The beaches were calling us and a sale on the Bangalore-Colombo tickets coupled with an upcoming long weekend did the trick. We had not taken a beach vacation since Krabi and Phi Phi Islands, and were itching to relax by the beach and soak in some Vitamin Sea, and I had read that beaches Sri Lanka are really serene. We were too late to book our hotel on the east coast of Sri Lanka which does not receive rain in the months of June-August. So, we took a chance and headed to the south-west beaches of Sri Lanka from Bentota to Hikkaduwa. Thankfully, the weather didn’t play spoil-sport. The villages and beaches of Beruwala, Bentota, Unawatuna, Kalutara gave me a familiar Goa-like vibe. It felt peaceful, friendly and serene. We stayed at the Avani Resort and Spa. It’s about INR 8000 or USD 125 per night. With a nice pool and comfortable rooms (Psst! Room 318 gives a relatively better view of the ocean), our Bentota beach resort stay was a pleasant one; barring the Tsunami alert that scared the daylights out of us. Thankfully, it was a precautionary alert and was pulled back after a few hours.
View from our room
If you find yourself in Sri Lanka for five days and are wondering what to do. Here are some offbeat ways to explore Sri Lanka’s south-west coast!
Take a stroll down Beruwala beach: This is a pristine beach located in the quaint fishing village of Beruwala. With no shacks dotting the shore, this is the beach you should head to if you’re looking for some peace and solitude with only the sound of the waves for company. Enjoy a stroll down the beach with the sand in your feet, wind in your hair and witness the drama in the sky as the sun sets amidst the clouds. Isn’t this what blissful beach holidays are made of?
Enjoy a sundowner at Dalawella beach: Dalawella beach, Sri Lanka was a pleasant discovery on our hunt for tranquil beaches. This palm fringed beach – a little ahead of Unawatuna beach – has a few restaurants on the shore. Wijaya Beach comes in highly recommended for its pizzas. But, we chose the last eating joint on the beach, a little more secluded from the rest. We could see some surfers trying to counter the not so mellow waves. A picturesque view of the beach, a cool breeze in the air, with some Lion beer and local arrack (fermented sap of coconut flowers) was the perfect end to a tiring day. This is one of my best memories from the holiday.
Watch the river meet the ocean at Bentota: The village of Bentota is peculiarly located where the Bentota River meets the Indian ocean. For some reason, I was always very fascinated by this confluence and was happy to witness it here. Take a river safari through the mangroves and feel one with nature. You can spot some crocodiles and monitor lizards lazing around; and kingfishers fluttering by. You can go upto the point where the river meets the sea. There was not much of a colour distinction, but it’s still a gorgeous sight.
Sip and buy tea at Ranra tea: You can’t visit the land of tea and leave without tasting some fine and fresh Ceylon tea. Sipping a cuppa in a local tea shop is an experience you will always cherish. Ranra tea is between Bentota and Induruwa and is a heaven for tea lovers. You can take a whiff of the different varieties of tea, sample the teas you like before you buy a box. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful, so worry not, if you’re not very tea-savvy. Sourced from the tea estates in Kandy and Nuwara Eliya, you can choose from mild to strong brews depending on your palette. I picked up some tea souvenirs to take back home- fresh cinnamon black tea and passion fruit green tea.
Release baby sea turtles into the ocean at Induruwa beach: Visiting a turtle hatchery is perhaps the most touristy thing to do in Sri Lanka. But, it’s still worth doing because it’s for a good cause- it’s your small step towards conserving the dwindling turtle population. Releasing turtles into the ocean happens after 6pm, but I suggest getting to the hatchery earlier before the crowd gets in. This way you can have a one-on-one chat with the volunteers and learn more about the initiative. We met a very committed volunteer who is a musician by day, but also helps out with the turtle conservation initiative because it’s close to his heart. 5 species of turtles are conserved here. The most rare species, the Leatherback turtle, is on the brink of extinction. The eggs which fishermen sell illegally for consumption are procured by the conservatory, incubated and the baby turtles are then released into the ocean. About 3000 turtles are released every year, however the survival rate is only 10%. We bid our baby turtles good luck as we released them; watching them scuttle away into the ocean and starting a new life was the most fulfilling feeling ever.
Take a spice scented trail in a herb garden: While sauntering around at the Vivanta by Taj beach, we bumped into Jimi. His affable and warm attitude got us talking to him. His exciting stories had us hooked, and we decided to let him show us around the village of Bentota. He took us to a charming spice garden in the interiors of the village. From cinnamon to clove to lemongrass, the owner showed us around his medicinal garden, explaining the benefits of the extracts . He even offered a massage service using one of his in-house aroma oils. A relaxing experience indeed.
Explore the Dutch architecture at Galle: If you’re wondering things to do in Galle, then simply walk around the by lanes of Galle Fort and you will discover a piece of Europe here. Graffiti walls, colourful houses, vintage cars, quaint tea shops and cafes; I loved the vibe of this World Heritage Site. We enjoyed roaming about the narrow streets and gathering lots of pictures for our Instagram feed. We stopped by a small café for some homemade spiced coffee. Not my cup of tea (pun intended). By the sea, you have a few European style cafes where you can grab a bite. We had lunch at a charming café, Sugar, overlooking a courtyard. Post lunch, we went up a small set of stairs which revealed a gorgeous sight of the sea.
Which beaches and places do you suggest visiting in Sri Lanka?
This post is a part of the series- #12TravelTales wherein I plan to explore 12 new places in 2017- one every month and share my experiences on the blog.