Salt in your hair, sunshine on your shoulders and friendly locals making you feel right at home is what the south coast of beautiful Sri Lanka is all about. Sri Lanka retreats have so much to offer, you’ll have to plan well to fit everything in. If you do class yourself a ‘traveller’, an ‘adventurer’ a ‘surfer’ or ‘seeker of inner peace’ then the south coast should not be given a miss. Whether you are backpacking or joining a tour, this coastal belt is easy to navigate and has more than a few awesome experiences in store. Here are a few suggestions for touring the south coast on a 7 day trip.
The expressway from Colombo to Galle promises you a quick one hour transfer, but don’t do that! You are in Sri Lanka for the experience, and the drive from Colombo to Galle, make it an early morning departure, will turn out to be more than a mere tropical experience. As you head along the winding south-west Galle Road, you will pass coconut palm-fringed beaches where thatched huts abound and toddy tappers scale palm trees as deft as monkeys. Stop for a drink of thambili, your official drink in Sri Lanka, and maybe a sample of ‘raa’ toddy. Savour the sea breezes drifting off the nearby beach, love the warm weather and maybe check out the smelly but wholly interesting fish market in Beruwala. The 146km drive is through the towns of Wadduwa, Kalutara, Beruwala, Bentota, Kosgoda, Ambalangoda and Hikkaduwa. The latter being a well-established hippie style party centre, popular for snorkelling and surfing since the 60’s. .
Your second day on the south coast must include a whale watching trip, if you are lucky enough to be there between December and April. There is nothing more rewarding than sighting these mighty ocean mammals playing in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Tours are available in Mirissa and Dondra, where you can also check out the vintage lighthouse, for which building material was brought down from Britain in the 1800’s!
Very close to Mirissa, you can surf and play in Weligama, only 18 minutes away; regarded as a gorgeous, relaxing, sun worshippers haven. Take along a surfboard, or simply rent one, and hit the waves, where the water is warm, winds are breezy and island vibes promise to make you the happiest being on earth. Weligama Bay is a stunner, the sea is very shallow allowing one to walk yards into the ocean in only waist deep water, while the rustic surroundings are perfect for those of you seeking bliss, to flop down and do – nothing!
Stay in a Boutique Hotel near Galle. The Old Dutch Fort in Galle is your taste of culture in Sri Lanka. A colonist stronghold since the 1500’s the fort is Galle’s, iconic attraction and has withstood the test of time pretty well. Built by the Portuguese, taken over and fortified by the Dutch, the place was last owned by the British, who too have long since left the island to its own devices. The fort is lovingly preserved and boasts cobblestone streets and Dutch villas lining the ramparts. The views from the ramparts are astounding as are visits to the Dutch Museum and Marine Museum, while the Old Lighthouse and vintage church are ideal for the culture buffs to explore. Galle Fort Galle District
As you head deeper south, your senses awaken, and adventure together with a salty breeze is in the air. Tangalle Bay is still a marvellously un-crowded little town, steeped in history and blessed with the most ruggedly beautiful beaches on the island. Surfers, this is your paradise, where waves cater to varied levels and are as wild as the surroundings. The beaches, comprising of Goyambokka, Medilla, Medaketiya Activity Beach and Mawella claim to have the softest sands while the protective coral reef promises one a snorkelling experience like no other. You can even get out the scuba gear and check out some of the old wrecks resting off the coast of Tangalle. Tangalle Surf School Tangalle
Have your fill of Tangalle, laze around the beach, surf to your heart’s content and work on that tan. But do make sure you visit Rekawa Beach, located 10kms away, where you can look forward to up-close and personal encounters with at least 5 species of sea turtles. Visit the sanctuary and join a night tour, to release baby turtles back to sea, or take part in an egg rescue mission on a full moon night; all pretty awesome experiences for anyone.Turtle Watch Rekawa Netolpitiya Tangalle
Yala is the South’s biggest threat, 2 hours from Tangalle; the place is more than exotic. Home to one of Asia’s largest leopard populations, wild elephants, sly crocodiles, colourful flamingos and pretty peacocks, the variety of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds is staggering. Oh and don’t forget the wild beaches home to herds of wild elephants, scrub jungles and boulder-strewn lagoons adding to the rustic beauty of the place. Yala National Park Tissamaharama
There is more of course to the South Coast of Sri Lanka, but we will leave it up to you; explore, discover and savour what the little island of Sri Lanka hides along its most popular coastal belt.