Gokarna is about 583 km from Bangalore, 238 km north of Mangalore and about 59 km from Karwar. It is between the Gangavali and Agnashini rivers along the Karwar coast by the Arabian Sea. It is 200 km north from the college towns of Suratkal and Manipal.
The drive up the winding path that leads to Gokarna is scenic, with the rocky mountains and Western Ghats on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other. Gokarna is known for the beaches. The Gokarna main beach in town and Kudle beach are west facing. Om beach, Half moon Beach and Paradise Beach (also known as Full moon) are south facing. Heaven beach and Nirvana beach (3 km long with fine white sand) are across the Aghanashini river.
The Gokarna beach forms the coast of the town and is followed by Main beach in northern direction while the other four beaches lie to the south. Gokarna Main Beach is mainly used by Indian pilgrims. Main Beach is a long open beach, known for surfing. Kuddle and Om are around 6 km from Gokarna town along a muddy hill; they are accessible by rickshaw or foot. Half moon and Paradise are beyond Om beach and are accessible only by foot or boat. Nirvana beach is accessible by boat and road from Kumta town. Om beach is named so because it is shaped like the auspicious ॐ Om symbol. Om beach is the only naturally Om-shaped beach. Om beach attracts local tourists on weekends. It has a few shacks and eateries, and also boat service to other beaches.