle Beach, as it was just outside town up this long dirt-track.
Kudle Beach is beautiful, with a slight arch in the shore line; a wide and peaceful beach (apart from the party gatherings at night!). We hadn’t booked any accommodation as after researching places on booking.com we decided to check them out first on foot. We stopped at one of the beach shacks for a beer (at this time alcohol was prohibited in Goa for the elections, which we had escaped!)
Once there, we saw a group of guys sitting near us at a table and asked them if they had any recommendations of where to stay. One place they mentioned was the only hotel on this beach (with a pool) and still budget at 2000 RPs per night (£24) This was high up on our booking.com list so we went to check it out first.
As we were leaving the shack, standing by the entrance next to a tree, we said a few last words to them, when I suddenly felt loads of sharp stings/bites (like mini-electric shocks) on my feet, and to my horror when I looked down I found my feet were covered in small red ants! My instinct in mid conversation was to jump out of my flipflops backwards and cover my feet in sand whilst rubbing the buggers off! Woah that wasn’t nice, but no harm done as the bites didn’t really come up much, they only itched like crazy. Matt had also been bitten and going through the same feeling – we were standing too close to this palm tree in mid ant nest!
The hotel was called Gokarna International Beach Resort; the room was basic with two single beds, a bathroom and balcony, but better looking than any other on that beach and it had a pool!
One thing we prioritise when in a hotel room is to check mattresses for tears or blood stains to avoid bed bugs.
We asked if they would change the mattresses as didn’t look so good. Many of them tend to be old and mouldy (not nice!) As luck would have it they had a new mattress for us, but we had to wait a couple of hours.
After our incident with bed bugs 8 years ago in Malaysia, we are not taking any chances!
Whilst waiting we met a nice older couple and their friend in the hotel bar. They had been to Gokarna for the past few years, always stayed at the same hotel and couldn’t recommend it enough. That made us feel a lot better!
The next morning, we went to explore Kudle beach and then took a long walk to Om Beach. To get there we had to walk up the mountain and over a ridge, to then find a road we had to cross to get us onto another dirt-track. It wasn’t easy but we found it by asking a few locals that were around.
Om is actually quieter than Kudle, which surprised us as we expected the reverse. They call it Om due to its Om like shape – beautiful beach, although there are riptides so one must be careful when swimming. We hung out there for a few hours that day soaking up the sun.
We thought the lack of clothes shacks/shops was great as we would get some peace and quiet for a change compared to Goa. Unfortunately, we spoke too soon as we were to find out that ‘Beads sellers’ come in hordes, one after the other every 5 mins, trying to sell beaded necklaces. Arrggghhh!
I caved in at the end of the day and bought one. Our thoughts were that if you have one maybe they would leave you alone, but no…. Once you have one they know you like them!!! Hahaha!
We found some good restaurants on Kudle Beach whilst there – excellent food and coffee! Pizzeria Kudle View was one of our regulars as the waiter there was funny and always had a play on words with us (refreshing as his English was fab!)
One night we watched the sunset on the beach and headed towards a large group of people that were playing music and dancing. It was great, lots of hippy travellers playing drums and guitars, some of them selling jewellery side by side (amazing quality compared to the Indian fashion jewellery) and others playing Fire Poi.
One of the guys at the far end of the string of sellers had a matt down on the sand offering Chakra Healing, for donations only, which he performed with tuning forks. We went for it and tried it out. It felt amazing; vibration going through your body as he positioned the forks on each chakra. He was from Bali and travelled to India every year, like many of the others!
I also met some Spanish guys that made jewellery and got chatting to one of the girls that also made and repaired dreadlocks (no, I haven’t gone that far!)
On our last day we headed into town to see what it was all about. Gokarna is a small temple town and is known as one of the seven important Hindu pilgrimage centres, where the temple is for devotees to Lord Shiva.
We were bombarded by a group of ladies selling Flower Offerings, so we naturally bought one. However, we didn’t know at the time that they don’t allow non Hindus to enter the Shrine or it’s grounds. As we were turned away, this nice guy offered to take it in for us and place it on the Shrine on our behalf. What a lovely gesture!
As we headed back to the beach after a hectic walk around town, we decided to chill for a few hours.
I saw a girl doing practice Poi, so I approached her (I fancied a go as we cannot find any Poi for sale in South Goa) She had a slight accent which I found out to be Greek. She showed me some moves I hadn’t seen before and told me they would be performing with Fire Poi and Sticks that night, so we should come down and join in. It was our last night so we went down to watch and join in with the crowds.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Gokarna and met some lovely people!
Back to Palolem we went on Sunday 5th Feb, only to get ready for our next trip down to Kerala on Tuesday 7th Feb. You can find out about Our Trip to Kerala here!