Happy New Year from Sri Lanka. No snow here. We are in peak holiday season and the Sri Lankan sun just wants to shine. After making some final checks of Red Dot’s first pdf brochure, I’ve been checking out the Southern beaches — and it has to be said it has been a more restful experience. They’ve hit the spot.
A short journey south-east along the coast from Galle leads you to a selection of paradise beach options. You will first come across the slightly busier cove of Unawatuna. With an underlying backpacker vibe, this is the most established party beach of the south, and has been for a while. By the evening, Kingfisher bar, and Hot Banana are fun options for those with a disposition for dancing in the moonlight.
Further along the coast towards Thalpe is Wijaya Beach. The name of this smaller stretch is adopted from the excellently-run beach Wijaya Beach Resort, which has really made a name for itself. Palm trees loom over the restuarant roof. Watch the sun fade behind the aptly-named Frog Rock, which looks out over the ocean horizon.
Christmas and New Year saw temporary tents and dance flooring set out on the beach, with patterned flags and embroidered banners draping the rafters. You could call it trendy by day, and funky by night. The Thai Green Currys, seared tuna, pizzas (from the resort’s own pizza oven), and Arrack Attack cocktails come highly recommended. Hop back on the coast road heading for Matara and you will find some beautiful beachside accommodation options regularly cropping up. The Thalpe coastline now deserves the label of Sri Lanka’s mini-riviera – just head to Era Beach Click Here), or The Fortress, Koggala, Click Here) and see for yourself.
Travelling further to the south-east must include at the very least a brief stop at the extra special Mirissa beach. The nearby Weligama beach stretch is your nearest small town and an alternative, equally good surfing spot at this time of year. In addition to surfing, Mirissa Waterports Click Here ) offers watersports galore, deep sea fishing and whale and dolphin watching.
There are some fantastic massage centres hidden away in the groves of the surrounding village, and no doubt an enthusiastic game of beach cricket will happen in the evening. For your dinner, cover all corners with a seafood barbeque as you sit out with sand between your toes. Options include reef shark (the author’s choice as a Christmas alternative to Turkey), barracuda, butter fish, tuna fish, king prawns and calamari squid.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a slightly different eating option, search out the small Sun and Sea guesthouse near to the rocky outcrop end of Mirrissa bay. Meet the friendly couple that run the show by themselves, and order you evening’s food in advance. It’s nothing smart, but the chef will not let you leave hungry and you will taste local Sri Lankan food at its most authentic.
As I think I said at the start, for variety and natural beauty, the southern beaches over Christmas hit the spot. I’m heading to India for a few months now, but I can’t wait to be back.