A Guide To Picking A Beach In Gokarna

19 February 2013

If Goa is too commercialised for you, you can travel one hundred kilometres south of the border into neighbouring state Karnataka, to Gokarna. You would have to have a bit of a distaste, though, as Gokarna is just a considerably less developed Goa with worse water and much less pretty foliage on the shore. At least on Om beach. It’s called that because of the shape of the coast is a double crescent like that holy Hindu symbol.

No matter what, it still feels like you discover something when you have to bump along empty roads through rural India for almost an hour just to get to a beach.

That’s probably why the Goa Exodus continues even further south of Om beach to the really inaccessible Halfmoon Beach.

The bottom of the crate had an arrow pointing towards a little red datapath sci-fi to 20 minutes up through a skinny firetrail, through a little clearing and over the headland.

I could see some sort of cove just over the tiny one man wide path on the edge of the slope. Down some rocks, sure enough was Halfmoon Beach, which doesn’t really deserve that name for the shape of the beach like Om; better source is the hippy mystique. A bearded guy played guitar alone between the leaf huts. There were more hammocks than huts, but with less than ten huts around that wasn’t so difficult.

The swell here was even worse. I walked over the little farm and onto some searing hot rocks assuming it was the way to infamous Paradise Beach. Ten minutes rockhopping later a dreadlocked girl passed me, so I knew it was the only way. Hopping turned to climbing turned to a bit of clambering back down again and I was there. I assumed from the sole hammock hung between two palm trees overlooking an empty beach. Behind the trees was a love heart made from coloured painted rocks.

The land rose steeply from the brown sand. Further towards the beach, signs of life; painting popping off the cement evoking peace and love and welcome. Why did it all look like ruins or like the first week of a building site? Then I remembered ol’ Martin from Goa (who would probably have been here yesterday) talking about how the place was closed down recently after a drug and alcohol crackdown.

There were more paintings and down some steps, back from the beach under the coconut trees were the remaining few. There were some hammocks here and also up on the far hill in some amazing little places under the shade of the trees clinging to the hillside.

The appeal of this degree of isolation is there. That hippy thing. When you really see it though, there’s not much going on really. Smoking and talking, more smoking and ‘chilling out’ (mostly just lying down). I forgot I was travelling alone though. Looking back, it would be good to be here with a group without water or electricity–just the inescapability within a few paces of the vastness of the sea.