Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sri Lanka's Southwest Coast: Galle and Unawatuna Beach

We spent the last few days of our trip to Sri Lanka relaxing on the southwest coast. We stayed at the wonderful Thaproban Beach House in Unawatuna and enjoyed visiting the town of Galle as well. After a lot of driving and seeing so much diversity over the past several days, it was wonderful to settle in to this little beach town for some true R and R.

Thaproban Beach House and our lovely balcony room with a view to the ocean

View from Thaproban's restaurant
A lovely beach and cove for water sports/swimming

Evenings on Unawatuna

A great thing about Thaproban is that they have three resorts in Unawatuna and you can use the amenities at all of them. I loved staying right on the beach, but it was great to be able to go to their resort down the road for the pool (in an amazing oceanfront setting) and spa.

Unawatuna offers plenty of relaxation and fun. Yes, it might be considered a bit touristy (some say spoiled) and you will have to constantly say no to sales offers (everything from fruit to sunglasses and clothing) but we found it quite peaceful in the off season. There are plenty of little shops, restaurants and bars. You have to while away some time enjoying beachfront dining and cocktails...or water sports for the more active vacationers.

I also enjoyed walking down to Jungle Beach (just me, the monkeys and the Buddhist chanting along the way) and the Japanese Peace Pagoda. The other great feature of Unawatuna is the surrounding area, with lots of other lovely beaches and Galle nearby (as well as turtle sanctuaries, wildlife sites and tea plantations).

We had our driver take us in to Galle to spend the afternoon and evening there (about a 15 minute drive). Galle reflects the Dutch and Portuguese colonial era of Sri Lanka and is one of the best preserved examples of a Portuguese fortified city in Asia. It has lovely shops and restaurants and it's well worth spending some time walking along the city wall and enjoying the colonial architecture.

Strolling around the city wall as sunset nears, you will find plenty of other people enjoying the afternoon hours: tourists (even some from our adopted home wearing evening gowns...go figure!), local children playing sports, families enjoying a snack and even a few animals. Walk past the iconic lighthouse and continue around the wall, and stroll through the little streets to fully enjoy Galle.

There's a big cricket ground in Galle, but we happened upon an impromptu match in the middle of town. Then, we settled in at a nearby spot with a great view over the wall to watch sunset (and the buses full of others enjoying it too). It was a perfect way to spend my birthday...of course, capped off with a tasty meal. We enjoyed the art deco architecture and ambience (and food!) at Deco on 44.


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