The coastal town of Karwar is located at the confluence of the Arabian Sea and the Kali River. This town is dotted with beaches that are overshadowed by its neighbor Goa. Despite this, the town is not any less interesting than Goa. One can go dolphin spotting, snorkelling, trek along the rocks, go river rafting and explore the mesmerizing beaches of Karwar. The unique beaches with dense vegetation offer a plethora of opportunities for indulging in water sports. This spot is out of the many things to do in Gokarna where you can spot dolphins.
This is an artificial water tank which is located at a short distance from Mahabaleshwar Temple. The name Kotitirtha implies a thousand springs and is considered to be a sacred spot for the Hindus where idol immersion and ritual bathing takes place. The surroundings of this sacred water tank are ancient and offer an incredible experience to the visitors. While shortlisting the things to do in Gokarna, you can include this attraction along with Mahabaleshwar Temple. However, out of all the things to do in Gokarna, I would not put this on top of the list. You can just club it with Mahabaleshwar temple and if you are not visiting the temple, you can give this place a miss.
Do beach trekking at Gokarna beach
If the activity beach trekking sounds quite obvious at a beach, then think again. There is a lot of difference in trekking the beaches of Gokarna. This quaint town is located amongst the hills and the beaches are usually on the other side. The excitement and fun lie in ascending and descending the hills to reach the beaches. Gokarna has five stunning beaches. Ride in boats for traversing the beaches during your trekking trip.
This beach trail in Gokarna is quite popular in the adventure and trekking circle. Due to the accessibility issues of this trek, not many tourists are seen on this beach trails. Sometimes, you need to actually explore and figure out a way out of the woods. This sense of discovery is what makes this beach trail a worth inclusion in your list of things to do in Gokarna.
The trek starts at Kudle beach and can go on till paradise beach or lighthouse. The total trekking distance is 4 KMs, one way. You can choose to take stops in between at the beaches and enjoy the ocean views.
Explore local cuisine
With good local restaurants and shacks on the beaches, Gokarna offers a multitude of options to foodies. Everything is served best right from Indian thalis to Italian pasta in Gokarna. Do not be mistaken by the shabby looking boards that most of the shacks feature at the beaches. They may be serving the best tasting delicacies you have ever come across in your life as the menu of these places defies the appearance. The mouth-watering delicacies coupled with the ambiance of the sunny beaches offer an incredible experience to the visitors.
The unique thing about cuisine in Gokarna is the influence of both Karnataka and Goa. Located at a distance of only 140 KMs from Goa, the locals here at Gokarna have started using the Goan-based recipes as well. Do explore the eateries in and around Gokarna and ensure you make these spots top things to do in Gokarna while jotting down your final itinerary.
Cocopelli Surf School
This is the first and the only surf school in Gokarna which has been offered recognition by the International Surfing Association. All the instructors are ISA-Certified. If you are looking for an exciting yet relaxing vacation, then visit the Cocopelli Surf School where perfect waves greet you by the Gokarna Main Beach. The pleasant streaming and light current ensure that you do not run out of breath from padding. The ideal time to visit this place is between October and May which is the best time for surfing especially for beginners. Daily surfing lessons are provided during the season by experienced instructors who ensure complete safety of beginners during the program. Surf trips along the hidden coastline of India are organized by this surf school. They as well offer long boards, short broads, board shorts, wet suits, body boards and flippers. If you love water based adventure and feel like learning a new skill during your trip, you can surely consider surfing here as one of the things to do in Gokarna.
This temple is dedicated to Goddess Uma and is located just a kilometer away from Gokarna. This temple is known for its historical significance associated with Ravana. There is a myth that Ravana performed penance to please Lord Shiva at Mount Kailash. Ravana was blessed with a beautiful wife and
Atma Linga for his efforts. Lord Vishnu met Ravana in a disguise of a Brahmin while he was on his way back home. Ravana started boasting about the woman in front of the disguised Brahmin. Lord Vishnu made the lady look aged and exhausted which made Ravana leave the lady behind feeling enraged. The lady meanwhile was asked by Lord Vishnu to reside in Gokarna and is worshiped by devotees as Bhadrakali. This temple is again a good recommendation if you are looking for religious and spiritual things to do in Gokarna.
This waterfall is located in Uttara Kannada District and is named after a nearby village. It is 250 feet in height and is fed from the Kali River. The stepped Lalguli falls inside the forest offers scenic beauty of unprecedented levels. The best time to visit this place is from October to December as it dries up during summers. These falls might not be as majestic as Jog falls or amidst a very dense forest like Vibhooti falls. But, it is worth a visit if you have already covered the other waterfalls in your things to do in Gokarna.
Practice yoga by the beach
You can indulge in yoga by yourself or you can consider joining groups. There are various resorts such as Swarswara resort or the Namaste Yoga Farm which offers incredible experiences to the visitors. You will feel revived by practicing relaxing forms on the OM beach or the Kudle beach. You can pick courses that last from a week to several days while in Gokarna for a distinctive experience. An interesting set of things to do in Gokarna includes beach retreats like these. You can relax and do some soul searching while focusing on breath and monitoring thoughts. Yoga by the beach is a great experience and you should definitely attend an hour session if not the entire retreat.
Experience white water rafting in Kali river in Dandeli
Another excursion from Gokarna can bring you to this lovely location in Karnataka. Dandeli is a haven for adventure enthusiasts. The rapids in Dandeli river rafting are not as intense as Rishikesh, but the entire experience of rafting becomes amazing due to the constant company of alluring forests. To read more about my Dandeli River Rafting experience, read my blog: River Rafting in Dandeli
Dandeli is a popular vacation spot in North Karnataka and it appeals especially to those who love spending time in the lap of Mother Nature. It offers an unparalleled experience to the visitors. The modern town is surrounded by deciduous forests where rare species of animals and birds roam the hilly terrain and deep valleys. Dandeli is famous for night camps, bird watching, nature walks, boating, crocodile spotting, eco-tourism, white water rafting and a lot more. Canoeing, kayaking and water rafting offer an unforgettable experience to adventure seekers. The wildlife sanctuary offers a glimpse of Malabar giant squirrels, bison, sambhar deer and black panthers. For adventurists, this activity should certainly be one of the things to do in Gokarna or around.
This temple is located close to the Mahabaleshwar temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesh who tricked Ravana and took the
Atma Linga from him. A black stone of Lord Ganesha is worshiped in this temple every day. If you are looking to experience peace, then witnessing the daily worship is going to offering you some. You can club this attraction with Mahabalewhsar temple and the hot springs. This might not be the most recommended stand alone entry in your list of things to do in Gokarna.
Swim in the clear beaches of Gokarna during sunset
When you visit the beaches, feel free to take a swim in the ocean. But, make sure you ask the locals or lifeguards whether the water is safe to enter. Some areas of these beaches have treacherous terrain. You can enjoy all the things to do in Gokarna, but being safe is always recommended. The swim can be enjoyed best during sunset which is my personal favorite.
This stunning town is known for its natural beauty. Nestled amidst thick forests in the Western Ghats, Yellapur is famous for its wonderful waterfalls that gush down the scenic valleys. The Magod falls brings alive the beauty of its surroundings. The fall is surrounded by a dense forest which is notable for its rich biodiversity. Embark on a trek into this forest which houses several species of flora and fauna. The Kavi Kere pond located in the heart of the forest possesses a tranquil charm.
Visit the ancient temple town of Banavasi
The roots of this ancient temple town can be traced back to as old as 4,000 BC! Tucked away in deep forests of Western Ghats, Banavasi is located on the banks of river Varda. This is one of the oldest towns in Karnataka. Visit this place for the cultural festivals organized and for exploring the rich tradition of this ancient town. The Kadambothsava festival organized by the government is the prime attraction during the month of December. There are several temples in Banavasi of different antiquities. The Madhukeshwara temple is the most important and oldest of all. This temple is the epicenter of Banavasi as the entire town has grown around it.
The temple was believed to be dedicated to Lord Madhava. However, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is worshiped in his linga form at his temple. The color of the linga resembles that of honey which is referred to as “Madhu” in Sanskrit. The temple has undergone several alterations and additions from the period of Chalukyas when it was established. Visit the Banavasi Fort which is one of the earliest in the state of Karnataka and very few vestiges are left today. A lot of excavation have been carried out in the region which has resulted in important discoveries. Inscribed pottery dating back to third century BC has been found during excavations. 11 coins of the Satavahana rule and two idols have also been found at the site. There is a museum which helps one get acquainted with the glorious past of the region.
This is an extremely important place of worship for Hindus. The prime attraction of this place is a temple devoted to Lord Ganesha which features a two-handed idol (a rarity since Ganesh is worshiped having four arms). Free lunch is offered to all the devotees visiting this temple. It is believed that the wishes of devotees are fulfilled by visiting this temple. Over 1 million devotees visit this temple on an annual basis. Do add this temple to your things to do in Gokarna if you want to offer prayings to the rare Ganesha idol.
The Half Moon Beach
Off the beaten tourist trail, the half-moon beach is a lesser known beach in the town of Gokarna. This beach can be reached either by foot or by a boat from the Om Beach. This beach is divided by a cliff from the Om Beach and it offers a beautiful view of the Arabian Sea. The beauty of this site is enhanced by the classic Indian huts alongside the beach. Although there are no water sports offered on this beach unlike the other beaches of Gokarna, visitors can indulge in volleyball, camping, swimming and paintball in this picturesque little beach. If you are a fan of offbeat attractions, this beach goes right to your list of things to do in Gokarna.
Byndoor is a beautiful beach village located in the Udupi district of Karnataka and is located 113 km from Gokarna. It is famous for its glorious sunsets and beautiful beaches. This village is home to Sri Someshwara temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The stunning sculptures and the unique setting of this temple make it a prime attraction of this place. This village has several legends associated with it. The place has received its name from Saint Bindu who undertook a hard and long penance in the vicinity of this village. This village offers mesmerizing views of the sea.
When you visit this village, don’t expect a lot of restaurants and tourists. This village is much lesser known than Gokarna. When we visited this town, there almost no touristy soul. A true manifestation of heritage and culture. Ask locals for sights here. A visit to Byndoor can be a good addition to things to do in Gokarna if you are okay with excursions.