Gokarna consists of 4-5 beaches and we had planned to explore Om, Half-moon and Paradise beach on the second day. I woke up at about 8 to the sounds of the sea, washed and got ready. The others came around slowly too. After a leisurely breakfast of eggs and toast, it was time to bid Kudle beach goodbye.
Om and Kudle beaches are separated by a hill and it is a 20-30 minute trek. It would be good to make this trek early, as it can get quite hot on the hill in the afternoon. Somewhere on top of it, is hidden a gem of a spot that offers a breathtaking view of the sea.
Move on further along the trail and you’ll come upon the edge of the hill overlooking Om beach. Om is named so because of the striking resemblance it bears to the religious Om shape revered by Hindus.
Om however, turned out to be quite crowded, it seems it is a popular haunt among the locals as well and people come here to have a good time, and leave at the end of the day. Accomodation can be a problem on Om beach, when, much to our chagrin, we couldn’t find a single shack available.
There was one room available (for all 4 of us) in a place called ‘Lee Om Rock Cafe’, and we pounced upon the chance. Its a nice little place run by a few Nepalis who cook really amazing food, but more on that later.
Accomodation found, it was time to indulge in some water sports. Chethan and Ankit wanted to go on a banana ride, whereas Tirthankar and I wanted to do another (read, safer) ride. Much to my horror, I gave in to a banana ride (Be sure to bargain, we stuck a decent deal at 600 for the four of us, which could have been brought down further if it had not been so crowded). Now I am a guy who panics at the sight of deep waters, and I will usually be the last guy to do such a ride. Life jackets fastened, with much trepidation, I climbed aboard the inflatable ‘banana’ in first place, with Chethan behind me, Tirthankar third and Ankit seated in last place. Apparently, if you manage not to fall of the banana, you need not pay a single penny for the ride (Where’s the fun in that you say ? beats me). After gaining speed, the boat does a sharp turn which tilts the banana to the right. All 4 of us plunged into the water, with me falling face first, water coming up to meet my face the last thing I remember. After you hit the water, you go down a little and panic strikes – eyes shut, nose shut, water in your ears and mouth, it is pure adrenaline. I’d figured the best way to return to the surface was to spread out your body and remain calm. Turns out, the lifeguards on the boat were observing me and my motionless body alarmed them a lot more than usual. After coming up, all I could hear were shouts of panic, with those guys pulling me up and advising me to ride on the boat on the way back. Chethan and Ankit were game for another fall and I was content to watch them from the boat. The ride back was peaceful and we walked back to our room, charged with emotion, all of the guys laughing at the panic I had induced.
Lunch consisted of Prawn fried rice and chicken gravy. The food at Lee Om Rock Cafe is delicious, and is a lot better than the other shacks that we’d eaten at. Definitely a must try. We had prawn fried rice and it is stuffed with prawns – trust me, it is heavenly.
You’ll find plenty of boats to ferry you to Half moon and Paradise beaches from Om beach. You can also choose to trek your way across as those beaches are separated by hills from each other. We set off after lunch, and got on a boat to Paradise. Once again, bargain hard – we managed to get it down to 100/- (courtesy Chethan again) each for Paradise. Paradise beach is something straight out of a Bond movie, surrounded by forest covered hills on 3 sides, and a rocky outcrop on the beach. Make your way up to a shack at the farthest end of the hill that overlooks Paradise and you’ll be transported to a different land. These guys played some cool fusion music all the time. Amidst the chirping of the birds, the rustling of leaves in the trees, the gentle breeze, the sounds of the ocean and the soft rays of the evening sun finding their way through the palm trees, you’ll be forgiven for wanting to lie down in a hammock forever – that is Paradise.
After spending some time on Paradise, we decided to trek our way back to Om. On the way up, we met a couple of girls who apparently couldn’t find any trail on the hills that led to Half-moon beach. We decided to explore it ourselves to see if we could fare any better. To the untrained eye (like yours truly), the trail can be a source of confusion as they seem to get cut off abruptly at some places. And considering its on top of a hill, it looks dangerous sometimes with a steep slope to one of it’s sides. However, when in doubt, keep your eyes open for another trail that could be hidden amidst boulders and tall grass, and you’ll soon find a safe path leading downwards to Half moon. The vistas from up above on the hills are immensely rewarding, and we were lucky enough to be trekking at the right time.
Half moon is a small beach and there is not much to do there, except maybe have a dip in the water and dry yourself in the sun. The trek from Half moon beach to Om beach can be treacherous, as there is an almost sheer drop on one side trail. Proceed with some caution, and enjoy the views from the top.
In about 15-20 minutes, we were back on Om beach to watch the sunset and were again treated to some amazing visual splendor.
The night was spent chatting up about pretty much every thing under the sun, copious amounts of Bacchus keeping us company. It got cold that night and some bonfires were lit on the beach with people singing songs, playing the guitar – a charming way to end an absolutely gorgeous, fun-filled day at Gokarna.