Located on the south west coast of Sri Lanka, close to Galle, Unawatuna was once voted the best beach in the world. Naturally we had to go and see what all the fuss is about.
It's quite a built up area and very "touristy", though still beautiful.
Things to do in Unawatuna:
The main beach in Unawatuna is a crescent of golden sand, with cafes and bars built right onto the sand. Most rent sun beds for free as long as you buy something. We went during low season and it was peaceful with just a few other tourists, but it gets really busy during high season.
To escape the masses for a while, take a short hike (about 45 minutes) to the hidden jungle beach, also named the secret beach although not much of a secret anymore. If you don't fancy the walk then you can take a tuk-tuk the majority of the way there. Even though you can no longer guarantee the beach to yourself, it's still incredibly peaceful and the sea is a lot calmer.
Dalawella beach has the Instagram famous rope swing, and not much else, it's about 20 minutes walk from Unawatuna and another perfect getaway from the crowd. If your lucky you might even see a few of Sri Lanka's famous stilt fishermen. Sadly the sea was to rough for them on the day that we visited.
The Japanese peace pagoda is the perfect detour on the jungle beach walk, they do ask that you have shoulders and knees covered at this one, and like all the others, you will need to remove shoes. It's free to visit but there are donation boxes scattered around.
The Unawatuna Devol Devalaya is right at the tip of Unawatuna beach. You don't need to be too covered up but swimming costumes are a no no. You will likely be shown around by a local who is happy to take photos for you and will expect a small tip for his time.
Less than a 20 minute drive away, Galle is the perfect day trip, either take a tuk-tuk or one of the many busses heading that way from the main road. See my post on Galle by clicking here.
Night Life and Dining:
Being a more developed tourist destination means more choices when eating out, our favourites were:
Bedspace Kitchen, number 1 on TripAdvisor for good reason!
Coconut Style, for traditional rice and curry at really low prices.
Marcos, hidden down a narrow side street and authentic Italian food (the owner is from Italy)
There is also quite a good nightlife (more so in high season) in the many bars along the beachfront. Alcohol is quite expensive in Sri Lanka, about the same as you would pay in the UK.
Look After Yourself:
The gym was only Rs300/day, and we both got massages from the many different spas on the main street, we also spent a lot of our time on the balcony with a book.
Yoga was advised in a few different places every morning from 7am, but I never got out of bed on time 🙂
Where To Stay:
Sadly for the second time in Sri Lanka (and luckily the last) the hotel was not worth recommending.
How To Get There:
Unawatuna has its own train station but service isn't very regular, you may need to go to Galle first then take a bus (headed toward Matara) or tuk-tuk to Unawatuna. From Galle is less than 20 minutes.