After arriving from India on the plane, we were hit with the Asia stick once again and bombarded with a flock of people trying to give us a lift to just about anywhere in the country. Straight ahead was brand new, air-conditioned buses (460 LKR for both of us including a luggage fee), the surprisingly smooth trip took us to Colombo Fort bus station. You then walk over the highway and in 300m you’re at Colombo Fort Train Station. Once you arrive there are a lot of little ticket windows but just find number 4 going to Matara. I would recommend checking if it stops at Unawatuna. We were aboard the fast train which only does a few stops so we got off at Galle Fort Station and took a tuk tuk to Unawatuna for 600 LKR however if you do not want to pay for the tuk tuk, wait at the station for a slow train that will drop you there. Considering the 2 hour trip cost 360 LKR for both, I would rather pay for the tuk tuk just to get there quickly.
We stayed at Hideaway Hostel. This place is more of a “staying at ya mates house’ kind of vibe more than anything else. And for 1600LKR a night for the two of us with banana pancakes in a jungle garden for breakfast plus unlimited cups of tea this is a true bargain.
However other good options are staying anywhere in the location of Hideaway Hostel which Is North Thalpe. This is the best place to stay if you want to get away from town to stay in the jungle and you don’t mind spending a little extra money on tuk tuks (250 LKR each way). If not, and you want to be in the town centre near the beach stay along Yaddehimulla Road. This is the main road running parallel with the beach and has all the restaurants you need.
I know we spent a week here and we should be all over the food situation. However, once we found this café in town it was hard to budge from it. We made our second home Skinny Toms Café. Amazing double shot coffee, smashed avocado toast, carrot cake and granola muesli. These are some of my favourite café menu choices, so I am a harsh critic but 10 out of 10 this place lived up to my high Australian standards. We also had our own kitchen so we did loads of cooking but the other places I can recommend is a little cart near the wine store that sold killer fried chickpea balls and a chickpea salad plus Nanda Roti Hut in town for a Vegetable Kottu, otherwise there are loads of fruit shops so just stop in and pick up avocados for 80R, bananas off the branch and many types of mangos.
When it comes to food along the Unawatuna road you will find many beachy cafes and restaurants, the only recommendation I can give out is the one above because we couldn’t move past it but for some local eats we ate the best kottu in the area at no other than the sketchy place on the street and also ate a super good chickpea salad and fried lentil balls from another sketchy place being a cart on the side of the road next to the wine shop. Perfect combination for 200 LKR.
Things to do
Snorkelling with sea turtles: Head down to Dalawella Beach and go snorkel in the little natural reef.
Rope Swing: I’m almost hesitant to write this up but if you go up to Coco Beach Restaurant you can go on a rope swing for free. In case you hadn’t heard, the rope swing down at Dalawella has a 500 LKR swing fee which is crazy. Instead head up to Coco Beach but maybe buy a drink or have dinner at sunset there to support them, this is the best way to make sure they don’t end up charging. Give a little, and they’ll give back.
White Tea Plantation: grab a scooter or tuk tuk and go up for a free tour at the plantation. The Guide is super informative and they give you FREE cake like wow. Just a little tip in the tip box is a kind gesture.
Day trip to Galle Fort: it’s worth going into this little Dutch fort. It honestly feels like you’ve stepped into a mini European City however, I almost felt like it was slightly nicer as it is compact and everywhere you turn is a tidy, well preserve little village. TIP: go in the late afternoon to avoid the heat and see all the locals out playing cricket and dancing.
Surfing: There are a few good surfing beaches to pick from. I believe they would vary depending on the swell and wind. We went down to Dawata and picked up a long board for 300 LKR an hour.
Scooter Rental: we paid 1000 LKR for 24 hours however I think some in town are about 1300 LKR depending on the season.
From Unawatuna we jumped on the train (departing every 3 hours) and jumped off at Mirissa in 40 minutes. Seriously so easy. The station is a little out of town so we paid 300 rupees for a tuk tuk in. It doesn’t matter what direction you’re traveling you can always get either a train or bus very easily.
We stayed at Senith Guest House. Clean, cheap, breakfast, wifi, just no hot water but that is the usual for 2100R. We were in a rather decent location but staying anywhere along the main highway road, or a few streets back is a good option to be. As you are close to shops and a stroll to the beach. Accommodation is a little pricier than Unawatuna so stretching out your beach days in a place like Unawatuna is definitely recommended.
Mirissa is way more touristy so there are many more food option. Along the beach there is a classic Asian restaurant trying their skills at Western food with high prices, however they do a very good happy hour at 300-400 LKR for cocktails, that’s hard to pass up for a colourful sunset. Shady Lane is a cute little café doing amazing smoothie bowls. I would also recommend Aloha Coffee Gallery and Wood Space Café. The other places along the road are pretty pricy so we ended up eating out of the famous roti hut and at a few local places along the street.
Things to do
Palm Trees: if you want that picture for the gram, I’ll tell you how to get it. Walk 15 minutes along the road to the Sri Sudharshanaramaya temple, go straight up the road, turn right and walk in the direction of water and palms and you’ll find your way. Otherwise walk along the coast in the direction of Tangalle.
Scooter trip to Tangalle: Mirissa is a touristy town with no more than a nice long beach that draws the crowds. It is a great stay, to be a part of the night time antics however grabbing a scooter and heading east along the South Coast is a way better option! We paid 1000R for our scooter and headed for a day trip to Tangalle. Head East and stop in at Dikwella Beach or any other places that take your fancy. We stopped by Hiriketiya, the surf beach and we’ve put this one down to come back to stay a night at. This chilled out location just off the highway is worth checking out even if only for a day.