A 2 hour drive from Colombo, along the Southern Expressway will lead you to an area famous for its pristine beaches and friendly and calm atmosphere it offers the traveler. Originally a sleepy fishing village, Unawatuna has quickly turned into one of the places to visit down South, since it offers you the essentials for a great beach holiday.

Top Reason to Visit

It has quickly become one of the most famous tourist attractions in the southern coast of Sri Lanka due to its serene beach and calm sea. The Unawatuna beach provides you a peaceful and tranquil environment that allows you to forget all your troubles. Not that kind of person? Then go surfing or diving to satisfy that adventurous soul in you. The establishment of many hostels, restaurants, bars and adventure firms will allow you to have the beach holiday getaway you always wanted.

While You’re There

Chill out:

The Unawatuna beach possesses ample beach beds for sunbathing. It is host to many restaurants and hostels, providing enough options to just sit down, have a bite or drink and maybe have a chat with your friends while basking in the pristine view of the sea, the sea breeze and friendly atmosphere. Jungle beach (just south of Unawatuna) has become one of the best beaches in the country to experience such tranquility with its rustic ambiance.

Small town, plenty of activities:

Although a small town, it is an ideal location for water sports, such as surfing, diving, snorkeling, whale watching and cruising around the coral reefs. The establishment of many adventure firms make it much easier to partake in these activities.

Unique flora and fauna:

Witnessing the diverse species of fish and vast turtle population along the nearby coral reefs are always a treat while partaking in these water sports. The diverse flora and fauna can be witnessed further inland too at the Unawatuna lagoon where special excursions can be arranged to witness the various species inhabiting the wetlands of Sri Lanka.

Cleanse your mind and soul:

Its laid back environment makes it perfect for a yoga retreat too with many hotels and hostels offering yoga and other forms of exercises such as pilates and zumba to unwind and start your day with a clear mind.

Friends, drinks and party:

There is an interesting night life with many restaurant, bars and pubs along the beach strip that are opened late nights, offering a wide array of services, in order to make sure you have a good time with your friends.

Cultural importance:

Around 2 miles inland from Unawatuna lies the 2,300 year old Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya built by King Devanampiyatissa of Anuradhapura, which is unique since it is built using the natural rock as the foundation. The small town’s cultural importance is further shown through the Japanese Peace Pagoda built by the Japanese Nipponzan-Myōhōji order, located at the rustic Rumassala hill, to inspire peace among all people regardless of their race and creed.


It would be a shame if a camera is not brought, as the rustic trail along the Rumassala hill leading to the Peace Pagoda boasts of endemic bird species and exquisite views of the Galle Fort and the Unawatuna beach.

Insider Advice

Travel: Getting about in Unawatuna is not that difficult since it is a small area. However, travelling to the Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya, Japanese Peace Pagoda and Jungle beach will require you to hire a tuk-tuk or car as the sites are a few miles out of town. Tuk-tuk charges are LKR 50 for the first kilometre and LKR 40 thereafter (just make sure they have a meter and ask them to turn it on).

Always inquire if doing something new: With the establishment of so many hostels, restaurants, pubs and adventure firms, the cost and quality of the services vary. Make sure you request for a breakdown of the cost of services, especially when partaking in water sports or excursions so as to avoid any unexpected fees or charges.

Clothing: Casual or beach wear is perfectly alright. An exception to the dress code though, is when traveling to the Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya or Japanese Peace Pagoda where only clothing that covers the legs and shoulders will allow you in (A sarong too would do the trick).

Weather: The best time to visit Unawatuna is in between the months of December to April since much of the area experiences clear blue skies and calm beaches.

Take care of belongings: Make sure to be mindful of your belongings when bringing it to the beach since it can get stolen or mistakenly grabbed by another person, especially if going for a sea swim.

Safety: Checking the tide patterns is important as the sea could get rough unexpectedly which would be dangerous for any water sports or sea swims.

In conclusion, Unawatuna is the ideal location to be at if you just want to escape the rat race of civilization, let your hair down and relax under the golden sun with clear blue skies beside a calm beach.

Title image by: Jehan Gamalathge
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