The cool bit about Gokarana is that you can trek across to the various beaches and each has lovely beaches and good food to offer. Of course, the weather and inherent laziness ensured that we didn't go beyond Kudle. While we stayed at Namaste Cafe on Om Beach, we ended up spending most of our time at Kudle. There is a tried and tested, easy and infinitely shorter path to get from Om to Kudle (just take the steps at the entrance of Om and keep going). Of course, if you are feeling adventurous and are up for some physical exercise, you can
take a small, battered lane from Om Beach that disappears into the hillock. You will reach Kudle through a longer but more picturesque route. This route will also take you through a cool shack perched on top of a cliff which has a stunning view. This shack is available for stay and looked infinitely funky. Unfortunately for us, we had already fixed our acco. if any of you do try this place, let me know how it is. If you are feeling super lazy you can take the boat to Kudle (around Rs. 200) but the trek is infinitely funner.
Once you get to Kudle, you will know that all the trekking has been worth it.
The beach is gorgeous and a lovely sapphire blue (the sort that you only see in promotional photos of Mauritius). The sea is also really shallow, so you can paddle out fairly far without going under. There are no lifeguards around, so be careful (there are, however, many able bodied Baywatchesque young men on the beach who may be willing to swim to your rescue). It's also one of the few places in India where foreigners outnumber the locals.
We spent much time frolicking in the beach and having a total & complete blast (At one point Ghatotkach and I enacted operative parts of a masaledar Bollywood movie).
Even if you don't feel like getting into the water (why you wouldn't is beyond me), there are loads of beach sports you can play. There are a number of shack cafes where you can get
chilled beer, awesome food, and quietly read your book. One such place is the Sunset Cafe where they serve some decent sizzlers. The Chicken Sizzler here is pretty good, though it could do with a little more salt and spice. The Kalamari Sizzler was very bleh. Not bad, not good it just was :( The veggie pasta was pretty decent and not a bad option if you don't feel like a sizzler. Ghatotkach and I also ordered the Chocolate Grapes in Rum Sauce. Only when the dish was brought to the table did we realize that what that meant was Chocolate Crepes in Rum Sauce. This involved very little chocolate and lots and lots of rum. Needless to say, we were very very happy at the end of the meal (there was that much rum in it). We spent a good part of the afternoon lounging there, playing card games, truth or dare and engaging in much silliness. We also ordered the chocolate
pudding at some point: Avoid it.
The other place that we hung out at as was the Old L.A. Pizzeria. As the name suggests they serve some wonderful wood fire pizzas. We tried the Olive, Mushhroom, Cheese (and tons of other toppings that I can't remember right now) Pizza and it was yumm. It was quite big (enough for two) and just Rs. 85. We also had the noodle soup there which was rather tasty and filling. The momos were nice as was the prawn dish that A ordered. We also ordered loads of juice to cool us down and that was pretty decent. This was another establishment where we spent the entire afternoon playing exciting games and laughing about a million things. We also encountered many cats, dogs and cute baby that scared the cat away.
If you can, avoid Dolphin Cafe on Om Beach. The veggie and non veggie food at
this place was quite bleh (except for the prawn fried rice which was surprisingly good). We also made the monumental mistake of ordering a Banana Parota here. This basically consisted of bad batter fried and stuffed with squishy, spoilt bananas. While we couldn't stomach this, the cow (yes, you read right: A Cow) that we fed the offering to seemed to quite enjoy it. For the non bovines, Dolphin Cafe gets a thumbs down. A meal shouldn't cost you more than Rs. 150 at any place (and a big meal at that).
Little Piece of Trivia: I recently discovered that 10kms from Gokarna is the Hegde Village from which all Hegdes (from 'bad joke' spouting to tea giving: all of them) originate. Apparently, some king in the 13th century put them all in this village.
P.S: A small request to all Indian men, please do NOT enter the sea in your banian and underwear. Invest in a pair of trunks or swimming shorts. They are not at all expensive and are much appreciated by others at the beach. Traumatic visions of middle aged Indian men frolicking in their unmentionable still haunt us!