Sri Lanka’s south coast boasts astonishing beauty and a laid back feel, offering its visitors a rich cultural heritage combined with a quintessential tropical beach holiday. Secluded coves and villages characterised by stilt-perching fisherman nestle against a backdrop of palm trees, rice paddies, and cinnamon plantations. Peak season in these southern reaches is from late November to April, with the heavy Yala monsoon rains of May and June best avoided. There’s a comprehensive range of accommodation varying from modest cabanas to stylish luxury hotels, and a wide choice of eateries from simple cafes to expensive restaurants. Unsurprisingly, the seafood is superb.
South coast visitors can kick back and relax on white sands, in ayurvedic spas, or at peaceful yoga retreats. Surfing, sailing, sea-kayaking, and deep-sea fishing in turquoise seas are there to be enjoyed, along with scuba diving on vibrant coral reefs. Dolphin and whale-watching are a delight, as are seasonal night safaris to watch turtles scrambling ashore. Tucked away from the main tourist trail are the relatively untouched beaches of Polhenna and Talalla, and the town of Tangalla which maintains a tranquil ‘far-away’ feel despite its increasing development. Lush vegetation tumbles right down to the soft sands of Mirissa beach where some of Sri Lanka’s best surfing is to be found, and Dickwella is known for its fabulous scuba diving. The bustling towns of Matara and Weligama mean that modern conveniences are never too far away, and to top it all, cultural excursions to ancient Buddhist temples or Dutch-colonial forts are also possible.