Part 1 saw Han and I spend 4 nights in Hikkaduwa. For the next part of our adventure we headed further south to Unawatuna. This is a coastal town in the Galle district known for its beach. Here’s what we saw…
In short, Unawatuna is one of the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka. We were lucky enough to have 3 beautiful days. However, I can’t imagine it being much different at any other time of year. Our host advised that in this part of Sri Lanka, the weather is brilliant year round. It stays at a pretty constant temperature year round but can get hotter as the summer progresses.
Going in early December was perfect. The tourist season hadn’t really kicked off yet so it was just the right amount of busy. Not too busy so that you couldn’t find any beach space, but busy enough to have an atmosphere. This atmosphere was super chilled. As in Hikkaduwa, the people of Unawatuna, Sri Lanka are so hospitable and kind. Even the men selling coconuts on the beach will stop for a chat regardless of if you buy a coconut or not. Giving 10 minutes up to talk to the locals can open your eyes to how different but interesting their lives really are.
Unawatuna beach is known for its tourist friendly, traveler feel in Sri Lanka. The beach is lined with beach bars along the back, however, you don’t have to pay for any beds in these bars. Simply buy drinks through the day and that’s enough for them. It’s so relaxed and the water is so clear therefore, you can explore along the beach and drop into different bars. All of them have slightly different feels to them but just as good service. In addition, they also offer snorkeling and fishing trips throughout the day.
Finally, there is one road running through Unawatuna. It has all kinds of shops, restaurants (That’s It/Pink Elephant are good) and places to grab a drink. You have to wind your way down this road form the main road to get to the beach/accommodation. It’s a really cool was to see the culture of Sri Lanka first hand therefore, my advice would be to go on a walk and explore! That’s what we did and it was really fun.
On one of the days we visited Galle Fort. This is a 500-600 Rupee Tuk Tuk ride from Unawatuna. Along the way you will go past all of Galle’s main markets. Fresh fruit and veg, fish and more. They are always busy and full of fresh produce so if you’re eating in they’re worth a visit!
Galle Castle is based in the bay of Galle, once the capital city of Sri Lanka. It was originally built by the Portuguese in 1588, then developed by the Dutch in the 17th century. It also has some British influence which is why the population is now a melting pot of locals and all of the nations just mentioned. When we spoke to a few people we learnt that this is a very affluent area of Sri Lanka. Property sometimes goes for prices similar to that in the UK!
When walking around the fort the cultural influence is obvious. The main law courts also occupy this space. There are tons of small “boutique” style hotels tucked away which you don’t realise until you really begin to look. These all have luxurious courtyards surrounded by grand buildings. Inside the walls there are also schools for all ages, we even got to see a game of cricket.
Galle has many Dutch buildings remaining in tact. There are a few churches that have been refurbished not that the fort is a world heritage site. It is actually quite strange to consider how these buildings have been developed over the years. To think that it was once an almost isolated community away from the rest of Sri Lanka is very odd. Now it is a thriving “mini capital” full of winding back streets and interesting architecture.
One of the really cool features is the lighthouse. This sits proudly in the southern end of the fort and is a really good spot to visit.
Just down from the lighthouse there is a beach which you can have a quick swim at. It is secluded, almost like a private beach, which makes it feel like you have stumbled onto a hidden island. Head west along the fort wall and you will reach another raised platform. Here you get some spectacular views back along the lighthouse road and back over the fort.
If you are in the area, Galle fort is a great place to visit. It is one of the more famous sites in Sri Lanka and is a really interesting and cool place to see.
There are quite a few places to stay in Unawatuna. As I said, it is one of the more popular tourist stop off’s in Sri Lanka. The majority of the accommodation comes in the form of villa’s. We stayed in a place called Tony’s Place – Penthouse on the rocks. I want to start by saying Tony, the owner, is one of the most interesting character’s you’ll meet. He’s originally Dutch, moved to Australia when he was 6 and has now been in Sri Lanka for 20 years. We got chatting to him over the course of the stay and he has some really cool stories and tips/advice for the local area. I couldn’t recommend him highly enough.
The villa itself was like something out of a film. Our welcome was “welcome to the jungle” and you can see why!
We climbed a fair few stairs to get to the villa which is set into the mountain side in the forest. If you have trouble with stairs it may not be for you. If not, go for it!
You walk up through a mixture of man-made steps and well, time forged steps. They only exist as locals have walked the route for years. The route is all lit very well at night so there’s no worry of getting lost.
The room itself is literally built into the mountain and our room had the rock face jutting out into it!!! The facilities and room were all very good. It is presented brilliantly and has a real hideaway feel to it. Value for money is good in Sri Lanka anyway but this was also good at around $50 a night.
The views offered from the balcony at the front of the villa are stunning. In addition, they look out over the entire bay. Therefore, this makes morning and night brilliant for a lazy rise and chilled evening.
Now for the best bit. The food! After having good experiences with food in Hikkaduwa, we hoped the experience would be the same in Unawatuna. Let’s just say we did not get let down and it was arguably even better.
So, you have a huge choice of restaurants along the beach front. This is really the best option for evening meals and you’re pretty much guaranteed quality food. One of our best spots was a place called Lucky Tuna which is renowned for the barbecue. Each day they have a fresh catch laid out for you to choose from, they then cook the fish right in front of you on a beach barbecue. In addition, a lot of the seating is on the fire lit beach which is really cool and makes for a nice atmosphere. Each dish is served with a fresh salad and choice of potatoes (we went with chips). This was one of the nicest dishes we had during our trip and the way in which it was prepared was really novel and unique.
The Pink Elephant was really cool. The owner had obviously been to Ibiza in his time as it had a real Ibiza feel to it (a good one, hedonistic out not cheap and cheerful!). In addition, it had great design and there has obviously been a lot of effort put in.
Food is slightly more expensive but the curry dishes there are brilliant. You have a choice of sitting outside on the sofa type seats or inside which is more like a restaurant. One little tip would be to go for the “crepe” dessert as this is more like a giant pancake and really good!!!
Finally, this is right at the entrance to the road leading up to Tony’s place so is really convenient and easy to access.
That’s It is one of the first places that we had recommended to us. We actually didn’t eat there during the day but opted to order a breakfast which they will being up to your apartment for a small additional fee (around 2$). This proved to be a really good choice as it was a really, really good breakfast.
I opted for the Sri Lankan omelette and Han had the cracked coconut rice. In addition to this you get a bowl of fresh fruit, yogurt and fresh honey. Furthermore, they will bring up tea and coffee to your liking.
I don’t quite know what it is about the fruit in Sri Lanka but it seems to taste that bit better. Maybe it is due to the freshness and climate but it is really good. As I mentioned in my first post, the coffee is also very good and it was no different here. We actually wish we had gone and eaten in That’s It during the day to taste the food then, however, we simply didn’t get round to it. Despite this I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending That’s It to anyone, a real good choice.
The place I can’t remember the name of!!!
Finally on the food front, I have had a nightmare and forgotten the name of one of our breakfast spots! If you do visit Unawatuna, it is one place to the right of That’s It as you look at the restaurants from the road. This (mystery) place had recently been refurbished and fitted out really nicely. It had a rustic feel to it with wooden floors and weaved wicker lining the walls and ceiling. I know it sounds strange but it made for a very unique and well finished restaurant.
Food in here was amazing! Out of all of the places we ate in during our time in Sri Lanka, this was the most ‘European’. All of the food on the menu was healthy and you can see the person behind this was health conscious. I opted for the eggs (done to your liking) and avocado on soda bread with fresh tomatoes. As well as this, all of the other dishes were healthy, homemade muesli and yogurt was another favorite.
This place is a really good location to get a healthy fix for your breakfast. The food is also as fresh as you can get. We had a slight wait whilst they went and bought the avocado, but this was fine. In addition, one of the prawn dishes was slightly delayed as they had to wait for the catch to come in! We didn’t mind the wait at all as it doesn’t get any fresher than this and it’s such a nice place to relax in and have a coffee.
I wish I could remember the name but I can’t! If I do I will update this post.
So there we go, part 2 of Sri Lanka in Unawatuna. This was arguably our favorite spot, the chilled atmosphere, beautiful beach and traveler feel made it special. We could have spent longer here and would recommend for up to a week if need be. I hope you enjoyed the read, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!