In this week’s travel feature Louise-Anne Mañasco and Max Pizarro review the many beaches Sri Lanka has to offer.
By Louise-Anne Mañasco and Max Pizarro
To put it very simply our trip was divided up into beaches, safaris and the mountains.
Having read up about the country, these three categories seemed obvious and made our journey much easier to organise.
Known for its beautiful, tropical beaches, it was vital we spent a substantial amount of time hopping along the South-East Coast jumping in and out of TukTuks and enjoying as many of their iconic beaches as possible. Having enjoyed the very scenic train journey from Colombo down to Galle it was time to see for ourselves how special these stretches of sand really are.
As one of Sri Lanka’s Iconic images, the Stilt Fishermen are a must see as they are quite an impressive sight when perched on their slender makeshift bamboo stilts above the choppy shallow waters.
When travelling south along Matara Road there are a couple of small cove beaches right by the side of the road in Koggala which are filled with these stilts.
Each of these stilts have each been owned by a particular family for generations and have simply been passed down from father to son over the years. Despite being able to get a few impressive shots of this traditional method of fishing, unfortunately it is generally no longer a way of life but rather just a tourist attraction.
As an attraction, you can well imagine they will expect some form of tip for a few photographs but do be careful as they really will try and get as much out of you as they can and they will sometimes sound ridiculous. We paid no more than 200-300 LKR but they will ask for much more!
Sandwiched between Unawatuna and Talpe is the beautiful, relatively quiet cove-like Wijaya beach which sits in front of a few small boutique hotels.
With a natural wave break about 50m out and stretching the length of the cove, the water within is shallow and considerably calm despite the rough waters outside.
This knee deep large natural pool which was constantly filtered by the pounding waves on the rocks was a beautiful place to just lie in the water and enjoy the peaceful, pleasant surroundings. This charming beach can be very easily missed as it lacks an obvious, inviting path off the main road and we felt a little fortunate that we came across it.
Moving towards Unawatuna but literally over the rocks at the Northern end of Wijaya Beach, we walked along, the deserted stretch of Dalawella Beach with not a single soul in sight.
Despite being considerably different to Wijaya beach in terms of not being a sheltered cove with calm waters, this long stretch of blinding white sand, lined with coconut trees was extremely picturesque with the contrasting colours.
From the calm to the storm, Unawatuna is undoubtedly the busiest of the beaches in the area which for some reason draws many visitors.
Literally lined with hotels and restaurants sitting on the beach, the apparent beautiful golden crescent beach which once was is now no longer.
Undeniably, it will create a very lively atmosphere and does offer an enjoyable meal and a few drinks on the beach. However it really has turned into a very touristic beach that has been taken away from the tropical, palm-lined beaches that are characteristic along the south coast.
As Beach Lovers we tend to avoid the heavily touristic beaches and do also enjoy the pursuit for those beaches which have that extra beauty and are not usually ventured to by your average holiday-goer.
Jungle Beach is again no different; away from the main built up and commercial areas of Galle, it is a small secluded beach found right on the opposite side of the Bay with its only access via a steep, narrow dirt-track. This pocket of paradise wedged at the base of the surrounding forest is the type of gem we are always in search of.
Habaraduwa Sea Turtle Hatchery
With Sri Lanka being a prime nesting site, visiting a turtle sanctuary, both hatchery and rescue centre was a must both for the fact that we would be able to see the majestic creatures up close (especially the very young) but also able to contribute to the worthy cause.
With hatching and raising the young as well as rehabilitating the injured, sanctuaries like this one in Habaraduwa is able to do its part in maximising the numbers of young reaching adulthood, giving these delicate creatures a little head start during the critical stages of life and therefore the strength to avoid some of the very many dangers.
In contrast to the many quiet beaches along the coast, Mirissa beach is full of life, lined with bars and restaurants. Completely different to what we had been used to, the beach would generally be busy from the early morning all the way through to late evening but did have a pleasant vibe to it.
The beach itself is a large narrow cove beach which is perfect for those wanting to spend some times in amongst the waves on a body board.
Although the bars and restaurants along the beach were popular during the day, the evening is when the beach truly became alive attracting many visitors.
Having so far hopped along the coast in tuk tuks for the relatively short journeys, it was now time to jump into the local bus and make the two hour journey along to Tangalle. In contrast to many of the smaller picturesque tropical cove beaches which dominate the south-west coast, Tangalle provides beautifully long, wide open beaches which are lined with large numbers of tall slender coconut trees which sway gingerly in the warm afternoon breeze.
As well as a popular destination for travellers, it is also a popular beach for many pregnant turtles ready to lay their eggs.
With many of the guests staying in accommodations at the northern end of the beach, these turtles tend to pick the quieter southern end which tends to have far few visitors and makes for a more relaxed couple of hours laying her eggs. Fortunately, there is the possibility to go and watch these turtles at the Turtle Watch Rekawa where you are able to follow a guide onto the beach who will take you to any turtles that may be in the area.
Although there is no guarantee to see a turtle, a couple of hours on the beach was well worth it as we got the chance to see a couple of turtles with one of the mothers covering up her eggs.
Louise-Anne and Max are a local travel couple who have visited over 50 countries.
To read more about Louise-Anne and Max’s travels check out their blog:
And their Instagram account: @lifeoutofourbackpack