Places to Visit
in Southern Province
Galle is the cream of the crop of Sri Lanka’s southern coast. Standing on a peninsula with a fine natural harbour that provided excellent defenses to the country, it is a culturally significant city that has earned the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Galle’s most iconic landmark is the Galle Fort which was a stronghold built by the Portuguese in 1588 during their colonization and was later fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century and then occupied by the English. While a number of villas, mansions and buildings have been converted into hotels, cafes, museums and shops, the old-world charm of the era still lingers on.
Experience the Galle Fort with guided tours that give you an insight into its history, archeology and culture. Early morning and evening tours are recommended to avoid the strong heat during daytime.
Known as Sri Lanka’s whale-watching hotspot, Mirissa is a picturesque fishing town, just a few minutes away from the main city Matara. Its crescent shaped sandy beach is surrounded by coves and palm trees, while the waters are perfect for a number of water sports. Mirissa is the largest fishing port on the south coast and is famed for its fresh tuna, mullet, snapper and butterfish.
Mirissa provides the best location in Sri Lanka for whale watching. November to April is the best season for whale watching, which is when these majestic creatures are crossing the southern tip of Sri Lanka, the Dondra Point. The peak season is from December to March, when the water off the coast is warm and calm, and perfect for migrating whales. Most sightings occur 3 – 6 miles off the coast, where you can witness the whales gracefully emerge from the water for air.
Located in the deep south of Sri Lanka and on one of the best bays on the island with a protected reef, Tagalle has been a popular port and a fishing town ever since the colonial times. If you are looking for a relaxed and quiet beach holiday, Tangalle ticks all the boxes.
East and West quarters of Tangalle offer some amazing coastal landscapes. West Tangalle has a series of magnificent natural bays that lie between rocky headlands and offer sea bathing. In some areas, it is even possible to wade out into the sea at waist height for 50 – 100 feet. East Tangalle consists of long sandy beaches, which are more suitable for peaceful sunbathing. If you are a lover of snorkeling, there are plenty of places to dive in and have loads of water fun. 10km east of the town is the Rekawa Turtle Conservation project.
Bentota is Sri Lanka’s most exotic beach and is situated on the Colombo-Galle coast, 65 km from Colombo. The area is dotted with luxury hotels and resorts due to its popularity as a tourist attraction. Between December- April conditions in Bentota are favorable for safe swimming, fun water sports and exciting excursions. Whether you are looking for a beach holiday to laze about in the sun on golden sands or to indulge in water sport activities, Bentota has much to offer. Not only it is blessed with a gorgeous beach, it also has a lagoon and a river, perfect for recreational water-based activities.
Water skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, wind surfing, parasailing, fishing, wake boarding and canoeing are some of the exciting activities to do, while boat trips up the river and deep sea fishing trips are also available, depending on weather conditions.
Approximately 33Km south of Colombo on the western coast of Sri Lanka is the small town of Wadduwa. It is one of the best places in Sri Lanka to find beautiful, quiet beaches. Although the coastal line stretches only a few kilometers, the beaches are unspoiled and the town retains its natural beauty.
Wadduwa is a haven for those who are looking for a quiet getaway. Take a stroll on the beautiful beach while watching the catch of the day unloaded from boats, fishermen hauling their nets, toddy tappers climb the tall palm trees and walk the tight ropes from tree to tree. The sunsets here are truly remarkable and unrivaled, and you can watch them for hours sitting on the quiet beach without any distractions. There are several luxury resorts, Ayurveda spas and retreats available in Wadduwa. These make fantastic tropical hideaways away from the busy tourist destinations.
Hikkaduwa is a small town on the ever popular southern coast of Sri Lanka and has earned its reputation as a water sporting hotspot. It is mostly famous for its coral sanctuary situated within the Hikkaduwa National Park, one of the two marine national parks in Sri Lanka. The park contains a fringing coral reef of high degree of biodiversity. The shallow reef is no more than 5 meters deep and runs out into the ocean straight out from the shore.
Scuba diving is the most popular sport in Hikkaduwa. The marine park stretches along the northern end of the beach and makes the ideal spot for scuba diving to get a glimpse of the undersea life. You can rent diving gear from places around the park. Hikkaduwa is also a fantastic place for snorkeling and deep sea diving. There is a reputed diving school with certified instructors who will accompany you on wreck dives and reef dives.
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