Adventure Backpacking Countries Gokarna India Karnataka Reviews Solo South Travel Travel tips

The Zostel Experience

I had stayed at a backpacker’s hostel during my last solo trip to Goa and had quite liked the experience. Even though the hostel was not one of the best, it had helped me get an idea of what to expect and what not to while staying in such environments. I personally did not find many things that I can complain about or which bothered me in any way. So for my next solo trip to the coastal town of Gokarna, I again decided to stay in a hostel. And so began my search for a backpacker hostel in Gokarna. I soon decided upon one. This, however, was quite different from the previous one I had stayed at in Goa. Different in a good way.

Gokarna Beach from the cafe, Zostel Gokarna
Gokarna Beach from the cafe, Zostel Gokarna

One of the first things I remember however was the tiring half-a-kilometer up-hill walk which I had to endure in that sweltering heat. Yes you can take an auto too but I had decided to walk. A hundred bucks for a kilometer or so did not sound right to me. Half way through though, I had almost started to regret this decision of mine.

However, all the tiredness vanished when I finally found myself sitting at the cafe right next to my room after a refreshing shower. The cafe which had a view so gorgeous, it made me oblivious to anything else around me. Among the many ways in which it was different from other hostels, the one that sits at the top of the list was without doubt, its location. Located at a hill-top which offers a fantastic view of the Gokarna beach it is one of the best-located property I have stayed at in a long long time.

Zostel Gokarna
The Hostel – Zostel, Gokarna

The hostel itself is beautifully done. Located at the end of a huge area, painted in bright and lively colors all over, be it inside or on the outside of it, the place looks very distinctively cheerful. The place has an in-house restaurant too. And its Nepali cooking team there never fails to come up with one culinary delight after another, every single time. The best part, there were two eating areas. Both of them with a fantastic view of the beach below and the greenery around.

restaurant Zostel Gokarna
One of the two eating areas – Zostel, Gokarna

The rooms, all of them with a sea-view, were spacious and the beds wider compared to what the hostel I stayed in Goa had. However, even though the place is hardly a few months’ old, it seems the washrooms will be needing some work soon. Things have started coming off the walls.

The common room, Zostel Gokarna
The common room, Zostel Gokarna

If you ask me about which was my favorite place there — of-course apart from the restaurant, the answer without any second thoughts would be, the common area of the hostel.

Firstly, this place is brilliantly done. Enough bean-bags to relax, cushions to doze-off and a big TV to catch-up on the whatever you want to. Not to mention the small but fantastic collection of books there. The colorful and funky graffiti of Bob Marley on the wall only made the place funnier. No wonder I spent a lot of time there, relaxing, reading and eventually slipping into lazy naps.

For the price, which is same as any other hostel’s tariff here in India, I would not hesitate to say that Zostel is offering a much better value for money. For the privacy seekers, they do have cottages as well.

**Secret tip: Want to take chances and get accommodation at even lower prices? Show-up instead of booking online 😉

How has your experience at backpackers’ hostels been like? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear from you.

28 thoughts on “The Zostel Experience”

    1. Absolutely Kat! It very much is. In fact, from the photos of their website, it seems all their hostels are equally cheerful-looking.

      Gokarna, a small beach-village is on the western coast, in Karnataka. Some 100 kilometers before Goa.


  1. When I had been to Gokarna few years back, I had stayed in one of the shacks at the Om Beach. It was first of a kind for me but a totally different experience over all. But the problem I experienced back then was, it took a lot of pleading from our end to convince them to give us accommodation. They were worried that we might cause trouble to the foreigners! But apart from that, everything else was perfect.
    Now I guess, this option seems to be interesting and if I ever happen to visit Gokarna again, I would try this one out! The common area looks cool!
    Nice review 🙂

    1. There are a lot of idiots who shamelessly ogle and gawke and mis-behave with foreigners and ultimately end-up giving a bad impression of the Indian tourists in general. To me it’s actually surprising that you managed to get an accommodation at Om beach. May be they found you to be very very decent 😉 .

      Apart from the great location of the property, I found the vibe there very much to my liking and I am sure more Zosteling awaits me in the coming days.


      1. Hi Rajiv, I am planning to go this weekend to Gokarna, Need few updates..1) how is the weather there?. Is evenings cool?. 2) How to reach Zostel? Should we go through that small lane next to Ganesh temple which goes to kudle beach? 3) Are beaches crowded in the evening?


        1. Hi Tulasiram,

          Thanks for stopping-by.

          1. The weather would be HOT and HUMID.

          2. The road that next to the Ganesh temple is very much the road you need to take. Just keep walking up-hill for half-a-kilometer and you will see the orange Zostel board on your right.

          3. The beaches would not be crowded anytime in these months. In fact, given the fact that it’s off-season now, you would be lucky to find more than a handful of people there.

          **Keep in mind that not many places where you can find food will be open near the beaches.


  2. Gokarna… Rajiv well, I got attracted to go there ok but I was disappointed. The kudle beach saw it completely litters I mean when you go down that stuby rocky way down… I mean sad, its place where foreigners hang out more than Indian… infact only foreigners are there everywhere. Down the beach its very nice, crabs and things to make you relax… but the trash is bad… then Om Beach… absolutely depressing… only foreigners. However morning rides are good especially to see dolphins… but I don’t like that beach… the view from the boat ride gives you a round of beaches… foreigners on rock hills, on hammocks in paradise beach and it looks like flintstones too stone age period from far… well and Gokarna beach is local nonsense beach only but has some markets to buy stuff so nice… and attamalinga temple very sad… commercial people there is no atta linga there too some dug pit with water… but your so characteristic…. you walked the hill top 1km instead of taking the auto and half way regretted the decision but your tiredness went away when you sat on the cafe next to your room…wow!! … I can use this cute aspect in a novel some where… true travel relaxer… lots to learn from you. Even in Hampi Mango restaurant they have similar setting but its crowed always… good-day… I did not like Gokarna much will like your point of Gokarna… luckily where we stayed Paradise Cottages… it was so green and lovely and great view of Kudle beach that I forgot my disappointments I had at gokarna… of course the dolphin view at Om beach ad the flintstone point of view of Paradise beach… hot and humid and foreign place… we meet a group of boys who told they came in search of weed and if they can’t find it in Gokarna they will get it in Karwar later only I found they are marijauna… and I disagree with any Indians misbehaving with foreigners… they all well there and safe, I see them roaming and walking in the sun everyone without any trouble. If I go to Gokarna it would be to trek the hard way to paradise beach… but not that fond of the place… its pretty badly kept.

    1. Hey thanks for sharing your point of view.

      We went to the Paradise beach as well. In-fact I did a night-trek to the Paradise beach and then had a nice bonfire there. More on that coming soon 🙂 .


      1. hmmm… awesome … that’s the to way to enjoy… not site-seeing then sleeping in luxury like most of us do… I did not go there… saw Paradise beach from boat ride taken from Om beach(: …but mind wants to see that Paradise beach… but Gokarna is definitely polluted by tourists these days.

        1. Paradise beach is small but nice. And about Gokarna being polluted by tourists, well it’s still much better and relaxed than what Goa is, no?


          1. Ashamed to admit it, not been to Goa yet … but Goa has everything…greenery, beaches, you can go on ferries, explore Goa by walking around, the style buildings and maybe food… Gokarna perhaps great to relax… not even that I was disappointed by the atthamalinga temple… compared to the story behind, temple did not do justice to it… so for me nothing much in Gokarna… though living there in Paradise beach at night must be something after a awesome trek to the Paradise beach… I don’t like foreigners more than Indians at Indian places… I feel slightly out of place in my own country and Gokarna has less dressed foreigners wandering about… nothing against them… still… coming from someone had having seen foreigners loitering in beaches so much, its like that. Anyway… I would prefer green stuff than beaches any day… and the garbage in Kudle and Gokarna beach not nice… don’t like it… it should be kept clean and safe of-course like the beach in Pondicherry… Paradise beach.

  3. Wonderful experience Rajiv. I am pretty sure the uphill walk on a sunny day will be a big task 🙂
    But for sure, by evening this location would be pretty nice. Common area seems to be tastefully done.

    On my recent trip to Japan, I stayed in hostels all nights. Japan has a fantastic concept of capsule hostels, where you get a 3×6 cabin to yourself for stay 😉

    1. Oh it really was a beautiful place.I have known a lil’ bit about these Capsule Hostels since a while but yet to experience it. So until then, I would be happy to read your experience of a Capsule hostel.

      So share that soon 😉 .


    1. It is indeed an absolutely brilliant place. A perfect place to sit back, relax and have some beer while watching the sea below. And all this at a fantastic price!

    1. Hi Shashi,

      Thanks for dropping – by. They do have wifi. The signal is not very strong in any of the rooms except for the first one but otherwise it’s fine. I did not try skype but made a few whatsapp calls and they went smooth.


  4. Hi Rajiv,

    Great info, thank you.

    My friends and I (mix of boys and girls, 7 in number) are visiting Gokarna in the month of September and have booked Zostel for the stay. You have mentioned Zostel is on the hill top close to Gokarna beach. Kudle beach and Gokarna beach – are they same? If not, any idea how far is Kudle beach from this Zostel?

    Can you also tell me is it safe to spend some time on the beach shore in the nights (late nights) on any of the beaches in Gokarna? And would it be easy and safe to walk back to Zostel from the beach in the night?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Lavina,

      Gokarna is a small place. The hill on the top of which Zostel Gokarna is located in the between Gokarna beach and the Kudle beach.

      Kudle beach is around 15-minute walk from the hostel . So is the Gokarna beach but on the opposite side.

      Gokarna in general is a safe place and I don’t see any problem in spending time in the beaches. Just use basic commonsense and you should be fine.


  5. Hi Rajiv,

    Hope you doing great.

    I am planning to travel Gokarna this weekend. But, I’ll be travelling SOLO so, just wanted to check if this would be safe option for my stay. Also, wanted to check with you the itenary on Gokarna since I’ll be travelling for the first time. Your help would be appreciated.

    Seema Bharti,

    1. Hi Seema,

      Zostel to me seems quite a safe place. In my opinion, all back-packer hostels are. Gokarna is a very small place so you don’t really need an itinerary as such or something like a Things to do in Gokarna list. Just keep a day to go to the half-moon and the paradise beach as they, in comparison to the other beaches, are a little apart, but just a little, not much 🙂 .

      Other than that, just walk around and explore. Or, may be get a bi-cycle.

      Again, on the safety part, be as alert as you generally would be anywhere else, don’t over-stay at the beaches and you will be good.

      Feel free to get back in case of any questions.

  6. Hi Rajiv,

    Thanks for being so prompt in answering people’s questions!

    So me and a couple friends are going to gokarna in decemeber. We’re planning to stay in zostel, but looking at google maps, im afraid it might be too far from everything. Kudle seems to be where most of the cafes are and probably where we’ll end up hanging out most of the time. But its a 15-20 min walk away. Zostel seems like a really nice place but i dont know if well get annoyed making the walk thrice a day.
    So my questions is…would we be better off trying to stay closer to Kudle (this might be difficult as were going on christmas weekend and every place might already be booked). If yes then do you know places I can try to book online? I found a few like Namaste cafe/yoga farms/sanjeevani but they were all either booked or too expensive.
    Also, how bad is the walk?
    Would it be possible to get quick auto-rikshaws up and down kudle beach road to make travelling bw the beaches faster?


    1. Hey thanks for your kind words Ankit !!

      To answer your questions, distance between Zostel Gokarna and Kudle beach is not a lot BUT it is definitely not what you would like doing three times a day. There are many cafes by/near Kudle but not all are clean (because they are cheap). The ones you have mentioned are for sure costlier than they should be. Plus, during XMas time, expect the beaches to be crowded. I am not sure if you would enjoy that round the clock.

      If I have to suggest you, I would tell you this: stay at Zostel Gokarna for its awesome location, rent a bi-cycle (Rs.50/trip to Kudle beach is too much) and enjoy as much time you want to, at the beach.

      **PS.- If you rent a bi-cycle, you would have to carry it from the road to the beach. Nothing painful, just thought you should know.

      Have a great holiday!

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