Discovering Unawatuna

Saturday, 7 February 2015 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By J.R. Unawatuna has long been a popular destination in southern Sri Lanka, for locals and tourists alike. Often looked upon as an ideal town for a quick escape, it’s located around six kms from the Galle Fort. Although in recent times the coastal town has lost much of its appeal in the form of flawless golden beaches and turquoise waters ideal for swimming, because of the man-made breakwaters that stretch right up to and beyond the high tide line causing severe soil erosion, Unawatuna still has great appeal, mainly due its cheap restaurants/hotels and cheerful ambience. And if you are eager enough, you could still find some decent patches of sand to laze around on. Disappointment aside, this popular town does offer great many attractions. Listed below are some of them.   Calamander Calamander, also known as Unawatuna Beach Resort, is a bevy of orange, upon entering. Their theme colour aside, the hotel recently launched Asia Pacific’s longest glass-fronted lap pool spanning 25 metres. This custom designed pool has an aquarium-like effect, allowing swimmers to view the blue ocean beyond. Calamander, sadly, does lack the beautiful touch of long stretches of beach in front of its establishment, owing to the soil erosion, but the hotel’s delicious food, luxuriously comfortable rooms, lively out-door bar area and recreational space more than make up for this. All its rooms come with the standard facilities of a balcony, air- conditioning, satellite channels and free-Wi-Fi while the luxury rooms include a Jacuzzi bath and sea view. The hotel’s restaurant Barracuda, located right along what’s left of the sandy stretch, offers a breath-aking view of the ocean. It comes with an extensive array of Western cuisine, seafood and local dishes as well. Their buffets are delicious and you’re sure to be spoilt for choice. Price range: Mid Website:   Hotel Sri Gemunu Friendly staff, privacy and breath-taking oceanic views make up a holiday at Hotel Sri Gemunu. This well-kept establishment occupies a location along the Unawatuna beach stretch that thankfully has been left untouched by the effects of the break-waters. Secured by an offshore coral reef, the beach stretch along this hotel is ideal for secure swimming and undisturbed walks along the beach. It offers 20 comfortable, well furnished rooms with en suite bathrooms and terrace or balcony. All the rooms have an unhindered view of the ocean and come alternately with or without air-conditioning. A ten minutes’ walk from the hotel, further inland, will take you to their wellness centre in the form of a recreational area, pool and Ayurvedic treatment. If you’d like a more secluded holiday, albeit inland, the two chalets located here could be rented. The hotel’s restaurant offers a range of Asian and international specialties. There is also the occasional BBQ and buffet night with live-music. Price range: Budget Website:   Wijaya Beach A few hundred metres away from Hotel Sri Gemunu lies Wijaya Beach, also offering the same undisturbed, safe-for-swimming beach stretch. A family owned business, this establishment is popular among the local expat community. Their beachfront restaurant/bar is one of their main attractions – serving an eclectic mix of Asian and European food. They have an eight-room bed and breakfast setting around a courtyard behind the restaurant with six Deluxe rooms, one Family Room and a Beach View room. All the rooms come with en suite bathrooms and other basic amenities. Their restaurant places an emphasis on seafood and offers a relaxed ambience where you can enjoy your food and famed sunset cocktails while drinking in the view of the ocean. Price range: Budget Website:   Tartaruga A once-popular restaurant on the beaches of Unawatuna, Tartaruga today sadly has lost its most priced magnet – vast, undisturbed golden sands with sun-lounges – again due to the breakwater construction that has caused soil erosion. But the establishment’s good service and cheerful atmosphere keeps people coming back. If you’re looking for good food and some down time with a chilled beer, overlooking the ocean, you can definitely find that and more at Tartaruga. Their restaurant serves delicious Italian food, Western food and Sri Lankan traditional food. They also offer standard rooms, one standard family room, a deluxe double and family room, and AC double rooms as accommodation. Price range: Low (Budget) Website:   Cantaloupe Levels Levels by Cantaloupe is an intimate luxury and lifestyle boutique hotel perched on the lush green Rumassala headland. The hotel offers breath-taking views of the turquoise bay that stretches from Jungle Beach in Unawatuna to the Dutch Fort in Galle. You would definitely be impressed by its grand guestrooms, tri-colour infinity pool and dining facilities. All the rooms offer views of the ocean and are both chic and tasteful. The Clique bed lounge located on the ground floor of the establishment brings the concept of ‘bed-dining’ to Sri Lanka with a banquette of fan-cooled day beds. You can unwind here as you munch on tapas and sip tropical cocktails. The cuisine features an eclectic international a la carte menu that combines signature dishes from Cantaloupe’s partner restaurants – Clique in Colombo and Coconut at Cantaloupe Aqua in Habaraduwa. Price range: Mid – high Website:   Jungle Beach If you’re a tourist who doesn’t mind mingling with local folk or if you’re a traveller who doesn’t squirm at the site of a crowded beach, Jungle Beach in Unawatuna is something you might want to check out. Known as a good spot for snorkelling, this is a secluded beach strip off the main beach of Unawatuna. Although it used to be quite isolated, it’s becoming less so now. The sea is calm and nice – ideal for swimming and the beach comes with a small bar/restaurant that serves fresh local catch of fish and lobsters. Price range: Low (Budget) Facebook:   CoCo Bay Unawatuna Located a few minutes away from the Galle Fort, CoCo Bay offers intimate and personalised service to its guests, with its 16 thoughtfully crafted rooms, restaurant, pools and bar. Each of the rooms has been designed to make the most of the Unawatuna sunlight and tranquil views, essentially embracing an open-air living concept. They also come with spacious balconies ideal for evening drinks while watching the sunset. Food is served at the hotel’s restaurant ‘La Mer’ which is located on the beach with a view of the bay. Options vary from Mediterranean fine dining dishes, fresh seafood, choice meats, vegetarian dishes, authentic southern Sri Lankan cuisine, international dishes, gourmet pizzas and French baguettes. Their bar named ‘Chill Out’ serves a good variety of wines, beers and cocktails. Price range: Mid – high Website:   Koko’s On the Beach Ideal for families, Koko’s is a small family run beach restaurant with outdoor seating. Their signature food includes a great array of Western food inclusive of fish and chips, burgers, tacos, kebabs and nachos, all made fresh to order with locally hand-picked ingredients. Price range: Low (Budget) Facebook:   Marco Ristorante Italiano Also good for families and offering outdoor seating this restaurant serves authentic Italian food worth trying out. Price range: Low (Budget) Facebook:   Japanese Peace Pagoda Built with the help of Japanese monks, the Peace Pagoda, which is essentially a Buddhist monument to inspire peace, is on Rumasalla Hill and is one of three Buddhist stupas in Sri Lanka. You can walk or drive through the shaded path leading to the Peace Pagoda. The towering, white bell-like structure surrounded by gold-hued statues is a magnificent sight indeed. Steps lead to a walkway encircling the shrine that offers a 360-degree view of the jungle and bay. It’s a particularly nice place to catch the sunset. (Trekurious together with DailyFT explores Sri Lanka for the curious traveller. Trekurious works with talented individuals and great brands to create amazing experiential tours, activities, and events in Sri Lanka. You can find out more at