We’d spent just over a week in the hill’s of Sri Lanka exploring Kandy, Nuwara Eliya & Ella but now it was time to hit the south coast to explore the beautiful beaches that we had heard so much about.
The first stop: Tangalle.
The uncrowded town of Tangalle is one of the furthest beach towns on the South Coast before the National Park’s take over. Unfortunately, this beachside town suffered horribly after the 2004 tsunami and rebuilding the town has been very slow but, it’s getting there! Fishing is still the main source of income for locals but the tourism industry is slowly growing.
If you’re looking for water sports, nightlife, shops and a whole lot of tourists, Tangalle isn’t the place to be, however, for a lazy beach holiday, look no further. Tangalle is a calm and quiet beachside town that you could easily base yourself in for weeks.
Where to Stay in Tangalle
Oh boy… this was one of the hardest & most confusing choices! There are so many guesthouses, small hotels and a few larger resorts scattered all over. It was impossible to find the “perfect” location. After staying in Tangalle just under a week we realised there is no “perfect” location and if you rent a scooter, it matters even less where you locate yourself! You’ll be minutes from a beach and restaurants regardless.
We created this map in the hopes of explaining a little clearer what the town of Tangalle is about!
We’re all about saving money on accommodation but during the month of March, it was unbearably hot. We had to change places mid-stay (and still pay for our old one) as we couldn’t cope in a fan only room. We moved to Jaya Home Stay which was comfortable and cheap, especially with A/C. A double room was $20 USD.
There is such a variety of guesthouses and hotels to choose from so base it on your own preferences, ratings & budget.
Time for an Adventure
We had such a good time exploring the island of Koh Lanta by scooter we thought we’d give it a go in Tangalle. There were so many beautiful bays and beaches surrounding this town it would be a shame to miss out on seeing them.
Without knowing much about the rules and regulations of scooter rentals in Sri Lanka (some countries are really strict) we gave it a go and within 5 minutes we were on our way.
One day rentals cost 1000 LKR ($6 USD) with your passport as a deposit. Helmets are compulsory in Sri Lanka (thank goodness!) so they provided us with one and we were off. For a full tank of gas, it cost us 300 LKR ($2 USD)!
Note: For the nervous Nelly’s out there, driving a scooter in Tangalle was safe, the roads were easy to navigate, gas stations were plentiful and the traffic was minimal. It was far less scary than we had anticipated and it’s much cheaper than getting a tuk-tuk everywhere 🙂
Want to see where we spent our day, including 3 pit stops to eat and drink? Read on!
Goyambokka beach was our first stop and definitely a favourite. A narrow path covered by forest on each side leads you to pure paradise with “wow” being our immediate reaction.
This is what everyone raves about! The beach is spacious, clean & swimmable. There are a few restaurants, lounge chairs, (which are free if you buy something to eat or drink), rocks and rock pools to explore, books to read (but only if you bring one!), coconuts to consume, stunning scenery to admire and massages to treat yourself to (see below). We could have spent hours here!
Eden Reverie Spa
If you have the time (which you most definitely should, where else have you got to be?), be sure to grab a massage to take a break from the sun at Eden Reverie Spa. Nothing beats a massage with the sound of the ocean in the background. A full body massage for 60 minutes is 4000 LKR ($24 USD). They also do facials, pedicures & also waxing.
Along Goyambokka beach there are a handful of seafood restaurants to choose from, however just around the corner to the right, past the beach shacks, Think Club stands. Literally, on a handmade wooden shack. There’s a great sign at the front of the small cafe “Father fishes and son cooks”. We couldn’t resist the authenticity of this restaurant and stopped in for a quick bite to eat. Be patient, it does take some time but it was downright delicious.
Hummanaya Blow Hole
Further along the main road, we reached Hummanaya Blow Hole. The Hummanaya Blow Hole is the 2nd biggest Blow Hole in the world and can reach up to 25 m (82 ft) to 30 m (98 ft) in height.
The name of this Blow Hole derives from the booming “Hoo” sound that you can hear right before the jets of water. It is known to be the most impressive during the monsoon season (May to November). After paying the “foreigners price” of 250 LKR ($1.60 USD) we walked the few minutes to the viewing point and within 5 minutes of being there, mother nature graced us with her presence.
Hiriketiya Beach (20 minutes from Tangalle Town) is a small horseshoe-shaped bay with some of the nicest villas and clearest water on the south coast. This was our favourite beach within all of Sri Lanka. The bay was enclosed with tall skinny palm trees, crystal clear water and the waves big enough for beginners to jump on a surfboard.
Jacob rented a board for 1 hour and it cost a whopping 250 LKR ($1.60 USD)! Don’t break the bank trying to surf in Sri Lanka! There’s a small restaurant to grab a bite to eat or a drink but otherwise, sit back relax and enjoy the beautiful bay of Hiriketiya. We sure did!
Palm Tree Pit Stop
Before we had lunch at Tangalle Bay, we stopped by one of the roadside stalls to pick up some much-needed water, have a chat with the locals and pose on palm trees with stray dogs. I mean what’s a day in Sri Lanka without some fun on a palm tree? I think we gave these fellas a good laugh when they were watching us try and turn our scooter around on the sandy hill. Not to mention they gestured from the other side of the road, that my helmet was back to front. Whoops!
It was definitely time for lunch and after some recommendations from the lifeguards at a prior beach, Cactus Lounge & Restaurant was our next stop. The seafood is definitely a standout on multiple menus in Sri Lanka and we definitely can’t complain. We’re loving the cost of it all! 3 pieces of fish, a side salad and fries for 1100 LKR ($6.50 USD). This restaurant was right on the beach front and had the quickest service we had in 2 weeks.
Afternoon Delight at The Lounge
Scootering along, we found ourselves at one of the coolest places in Tangalle. Is there anything better than a bar with swings? Yes, in fact, there is. It’s a bar with swings, on the beach, with cocktails and a fresh seafood BBQ. This place had it all 🙂 After a hard day’s work on the scooter we combined our childhood fun with some adulthood fun at The Lounge Bar. Located on Medilla Beach, east of Tangalle Town, this bar offers a decent menu of cocktails and the most delicious dinner.
Dinner at The Lounge was our favourite in Tangalle. You chose what you wanted from the display out the front (fish, lobster, crab) and it was cooked then and there. Mmmm the fish. It was smothered in an array of mouthwatering Sri Lankan spices cooked to absolute perfection. I could have eaten the bones it was so tasty, it makes me drool just thinking about it! We contemplated sharing the picture, but it doesn’t look very good, in fact in looks scary so let us stick with the imagination.
The Lounge was the perfect place to finish up any day. We swung back and forth for hours chatting with the owner, learning more about the town of Tangalle and the Sri Lankan lifestyle.
Rekawa Beach – Turtle Watching
With full and happy tummies, we made our way to the last stop of the day at Rekawa Beach, 10km east of Tangalle town. This beach has a growing reputation as the turtle-watching beach and many people head down here during the season (April to September) to witness the turtles come to the shore to lay their eggs, a whole 120 of them!
The tours run at 8:00 pm every evening by volunteers and locals from the non-profit Turtle Conservation Project and they do request 1000 LKR ($6 USD) to join the tour. If you don’t see the turtles, you can come back the following night without paying again. The whole process can take up to 2 hours from when the turtles first leave the ocean so be prepared to get comfortable on the sand!
Just a word of warning: Make sure you don’t lose your scooter key, in the sand, after dark. You won’t get it back… Thank goodness for the locals who somehow managed to get our bike started, without a key! We were in for a long 10km walk home if they hadn’t helped us. The next day brought the walk of shame back to the rental store to explain our dilemma. The damage? Just a small $20 USD for the locks to be replaced. It could have been way worse… especially if we were in Aus!
Tangalle has the potential to explode with tourism, but for now, it’s a very relaxed beach town with minimal tourists, local fishermen, great seafood and one very long sandy beach. Add it to your list of places to visit if you’re looking for a chilled out, relaxing few days in Sri Lanka!
Married Days Survived; 758