The coastal village of Unawatuna in the district of Galle in Sri Lanka is famous for its beaches, natural attractions and history. It is a major tourist destination in the country as well as Galle district.
Unawatuna beach is a tranquil beach resort about 5 kilometers to the south of Galle. It offers a truly relaxed time by the sea, unlike the many leading tropical beaches all over Asia that are always too crowded with tourists and local vendors. Unawatuna is uncrowded, serene and un-urbanized, simply Mother Nature at its best. Protected by the most beautiful coral reefs in Sri Lanka, this golden beach is safe and perfect for swimming, diving and surfing. The international diving and surfing community are beginning to notice and so more and more international water enthusiasts are visiting Unawatuna.
The beach is so stunning that the even the Ramayana talked about it. The Indian epic described it as “a seashore dotted with thousands of trees, coconuts, and palms dominating, strings of houses and hermitages along the coastline, human beings and superior beings such as Gandharvas, Siddhas, and ascetics, living in them and countless bejewelled celestial nymphs thronging the shore, the coast intermittently visited by heavenly beings, Gods and demons.”
Meanwhile, local and foreign surfers have tried local waters and were satisfied by the steady supply of swells and waves. There are excellent reef breaks for the experienced surfer, while there are also calmer areas for beginners. There are also several groups in the area that offer expert instructions and professional guides. The best time to surf is early in the morning.
Another popular water activity here is scuba diving. The Indian Ocean reveals a wealth of underwater treasures and out-of-this-world sites. Divers are delightfully surprised to discover beds of candy-color corals, a great variety of fishes and turtles, and enchanting shipwrecks. There deeper wrecks and underwater caves between Galle and Unawatuna for more experienced divers.
Other than its water attractions, the area is a popular destination for eco-tourism and family excursions. The region is rich with biodiversity with over 60 endemic species of birds, which include terns, egrets, herons, kingfishers, and sandpipers. But the real gems are the rare Asian palm swift, lesser whistling duck, white-breasted waterhen, turnstone Loten’s sunbird, and black bittern. Family excursions, on the other hand, may take an entire day beginning from the Yala National Park, Hikkaduwa, Kottowa rainforest, or Dodanduwa Lagoon. The trip may then lead to Doovili Ella waterfall, Kaneliya Nature Reserve, and other interesting natural parks in and around Galle.
A popular and well loved tourist attraction in Galle is the Galle Fort, an old Dutch fort that was originally built by the Portuguese. It is not far from Unawatuna. There are a number of historic Dutch forts in Sri Lanka but this one in Galle is among the largest and most significant. Near the fort are traditional Sri Lankan markets that offer a unique shopping experience to foreign tourists. There are also colonial homes, restaurants and other structures.
The Dutch also built colonial homes in Unawatuna. They served as residences for Dutch officials. Some of these colonial homes include the Nooit Gedacht hotel, Unawatuna Hospital and the Maharambe mansion. There is also an area in town called Parangiyawatta, which means “land of the Portuguese”.