Thanks to its beautiful beaches and easy commute from the airport, Southern Sri Lanka is the most touristy part of the island with beach-side town, Unawatuna at the top of the must-visit list. After everything we read online we decided that kicking back here for Christmas and New Year was the best plan thanks to its many beach bars, cool restaurants and local shops. The main street is called Wella Dewala Road which is the road that everything runs off of – the beach, the restaurants and all the touristy shops, so we were staying nice and central which was exactly what we wanted. Our plan for the Christmas break and New year was to settle ourselves somewhere for a chunk of time so we split this over two places, Hotel Flower Garden and Villawatuna which was nice combination of luxury and budget. It was Christmas after all!
There is plenty to do in Unwatuna so whether you’re after chilled beach vibes or some action-packed fun, you’ll be able to do it all before rounding off the day with cocktails or some yummy food. Just what a holiday is all about! We very much had our exploring head on the entire time we were here (we are backpacking after all!) and really made the most of our stay, so we wanted to share our top 6 things to do in Unawatuna…
Now this beach is home to the famous beach swing, Frog Rock and a natural rockpool – it’s one of our favourite beaches so far! Take some snacks and water with you though as there’s isn’t much on offer food-wise, unless you’re happy to pay a bit more to enjoy a lunch at a couple of the beach-front restaurants they have there.
Travel – You can get a tuk tuk from Unawatuna from 250 – 300 rupees.
Costs – The rope swing costs between 300 – 500 Sri Lankan rupees per go
Hire a bike
Head off the beaten track and explore Sri Lanka by bike for about 1000 Sri Lankan rupees a day. We hired a moped (much to Matt’s dismays, he’d rather a motor bike!) and went inland one day, to Galle the next and whizzed around the area exploring with ease. You never know what you might come across. Just ride with caution, Sri Lankan roads don’t have much in the way of rules!
Enjoy a healthy meal at Koha Surf Lounge
This laid-back restaurant caught our eye on the first day thanks to its enticing menu and cool surfer vibes. We came here when we fancied a little taste of home and went for the veggie wraps followed by their insanely delectable chocolate brownie. It’s located on the main Wella Dewala Road and is a great stop for dinner and a drink after you have rolled off the beach.
Costs – It’s a bit more expensive (750 rupees for the wrap) than your local rice and curry dishes but so worth it!
Make a trip to Jungle Beach
Pack some water and get ready to sweat! This steep yet beautiful walk takes you all the way to Jungle Beach, you’ll stroll past locals selling coconuts and can even stop in a temple once you’re at the top. It’s a great spot for sunset too! When we walked up there it was full of locals as it was the Sri Lankan Christmas holidays and school break, so it was a little busier than normal. It was also quite littered, there isn’t much education in regards to litter and plastic in Sri Lanka and due to all the people visiting that day it had accumulated up and was all piled up at the back of the beach – not the prettiest sight, so that was a real shame.
Travel – About a 30 minute walk from the main road in Unawatuna
Costs – Coconuts on route are about 50 Sri Lankan Rupees each
Diving with Angel Diving
Matt has his advanced padi, however, I had never dived in open water before so we were after someone who would be able to deal with a learner and an experienced diver. Angel Diving was the place. They were professional, experienced and most of all, FUN! We did two dives with them over the course of a day and it although I was initially petrified, it ended up being so good and definitely one to tick off the bucket list. Angel was a great instructor and him and his team made me feel at ease all whilst letting Matt do his thing too!
Where – located on the main Wella Dewalaya Rd
Costs – About 20,000 Sri Lanka rupees for 2 dives, gear hire and training
So that’s a little round up of our time in Unawatuna, we had so much fun and met up with some friends from home over the New Year period which added to the fun factor too. It’s worth noting that Sri Lanka isn’t a party place, it’s not like Thailand in the way of cool beach parties and buzzing nightlife. Sure, they are beach bars with music and cocktails but it doesn’t feel as modern as other destinations.
If you decide to visit Unawatuna, you won’t regret it. You can easily get the train down from Colombo fort however, we were travelling down from a nearby beach town called Hikkaduwa so we hopped in a tuk tuk and made the 40 minute journey down that way.
By Matt and Abbie