Unawatuna + Galle // Sri Lanka Travel Guide

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Stay  //  Shalini Villa

A modern hideaway in the rolling, tropical hills of Unawatuna built by the assistant of the Godfather of Tropical Modernism, Jeffery Bawa. A short walk to the beach and a short tuk-tuk ride to dining, shops and to the historic city of Galle. Complete with a full staff to cater to your every whim, swimming pool, board games and tropical wildlife right in your backyard. You cannot not stay here. (Photos and details here from my recent “Where we stayed” post.”)

Unawatuna, Sri Lanka



Chill  // Jungle Beach

Jump in any tuk-tuk, ask to go to Jungle Beach and hold on tight. The roller-coaster-like roads that lead to the beach trailhead are as exciting as the hike down through the jungle to this secluded-pristine beach. Bring a towel, a maillot and leave the rest to the beach shack restaurant. Pull up one of the beach’s rainbow-colored umbrella chairs and spend the day reading a good book, snacking on fresh fish from the beach shack, sipping cool drinks or collecting stunning bits of coral and cowrie shells from the surf.

Rummassala Sanctuaries Jungle

Unawatuna, Galle 80000, Sri Lanka 


Eat //  Wijaya Beach Restaurant 

Walk right in off of Dallawella beach, stepping through the strategically placed stone foot bath and right onto the dining deck. Or stay right where you are at a picnic table in the sand, play chess and have your meal delivered right to you along with the salty spray of the surf. We shared wood fired pizzas, cold beer and fresh seafood as an afternoon storm rolled in over the horizon. The kids propped themselves on their elbows at the railing after a morning on the beach, with eyes trained on the waves in search of whale tails and spouts.

Wijaya Beach, Dallawella

Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

T: +94 77 7903431



Eat // Koko’s On The Beach

Trust me on this one. The only actual structure provided to distinguish Koko’s from any other dive on the beach is a small two story grass green house with a grill and an open walkway beneath what turns out to be the owners beach bungalow. Grab a plastic table and a matching chair (if you arrive in time) and settle in to watch the sun go down and the torches begin to light the gentle curve of the beach like a runway at night. Hamburgers are grilled and settled between fresh bread, baked daily on-site and served in green plastic baskets that remind me of some of the favorite diner experiences of my youth.  Great music, both live and piped drift upon the beach along with the laughter of the owner’s children as they play in their front yard before bedtime just upstairs from the restaurant.

Yaddehimulla Road, Unawatuna, On the Golden Sandy Beach (This is really the address, you guys.)

Unawatuna, Galle, Sri Lanka

T: +94 77 582 6739


Shop // Exotic Roots

I travel hot streets in strange towns, searching for the perfect symbol, as proof, from the sweat I’ve perspired, the pack on my back, the ache in my feet even if it lies within a roll of film, I require a tangible treasure to add to our global home. Within the Galle Fort, on one of the hottest days of my life, I came face to face with my spirit boutique, Exotic Roots: where local history meets modern aesthetics. A tribal, bohemian, curated nook of treasures of the very essence of Galle, displayed as carefully and thoughtfully as it was collected and created.

32 Church Street

Galle Fort, Galle 80000, Sri Lanka

T:  +94 91 2 245454


Swim with Sea Turtles  //  Chaaya Tranz

At a natural point just beyond the resort vibes and a cool series of swimming pools, the waves come together from two directions and crest gently upon the rocks and into a calm, shallow tide pool. With each set of waves another curious creature climbs the rush of water a top the rocks like giant hard-shelled trout up a ladder and take rest in the warm pools before dipping back over the ledge into the deep water beyond. We were able to gently touch the turtle’s shells, feed them bits of seaweed and snorkel just next to them. Our five year old has toted about the world, his cherished stuffed sea turtle, head peeking out of his backpack from Florida to Brazil to India and finally to Sri Lanka, to reunite Dotty, at long last, with his family. A moment we will never forget. A day fee is available to include lunch at the hotels restaurant and amenities. While I wouldn’t recommend a 45 minute tuk-tuk ride six humans deep -three adults each clasping a child about there laps-  it is possible as are most things here.; A charm that I was pleasantly surprised that India shares with it’s tropical southern neighbor.

Galle Road/AH43

Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

T: +94 91 227 8000



Wander // Galle Fort

Explore the ramparts of this ancient Portuguese/Dutch fort, lighthouse and the views of the Bay of Galle. Step down into it’s vibrant urban streets and hit up restaurants, shops and street vendors from everything from lottery tickets sold from the handlebars of a bike to refreshing coconut water. Slip in and out of the shadows of colorful buildings. the Dutch Reform Church and dreamy architecture and beneath the gentle tissue paper tentacles of miles and miles of colorful Vesak lanterns during the celebration of Buddha’s Birthday.


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