The Beaches of Sri Lanka – Hambantota, Mirissa, Weligama, Unawatuna, Galle Fort, Ahungala and Negombo
Before leaving Sri Lanka, we decided to spend a few days at the beach.
When we first landed in Sri Lanka, we saw quite a lot of tourists who had come with nothing but shorts and bathing suits, carrying their surf boards.
I felt my heart surge with a similar desire for the beach.
I had to remind myself that this time, we had come to Sri Lanka to do a Buddhist pilgrimage and to visit some of the many ancient Buddhist sites.
As it turned out, Sri Lanka really took my breath away.
The pilgrimage exceeded all of my expectations and more.
I really had no idea that Sri Lanka had so many ancient rock and cave temples tucked away in the jungles.
From Yala National Park, it was only a short drive to Hambantota.
We had booked a wonderful room in the lavish Shangri-la Golf Club and Spa by the sea.
We gave our driver two days off, and we spent those days resting by the pool, reading and swimming.
The head chef of the hotel is from Indonesia, and she does a great job at developing daily menus that inspire food lovers.
In the evenings, instead of opting for the lavish buffet, we chose to eat at their “street food” stalls, in which they serve street food from around Southeast Asia.
The chef stopped for a chat at our table, and after a long chat about the state of her country and its politics, she recommended places for us to visit on our next trip to Indonesia.
Now, I can’t wait to go there again….
One day in Hambantota, after I swam, I used one of the pod swings that they have hanging from the tall palm trees.
As I was swinging in the pod, I felt like I was inside a nurturing, loving ethereal womb.
I suddenly felt as if I have been here before… centuries ago….
I KNEW with every inch of my being, that we are really and truly eternal beings, and that ALL of us definitely live on for eternity.
The coconut trees swayed in the wind, the waves crashed on the empty shores, and my pod was swinging in gentle circles, enhancing even more that feeling I had that we have been recycling our identities here many, many times.
My heart was filled with gratitude, not just for my many blessings and for being here, but just for being a human being, with all the potentialities, gentleness and possibilities that it entails….
What seems like a lifetime ago in my youth, I was a sad and lonely girl living in a war torn country, with no means, writing sad poetry in my diary, lamenting my destiny, dreaming…. dreaming of a better life…
And here I am now, so blessed in all ways and immensely grateful for every part of the journey that I call “my life”……the years of my confused youth, my journey towards greater understanding, and for everything that got me to be here today.
From Hambantota, we visited some ancient temples and slept the night in Mirissa, in a small boutique hotel by the sea.
The stretch of beach before the hotel was sandy and nice, but the proximity of the main road made that place very noisy.
We continued driving along the beaches towards Weligama, a popular place to learn surfing, with a nice stretch of beach that is kept clean by the many small surf schools offering surf lessons to the tourists.
There are also relaxed beach huts offering food and drinks.
I really liked Weligama.
Unawatuna is a haven for surfers and backpackers, who come to enjoy the clean beaches and the warm ocean waters.
In Unawatuna the ocean felt so warm and good that I didn’t want to get out of the water, but we were on our way to see Galle Fort, so in order to dry up before we continued, we walked around Unawatuna and looked at all the places offering Ayurveda massages, tempting local and international food, island excursions, and accommodations on the cheap.
Along the way we visited Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya in Unawatuna, a cave temple near the ocean.
At the entrance to the temple, there is a small school filled with saffron-clad young monks.
They were studying in small groups of mixed ages.
A very lean, older monk signaled for us to come over.
He said that he was about to leave, to provide solace to a local family who had recently lost a young boy.
The child drowned about seven days ago, and now it was time for the final farewell ritual.
Galle Fort (pronounced Gaul Fort) is a a beautiful place on the coast that should not be missed.
The Fort was first built in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century, from 1649 onwards.
It is a historical, archaeological and architectural gem.
Inside the fort, you can walk on the thick walls by the ocean, dine in one of the many small good places, visit the old church and the white mosque, and shop if you feel inclined to, in one of the many small, unique shops.
The streets of Galle Fort feature old European architecture, mostly painted in white, combined with island elements like covered patios to provide shade, and tall ceilings to circulate the air.
On our last night in Sri Lanka, we stayed at the Heritance Hotel in Ahungala, by the beach.
On our last night, instead of the lavish diverse buffet, we opted for the hotel’s fish shack by the sea.
There was only one other couple there beside us.
I dressed up in a short black dress and we sat there on the wooden stools, peeling huge grilled prawns served with fresh lime and salt, cooled by the night breezes.
We thanked Sri Lanka for being so beautiful,
We thanked the loving Universe for all its gifts.
On our last day, our driver, Janaka, took us to tour his home town of Negombo.
We dined together by the sea, and talked about his children and his hopes.
Then we went to have ice cream together in a small Italian ice cream parlor by the sea.
Like us, Janaka loves a good ice cream.
We thanked Janaka for being such good company, for driving us safely around the country, and for offering us so much help and good advice.
Janaka thanked us for taking such good care of him all along our journey.
At the airport when we left, we hugged and kissed him on both cheeks and felt like we are saying goodbye to a dear friend.
The busy airport was a bit disorganized but very friendly, and soon we were lifted up in the air…ready for our next adventure…
Goodbye Sri Lanka, where everything is alive and pulsating with warmth and awareness….where the green trees sway by the blue ocean…. waiting, hoping that when the temple’s head master reaches enlightenment, he will lean against them….
My thanks and blessings to you all, my global family,
If you ever visit beautiful Sri Lanka, and would like to hire a trustworthy, careful, and fun driver, you can contact Janaka, at firstname.lastname@example.org, +94(0)777718559.