It’s late October in Sri Lanka. I arrived from England last week expecting to spend my first month on the island seeing out the end of the monsoon – nothing of the sort! The weather has been glorious.
I am sharing a flat in Colombo whilst working for a few months for Red Dot, but I took the chance to head south on my first weekend back here after 2 years away. I took something of a quick beach tour from my weekend base in Galle’s beautiful fort – consisting of Mirissa, a few drinks and a game of beach football at Talpe, and Bentota.
First, I moseyed down to Sri Lanka’s Deep South and to Mirissa beach; sleepy by reputation, and very sleepy upon my arrival. See www.mirissa.com for a look at the beach – although remember that Red Dot Tours has the best accommodation advice! I know that October is still low season, but where is everyone? I found myself standing, bathed in sunshine and vivid blue skies, on a quiet, cracking little paradise beach. ‘Lucky me’ I thought, but isn’t this what the holiday-goer classically craves?
A couple of owners of beach properties said they don’t intend to fully open up until November is well underway, but my advice is don’t be afraid to beat the rush and get yourself over here from early November onwards. The sea was still easily hospitable enough for a decent dip thank you very much…
Just short of the island’s most south town of Matara, I went to along to check out Mirissa Water Sports www.mirissawatersports.com who, having benefitted from the Tsunami Aid development programme, run good sailing, fishing, and dolphin and whale watching from the harbour. Red Dot is updating its risk assessment, so I have been armed with forms and asking lots of questions.
Sunday’s route back up to Colombo from Galle saw me and friends stop more or less halfway at Bentota – the famous water-sports heart of Sri Lanka. I learn that surprisingly, although Bentota is one of the island’s more popular resorts, the vast, sandy beach is relatively quiet and it is an excellent diving location. The beach can be divided into two, the north end comprising a spit of land – dubbed “Paradise Island” – dividing the waves of the Indian Ocean from the still waters of the Bentota Lagoon.
We took a left off the Galle Road (heading north) and dropped in on Sunshine Water Sports, off the Ganga River. From here, you can get fully stuck in to array of water sports options: water skiing, wakeboarding, knee boarding, jet skiing, and banana boating. Or, something more relaxing might take your fancy – go deep-sea fishing or take a boat safari down the river to view the coast. If you are looking to stay, head towards the more pleasing southern end of the sandy beach where you’ll find some of the island’s best upmarket hotels, restaurants and watering holes. Bentota is worth it.
Now I have to work out what’s next on the agenda. Next weekend could either be all green dungarees and handle-bar moustaches for Colombo’s very own Bavarian beer festival – Oktoberfest –or perhaps I need to get out of the city and sit on a beach… why not Hikkaduwa? … Happy days.