Mirissa and Unawatuna are among the best Sri Lanka beaches, and the quaint town of Galle close by gives a fabulous glimpse into Sri Lanka’s history.

After a very pleasant few days in the cooler climate of Ella we headed down to the beautiful southern coast of Sri Lanka.  We had 5 nights in a great villa in Mirissa before heading to a glamping safari in Yala National Park for 3 nights (you can read about that here).  We then made our way back to the coast for 5 nights in a hotel on the beach in Unawatuna.

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The coastline near Mirissa
Here are some of the highlights from our time on the south coast:

Curd!

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Buying curd on the way to Mirissa
On the way from Ella to Mirissa our driver pointed out the curd stalls on the side of the road, all selling curd in terracotta bowls.  We had tried the curd in Ella served with some local “honey” which is more like a maple syrup and is sourced from a tree (so not really honey at all, but still very tasty).  Everyone was pretty taken with it, especially Sophie, so we decided to grab some to have at our villa.  The curd cost under  US$2, and they threw in some of the honey for about 50c.  Delicious!

Mirissa Beach

Our villa was about a 5 minute tuk tuk drive from Mirissa beach, which is a beautiful stretch of golden sand.  The surf at the beach was pretty big, but fine for the kids to have a little play in the shallows.
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Mirissa Beach
There were also lots of good restaurants and bars, though, because we had a good kitchen and a pool in the villa, we only headed over to the beach a couple of times.
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Mirissa Beach – perfect for a sunset stroll.

The Bread Man

Every day at about 6.30am and 4.00pm a little bread van came by our front gate. For our readers in New Zealand, it was like a bread version of Mr Whippy, complete with catchy tune.
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The bread man. The kids anticipated his arrival every day!
The bread was always fresh and delicious, and we were also able to get sweet jam rolls and samosas, which I could have eaten all day.  We spend a couple of dollars each day for a big bag full of goodies.  Plus, the driver liked to have a chat about the cricket (the world twenty20 champs were on at the time) so it was a double win for me!

Galle

After our brilliant safari, we headed to Unawatuna, another very popular beach along the south coast.  Galle was only a 25 minute tuk tuk drive from the beach, so we headed in one night for a wander around the fort ramparts and a bite to eat.

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The ramparts at Galle Fort overlooking the ocean.

Galle is a UNESCO  world heritage site, and is really worth a visit.  The ramparts were easy to get around (with the added bonus of having a great view of the picturesque cricket ground where Sri Lanka play a lot of their matches).

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The ramparts overlooking Galle International Cricket Stadium
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The Galle clock tower

The town itself is full of cobbled streets, cool shops and good cafes and restaurants.  We took the kids to get a burger from Rocket Burger.  Not too authentic I know, but we’d had a lot of curry over the prior couple of weeks and the burgers were very good!

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Walking up Pedlar Street in Galle
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Galle lighthouse
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Street sign in Galle

 

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Beautiful church with Dutch style architecture in Galle.

We also had a sobering conversation with our driver on the way about the terrible Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 that killed over 4,000 in the Galle area alone. He was a teenager at the time and in Galle town when the tsunami hit. He said he didn’t know what a tsunami was before this or what was happening, but he knew it wasn’t right when the water started coming in through the streets. He ran to his grandmother’s house up on higher ground, and survived the second wave which did more damage.

He said the next day he went back to see if he could find his car that was parked in town, only to find it had been washed on top of a bus. He said there were dead bodies everywhere in the streets and that some of his friends had died. So sad.

The town has been rebuilt since then and there’s not much evidence of the tragedy that happened here, only there is now a warning system in place and evacuation signs dotted around the town.

Unawatuna Beach

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Unawatuna is another gorgeous beach, with a bay of sweeping golden sand fringed by palm trees at either end. We’d heard that Unawatuna Beach was a little more sedate with the surf than Mirissa, however we didn’t notice too much difference.  Apparently there have been some storms there over the last couple of years that have seen the beach erode, meaning that the drop off into the water is a lot steeper meaning the waves break right on the shore and can dump you!
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Playing mermaids at Unawatuna Beach.
We did spend a lot of time in the water, however we were always carrying the children to make sure they weren’t knocked over by the waves. The far end of the beach had a small reef in front of it which was definitely calmer and more suitable for the kids.
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The calmer end of Unawatuna Beach.

Cooking class with Karena

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Karena working her magic on some beetroot

We loved the food in Sri Lanka, particularly the curry and rice, which consists of small bowls of 4-5 vegetable and 1 meat or fish dish served with rice. There was no way we were leaving Sri Lanka without learning how to make this delight.

 

Kylie went on a half day cooking class in Unawatuna which was lots of fun. First off was jumping into a tuk tuk and heading into Galle to visit the fruit and vegetable market to buy the fresh produce for the curries, then heading to a spice store to learn about the different spices that go into making curry and rice.

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Beautiful fresh produce at Galle market.
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Chillies, shallots and okra.

Finally it was a quick stop off on the way back to buy some amazingly fresh tuna from a shack on the side of the road.

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Fish from the man on the side of the road, all beautifully fresh. Look at that tuna tail!

Over the next couple of hours, Karena taught how to make beetroot, bean, tuna, dhal (lentil), pumpkin and aubergine curries. We also learnt how to make coconut milk and cream from scratch.

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Preparing the beans
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Bean curry, delicious.

Once we’d cooked up the feast, we sat down to eat it all. Conveniently Dad and the kids just happened to be passing by the cooking school at that exact moment, so they got to try a little bit as well!

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The curries all lined up and ready to go – dhal, beetroot, fish and pumpkin curry. If you come to our place for dinner guess what you’re having.

Where we stayed

Chacha villa in Mirissa

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The living/dining space and kitchen at Villa Chacha
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Master bedroom at Villa Chacha.

Kylie found a great two bedroom, two bathroom villa with its own grounds and a pool about 5 minutes tuk tuk ride from Mirissa beach on Air BNB.  We loved having some extra space after weeks of being holed up in hotel rooms and cosy apartments! It was down a little lane, off the main road into Mirissa, which had its own beach access about 150m from the villa.

The beach was quite rocky, but still had enough sand for the kids to play, and if the tide was right it was possible to swim in some large rock pools, which we did a couple of times.  There were lots of (quite large) crabs and fish around, which the kids really enjoyed looking at.

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The beach at the end of the road.
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This is the life!

We also made a lot of use of the small private plunge pool at the villa.  It was very hot, with temperatures in the high 30’s (celcius), and even though the pool was like a bath, it was still a very pleasant to laze back in the water under some shade.

 

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The plunge pool at Villa Chacha, complete with hammock for lazy days.

As an added bonus, we also had some of the local wildlife frequent our back yard. In fact there were a couple of rather large monitor lizards the looked to have made a home under the tiles by the pool, so we saw them every day wandering around, minding their own business (though we were mindful to keep the doors shut to stop them wandering inside!)

They’re pretty harmless although we learnt on our safari that they have sharp barbs on their tail that can be dangerous if they get cornered. Monitor lizards have an incredible sense of smell and can sense insects and other tasty delights quite far into the ground. They can grow up to 1.7 metres long!

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Our friendly backyard monitor lizard.

On our first morning, Sophie also spotted a couple of peacocks having a drink from the pool!

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Peacock on the roof of Villa Chacha.

You can view the wonderful Chacha Villa here.

Want a $20 USD Air BNB credit? Click on this link when you’re booking and we both get a $20USD credit courtesy of AirBNB 🙂

 

Thaprobane Beach House in Unawatuna

We stayed at Thaparobane Beach Hotel, which was right on Unawatuna beach. We squeezed into a double room with a small single bed, but it was worth it to be right on the beach on our budget. It had a nice bathroom and balcony.

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Our room at Thaprobane Beach House

The hotel had a very good restaurant on the beach, complete with a fresh fish counter where you could choose your meal (fish (including delicious tuna), lobster, squid or prawns) and then have them cook it for you.

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Choosing dinner at the beach.
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Jumbo prawns, mmmmmm
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Delicious fresh lobster dinner for around $20NZD / $14 USD

They also did a pretty good spaghetti carbonara which the kids enjoyed, and of course delicious Sri Lankan curries.  Needless to say we ate there often!

There was even a wedding on the beach one night which was fun to watch.

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This lovely couple from the Maldives got married here.

You can view and book Thaprobane Beach House Hotel here.

When we got tired of the waves, we had access to a pool at a sister hotel down the road right on the coast called Thaproban Pavillion Resort and Spa.  The pool was lovely with a good shallow kids section, and there was a private little sheltered beach in the hotel grounds as well which was good fun.

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The little beach at the Pavillion hotel.
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Pool aka spa bath at the Pavillion hotel.

The only downside was the fact that by early afternoon the pool was like a hot bath. Not exactly the bracing counter to the heat we were after.  Life’s tough when the only thing you complain about is the heat of your swimming pool!

Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. That means if you make a booking after clicking on one of these links, we might receive a tiny commission, but it won’t cost you anything. Maybe enough to buy us a beer. Thank you :-)

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