Sri Lanka Diary: Things to Do in Colombo, Bentota, Unawatuna, galle and Mirissa

By 18:40 , , , , , , , , , ,

This new year we finally went to Sri Lanka, finally because it was always on the bucket list but failed every time to make the final cut. This time we finally chalked out our road trip around the once terror-stricken nation to an emerging south-east Asian tourism destination. I must say I was not disappointed by the tropical island as I will try to show through my lens where I have tried to capture the soul of this country.
Trip route: Negombo-Galle-Mirissa-Arugam bay- Passikudah-Nilaveli-Sigiriya-Colombo
Total Trip duration: 9 days
Type: Family with Kids, leisure
Average Cost: 75k INR (1250 USD approx) excluding flights

Read Here Day 1 - What to do in Negombo

Day 2: Galle, Unawatuna, Bentota, Hikkaduan, welingama and Mirissa

The western side of Sri Lanka has been the primary tourist destination since the start and has a plethora of destination en-route the few hundred Kilometer stretch from Colombo to Tangalle, the southmost destination of Sri Lanka. NO wonder when you will search for best beaches of Sri Lanka almost all will mention either of the ones in this stretch be it Unawatuna, Bentota or more exclusive wellingama down south. Every one of us can have our version based on the experience we had as the options are countless in number and every place is trying its best to attract the crowd. Well, one could understand the competition and the mindset behind as Tourism has become the biggest industry since the political turmoil ended and helps to run the economy.


The best way to reach Mirissa is taking a cab from Colombo or Negombo. Although self-drive car services are available its better to book a cab with the driver as the roads at all places are not clearly marked in Google and you might go round and round in reaching your hotel destinations. We looked through various TripAdvisor ratings and finally settled with Rasanka of  Sri Lankan Dream Tours Travel. The guy is very approachable and will help you with last minute villa bookings as well. But with multiple places to visit it is good to finalize your itinerary well in advance for last minute issues. Also while making plans don't trust google maps for travel time as we ourself witnessed during some legs of the journey.


As I saw and researched before booking my final stay at Mirissa, I will try to take you through the same. It should help you decide where to stay in this area. But let me put it in simple words you can stay almost at any places among the following and still have an amazing stay, that is the beauty of Sri Lanka, a fast emerging tropical beach destination as an alternative of Bali or Maldive in Southeast Asia.

Best Beaches in Western Sri Lanka

1. Colombo Beach
Once upon a time Gall Face used to be one of the best locality to see the sunset but not anymore at least till 2019-2020 as the area is being developed into a world-class port by China. So as of now its a mishmash of construction sites. The best place to visit is on Mornings with less of workers.

2. Bentota beach
Absolutely stunning beach with lines of hotels running parallel to the beachfront. If you love being in the middle of tourist spot this is the correct place for you. The town is always alive with people moving around the city.

3. Hikkaduwa Beach
The beach used to boast of rare coral reefs, but now although they claim it to Tsunami my guess is the overzealous tourist boats that have ruined the place. Still, a nice dive centre to witness Sea turtles. The reefs, however, have nothing to offer, avoid if you can.

4. Galle beach
Not a swim friendly beach, it, however, has its own charm to capture through the lens of the camera. Due to proximity to Dutch fort and a beautiful lighthouse, it offers great panorama all around. Although the place might be overcrowded during weekends a must visit though not worthy of the stay.

5. Unawatuna Beach
One of the best beaches for families with small kids. The beaches here are pretty safe for some dips and sand castles near the beach with minimal monitoring. Again avoid during peak season when it is completely overcrowded. Do try to the seafood fresh catch which they cook for you in small shacks.

6. Jungle beach
Hidden paradise nestled among the tall palm trees. The beach exquisite beauty has been maintained due to not having any motorable road. You need to park in any hotel or parking areas for few hundred bucks and then taking a TukTuk or doing a small jog to reach the place. A bit difficult if you have kids aged 6 years or less who can not walk on their own. But trust me its worth the effort and the best time to visit is before sunrise as it is one of the places where you can see turtles in their full frolic mood. Sea turtle conservation is a major activity in Sri Lanka and this beach is one of the few where they still lay eggs.

6. Wellingama beach
The beach for upper class that's how they have maintained and sold the place. Although having similar water and sand texture the area is kept very clean on account of all the luxury hotels that maintain their own private beaches. Must visit if you want to soak in some luxury and sun.

7. Mirissa beach
A wonderfully active beach shaped in a crescent shape and best of all home to the best shacks of Sri Lanka. The place becomes alive after sundown and you can literally stay all night here. We were lucky to be here on Christmas eve and wow what a night we had with great food, music, light shows, fire dance, and of course Booze. Try the local Beer Lion, has some awesome taste. They will keep live prawns and lobsters in front of the shacks and you pick your dinner for the day.

And the most important reason to stay in Miriss is witnessing the biggest creature of the Sea up close and well to some extent Personal. I am talking about the WHALE WATCHING.  This water of this beach is suitable for none other than WHALES and for a fixed sum of LKR 6500 per person you are taken on a cruise with breakfast to deep water. The thing that makes this early rise by 5 am worthwhile is the highest probability of actually seeing Whales. Beat this the cruise owners actually will give you free cruise the next day or half the money refund if you cant see a whale.

Other places of interest

1. Dehiwala zoo - A nice place to go with the kids having many animals including the turtle, tiger, and seals but the best time to go is around 4 pm when they feed the seals. Go grab your place in advance though as it is a small arena.

Ticket: 700 LKR each

2. Kasgoda turtle hatchery

A small place run by a very energetic family who will showcase their rescue acts. People have mixed feelings about the authenticity of the place as many turtles will appear healthy and kept like in a zoo but nevertheless a good place to give your money for a unique experience and hopefully for the cause. There are now many such centres across Sri Lanka like in Galle but Kasgoda is still the most trusted and well maintained.

    Ticket: 500 LKR

3. Galle Dutch Fort
A unique experience to explore mini Europe amidst all beaches. All the cobbled streets with restaurants amidst old colonial buildings is an experience one should never miss. Give yourself time to soak in the place around the criss-cross paths. The beauty of the place is quite clear when you see many wedding and movie shoots happening around different sections. The place, however, is incomplete without the walk on the fort wall leading to the Galle's symbol of pride its Lighthouse.

4. Kande Viharaya Temple
Soak in some religious sentiments of the place with a walk around the place. You should be mindful of the dresses you wear here as not to hurt the sentiments of the local.

5. Peace Pagoda
A white pagoda housing one of the largest Buddha Statue. Must visit the location to seek some peace and blessings of the Buddhist monks.

6. Parrot Rock
A small rock standing tall at the mirissa beach, although a bit tricky while trekking up but once there you will have the best seat to watch the colourful splashes of the sky as the sun goes down.

7. Lake Koggala- If you are bored of beach and want some peaceful abode head to the lake and stay in some tastefully done Villa property in this area near Ahangama Beach not far from all the beaches of this stretch


The best time to go here is from November to January when the sun is not in its hottest mode. All these beaches


You will be spoilt for choices here with hotels of all budgets. Jetwing has one the most prominent hotels in this zone but you have plenty options if you are staying in Bentota, Unawatuna or Wellingama. Mirissa although is still now exposed and has smaller hotels which in a way have kept the feel of this place alive. We stayed at Randi Sea view hotel as it s opposite to the most active area of Mirissa at night. The management staff is very friendly and they will help you in everything even if it's not mentioned int heir facilities. I got my cash exchanged at midnight as we had to leave early morning and they somehow arranged for us within minutes. It also has a newly built pool to spend the lazy day when you are not at the beach.


Sea Foooooood almost everything you can imagine is here, crabs, prawns , lobsters, fishes. DO try the Sri Lankan curry, although a bit spicy its worth a try.normally its served with Rice and assorted vegetables.


The hotel's average cost is 100 USD per day and cabs charge 75 USD per day including driver


1. If you are taking a driver with you don't forget to ask hotels about their accommodation. Most of them anyway have it or they will arrange it for you for 5-7 USD per night.
2. Traffic near Colombo becomes very bad around 8 am and after 6 pm. Plan your trips accordingly.
3. They have expressway created between Colombo and Galle, try to take that route till you are entering any of the cities, it saves quite a lot of time
4. Pay and Use Toilets are not of very high standard and you should try and use the ones at the hotel.
5. Keep local currency with you most of the eating joints will not accept anything but LKR

Feel free to drop in Comments if you would like to know more.

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