If you’ve been following or reading my blog for a while you might know by now that I’m a beach and sunshine kind of gal. Dan and I both enjoy cultural experiences and we loved our time in the mountainous area of Ella but by the end we were excited to make our way to the beach. When I was planning the trip I focused my search on just the southern coast for ease of travel and for the weather. Dec-March is dry season in the south so we felt we would have a better chance of getting sunshine if we ventured in that direction. Plus the beaches there looked phenomenal and I read a lot about how easy it was to travel about, hopping from area to area. I am really glad we did this as even though there are some incredible beaches all around Sri Lanka, two weeks just would not have been enough time to see it all. Tangalle in particular caught my eye from the unbelievably beautiful and vast beaches I saw from various photos on social media. We love to venture off the beaten track when travelling and Tangalle seemed to be less touristy that other places in the South.
How to get there?
We arranged for our driver Sri to collect us from Ella and drive us to our first stop in Tangalle after enjoying one last afternoon in Ella. I’m so glad we opted for a driver as it was so enjoyable learning the history of Sri Lanka first hand as we drove through the many beautiful towns to get to our destinations. Sri was super kind and allowed us to stop off and try fruit from one of the many picturesque road side stalls on route. He took time to explain to us what each fruit or vegetable was and how it was used in Sri Lankan cooking. We were incredibly lucky to see a wild elephant along the road as we drove past the nature park in Uduawalwe. Thanks to sri we were able to jump out of the car and take some up close photos of the majestic animals
Total travel time -2.5 - 3 Hours
We arrived into Tangalle in the evening after about three hours of travel, we were tired, hungry and desperate for a shower. The place we were staying was called Little Sunshine Guesthouse and was a colonial style home-stay I found on booking.com. It was really simple, nothing too fancy but the staff were so helpful it was clean and right near the beach. It was also only $17 a night for the two of us which brought the total to $51 for three days which I am sure you can agree is so ridiculously cheap. It was pitch black when we arrived and there was some confusion with our booking at first but this was resolved with the help of our driver Sri who helped us settle in before going on his way back to Colombo.
The walk to the nearest beach (Marokolilliya) was just three minutes and you get to cross a beautiful lagoon to get to it. Go early in the morning to experience the gorgeous serenity and beautiful wildlife of the area.
Exploring Beaches with a scooter
Tangalle town isn't particularly special or outstanding, it's just a small strip with a bus station, market and a few local shops and stalls. But the beaches surrounding are most certainly worth exploring. The options for exploring are either local buses, private Tuk Tuk or to hire a scooter and explore yourself. We opted for the scooter as it is something we love to do whenever we travel especially once we have scoped out the safety of the area and the roads. We were able to rent a moped from our guest house for less than $10 for 24 hours, we simply let them know the night before that we wanted to hire one, then in the morning it was there ready for us to go. There is truly nothing better than feeling the warm breeze as you drive and explore new places on your travels. Here are the beaches we explored during our three days:
Marakolliya BeachWhen researching Tangalle and it's beaches I stumbled on a photo on Instagram of the most idyllic, pinkish sand paradise beach, it was breathtaking. A good hour of investigation and I found out the beach was called Marakolliya. This area of Tangalle is untouched and it was why we chose to find accommodation in the guest house that we did. As mentioned the beach was just a short 3/5 minute walk away and when we wandered there in the morning, not only did we get to experience crossing the most beautiful natural lagoon by boat but we were blessed with the most stunning and practically empty beach. The beach was huge with gorgeous golden pink sand and the water was crystal clear. It was breath taking and honestly is up there as one of the best beaches we have ever seen. Although the beach is incredibly stunning the Indian Ocean along this is very rough and there are are certain parts of the water that you are not able to swim safely. The best area for swimming is right in front of Mangrove Beach Cabana's where rock placement in the sea creates a kind of natural lagoon making it enjoyable and safe to swim. There is also substantial shelter with palm trees surrounding which is really important when spending the day at the beach. The sun is no joke and with the beach being the size and width it is you need to be able to access shade especially between the hours of 12-3pm
The first stop on our list to explore on our scootter was the beach of Pallikkudawa. We stumbled upon the beach on route to Goyamboka (another beach that came highly recommended) and although everyone recommends Goyamboka as the best we actually preferred this little beach. It was a lot quieter, less crowded and the water was blue and calm, it was just perfect for afternoon lazing. There was one small bar/restaurant on the beach, we didn't bother with food from it but we did get a couple of drinks and with that was able to enjoy the use of a sunbed.
After relaxing on Pallikiduwa beach we decided to head off to explore Goyambokka to see what all the fuss was about. It was a short drive to the beach you had to drive down some very narrow paths to get to it. There was also a lot of building works which made accessing it a bit difficult, That said it was worth the awkward journey because as you can see it was beautiful! We actually didn't end up staying too long as we were starting to get hungry and didn't want to eat anything too heavy because of dinner plans. We decided against eating at the beach, and instead opted to head to Tangalle Market. I had read a lot about its many colorful stalls selling delicious fruits and vegetables so off we went on search of it.
Tangalle Market was just a short 7 minute drive from the beach area near Goyambokka and was super easy to get to however finding a parking spot around mid-day was tricky! The place was packed with locals selling and buying goods. It was a sensory explosion, the colours, the smells, the sounds of the market sellers and the hustle and bustle was extraordinary. It was such an interesting experience, one that we both really enjoyed. Although in hindsight perhaps we could have timed it better, as midday was scorching both inside of the market and the drive to and from it.
We tried so many delicious foods, dried mango, freshly fried casavva chips, sweet and salty freshly popped popcorn as well as the incredible variety of fresh fruit (would definitely recommend the small bananas)
Places to eat
Although I wrote a few must try places down before coming to Tangalle, unfortunately I was only able to try one on my list. The first night we ate at the guest house (would not recommend the food was overcooked and flavorless) and the other was just a spot we walked past at the beach and didn't get the name of.
I am so glad that the restaurant I am about to tell you about was one we didn't miss because it was honestly one of the best Sri Lankan fish dishes we ate on our two week travels.
Tucked down a side road about 10 minutes from our accommodation was Mango Shade. Voted the best place to eat in Tangalle it had a lot to live up to, but honestly it surpassed all expectations. We enjoyed the most delicious Whole BBQ'd fish, Calarami, Prawns and fried rice, all washed down with beers and cocktails for the grand price of £16! It was delicious so much so that I could have eaten it twice. We got there early so we were able to get a seat but if you want a guaranteed table call ahead and book and make sure to order the whole fish as it one not to be missed!!
Tangalle is definitely a must visit destination in Sri Lanka, and if I were you I would get there fast, it is a part of Sri Lanka that seems untouched by heavy tourism. Life is just a little bit more laid back and with those long sandy beaches it's no wonder why.