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Regional Reviews



Maldives - Short Island Hop

Resorts
About Maldives

 

Map of Sri Lanka
 


South Coast

Telephone dialing code for Galle and Unawatuna is 091
Telephone dialing code for Weligama and Mirissa is 041
Telephone dialing code for Tangalle is 047

Places of Interest

Galle Fort : Galle is steeped in history and has many beautiful hotels. However 3 days is usually the maximum stay unless you wish to indulge in the ex-patriate lifestyle of the Galle Fort Villas.

Destination Opening Hours Entry Fees
National Maritime Museum 9am-5pm Sat - Wed Rs 65
National Museum 9am – 5 pm Wed – Sun  
Galle Ramparts (walls) Best walks around 5pm and watch the sun set Rs 45
Dutch Reformed Church Anytime Donations

South Ceylon Industrial Agency & Handicraft Factories, 73a Kandewatta Road, Galle, employs traditional craftspeople from specializing villages. There is no admission charge but the end products may take your fancy.

Koggala Lake, just beyond Unawatuna lies next to the road. Take a ride on a Catarmaran and visit the cinnamon plantation, the Buddhist temple upon an island mount and Ananda Spice Garden.
Catarmaran Rides : Rs 300 / person / hour
Spice garden opens 7am- 7pm daily and they have many herbal potions that will cure any sunburn or particular muscular pain.
A Tuk Tuk from Unawatuna should cost about Rs400

Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum, inland from the lake is the home of famous author. The exhibits include puppets, masks, kitchen utensils and dance costumes from across the years with accurate curation translated into English.
Opens 9am-5pm daily , admission Rs15

Welligama is famed for its unusual Stilt Fisherman. You will catch them around full moon sitting in the most uncomfortable looking position from 6am to 8.30am and again from 4pm to 6pm. Some say they expect a tip for photography but I have never seen them move too fast off those poles due to an interested passerby. In the town is Welligama fising harbour which is an exciting part of Sri Lankan Hubbub at 6 am.

Ho-o-maniya Blow hole at Mawella 6km northeast of Dikwella has sea forces chimney sprays up to 18m into the air. June monsoon season is the best time to visit. Be careful not to stand too close to the spray as the chimney can move around and there are no railings.

Weherahena underground temple which lies in land between Galle and Unawatuna.

Kottawa Rain Forest close to Unawatuna. Short treks will require a guide. Be careful or rip-off touts and leaches.

Activities

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Safaris

Bundala National park is the best bird sanctuary on the island and home to hundreds of flamingos plus 149 species of birds, crocodiles, elephants and giant squirrels. The marine turtle also breeds in this area.
Entry Fees Adult / child $8.40 / 4.20, Rs 72/ vehicle, Rs 144 Service charge
Best time to go October to January for marine turtles.
August to April for migrant birds
Best means of transport 4WD Rs1500-2000
or catarmaran meandering through the lagoons

Turtle watching at Rekawa, 10km east of Tangalle (just off Hambantota Road). At night stand on the beach by night (February to July) to watch the slow moving turtles crawl to the beach side to bury their eggs. The conservation teams later bury them in more protected areas and release the young once hatched. Wear dark clothes so as not to disturb the turtles.

Snake Farm in Mirissa, is home to an ayurveic practioner. Enquire from local guesthouses about taking a river boat inland to the farm.

Culture & Temples (Vihara)

Galle : Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya – a quiet rock temple protecting a 9m long reclining Buddha
Koggala : Kataluwa Purwarama temple – 13th century temple home to statues and restored murals. The resident monk will explain the murals.
Weligama: Kustaraja: 8th century carved rock statue symbolizing a king cured of leprosy.
Matara/ Dondra : Weherahena Temple – the ceiling is decorated with 200 comic –book style scenes of the Buddhas life. Here stands the tallest standing Buddha, c. 200m high.
Mulkirigala : 16km northwest of Tangalle sits a rock temple housing cleft-like caves and many buddhas. The neighbouring monastic school is worth passing by.

Walks

You will find areas of forestry all along the coast, but walks we can recommend are as follows

Walk Town Comments
Ramparts Galle Fort Dusk is best time. 45 minute stroll
Kottawa Conservation Forest 15km northeast of Galle Wet forest. Walking tracks but gain permission from Forestry dept office to advise of your entry. Leeches are rife so have good walking shoes and cover legs.. The trees are identified. Waterfall for dips.
Rumassala Rocky outcrop on west end of Unawatuna beach Known for its medicinal herbs. 1-2 hour stroll along beach and to temple on peak.
Jungle Beach Northside of Unawatuna facing galle harbour Forestry with a well trodden path down to private beach. 1-2 hour to climb and descend back into village. Peak is excellent for sunset.
Mirissa Beach Mirrissa Chat to the local fisherman enroute.

Watersports
Including Surfing, snorkeling and Diving. There is wreck diving around Galle in addition to reef and cave dives further South. The Lord Nelson is a cargo ship wrecked only 10 years ago has a 15long cabin to explore.

  1. Submarine Diving School, Unawatuna Bay. Tel .091 4 380358
    Snorkelling equipment : Rs150/ hour or Rs 700/day
    Padi open water US$350, 1 dive $25, 5 dives $100
  2. Unawatuna Diving Centre, Matara Road, Tel . 091 224 4693
    Padi openwater Euros 325
  3. Bavarian Divers, nr Bay Beach Hotel, Weligama. Tel. 041 225 2708
    Excellent snorkeling bay. Padi open water $295, 1 dive $30
  4. Let’s Dive, Beach Road, Tangalle. Tel. 047 224 0401 / 0777 902073
    2 dives $50, Padi open water $325, Padi Advanced $210
    150 yr old steamer wreck, 40m cargo ship lying for 20yrs

Deep Sea Fishing trips
Fisherman at Welligama harbour will take sea fairing adults/children on a 3.3m motorized boat to the deep sea to see dolphins and sharks. Expect to pay Rs4000 /person for a 4 hour trip. We are not convinced that you will see too many sharks at the surface so ensure that they have some good bait on board.

Yoga & Meditation
For those who wish to incorporate a little exercise and rejuvenation into their beach holiday, Unawatuna has a meditation centre and Secret Garden Villa has a Meditation Dome where regular morning and evening sessions of Yoga, Reflexology, Reiki, and Citadel music are held. Check the notice board on Secret Garden’s door for further information (opposite Thaproban restaurant).

Beaches

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Beach Main attraction
Unawatuna Bay Snorkelling, swimming, glass-bottom boats
Jungle Beach, Unawatuna Private sunbathing, walks, snorkeling, sunsets
Ahangama Surfing, swimming, sunbathing
Midigama Surfing, swimming, sunbathing
Dalawella Surfing, swimming, sunbathing
Welligama Beach Dirty beach , fishing, snorkelling
Mirissa Beautiful wide sandy beach, sunbathing, snorkeling at Parrot Rock, surfing at the west end.
Dikwella Surfing, protected reef for windsurfing, waterskiing,sunbathing
Tangalle Wide sandy beaches, sunbathing, some bays for swimming

Bars & Restaurants

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Unawatuna is the only resort where you will find stand alone bars and restaurants along the two sides of the bay and within the town streets. The restaurants within the many boutique hotels and villas on the South Coast are excellent.

Excellent Sri Lankan Cuisine

Khalids Gueshouse (many muslim recipes, simple ambience)
102 Pedlar Street
Galle Fort
Tel. 091 223 4907 Approx. Rs 500/head

Madu Seafood Restaurant
Unawatuna Bay Approx. Rs 350/head

Fine Dining (sometimes with a Sri Lankan twist)

Sun House (Daily Set menu)
18 Upper Dickson Road
Galle
Tel. 091 222 2624 Approx. Rs 3000/head

Galle Fort Hotel (light lunch and dinner)
28 Church Street
Galle Fort
Tel. 091 223 2870 Approx. Rs600-2000/head

Dream House (Authentic Italian cooking and Italian ingredients)
Unawatuna
Tel. 091 4 381541 Approx. Rs1500 / head

Three Fishes (superb seafood but lacks atmosphere)
Unawatuna
Tel. 091 224 1857 Approx Rs 1500/ head

Local casual Family Bar/ restaurants

Secret Garden (Fantastic breakfasts)
Unawatuna
Tel. 011 4 721007 Approx. Rs 1000/head

Thaproban
Unawatuna
Tel. 091 4 381722 Approx. R800/ head


Entertainment/Nightlife

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There are two late night bars in Unawatuna – happy Banana and King Fishers. They have loud dance music through the night. Generally on the South coast, guests fall to sleep to the sea air.

Shopping

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Antiques, art and lace are the main crafts of the South Coast in Galle and Welligama respectively.

Antiques- Olanda
30 Leyn Baan Street
Galle
Bric-a-brac – The Indoor market, (opp. Galle Fort Hotel)
Church Street
Galle Fort

Indika Art gallery ( Local artist – variety of styles)
Tangalle
Tel. 0777 903253

Lace – Stalls are located along the main roads. The lace can look a bit grubby due to the dust but they will ash clean and the craftsmanship needlework is so intricate.

General amentities and food of a Western nature can be bought at the major supermarket chains – Cargills or Keels. These can be found in the major shopping towns.

Getting About

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Tuk Tuks

Tuk Tuks are the main mode of transport within the towns and to local sights. Try to befriend a tuk Tuk driver at the beginning of your stay and the rates will come down. Most of the hotels will have their preferred Tuk Tuk drivers who will look after you as they will have a relationship with the hotel but do not be naïve to their persuasive techniques.

Bus

The buses run along the coast line from Colombo to Galle and onto Matara albeit the private express buses only stop at the bigger cities, so check. The main bus stations are in Kalutara, Beruwala, Aluthgama, Ambalangoda and Hikkaduwa, Galle, Unawatuna, Welligama and Matara.

To Colombo Duration Cost (single) Frequency
From Galle 3 hrs Rs 85 Every 15 mins
From Matara 4 hrs Rs 120 Every 45 mins

 

To Tangalle Duration Cost (single) Frequency
From Galle 2 ½ hrs Rs 60 Approx 4-5 / day
From Matara 4 hrs Rs 120 Every 45 mins

 

To Galle Duration Cost (single) Frequency
From Unawatuna 15 mins Rs 5 Every 15 mins
From Hikkaduwa ½ hr Rs 15 Every 15 mins

From Matara and Galle you can also get a direct bus to Tissamaharama (Yala) or North to Ella and Nuwara Eliya.

Buses at peak time are extremely busy as many locals commute to jobs in Galle and Matara.

Check at the bus stations for exact information.

Trains

Galle, Matara are the main stops for the express trains from Colombo running 5-6 times / day. There are small stations - Thalpe, Ahangama along the cost but the journey will take slightly longer and run only 1-2 times / day . Check the central train information line for times or ask the locals.
There are no trains South of Matara to the South East. The railways head North towards the Hill Country.

Trains at peak time are extremely busy as many locals commute to jobs in Galle and Matara.

To Colombo Duration Cost (single)
From Galle 2 hrs Rs 65
From Matara 3 hrs Rs 89 - 155 1st/2nd class

There is a train running from Hikkaduwa to Kandy at 3pm each afternoon and to Anuradhapura at 11 am each morning. You are advised to book ahead to secure a 2nd class ticket for a 5 and 8 hr journey respectively.

For advice on costs for private drivers and getting around the island for excursions, click here.

Banks & Internet Cafes

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Post Office & Banks

Banks can only be found in Galle, Welligama, Matara and Tangalle. Remember they are closed on public holidays and Poya days so don’t get caught out. Check with the hotels when Poya Day falls – full moon of each month.

The main post office serving the South is in Galle although offices can be found in the major towns.

Internet Cafes

The internet cafes are quite sophisticated but there is no broadband. You will find cafes in Galle, Unawatuna, and Matara. Most of the cafes are set up to download digital cameras and burn to disc. Tangalle is not yet into the 21st century but there is one pokey shop with a computer and internet connection.

The South Coast of Sri Lanka offers Villas, Yala National wildlife park and historic Galle city. Boutique hotels and villas offer luxury accomodation on Sri Lanka's South Coast beaches. Uncommercial and stunning beaches with excellent snorkelling. We have lived and toured the South Coast and reviewed many villas of the South coastline. Check availability and book South coast hotels online with Boutique Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka specialists with detailed knowledge of the South Coast and Galle