From Galle to Unawatuna
Sri Lanka is an incredible country! It’s full of life, from the homemade ingredients in each dish, diverse animal life, to the remarkable turquoise waters. Needless to say, Sri Lanka has a ton of sightseeing opportunities.
The south is a must on any backpackers itinerary because of it’s pristine beaches and good surf. From the old fort in Galle, to small surf towns of Midigama and all the way to Mirissa there is a ton of activities and cute cafes.
Since we spent a lot of time between Galle and Unawatuna I wanted to share some tips. There are some obvious choices for sight-seeing, but here are a few on our list that we would recommend not missing.
Japanese Peace Pagoda
A gorgeous and massive white pagoda built by Japanese Buddhist monks. The monks built three peace pagodas in all of Sri Lanka in conflict zones (lots of war going around when they were built). Views are gorgeous and overlook Unawatuna beach and the surrounding jungle. You can either take a tuk-tuk, rent a scooter, or walk up the hill to get to the top. The walk is uphill (2km) or by car it’ll probably take you 10-15min.
Tips: Bring a sarong and go for sunset for nice views
Explore Galle Old Fort
Built first by the Portuguese in 1588 then added on in the 17th century by the Dutch. It’s definitely worth walking around the wall and looking at the ocean and exploring towards the inside. Eateries, shopping, and boutique hotels line the streets in the fort. Because it’ a fancier part of the south, expect prices to be higher, but nonetheless worth exploring and treating yourself! Tip: Bring a bathing suit and you can descend the wall and swim with locals
Eat a healthy Chocolate Mousse
Topping out at 395 calories, this Healthy Chocolate Mousse is made from sweet potato and 70% dark chocolate and topped with dark chocolate chips. Need I say more? Go to the Calorie Counter in Galle’s Old Fort to try this unique dish for only 500slr ($3.25)
Go Whale Watching (Mirissa)
With a 6:15am departure from Mirissa, you boat 1hr out to sea before sunrise to catch a glimpse of the world’s largest mammal. While most whales migrate throughout the year and thus seasonal, these giants are spotted every day all over Sri Lanka (they just don’t leave!). The blue whale can be 28-30m in length, live 80-90 years and weigh 170-180 tonnes.
Take a class at Sri Yoga Shala
Sri Yoga Shala is nestled behind rice paddies and tucked amongst the jungle between Unawatuna and Taupe. Cost is high, but it is worth every penny (1900 slr per class or they have 5-10 class passes). For 1 1.5hrs you will be able to relax, meditate, and get a good stretch amongst the sounds of the jungle. Afterwards head to their cafe for a smoothie bowl (all homemade and natural ingredients). Truly, the best studio I have ever been to.
Virgin White Tea Factory Free Tour
The Handunugoda Tea Estate is the only one of its kind in the entire world. No human hand is allowed to touch the white tea leaf. Because of this, the White Tea is cut by a golden scissor and into a golden bowl. It’s an ancient Chineese tradition that has continued on at this plantation. The tea has the highest concentration of antioxidants than any beverage. For free you can tour the plantation, learn about the plants, and sample over 30 different complementary teas from Sri Lanka (including the Virgin White Tea).
Tip: Open from 9am-6pm, if you go in the morning you may be able to witness some cutting of the leaves. It’s only 20min drive from Unawatuna.
See the Stilt Fisherman
Please know this is now for tourists, Sri Lanka’s don’t still use this method of fishing anymore. However, they do still fish from elevated platforms in the water and by throwing a net over the fish. Late at night, close to Midigama you can also see groups of Sri Lankan men wading in the water with flashlights as they search for prawns.
Catch a Surf and Sunset
Surf spots cover Sri Lanka’s southern coast. We found the beach between Galla and Unawatuna (before the turn off for the Peace Pagoda) to have a small Bay Area and long smooth waves, perfect for beginners. You can hire a board for the day (250-500slr) or take a lesson ($20usd)
Galle Cricket Stadium
Right outside the Galle Old Fort is an international cricket field where you can peak in for practice or get tickets for a game. Did you know this is one of the most ‘picturesque’ fields in the entire world? Who knew?
Try an Authentic Sri Lankan Beer
We had an awesome Sri Lankan guy tell us if we want to enjoy real Sri Lanka, we needed to have an ice cold beer at Joes Pub in the Sydney Hotel. Located right next to the train station and not far from Galle Old Fort, it’s an easy pit stop for a cold one in Sri Lanka’s crazy heat.
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