Built by the Portuguese in 1588 and fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century, the UNESCO World Heritage Galle Fort survived the 2004 tsunami. Today, Galle Fort is the main reason visitors flock to Galle. A walking tour reveals history and lovely ocean views. A stroll around the streets past old warehouses, churches and historic houses offers fine colonial architecture and a glimpse into the past. The Dutch left an architectural legacy of homes, churches and warehouses along with Dutch-sounding road names. Dutch words pepper the Sri Lankan vernacular and the cuisine has some Dutch influence.
|Galle Fort Walk
Experience the UNESCO heritage site of Galle Fort and walk along the ramparts with a 4th generation Galle resident
Although Sri Lanka is a popular surfing destination, most people recognise Galle for its fort and not its surf. The waves around Galle's beaches are fine for beginners and experienced surfers. I love surfing across the road from my house in Dalawella but not everyone likes a reef break. You can find beginner waves on sand breaks in Devata and Weligama for surfing year round or A frame points in Hikkaduwa, Mirissa, Ahangama, Kabalana and Midigama. You’ll really be spoilt for choice. One of my other favouites is on the east coast of the country in Arugam Bay – the surf is best there May to October. Arugam Bay gets the Antarctic winter swells that hit Indonesia's southern shores and is arguably one of the best surfing spots in the world.
The hike through the lush forest is lovely. The forest has an enchanted feel and it's rich with medicinal plants. There are lots of local mysteries and legends attached to this jungle, including a tale that the area was a favourite haunt of Hanuman, the fabled monkey king. On top of the hill there's a Buddhist dagoba built by monks from Japan. The spot has great views across Galle Bay.
Unawatuna is 5 kilometres south-east of Galle.It is a lively beach party town with a selection of resorts and hotels. Besides swimming, sunbaking and surfing, there are plenty of activities on offer, such as yoga and cookery classes.
was once Sri Lanka's main port, so it's not surprising many ships sailed and sank off the coastline. At the bottom of the Indian Ocean near Unawatuna lies a treasure trove of coral reefs and shipwrecks, including an old wooden English ship, the Rangoon, which lies 30 metres deep. The Napoleon and Galapiteala reefs are multi-level dive sites with a variety of fish, including bat fish, Napoleon wrasse and golden moray eels.
The main reason to visit Handunugoda Tea Museum is for its white tea, which has antioxidant properties. Taste the tea and learn about the process of harvesting and cutting white tea, which came from China, where only emperors were allowed to drink it. Stalks are never touched at any time during the process. The museum is located on a family estate, which has tea, rubber, cinnamon and coconut trees.
Koggala beach is best known for its stilt fishermen, who perch on poles and fish a few metres off the shore using bamboo rods. The practice started during World War II, when overcrowded fishing spots prompted some clever fishermen to devise a way to fish out on the water. Generations of fishermen have since fished in this way along Sri Lanka's southern coast.
Five of the seven turtle species in the world are found in Sri Lanka and the Habaraduwa Turtle Hatchery protects them by buying turtle eggs from fishermen and local people. The eggs are incubated, hatched and the turtles released into the ocean. It's a local business that has been in operation since 1986. Thousands of eggs are incubated each month and the hatchery also cares for sick and injured turtles. We’re lucky on our beach where turtles regularly swim in our lagoon
A rainforest reserve 17 kilometres from Galle, along the Udugama road, Hiyare is a pristine escape rich in flora and fauna. The reserve is home to endemic wildlife such as the Sri Lankan green pigeon, the green pit viper and the purple-faced leaf monkey. The Wildlife Conservation Society of Galle runs a wildlife rescue programme here.
Taking a bike ride inland through the paddy fields is still one of my favourite things. Even when it’s hot the breeze cools you down and you’ll be surrounded by green and people saying hello. Head up to Yatagala, only 5kms inland is one of many in the area. This one’s views over Unawatuna Bay are especially worth seeing
A trip to Yala National Park offers the opportunity to spot leopards, elephants and sloth bears. Other wildlife species in the park include wild boars, antelopes, crocodiles and hornbills. The freshwater, scrub and woodland areas attract many birds and it's possible to spot more than 100 different species in one day. From Galle, you can visit the park as a day trip but staying at least a night is the best way to do it.
|Yala Tented Safari
A 2 day safari starting with a traditional lunch, an afternoon safari, overnight accommodation where you can choose from luxury or classic tents and an early morning safari before breakfast
Sri Lankan herbal massages are based on Ayurvedic principles using natural ingredients. It's an ancient system that encourages wellbeing. For a luxury treat, several resort spas offer treatments. Many begin with a consultation with an Ayurveda doctor who is trained to diagnose treatments according to body type (vata, pitta or kapha).