From Unawatuna to Tangalle

After a three-day stay in hip town Unawatuna and visiting Galle on the last afternoon of our stay, we were ready to go to Tangalle, a laid-back town famous for its long stretch of sandy beaches fringed with palm trees. We were convinced by our homestay host (also a tul-tuk driver/owner) that tuk-tuk would be a far better option to go to Tangalle as there were no direct connections to Unawatuna. We knew he was exaggerating, but somehow carrying the backpacks, waiting for bus under the hot sun, and changing into another didn’t sound like the best of ideas. So, we agreed to go by tuk-tuk to Tangalle for 2000 LKR (12 euros).

View from the tuk-tuk

As I wrote about the herbal garden recommendation by our tuk-tuk driver, we were aware about not saying yes to every little recommended stop on the way. The first one he suggested was a turtle hatchery but we thought of going to Rekkawa beach in Tangalle famous for turtles laying eggs for that. However we asked him to stop at stilt fishing site. Stilt fishing is a traditional Sri Lankan way of fishing using stilt. These days, it has become more of a tourist prop as fishermen earn more money in less time this way. We were aware of this but I still wanted to see how it looked. Tuk-tuk driver stopped at a place where there were many stilts but only one “fisherman”. He posed like he was fishing while we snapped some photos. We tipped him 200 LKR (1.20 Euro). We were told by the tuk-tuk driver that some of these men demand over 1000 LKR from tourists just for a few minutes of posing.

Stilt fishing

The tuk-tuk journey was very pleasant. We passed beautiful coastal roads, green lush fields and little villages. The closer we were to Tangalle the less touristy it felt. Tangalle is on the southeastern tip of Sri Lanka and a bit far off from the hotspots like Unawatuna, Hikkaduwa etc. The scenery as we approached Tangalle was stunning. We passed many towns on the way like Matara(a city), Mirissa (a beach town where we would spend last days in Sri Lanka) and Weligama (famous with surfers). The ocean had more waves and the beaches were wider. It looked like a perfect place for surfers.


Once we reached Tangalle to our host after about 2.5 hours, we rested for a bit on the balcony. There was a beautiful backyard where we saw birds and monitor lizards. We were in a very local part of the town at a Sri Lankan guest house. Little later after shower, we went out in search of the beach. The place was much more quiet than Unawatuna. We reached the ocean in a matter of minutes. The sun was unbearable and I wanted to cool off in the ocean as soon as possible. The sandy beach was a further away and we reached there after passing through the big rocks on the shore that relentless ocean waves hit. We were soaked a little by the time we reached a wide sandy beach that had very few tourists. There was a little bathing spot on the ocean due to the artificial rock wall a further out. Few people were in the water. The ocean was really rough for swimming. But I was ready for a quick dip.

Walking along the ocean

Even on that little pool, we could feel the strong waves. It was fun nevertheless and we spent hours playing on the waves. I even lost my sunglasses because at one point when I went towards the open ocean end, the wave literally swirled me around and threw me to the shore.  That didn’t stop me from going to the water again but I was more careful and went back to the slightly safer pool. I really liked the fact that the beach was wide, natural, lovely, almost empty and had ample coconut trees. It had a very laid-back vibe to it.7

After a few hours, we went out in search of food and passed some oceanfront touristic restaurants and bars. Many of them had hammocks tied to the palm trees overlooking the ocean. Oh so dreamy.. We found a local rice and curry place right in front of our guesthouse. It was a buffet style place and the Sri Lankan man there didn’t speak a word of English but we communicated with gestures. The food was very, very good and very cheap too. Cheaper than anywhere we’ve had in Sri Lanka, because that place was exclusively for locals. We paid only 200 LKR (1.20 euro) for a plate full of rice and various curries, a spiced fish piece and a bottle of coke.



Later in the afternoon, we went to the town which was very local, saw a few things and went back to the beach. We passed a touristic area of the town near the beach but still there were few tourists. Everything was so quiet and laid-back that it had become my favorite place in Sri Lanka by then. We walked for hours , mostly along the coast because the beaches were never-ending!

Trying to climb the tree (very foolish)

After spending several hours walking an exploring the beaches, we returned back home. Except for the part that swimming and snorkeling were almost not possible, I liked the vibes of Tangalle very much.10


6 thoughts on “From Unawatuna to Tangalle

  1. I loved this blog, Pooja. I think that Tangalle was my favourite spot in Sri Lanka. I found a gorgeous deserted beach about 15 minutes walk away from the main beach. We have to walk over a headland and I was very careful because the locals warned me that there were cobras there in the thick undergrowth. I didn’t see any cobras.

    1. Hi Dai. Wow, cobras sound very scary.. Luckily we didn’t see any when we were in Sri Lanka. Just one rat snake on a garden during our whole stay. We spent almost a whole day in a very beautiful beach near Tangalle which I am going to write about next. Tangalle was really my favorite in Sri Lanka too. It felt the most local out of the places we visited and one of the most beautiful.

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