As we continued our adventures in Sri Lanka we decided to spend some time exploring the beaches on the south and south west coasts. We visited this part of Sri Lanka in early June which is the Yala monsoon season. We had a couple of short rain showers most days in between warm sun and temperatures of around 29 degrees
The beaches in this area are stunning and some of the best we’ve seen in the world… due to the time of the year the waves are almost ferocious relentlessly pounding the beach and it is not safe to swim in the sea. But they were awesome to watch…
The south coast of Sri Lanka was severely affected by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and evidence of this is still apparent in Tangalle. During our first afternoon we wandered around the small town and noticed many derelict and abandoned buildings.
After chatting to one of our hotel staff members he explained that following the tsunami the Sri Lankan government banned the building of hotels directly on the beach. Buildings now stand forlornly as half built eroding structures a stark reminder of the tragedy which cost the lives of over 30,000 people in Sri Lanka, some of whom were British tourists.
Also following the tsunami many locals moved from the coast to inland villages. This gives Tangalle something of a ghost town feel which is partly because June is low season in this area of Sri Lanka and partly because of the abandonment of homes.
However following the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka tourism has been steadily increasing throughout the last 5 years or so. We found a fabulous newly built hotel (the Anantara Peace Haven) where we had lunch for Chris’s birthday.
We found the most scenic beach in Tangalle was Goyambokka as it was in a pretty bay with some well placed photogenic rocks. We also visited Medaketiya Beach but the bay here was longer and in our opinion not as scenic especially with the wire mesh laying on the beach.
While in Tangalle we hired a moped for a day and drove to see the Hummanaya Blow Hole at Kudawella. We parked the moped in the village for a small fee and walked for 200 meters or so to the entrance. There is a small entrance fee and an information centre. Every few minutes the sea sends water up through the hole (as above).
Mirissa is about 1 hour 15 minutes drive in a westerly direction along the south coast from Tangalle.
As mentioned above throughout the monsoon season (May to August) the sea is rough and it is inadvisable to swim in it. During the rest of the year you can comfortably walk along a short sandy causeway to Mirissa Rock without getting your feet wet!
Mirissa is popular with tourists and backpackers although we found it to be a low key resort particularly in the current season. There are no big high rise hotels and most of the accommodation seems to be small 2 and 3 star family run hotels and hostels.
A number of laid back and relaxed restaurants line the bay next to the ocean. It was exhilarating to have lunch while watching the huge waves crashing a few feet in front of us… and one managed to drench the entire table (and Laura) just before the lunch arrived…
Mirissa is well known for offering whale watching trips. We didn’t do this activity as this was something we did while in Maui earlier in the year.
Still further west just along from Melissa is Weligama which is a much larger town than Mirissa and has a wide sweeping bay. We hired a tuk tuk and drove through Weligama to the Cape Weligama Resort where we had a couple of drinks and snacks. This sumptuous resort occupies an enviable position on a headland to the west of Weligama and a glass of Chardonnay is not a bad price at US$6.
The above photo shows one of the short rain showers in the distance!
Moving further west and around 46 km from Mirissa lies the town of Galle. Galle is most well known for its Fort which was originally built by the Portuguese in 1588. Later, in the 17th Century it was further developed by the Dutch. The walls of Galle are pleasant for a seafront stroll and this is a particularly popular activity at sunset when locals and tourists gather.
In Galle we stayed in a homestay which was directly on the beach and around 15 minutes by tuk tuk from the Old Town. This would be OK in the high season when the sea is much calmer and particularly if you enjoy beach time. However if you prefer exploring and are less interested in spending time on the beach we would recommend staying inside the walls of the Fort for convenience.