At the time of writing this post, I was sitting on a train from the town of Ella to Kandy in Sri Lanka. The previous 7 days has taken me from the capital city, Colombo and down south along the coast through the RnR beach towns Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, and Mirissa as well as a visit to the old Dutch and Portuguese city of Galle.
I covered Colombo in the first of this series (click here if you haven’t read it) and ended the post with our departure from the capital. Galle was the next stop where the local train lines were sampled in order to reach the destination. The train from Colombo to Galle cost me LKR 180 for a 2nd class ticket with 2 hours of standing. Try to get a seat/view on the right hand side of the train (facing forward) for seaside views.
My friends and I didn’t have a firm itinerary for our trip so there was some back tracking and lost time during our travels. As such, I intend to go through the towns in the order we visited them.
The city or town of Galle is notable for the old fort which resides at the sea edge of the town. Due to a lack of information, we decided to take the safe option and book two nights within the fort at a place called the Pedlar’s Inn. In hindsight we could have and probably should have stayed in the nearby beach towns as Galle can be easily covered with a day trip. Nonetheless it was a worthwhile experience, although the provision of an a/c unit comprised a wall mounted unit with the power cord cut off.
A wander around the fort is a must, especially along the walls which offer great photo opportunities. There was also a snake charmer present during the time of our visit. This was particularly comical as I don’t think he knew how to play his flute. While attempting to ‘play’ the flute, the charmer would also use a stick to agitate his cobras. At one stage, he even stopped to ‘tune’ the instrument whilst his two cobras were out of the baskets.
Note that prices for food (and tuk tuks) are higher within the fort which is not entirely surprising given it is a tourist area (meals generally start at around 1000 rupee compared to 500 rupee outside). India Hut is my pick for food within the fort.
After exploring this obvious area, the RnR beaches of Sri Lanka were where we began to find our serendipity.
The first beach town we visited was Unawatuna. Galle to Unawatuna will cost about LKR 400 via tuk tuk and take 10-15 mins for the 5 km journey. This was the busiest beach I visited and given its so close to Galle, it’s not surprising. The beach itself is a combination of fine and coarse grained sand. The fine sand is away from the water where the bars and restaurants reside (possibly imported). Down by the water, you get a coarse grained pebbly sand (not the most comfortable to walk along or comfortable when it’s up in and around your boardies). Another notable characteristic of this beach is the rate at which the water depth increases. Standing water depth (the depth at which I am completely underwater whilst standing straight) is about 5 m out from the beach.
The next beach town we visit was Hikkaduwa. If you’re planning a trip down the coast, I would recommend staying in Hikkaduwa as your first stop. Tuk tuks are easily accessible with a ride from Hikkaduwa to Galle costing about LKR 1000-1200 for a 30-40 min/25 km journey. There’s plenty of hotel/motel/resort/hostels nearby and lots of cheap food.
The main attraction of Hikkaduwa is the coral reef adjacent to the shore. The surrounding sand is generally fine grained with standing water depth out beyond the reef. Snorkel and fins are able to be hired at many locations. We hired equipment from the dive shop at the Coral Reef Beach Hotel for LKR 750/hr. You can get it cheaper elsewhere but it was recommended by friends that we pay a bit more for better quality gear. Note: When it rains, the water around Hikkaduwa can be cloudy due to the silty water deposited into the ocean by the nearby rivers.
The final beach town we visited was Mirissa and it was by far my favourite beach. We liked Mirissa that much we ended up staying 3 nights here. It’s the furthest south we travelled which meant that it also started to feel more isolated (in a good way). Galle to Mirissa via Tuk Tuk costs about LKR 1600 and takes 1 hour to cover the 35km journey. There are trains between Galle and Mirissa if you prefer a cheaper option.
The entire beach has fine grained sand and a standing water depth of about 30 m out which is great from catching waves with the boogie board. There’s plenty of fresh seafood available which can be consumed BBQ style on the beach (LKR 6500 for the feast shown above). A small ‘island’ can be accessed along the beach, which gives great views of the adjacent coves/bays.
We used AirBnB for our stay in Mirissa which I highly recommended. The place we chose was called Sleek house and it’s less than a 2 min walk to the beach. Breakfast was complimentary with dinner options available at a very reasonable price. I recommend giving the seafood BBQ a try. The owners of the house own a whale watching business and due to the charisma of one Lawson Stapleton, we quickly broke the ice with our hosts who were then kind enough to take us out to see some whales.
It was a shame we had to leave, but after 3 days hanging out in Mirissa we headed north up into the mountains. To be continued…
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