Last week, I took you guys through the first half of our travels in Sri Lanka. However, we spent a large portion of our holiday in Galle. Galle is on the south western coastline of Sri Lanka. It has an interesting history, being first established by the Portuguese then taken over by the Dutch before the British having a turn. All these influences makes Galle an interesting place to explore. An important thing to note before visiting Sri Lanka is that it has two monsoon seasons. The south-western monsoon brings rain to the south-west of Sri Lanka between May and September, while the dry season in this region runs from December to March. In the north and eastern coastal regions of the country, the weather is influenced by the north-eastern monsoon, which brings wind and rain between October and January, and dryer weather between May and September. Since it was my husband’s birthday in June, we ended up being in Galle during its monsoon season. It was just our luck, that while we were there, there was no rain and the seas was calm! The only regret I have is not being able to whale watch off the coast of Merissa. This area is known for extremely frequent sightings of whales and not far off the coast is one of the world’s densest populations of Blue Whales as well as Bryde’s Whales, Sperm Whales and Finn Whales, not to mention Bottlenose, Spinner and Striped Dolphins. I will have to go back to see these magnificent mammals!
We woke up to these views everyday! You cannot tire of it! The azure water was so warm and welcoming! We stayed at The Fortress Resort in Koggala, which is a twenty-thirty minutes car ride from Galle City. It provided us the perfect peaceful backdrop without the crazy of the city. The service and everything about the resort was perfect! They gave us have the perfect birthday getaway.
We spent the first day at the resort, just hanging by the pool and beach side. The next day we went to the nearby beach called Unawatuna Beach. The water there is very calm and clear, and made for a great morning of swimming and sunbathing. Unawatuna is also known for plenty of offshore wreck and reef diving opportunities. There are a number of dive sites just 10-15 minutes boat trip from Unawatuna. If you are in the are for longer, another town close by with great sandy beaches is Weligama.
After our morning at Unawatuna Beach, we spent the rest of the day exploring Galle Fort which is a 17th century Dutch fort (and now a UNESCO World Heritage site). The fort has an assortment of municipal offices, places of worship (famously the Dutch Reform Church, museums, shops and old Dutch colonial homes. It is the walls of the fort that broke the wave of the tsunami tide which prevented damage to the fort. The cricket stadium next door was completely destroyed! The views from the vantage points of the fort are breathtaking! Inside, there is a lot to explore with a myriad of stores with merchants selling gems and jewelry and other vintage finds. Get a taste for local art at Hempel Galleries and take home 1950s travel posters from Stick No Bills. Most of the shopping can be found on Pedlar or Church Street. The street adjecent to the lighthouse also has some gem stores that I visited to get a good bargain on a Sapphire solitaire. The fort also has some famous hotels and restaurants. The Jetwing Lighthouse and the newly opened boutique hotel 41 Lighthouse Street, are two options if you would like to live in the fort and closer to Galle City.
If you still have days left over, you could make a trip to another beach town called Hikkaduwa, or visit the Pinnawala elephant orphanage about half an hours drive away. Galle is also a good place to start your exploration of inland Sri Lanka where the tea plantations are at. Kandy is one of those famous cities to visit.
Even though its been a while since we visited Sri Lanka, the memories we made there have totally stayed with us. I am actually in the works of planning to go back there in the next month!