Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom
December 19, 2005
Sandwiched between two hills, a couple of kilometres, and a 25-minute walk south of Gokarna, Kudle Beach is the first in a series of four near perfect stretches of sand. A 1km long, 50m wide golden brown curve fringed by palm trees, huts, and cafes, the sand is hard and bare, free of sun beds, beach shacks, and hawkers. The only facilities are a couple of small guesthouses on one side offering Internet access, Westernised menus, and a broken line of cafes and temporary huts, mostly basic shacks with a rock hard mattress and very little else, under tree cover at the back.
There were no more than 20 people on the beach on the early November morning I was there, down to single figures and a few cows when I came back in the evening. Most were laying at the very edge of the sand in the tiny bit of shade cast by the palm trees. Only a few were in the water--clean enough to swim in but with big waves and some powerful currents that would pose dangers for weak swimmers.
Om Beach is another half an hour away, up the steps that begin where the sand finishes, straight across the road at the top, and at the end of a trail marked by white arrows painted on black rocks. You’ll see the new seven-star (five for the hotel with another two for the attached casino) Om Beach Resort just before the beach itself, a dozen luxury suites built in the style of a jungle retreat halfway up a hill with a multi-cuisine restaurant, badminton courts, an art gallery, and plans to develop the sands below along the lines of Goa: parasailing, banana boats, safaris, and surfing.
Which is a shame, because Om really is spectacular, three arcs of light sand with a rocky spit topped by a single tree in the centre. The beach is long--it takes around 15 minutes to walk from one side to the other--and there’s hardly any shade except for a rounded rock or two and the restaurants at the back of the sand, fronting the budget accommodation at places like the famous Namaste, which serves pizzas, grilled chips with chips and salad, hash potatoes and cheese, and Israeli dishes at prices that are closer to Goa than Gokarna. It’s an excellent swimming beach, but be careful, as the water is deeper than at Kudle and the currents even more treacherous, especially at the southern end.
From journal Among The Brahmins: Gokarna