In the south of Si Lanka there is no shortage of beach towns to choose from. We had picked Marissa as our first stop for its chill vibe and decided to make our second beach destination, and the last stop of our tour of Sri Lanka, Unawatuna. As though the name was not reason enough to go, the town is known for being one of the top 5 spots to dive in the country and is only 5km away from Galle, Sri Lanka’s city of the south.
We wasted no time in finding a bus to Galle after dropping off our bags and sought out the Galle International Cricket Pitch, flanked on either side by the Indian Ocean, making it one of the most picturesque cricket pitches in the world.
We were the only women to be seen in what seemed like an “old boys club”, but no one seemed to be bothered by our presence. We couldn’t be happier to have a cold glass of beer and the help of Google on our phones to explain the rules as we watched the game unfold in front of us.
After the game, we entered the wall’s of historic Fort Galle, with its Dutch architecture and beautiful shops and cafes. While the midday heat was hard to stand, the salty breeze near the fort’s lighthouse made being outside somewhat bearable.
We returned to Unawatuna to discover a small roti restaurant just meters from the apartment we had rented that became our favourite spot for evening meals and our final games of Yahtzee before Cheryl had to fly back to Canada. The following day, Cheryl’s last, we trekked to Jungle Beach which was packed with locals swimming fully clothed in the water. The children did not waste the opportunity to practice their English with Cheryl while Steph and I made use of the snorkels and masks we had been dragging around for weeks. When Cheryl left the next morning, Steph and I decided to enjoy a day of diving. While the diving in Sri Lanka was considerably colder than in the Maldives, it did not disappoint and gave us the opportunity to explore a shipwreck which neither of us had done since diving in the Galapagos.
After two dives we took a tuk-tuk a bit out of town to a hostel with a cool concept, but a weird vibe. All the other guests seemed spaced out or lost in life. Despite attempting to have a conversation with them, we decided our time was better spent wandering through the mangrove trees in search of a “tree house” we had been told about. We found a house, but it lacked a tree.
Later that evening we set off walking in search of a restaurant and were graciously offered a free ride by a tuk-tuk driver. He dropped us off at a restaurant specializing in Chinese food, which we were not overly excited about. We figured he received a commission for bringing business, but after walking for almost 30 minutes in search of an alternative option we realized he was just trying to do us a favour. We did, however, find a place as local as local gets and were delighted to both dine on authentic Sri Lankan cooking for around $2.50.
We passed most of the following day on the beach. By late afternoon it was time to catch our train to Colombo to make it in time for our midnight flight to Northern Indonesia. We had originally intended to take a taxi to the airport for $20, but discovered on wikitravel that there was a suburban commuter train that would take us near to the airport for only 60 cents each. We had time to kill and, despite the train being crammed with people heading home after a long day of work, we were happy that our last experience in Sri Lanka was a truly authentic one. We were sad to be leaving a country that had been so friendly to us and had indulged all our senses in such generous ways, but with intense planning, we felt that 3 weeks had, in fact, been the perfect amount of time to explore the country. Not only were we heading into a new country, but a new year as well. We would arrive on the Northern Indonesian island Pulau-Weh on the afternoon of December 31st, giving us just enough time to find accommodations and a great party….or so we thought.