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Which is better Goa or Gokarna?

Discussion in 'Travel advice' started by AkhilArora, Nov 11, 2016.

  1. AkhilArora

    AkhilArora New Member

    I am a planning a beach holiday for one week and have come down to two destinations choices Goa and Gokarna. Both are beach destinations and have tourists coming in, but which is better Goa or Gokarna?

    I want to know which I should choose and also would like to know the reason you suggesting the destination. I think things to consider would be the place which has better beaches, food options and a good atmosphere.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi there, welcome to the forum!



    The smallest state of the country, Goa, is not just all about parties. In fact, the state is also well known for its fun beaches, as well as serene beaches. Goa lies to the south of Mumbai and to the north of Karnataka. It was conquered, once upon a time, by the Portuguese and this has left some traces of both the culture and architectural style of the coloniser in the state. Goa is an all-in-one destination, you have beaches, heritage sites, wildlife and lots of greenery here. That's why it is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, where tourists from all over the country and the world flock to, whether they're alone, with a group of friends or with their families.

    Goa Sunset (Image from Discovering Goa)

    On the other hand, Gokarna is a small town in Karnataka, just to the south of Goa. It is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites in the country. However, recently, the small town has been attracting attention due to the beautiful beaches it has. Unlike some of Goa's beaches, Gokarna's beaches are serene and uncrowded. Some refer to it as the Mini Goa, which is an appropriate designation too. Just keep in mind that everything here is a bit laid-back, you won't have as much tourist infrastructures as compared to the former.

    Gokarna Sunset (Image from Justraveling)

    In-Depth Comparison of Goa and Gokarna

    1. Accessibility

    • Goa - Goa is easily accessible by air or by road. The Goa International Airport, also known as the Dabolim Airport, caters to both domestic and international flights. For the domestic flights, there are direct ones to and from Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune. For the international flights, there are direct ones to and from Doha, Moscow and Sharjah. The airport is just four kilometres away from Vasco Da Gama so you can easily reach the city from there via taxi or auto rickshaw. By road, you have the options of riding the train or the bus. By train, there are different railway stations in Goa too with the main ones being the Vasco Da Gama Railway Station and Madgaon Railway Station. Both are located in the south of Goa and have direct trains from Delhi as well. If you need to reach the north of Goa, there are also railway stations that you can directly reach there from Delhi, the Pernem Railway Station and Thivim Railway Station. By bus, there are direct ones from Mumbai usually although there are also a few from Pune. If coming from other cities, you just need to reach these two cities that have direct buses to Goa. Both government-operated buses and privately-operated buses ply from Mumbai to Goa. You can also reach Goa through your own vehicle as it has highways directly connecting it to other cities as well.
    • Gokarna - Gokarna doesn't have its own airport but since it is close to Goa, you can just reach the Dabolim Airport and from there, ride a train, a bus or a taxi to reach the former. The Dabolim Airport is about 156 kilometres from Gokarna so journey duration is about 3 hours. If coming from cities within India, you can opt for train journey or bus journey. The Gokarna Road Railway Station is directly connected to the Madgaon Railway Station. You can reach the latter railway station and then board another train going to the former. From the railway station, you can just ride a taxi or auto rickshaw to reach the city centre of Gokarna. By bus, there are also direct buses from Goa to Gokarna and even from Bangalore to Gokarna. Though Gokarna is a small town, it can be easily accessed too whether you're going by air or by road. Its direct connectivity to places like Goa and Bangalore is one of its best features.
    2. Accommodations
    • Goa - There are plenty of accommodation options in Goa, ranging from budget ones to luxury ones. Goa is a backpacker's paradise and there are very affordable dormitories, and even beach huts that you can stay in. They are good for bachelors and solo travellers though, like the Wanderers Hostel and Backpacker Panda. Both are under Rs. 550 per night only so very suitable for those in a tight budget. For families, budget resorts and guest houses are your best options. Hotels like Hotel Sai Baga and Hotel Surya Palace have room rates below Rs. 1,000 per night. There are also plenty of mid-range hotels in the state. Casa De Cajino and Senhor Angelo Resort both have rates under Rs. 2,500 per night. If you have the money for splurging, there are many luxury five-star hotels in different parts of Goa. Even some of the most remote beaches have at least one luxury hotel, barring a few that are very inaccessible. Five-star hotels have prices ranging from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 20,000. Top-rated luxury hotels are that of Vivanta by Taj and Taj Exotica.
    Vivanta by Taj in Goa
    • Gokarna - Unlike Goa, Gokarna doesn't have as many accommodation options. Rates for hotels here aren't as varied as well and you'd have to spend a bit more when staying here. Some of the cheaper hotels here are priced within Rs. 1,500, like the Varada International and Paradise Holiday Cottage. Mid-range ones are priced between Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 4,ooo like Hotel Gokarna International and Katyayani Residency. High end hotels are priced above Rs. 5,000, like Sanskruti Resort and Arthigayma Resort & Spa. There are also some guest houses around Gokarna that you can stay in but prices range between Rs. 800 to Rs. 1,500 per night. Beach huts are not that recommended as the beaches in Gokarna are isolated and become deserted at night.
    3. Beaches
    • Goa - Goa has plenty of beaches that you can explore. If you adore the crowds and the parties, you can reach Baga Beach and Calangute Beach. Both are very lively but also the most crowded beaches. You would find an assortment of water sports, beach shacks and vendors in these beaches. They are both in the northern part of Goa. In the northern part of Goa, there are also serene beaches, like the Ashvem Beach and Querim Beach. The southern beaches are less crowded and more tranquil, even the popular ones like Colva Beach and Palolem Beach. Both has an assortment of activities too, like water sports and even night life. But if you enjoy quiet beaches, the southern part of Goa has plenty of them even the most accessible ones like Benaulim Beach and Mobor Beach. Both has white sands and of course, turquoise blue waters. But if you like the most pristine beaches, then head to either Cola Beach or Butterfly Beach. Cola Beach has this blue lagoon, where the sea meets with the river while Butterfly Beach is located off of an island from Palolem Beach. In total, there are over 52 beaches in Goa so you can probably find one that best fits all your interests.
    Mobor Beach in Goa
    • Gokarna - In contrast, Gokarna only has a few beaches, about five. Gokarna Beach is their main beach and it's also the least clean out of all the beaches. It is located close to the Mahabaleshwar Temple so it's a favourite amongst pilgrims. A few kilometres away is the Om Beach, the only one approachable by road out of the four remaining beaches. Om Beach is a bit crowded as compared to the other beaches though. The beach has golden sands and blue waters, the presence of many beach shacks and accommodations make it a favoured beach in the region. Kudle Beach is more serene, approachable by a 20-minute walk from Om Beach. It has golden sands too but the lesser crowds make it perfect for couples and families. The last beaches of Paradise Beach and Half Moon Beach are reachable by a 20-minute walk from Om Beach as well. They are also secluded, probably the most pristine of all the beaches in Gokarna.
    Om Beach in Gokarna (Image from Wikimedia)

    4. Attractions

    • Goa - If sightseeing is a part of your itinerary, Goa has many of that. You can start with Panjim, the capital of the state, where you can find most of the Portuguese structures in the region. For example, in Fontainhas, the Portuguese residential area of Goa, you can take a stroll amidst the brightly coloured houses. There are also a few boutiques and cafes within the residential area that you can explore. Or go to Old Goa, where you can find the churches built during the Portuguese rule in Goa. Some churches are elaborate like the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Basilica of Bom Jesus. On the other hand, simpler churches like the Saint Augustine Church and Monastery and the Chapel of Saint Catherine provide you with a glimpse of the bygone era too despite their simpler facade and interiors. Also a must visit on Panjim is the Reis Magos Fort, located on the northern part of the Mandovi River. It was once a fort of strategic importance but became a prison as well. On the north, you can also visit natural attractions like the Arvalem Waterfalls and Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. On the southern side of Goa, you can visit the Cabo De Rama Fort, although it is in ruins now, the journey to get there is very enjoyable. There's also the Goa Chitra Museum that's worth exploring where you can learn more about the agrarian sector of Goa. Natural attractions like the Dudhsagar Waterfalls and Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary are also worth exploring if you have the time.
    • Gokarna - As mentioned above, Gokarna is mainly a pilgrimage and beach destination. There's not much sightseeing that you can do here and you can cover most attractions within a day or two. The Mahabaleshwar Temple is the most revered temple here, dedicated to the Lord Shiva. It has an Atmalinga, the only of its kind in the country. This Atmalinga is in a shape of a cow's ear and is also half-buried. Another temple that you can visit here is the Maha Ganapati Temple, dedicated to Ganapati and the idol here is in a standing position. You would spot the dent on the head of the statue, supposed to be where Ravana hit Ganapati on the head after being tricked into keeping the Atmalinga. A heritage site worth visiting here is the Mirjan Fort, although it's not known when and who built it exactly. Some believe that it was built by the Portuguese but certain parts of the fort has elements of Islamic architecture.
    5. Activities
    • Goa - Much of what you can do in Goa revolves around its beaches. Water sports are plenty around Baga Beach, Calangute Beach, Colva Beach and Palolem Beach. You can indulge in banana boat riding, jet skiing, water scootering and water skiing. Dolphin sighting boat trips are arranged in beaches of Palolem and Varca too. You can also try out scuba diving and snorkelling in some islands off of the different beaches of Goa but keep in mind that the marine life here isn't as diverse. A bit more laid-back is cruising along the Mandovi River, which can be very picturesque especially during night time. Trekking is another activity that you can enjoy here, with trails in Udaan Dongor and Sonsogor. Even water rafting is a good activity to try out here, you can enjoy that in either the Mhadei River or the Mandovi River. Of course, you can also try out the different night clubs in Goa. Just keep in mind that most don't allow stag entries and if they do, the rates can be very high. Best rated ones are that of the Cafe Mambo and Tito's Club. The Silent Noise Party in Palolem is another must try, where you can indulge in music listening through head phones. As mentioned above, there are also many wildlife sanctuaries around Goa, from which you can enjoy wildlife safaris and nature trails in.
    • Gokarna - Most water sports activities are available in Om Beach. You can indulge in banana boat riding, jet skiing, bumper boat riding, speed boating and dolphin spotting trips. Even snorkelling is available in this beach. You can also try trekking to reach the other beaches from Om Beach. Trekking here would take you to dense jungles that are quite refreshing to see. As compared to Goa though, Gokarna has less activities for tourists.
    6. Food Options
    • Goa - When it comes to dining options, Goa has plenty of them too. Of course, a must try here is the Goan cuisine, consisting mainly of seafood dishes. Affordable restaurants that you can try here for authentic Goan cuisine are Ritz Classic and Viva Panjim. For higher end ones, you can try the Fisherman's Wharf and Martin's Corner. International cuisines are also available in the state. Koi is a good option for Asian cuisine, Thalassa is good for Mediterranean cuisine and La Plage is good for French cuisine. If you find yourself craving for Indian food, there's Gunpowder for South Indian cuisine and Souza Lobo for North Indian cuisine. There are also plenty of beach shacks around Goa for more affordable dining options. You won't have to worry about your options for dining when in Goa as it is very diverse when it comes to this aspect.
    • Gokarna - Gokarna's dining scene isn't too diverse but it's no secret that the food here is quite delicious and affordable. Prema is one of the most well-known restaurants here, they serve both Indian and Asian cuisines. It is located on the shores of the Gokarna Beach and offers good options for vegetarians as well. Cafe 1987 is another good option, they have Indian and European dishes. The cafe is located close to Kudle Beach although it takes a bit of a hike to reach it. In Om Beach, there's the Namaste Cafe, serving Indian cuisine to guests. There are other beach shacks located close to the other beaches of Gokarna. They are pretty small though and the ambience is not that noteworthy at all. But thankfully, the food served is hygienic enough for travellers.
    Cafe 1987 in Gokarna

    7. Shopping

    • Goa - There are many flea markets around Goa. The most popular one is the Anjuna Wednesday Flea Market, where you can find all sorts of hippie knick knacks, from clothes, spices, jewelries and up to handicrafts. There's also the Arpora Saturday Night Market, perfect for shopping for both trendy and traditional items. As a bonus, there's live music playing in the background too so you can enjoy chilling while shopping. Mackie's Night Bazaar is located in Baga and is a perfect place for shopping for handicrafts. On the south, the Gandhi Market is a good option for shopping, where you can find fresh produce and also a few trinkets for souvenirs. Around Goa, there are also many stalls selling accessories, shawls and other trendy finds that you might need.
    • Gokarna - There is no specific flea markets around Gokarna but there is plenty of street stalls selling some souvenirs for you to take home. You can find traditional Indian clothes, accessories, handicrafts and other trinkets. You can haggle all you want as it is allowed here. Do take your time though in shopping because chances are, several stalls might be selling the same items.

    So Goa or Gokarna? It really depends upon your interests. Goa is a very lively place, vibrant and full of activities. There are some beaches in the south and north though that are more serene. But if you want to party, there's no doubt that Goa is the place for that. The options for accommodation and dining are plenty here too so you won't have an issue with that. On the other hand, Gokarna is a more serene place, with the exception of Om Beach, all other beaches are pretty much quiet. However, accommodation and dining options here a fewer as compared to Goa.