Jungle beach day, Unawatuna

As the main beach in Unawatuna is quite big, crowded and full of waves, we wanted to find a nicer, less-crowded beach especially for swimming and snorkeling. I had done my research and found that there was a little beach in a nearby jungle (hence the name). Although it is now a very well-known beach, it is still worthy of visit if you’re looking for calm swimming.

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Black pepper tree in herbal garden

The owner of the guesthouse we were staying at was a tuk-tuk driver and so were his brothers who all lived in the house next to our room. We asked one of them to take us to the Jungle beach one morning. He told us of a herbal garden nearby and convinced us to stop for a visit. We stopped at the garden and were met by an official from the garden. He was friendly and would be our tour guide. I smelled something fishy when he told us that 90% of tourists visiting Sri Lanka stop by in this herbal garden. That was obviously a lie.

He showed around the little garden, stopping at each plant/tree and explaining its natural, medicinal value. At the end of the tour, he took to a little shop in the premises where we could purchase items that he showed us at the garden. I was interested in coconut oil and asked him to show me the price list. The prices were in thousands! I could easily tell that the prices were unjustifiably expensive. He told me that I could use my card, send the money to the tuk-tuk driver or come back and pay tomorrow. I told him that I did not think a 250 ml bottle of coconut oil could cost 3k LKR, and of course he was willing to give me 1k discount. We gave him some tip for showing us around and left. AVOID herbal gardens in Sri Lanka, unless you don’t mind paying ridiculously high prices for natural creams. As we left I noticed the disappointed look of exchange between the tour guide and our tuk-tuk driver.

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The Japanese peace pagoda

We went uphill for some minutes and were dropped off at a Japanese peace pagoda on the top of a hill. We were ushered inside by the temple priest who gave me a sarong to cover my shorts-clad legs. There was a “No photo” sign inside the temple but the priest actually told us that he could take photos of us. We weren’t so enthusiastic about it but agreed and gave him the phone. He took about a million photos of us and then took us to the “donation” section. We left a modest 100 LKR note but he asked us to leave 1000 LKR! I often felt that people in touristic areas of SL acted fake and just wanted to extort as much money as possible from tourists. Well this is a global phenomena, especially in poorer countries, I guess.

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View from the pagoda

We followed the dirt road downhill from the pagoda and reached the beach within minutes. There was a small cafe and a very small beach. But the water was so calm and perfect for swimming. The sand was also very natural whitish, unlike the reddish one in Unawatuna which was apparently added later. I can imagine that Jungle Beach can get crowded in peak seasons, but we were there during March and fairly early during the day. We spent hours swimming and snorkeling. We saw some colorful fish near the rocks but the visibility wasn’t as great as in Hikkaduwa. It was such a nice change not having to survive the high waves like in Unawatuna while trying to stay afloat to swim.

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Jungle beach, Unawatuna
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Not so big, is it

We had decided to visit nearby fort city of Galle for the evening, so we left after spending a couple of hours there. The beach had started to get crowded anyway. We took a nice jungle path downhill and enjoyed nice views of the ocean and village while enjoying fresh coconut juice.  We were surprised that it wasn’t a long walk to the main beach, especially downhill. We could have even walked to the Jungle beach in the morning, but we wanted to save time and strength for visiting Galle in the evening. We got back to the guesthouse, took a refreshing shower and talked to our host with tuk-tuk to take us to Galle.

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Refreshments during the hike back
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The hike back
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16 thoughts on “Jungle beach day, Unawatuna

  1. I also hate those rip-offs, Pooja, and there are plenty of those in Sri Lanka. Lots of smiles and nice talk until you don’t give the money they’re hoping for.

    1. Good morning, dai. The rip-offs were what I disliked the most about Sri Lanka. We paid different prices even for little things such as beer (bought from alcohol store) every single time. Of course it’s not that much of money when you convert, but it’s about the morals? I don’t know. Maybe I expect too much. I can imagine it must be the same in Nepal too, unfortunately :/

      1. Good morning, Pooja. For some reason, Nepal is not so bad as most countries but of course discrimination does exist. Like domestic airline tickets, Jawalakhel Zoo, many taxis and of course Thamel shops. I don’t find Nepal bad at all for rip-offs but wait till you get to Hanoi in Vietnam.

  2. Aloha lovely,

    This looks absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for sharing! Have a lovely trip and I am looking forward to getting even more inspired for my next trip.

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  3. Sri lanka is on m y bucket list and I hope to be there one day in future.

    Your photos looks so much similar to the one we took in Vanuatu and The Japanese peace pagoda reminded me of Peace pagoda in Pokhara. Looks like you had a great holiday.

    I guess all beautiful destination have tourist trap so it is always good idea to do your homework before leaving. We had similar experience in Vietnam and Thailand as well.

    1. Australian, if you can survive Hanoi, you’ll be able to survive anywhere in the world. I’ve never known anywhere to equal Hanoi when it comes to cunning and trickery.

    2. The rip-offs were what I disliked the most about Sri Lanka. Luckily we had done some homework before. I would really like to visit Thailand and Vietnam in the near future. I can only imagine the number of tourist traps, especially in such a popular vacation spot like Thailand!

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