This is a beachcomber’s paradise. A coastline of narrow coves, long sandy beaches and rocky outcrops make the Tangalle area the place to come for true beach escapes.A holiday in Tangalle is worth the trek. Not least because the best luxury hotels have set up shop here.
Tangalle is located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka and is a couple of hours drive east of Galle. The highway stops an hour or so short so Tangalle has the laid back feeling of a town that hasn’t yet had the tourist boom. The town itself is authentically Sri Lankan and a little unremarkable. But its beaches and hinterland are spectacular.
The hotels in Tangalle have changed beyond recognition in recent years. There has been an explosion of accommodation on this once remote shoreline. Luxury hotels in Tangalle are now plentiful with some big names on the scene. However, as always, we just love those smaller boutique hotels in Sri Lanka that deliver excellence in spades. The Sri Lanka boutique hotel scene is unlike any other in the region and our chosen hotels in Tangalle are amongst our favourites.
Unlike in more developed parts of Sri Lanka, the beaches around Tangalle are not only light on tourist hordes but they are still home to pockets of fishing communities. You’ll find pretty harbours behind breakwaters full of fantastically coloured boats with flags fluttering in the wind during the daily spectacle of the fishermen hauling their nets onto the beaches. We’ve seen huge tunas, barracuda, mahi mahi and no end of red snappers being landed.
But Tangalle isn’t just about beaches. Inland, the dense jungle is interspersed with vibrant villages and lush paddyfields. Communities continue the way of life their ancestors lived for generations. This part of Sri Lanka is still authentic but get in soon as things are scheduled to change with the construction of a new highway.
Venture a little further west down the coast from Tangalle and you will come to Dondra Head, the most southerly tip of Sri Lanka. If you were to plot a course due south of here, the next land mass you would hit would be… Antarctica. Dondra lighthouse was constructed by the British in 1887. It still functions proud today, although the signalling units are now electric. It’s worth climbing to the top on the narrow steel staircases (manufactured in Birmingham) for magnificent views.
A little further lies the city of Matara. It’s a sprawling major commercial hub, providing a fascinating window into modern-day Sri Lankan life. Interestingly, it completely lacks tourist infrastructure. However, the star-shaped fort of Matara is reasonably well preserved (although not a patch on Galle). In front of it lies Pigeon Island. It is picturesque and accessed via a cable footbridge if you’d like to wander around the relatively modern Buddhist temple.
There is a whole raft of beachfront restaurants and shacks around Tangalle, all pretty similar in appearance and service. The fresh seafood is reliably decent and, of course, rice and curry can be found in abundance.
Inevitably, the best restaurants are found in the Yonder hotel shortlist. Given that you’ll probably be in the Tangalle area for rest and relaxation after a few days on the road, or simply escaping work headaches back home, why not just kick back and enjoy the superb service and food in your chosen hotel? You know it makes sense.
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