This wasn’t our first time to Unawatuna. We already knew it was a paradise beach in Sri Lanka. Last time we were there, I really didn’t have time to explore much so I wanted to amend that this time and give you guys a little guide to Unawatuna. There are so many adventure activities in Unawatuna and we wanted to try them all.
Getting to Unawatuna
Flight from Bombay to Colombo are very cheap so this is a great trip to take from India. In fact, if you’re traveling India I suggest tying in Sri Lanka to your trip. The bummer is that taxis from the airport in Colombo to Galle (the area that Unawatuna is in) are very expensive. The government taxis quoted 9,000 Sri Lankan Rs ($62) and the tour companies on display were about the same. A man in the crowd offered us a rate of 7,500 which was a steal. We actually called him again to take us back to the airport when our trip was over. Here’s his information in case you want to reach out: Malsha Tours +94 77 821 7630.
You can alternatively take a rickshaw, bus, or taxi to the Colombo Fort train station and take a train to Unawatuna (but you’ll get stuck in Colombo traffic). It’ll take at least 4 hours. Another option is taking a bus from the airport to Colombo bus station to switch to another bus which goes to Galle. From Galle you can hire a car to Unawatuna. That’ll take up to 6 hours. We opted for the taxi directly there to save time. It was 2 hours. There are also car rental options at the airport if you think you’ll be driving a lot.
For getting around Unawatuna, we found a really nice young rickshaw driver who gave fair rates and was super funny. Here’s his contact: Manoj Tours, +94 77 523 8071.
Planning Your Trip to Unawatuna / Where to Stay in Unawatuna
I had about a week to plan for this trip but limited time so went onto TripAdvisor to check the top things to do and places to stay. The first step in trip planning is to figure out what hotel you’ll be at. Then your area will be more pinpointed to start seeing where you can eat, party, and play! Once you have the hotel, things start to fall into place.
I explained in this post how I use TripAdvisor to find my perfect hotel. I came to the conclusion that Cantaloupe Aqua was best hotel in Unawatuna for us to stay at. A lot of my reasoning was based on location and photos. There is a surf reef just in front of the hotel AND an infinity pool.
It was #12 of hotels in Unawatuna, but once I filtered out my amenities it was the #1 choice (pool, spa, restaurant, A/C, on the beach, free breakfast & WiFi). Use filters when you search! I have the app so that I can easily look things up once I am there too. Now that you can book through TripAdvisor, which is a new feature, your planning takes no time at all (download app for Andriod or iPhone).
Contact: Cantaloupe Aqua, Matara Road, Habaraduwa | Talpe, Unawatuna, Galle GL 80630, Sri Lanka, +94 91 7 200500
The hotel was perfect for us and ended up being one of Ben’s favorite hotels of all time, as he says. I loved hearing the waves at night and waking up early to catch sun and read. Its nice to not have to even walk to the beach but just be there already. While waiting for your lunch, you can just plop in the pool. Since we only had 4 days, it was worth splurging out.
What to See in Unawatuna
When I looked up what to do in Unawatuna I already knew some activities I wanted to try. I usually try to do at least 10 things! I saw the top three were the Japanese Peace Pagoda, Jungle Beach, and Unawatuna Beach. It just so lucked out that the tour company I chose (I’ll explain that later on) went to all these places while doing the other tours, so I was basically checking two things off at once.
We chanced a pass by the Japanese Peach Pagoda by boat on our way to go snorkeling! The second thing on the list was Jungle beach which we were going to for the snorkeling trip so we got to check that off the list too. This actually wasn’t my first time to Jungle Beach. It was interesting to find out that they may be shutting down the shack and the Government might take it all over.
You can also check out turtle hatcheries in Sri Lanka as there are many doing conservation work here. Make sure to research for a good one, though!
There were more things to see like Unawatuna Beach which is at #3. Luckily, the same tour company I mentioned about above was based from Unawatuna beach! We were getting really lucky here.
Another popular thing, maybe the MOST popular thing to do in Galle (Unawatuna) is to go to Galle Fort which was built by the Dutch and see the old Dutch church. We meandered there after a long adventurous beach day with the same tour company.
Adventure in Unawatuna
When it comes to what to do in an area, the simplest way to search is on the TripAdvisor app. Just type “Unawatuna” into location and then you can choose from “what to do” or restaurants, hotels, or whatever you are looking for. Once you start scrolling through the things to do, in this case past the beaches and tourist sites, you’ll see the tours and adventure. You can then click on each one to see the multiple companies offering the tours. We knew for sure we wanted to SUP, surf, snorkel, and go fishing. Under each of those I kept seeing a company called Darshana Tours. It was too good of luck that his company did all the tours, so an easy choice to use them.
It ended up being even better, because as I mentioned about they passed by the Japanese Pagoda on the way to snorkeling and did the snorkeling at Jungle Beach, so it was like three things at once. We didn’t have much time but honestly you can do A LOT in 4 days here.
Darshana’s shop is right on Unawatuna beach. When we got there in the morning, the first thing we did was go play on the Stand Up Paddle boards.
After that was done, we got on Darshana’s boat and went to Jungle Beach for a snorkel session which was the main attraction for the day. The boat has a glass bottom and we passed by a shipwreck so that was a really cool added bonus.
Check here if you’re trying to decide on buying a full face snorkel mask
We had planned on surfing that evening but the weather was a little weird. There had been a storm the afternoon before, there were no waves, but a really strong current. We ended up going fishing at sunset instead. To be honest, it was a bit unsuccessful. My dad would have been ashamed after all the family fishing trips we took! The current was really strong and seriously we couldn’t tell if we had a bit or just the waves were strong. We fished with calamari. No catches, but it was the perfect place to see sunset…
The next day it was up bright and early for the thing we were most excited about: surfing! The waves were perfect so I can’t really blame anyone but myself for not doing very well. I was attempting to do it on my own rather than being pushed, which is a first for me. It wasn’t going well. We were only there for half and hour and both just starting to get a hang of it again (I only finished a wave once) when Ben got hurt.
I saw him walking out of the water and it looked like he was waving to me. Darshana went out too. I thought there was a rip so I started to swim in to. It was actually because when Ben wiped out the fin of the board cut a deep gash into his elbow. Pretty sure there was some bone showing.
We went to the Government hospital instead of the big one in Galle which would have cost a fortune. It ended up being only $10 because Darshana pretending he was paying and we later paid him back. Perks of having a tour guide! Plus, we never would have found this place. It seemed to be about 4-5 km away and the path was only wide enough for a rickshaw. The doctor stitched Ben up, but we were done with our adventures after that!
Now for a little video, just for fun! I’m super aware that a 3rd grader could make a similar video for a class project lol video isn’t my “thing” but I really want to try and improve, so here ya go!
What to Pack
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