24 Aug Southern Province
Galle lies on the southwestern tip and is the Capital of the Galle district and the largest city of Southern Province.
In 1588 the Galle Fort was built by the Portuguese and then taken over by the Dutch during the 17th century. During this fortification of Galle, European-style buildings remained intact, leaving beautiful old buildings transformed into trendy shops, cafes and restaurants. The fort has significant cultural and architectural value and is recognised as a UNESCO heritage site.
Galle Fort has a maze of narrow roads lined with small houses, restaurants, shops, villas and boutique hotels and is an utterly enchanting place to explore.
Tsunami Memorial Museum
You will be humbled and deeply touched going through theis museum.
It is worth spending a few minutes of silence to remember those that lost their lives to this tragic event.
Japanese Peace Pagoda
The Japanese Peace Pagoda on Rummasala Hill in Unawatuna was built in 2005 with the assistance of Japanese Buddhist monks as part of a plan to create temples of peace in conflict zones. As you enter the temple, to the right of the Pagoda is a small memorial commemorating the lives lost in the 2004 Tsunami.
Maintained by a Japanese priest, the Peace Pagoda is a peaceful haven to relax before heading down to Jungle Beach. The White Pagoda is stunning against the sky, and Buddha’s story represents stories through golden statues displayed on the first floor.
If arriving by car or tuk-tuk, you will need to park by the cafe and walk up to the Pagoda. From here, you can then walk down to the beach, but wear comfortable shoes as the walk can be a bit challenging with rocks and uneven surfaces.
This area is worth a visit with peaceful vibrations and beautiful coastal sights.
In a nutshell, Jungle Beach is a place to explore for its hidden treasure.
We had always seen the iconic images of fishermen in the sea and dreamt of experiencing this ourselves, and it was a dream come true to see this for real.
Stilt fishing is one of the most ancient fishing methods used in Sri Lanka, consisting of a single pole and a crossbar planted out in the sea close to the shoreline, where fishermen balance for hours to catch their fish.
Located between Unawatuna and Weligama, you will witness the fishermen on their stilts at work but for more as a tourist attraction than a real job.
We experienced this ourselves at Koggala Beach for a fee. It was challenging to get up the pole, but with the help of one of the fishermen, we managed to get a sound footing and have a seat on the crossbar. It was a fantastic feeling of liberation once we settled, with the sea lashing beneath us and the ocean breeze in our hair; it was very therapeutic!
I don’t think we could have sat there all day as it’s not the most comfortable seat, but it gave us a good appreciation of how the fishermen had to do this once upon a time.
Koggala is a deserted beach with no development, perfect for having your own private beach without the crowd. The rough blue waters of Koggala are known for riding the waves, so a great place for surfers!
Stilt fishing should be on your to-do list as it’s a dying practice.
Since World War II, this has been a practice born out of hardship. Fishing on an overcrowded coastline called for a reinvention. The fishers adapted by using their skill and balance, whereby a vertical pole with an attached crossbar is embedded into the seafloor to achieve this.
Due to the recent tsunami, many stilt fishermen have taken up farming. With the current worldwide media exposure, the legacy of stilt fishing now survives by fishing for tourist dollars.
Coconut Tree Hill, Mirissa
When you’re in Mirissa, Coconut Tree Hill is a must-do. This unique place is a private coconut estate set on a high cliff overlooking the waters of the Indian Ocean. A short trek from the base to the hill’s summit or ‘dome’ takes about 10 minutes through the coconut estate, but wear comfortable shoes.
You will experience the most stunning view of Mirissa and its golden coastline. It is the perfect place to admire the sunset and provides the ideal spot for your travel pictures!
Unfortunately, as beautiful as it is, the hill is crowded with people and gets destroyed by Instagram and social media. Still, it is one of the most popular and recognisable places in Mirissa.