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Sri Lanka - The South Coast

P1040403A summary of my discoveries along the Sri Lankan South Coast from Hikkaduwa to Tangalle.

Hikkaduwa

This busy but laid-back surf beach has been critisized as having seen better days, and although I would agree with that regarding the reef end, Hikkaduwa beach stretches far beyond that. We really enjoyed a few days relaxing here and boogie-boarding into shore. 

The trick is to look for accommodation with numbers higher than 580 on Galle Road.  Anything below that is at the tired end where it all looks a bit shabby and the sand is very narrow and bolstered by sandbags in places. 

The reef itself has been damaged by careless snorkellers and the tsunami too, but you can be lucky and see turtles and an array of exotic fish.  As the main street runs close to the beach itself be aware that some of the beachfront properties have rooms with traffic noise. Once you are on the beach itself this isn't an issue.

P1040521For pleasant rooms in the middle part of Hikkaduwa The Royal Beach is a good option.  Or at Drifters, which has a small pool, I would recommend the oceanfront rooms only.  Prices are around US$60 a night. The Why Not is a good bar/restaurant with table tennis and table football. We enjoyed this section of the beach with its palm-shaded wooden loungers and lazy buzz.  There seemed to be a spectacular sunset every night. Surf lessons and boards are available, as well as masseurs.

 

P1040557If you want to pay less and be a little away from this mini hub, take a short stroll along the golden sand, past a couple of livelier places to Palm Beach.  It is slightly set apart from the others on a wide section of beach, and also a bit further from the road than most.  There are 10 large rooms and an apartment as well as a beachside restaurant and bar with good music.  We ate an inventive Sri Lankan tapas meal here which was delicious!  Rooms are priced around US$22 a night, but have no hot water.  If I was coming again this would be my choice! Contact Nilantha on 0777 696 572

Unawatuna

P1040417Contrary to many reviews I read before I arrived, I felt that Unawatuna was more spoilt by years of tourism than Hikkaduwa's better end.  I may be unfairly judging it partly because it was unrecognisable from my last visit 20 years before.  Of course the beautiful sweep of the bay remains with its calm turquoise water providing a refreshing dip.  There is a drop off which means children still need careful supervision.P1040422

When I say spoilt I suppose its because Unawatuna seems to be the party beach.  There were DJs banging out tunes from some places from mid-afternoon.  I did spot a smattering of litter and some rundown restaurant fronts and beach furniture too. In the middle of it all Lucky Tuna has some decent rooms with a view, but going to a lively bar is one thing and staying at one can be quite another.

Mirissa

P1040501This, to me, is the beach of the moment.  Much less developed (so far) than the previous 2 mentioned, my immediate reaction was 'Wow'. The Paradise Beach Club offers upmarket beach accommodation, pool and restaurant - great for children - although, perhaps unluckily, we received by far the worst service of anywhere we visited in Sri Lanka there.  A wonder down the beach leads you to some traveller's hangouts.  There is something for everyone here.

Other options ....

Back of Beyond at Kahandamodara is tucked away not far from Tangalle.  Like all Back of Beyond properties the accommodation is a rustic part-in part-out haven mixing comfort with nature.  What makes this place truly exceptional is the boat excursion across the lushly banked lagoon that drops you at a most spectacular stretch of untouched beach. There is a spit of sand between the edge of the lagoon and the crashing waves of the ocean.  You may share this piece of perfection with a fisherman or two. View Details

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Taprobane Island can be reached, at times, by wading the few metres from the beach at Weligama and is a small but beautifully formed private island guesthouse.  Five rooms, an infinity pool and an attentive team of staff await you.  This is idyllic for a wedding or any P1040424get-together when you want to leave the rest of the world behind. View details

Ram's Surf Beach offers a few simple rooms and casual restaurant for the discerning surfer who doesn't want to share the waves with too many others.  There are 2 renowned main surf points here - long left rides, barrels and easyP1040509 entry. The local fisherman who perch on sticks here create great photo opportunities as the sun begins to set.  091 225 2639

Ayurveda Paragon caters solely for the needs of those looking to resolve their health issues through ayurvedic treatment.  This luxury waterfront hotel takes bookings for a minimum of 2 weeks to enable guests to regain health and well-being. View details.

Transport

Now that the new highway has opened between Colombo and Galle travel times have been greatly reduced.  Unfortunately to reach the airport you still need to traverse the city of Colombo itself.  Our journey from Hikkaduwa to the airport took about 3.5 hours.  If looking for a reliable and friendly driver I recommend you use our friend Asanka Fernando - who can be contacted on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Seaplane transfers from Colombo to Koggala on the south coast, or other locations around Sri Lanka, can also be arranged.  Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or view the Air Lankan website for details here.