After nearly three weeks of sightseeing and travelling in every direction around Sri Lanka, the sandy beaches of the south coast were calling us. We had 10 days left and all I wanted to do was sunbathe and sip cocktails. Unfortunately the sun had other ideas… when it wasn’t scolding my skin (definitely not to do with the fact I kept forgetting to top up my sun cream…), it was playing hide and seek behind various black clouds. However, on a positive note, the rain that followed us from Ella to Mirissa meant we found sanctuary in nearby bars which were offering £1.50 cocktails during their 8 hour long happy hours. No complaints there.
Our trip along the coast took us through Mirissa, Unawatuna, Galle and Hikkaduwa and was stark contrast to the busy cities and towns we had been used to!
Mirissa was an interesting one, a place popular with surfers due to the huge waves which meant I stayed clear of the sea most of the time. George on the other hand strode straight into them as if he was a descendant of Poseidon.
Other than surfing, there’s not much to do in Mirissa. The beach is very small with the waves often breaking extremely close to the beach front bars so sitting on the sand with your bags is basically a no-go.
Due to the bad weather that we had whilst there, it was also impossible to learn how to surf. The current was just too strong. We comically found this out after getting slightly cocky and attempting to body board. We were asked to move down the beach so the coast guard could see us (instant red flag). Once we finally caught a wave, we both ended up about 50m down the beach from where we started struggling to walk back through the current. We swiftly handed the body boards back and decided that drinking was the next best thing. Unsurprisingly, the night got slightly out of hand and we ended up in a “club” where I dropped a full bottle of beer on the dance floor… taxi for Charlotte!
We spent a whopping six nights in Unawatuna, which is the longest we stayed anywhere in Sri Lanka. Partly due to the fact we decided to extend our stay so we could meet up with some new friends and partly because there was much more to do there compared to Mirissa!
Unawatuna itself mainly consists of shops, bars and restaurants with big resort hotels located along the beach front. However, a small trek through the hills, past a giant white pagoda, exists Jungle Beach; a small oval sized beach where the locals like to hang out with their litre bottles of Arrack (Arrack is the local spirit – a rum like drink which everyone appear to enjoy straight from bottle… can’t say we agree though!).
We also took a trip to the Habaraduwa Sea Turtle Sanctuary where a family of local Sri Lankan’s dedicate their time to looking after and protecting the sea turtles which end up on the beach adjacent to the sanctuary. Here we were told about the efforts that go towards breeding new turtles, by keeping their eggs out of the sand of the main beach as the wild dogs like to dig them up and eat as well as the rescue and rehabilitation of older turtles found in danger at sea. The sanctuary is located a short tuk-tuk journey away from the main Unawatuna resort area and costs 500 LKR of which all of the money goes to the centre so they can continue their work.
After a few days of doing barely anything, George began to get restless, itching to get back out on the streets to photograph the sights of Sri Lanka. So one particularly hot afternoon, we decided to leave the beach behind and head out to Galle Fort.
Galle Fort is a peculiar part of Sri Lanka. Not because of any drastic culture differences but the place looks just like a Mediterranean town! A stark contrast from the busy bus station located just outside the Fort gates.
Our third and final stop on our Sri Lankan adventure found us in Hikkaduwa, another coastal town but located closer to Colombo so we could easily make our way to the airport.
As it was our final stop, we treated ourselves to a hotel with a pool as we were sick of being covered in sand at this point! Similar to Unawatuna, Hikkaduwa is mostly just shops, hotels and restaurants. I spent the majority of my time relaxing on the beach or around the pool however George being George, couldn’t sit still for too long and decided to head off into the streets on a photography mission in the opposite direction of the tourists. Here he found the fishing port and a fella willing to show him around. George has done a photo story of his little adventure which we will be posting shortly so keep your eyes peeled!
Overall the coastal towns of Sri Lanka were a welcome break from the fast paced travelling and sightseeing during the first half of the trip. A lot more alcohol was consumed and I finally began to develop a tan! Hallelujah! Ten days was perhaps a little too long to spend by the sea however, as we found ourselves easily bored especially as at times it was too hot to even snooze in the sun!
I’ll soon be posting our route around Sri Lanka, if you’re planning a trip yourself, with suggested lengths of time to spend in each place as well as advice on how to get around! In the meantime, follow us on Instagram (@views_beyond) for updates and for pictures as our trip continues around South East Asia!