About Galle beaches
Galle Town is a charming time locked citadel with glamorous boutique hotels, old world back streets, and an eclectic mix of shops, and cool cafes.
The best sand beaches for swimming and water sports are at Unawatuna. There are two lovely spots to sit and sunbathe in relative privacy at Light House Beach down a handful of steps or by the main working Lighthouse in the Fort or Lady Sea Baths, where you will find local women swimming fully dressed due to the predominantly Muslim occupancy of the Fort.
Beyond the beach:
Get up early and join the locals on the ramparts for their daily morning exercises and walk round the 36-hectare fort walls, which overlook the sea on one side and the world-famous Galle cricket ground on the other. At Flag Rock between Point Utrecht Bastion and Triton Bastion you will observe local boys freestyle diving off the 13.5m (45ft) ramparts just missing the lethal rocks below, whilst others play cricket, sell Dutch-style lace work, and hand made magic boxes. Top spots include the Historical Mansion Museum (31-39 Leyn Baan Street) with its crazy mix of colonial memorabilia collected by the owner over 40 years and pieces found from shipwrecks. Another highlight is the Dutch Reformed Church (corner of Church and Middle Street) originally built in 1640, and rebuilt in its current form in 1752-55. Inside, the floor of the church is a stunning mosaic of paved Dutch 300 year old tombstones adorned with regal family coats of arms. A friendly caretaker will happily take you round on a 15-minute tour.
Pilgrim’s Lounge (31b Ramparts Street) is the perfect family chill out spot taking inspiration from Paulo Coelho’s best selling book The Alchemist. Sri Lankans love kids and everywhere except boutique hotels such as Galle Fort Hotel will accept children from any age. In the fort locals love to encourage children to join in a game of cricket, go turtle watching on the ramparts at sunset and go to the weekly kids painting classes at Serendipity Arts Café (100 Pedler Street).
A popular day trip is to Yala Wildlife Sanctuary situated in the islands spectacular dry zone. Yala is famous for its abundance in leopards. You can also see sloth bears, crocodiles, elks and magnificent herds of elephants. Other top day trips include going to the religious sites of Sithulpawwa and Kataragama’s sacred shrine positioned alongside Adam’s Peak on the banks of the Menik Ganga (river of gems). A quieter spot is Tissa, where you can try freshly made curd milk and honey or hire a boat to take in the local bird life.
Aditya Hotel (www.aditya-resort.com) situated only 20 minutes away from the fort on lovely Rathgama Beach is currently the hot place to go for world-class fusion cuisine, cool jazz bar and the opportunity to join a class to learn more about the ancient art of mask-making or jaggery.