20 places to visit in the South Coast of Sri Lanka

20 PLACES TO VISIT IN THE SOUTH COAST OF SRI LANKA

So you keep hearing the “South Coast” of Sri Lanka is amazing, and a ‘must visit’ and that it will be a ‘highlight of your trip’ …. and you already know that the beaches are supposed to be breathtaking and wonderful and well, more than you could hope for in a beach. You also know of some amazing Villas to stay in (wink wink)- where you are unlikely to ever want to leave once you arrive (well you won’t – if you stay at a one of five villas from the Taru Villas collection – shameless self-promotion – but if we didn’t it would be like we are keeping the goodness to ourselves). But what else can you do once you are there?

We have put together 20 cool things to do
so you can extend your stay in the South of Paradise.

1. Yala National Park

Go on a Wild Life Safari and explore a beautiful combination of a national park and reservation where leopards, peacocks, elephants, crocodiles, sloth bears, spotted dear, jackals, sambars and other exotic birds call home. The best season to visit is between February and July. Taru Villas – Yala makes for the perfect base to explore the Yala National Park, as well as Udawalawe and Bundala National Parks as well.

2. Mulkirigala Rock Temple
Mulkirigala is located close to Tangalle and is considered one of the South’s finest ancient monuments. It is made up of intricately-decorated ancient cave temples carved out of the flanks of an enormous rock outcrop. The temples were built on four separate levels at different times in history dating back to 3rdCentury B.C. Each level is connected by close to 500 steps, with wonderful views from the summit. Doing this trek will help you justify all the glorious meals you will no doubt be dining on at Taru Villas.
Image by Daniele Carotenuto Photography/Getty Images Moment Open
@coloringfootsteps
3. Kataragama Temple

Kataragama is one of the holiest sites on the island most sacred to Buddhists and Hindus alike; pilgrims come here all year round to worship at the shrine of the god Kataragama. The temples come alive in the evenings when religious rituals take place as devotees arrive with trays of offerings to the god and where you’ll hear the sound of conch shells being blown and the beats of many drums.

3. Whale & Dolphin Watching
Mirissa is one of the perfect spots to sight the largest mammal on earth. Whale and dolphin watching has become one of the best things to do in the south and you will find a number of operators around this area offering trips to the Indian Ocean for dolphins, whales, and turtles spotting. The best time to visit is from December to March.
Taru Villas stays
5. Coconut Tree Hill

This is one of the prettiest, very Instagram-worthy spots on the South. It is situated at the end of Mirissa Beach and completely covered with coconut trees overlooking the ocean.

6. Jungle Playground Mirissa (Adventure Park)

If you are traveling with friends or family and are after something a little bit more adventurous but not too far from the beach, you must visit the jungle playground. Designed and run by a European couple, it is a unique jungle trail with a range of different obstacles to experience such as jungle bowling, climbing and mini golf !

7. Hikkaduwa Beach Strip

Hikkaduwa is an electric town home to beautiful beaches, serene diving spots and even some brilliant surfing! After checking out the numerous souvenir and curio shops that line the strip, indulge in fresh seafood or inspired fusion cuisine at trendy restaurants.

 

8. Diving in Hikkaduwa
Whether you’re a novice or expert diver, you will find some incredible diving locations in Hikkaduwa. There are few PADI dive schools and excursion operators to choose from and they can train adventurers as young as 8 years old. Enjoy free diving, swimming with large sea turtles or choose any of ten shipwrecks to explore at various depths.
9. Hiriketiya Beach

A beguiling horseshoe bay that causes waves to come in high attracts many surfers to the area. If instead you prefer to relax and not exert too much energy you will particularly appreciate the few hipster restaurants and cafes that dot the shore.

10. Surfing at Weligama Beach

Despite the many surf spots around the island, Weligama Beach is perfect for surfing beginners. It is quieter, more relaxed and ideal for family beach time.

11. Go Stilt Fishing

Koggala Beach is one of many places where you can observe as fishermen lure their catch atop bamboo stilts close to the shore – a practice dating back to World War II.  Should you wish to give it a try, the local fisherman will gladly give up their seat and share their fishing lines and bait with you for a tip. Fish bites the best early in the morning or evening, so go fishing earlier if you want bragging rights to a catch!

12. Galle Fort – Galle

Visit the historical Galle Fort built by the Portuguese in the early 1500s and further fortified by the Dutch. Tour the Maritime Museum, walk along its cobbled streets and take in the rich architecture while enjoying a gelato. The Fort boasts hidden cafes, stunning boutique hotels, the Galle Lighthouse, gem shops, art galleries, antique shops and so much more to explore.

13. Udawalawa National Park

Explore the elephants, leopards and other exotic birds and reptiles found in this National Park initially created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir. This park does not have a best time to visit as animals at Udawalawe can be spotted at anytime of the year, including leopards. The park has the biggest concentration of Asian elephants in Sri Lanka, so the probabilities of you seeing them are very high.

14. Geoffrey Bawa Estates – Lunu Ganga

If architecture is your thing, then Geoffrey Bawa needs no introduction. Go on a special tour of the Lunuganga Estate once the country home of the world-renowned Sri Lankan architect. Experience Tropical Modernism at its finest in his architecture, works of art scattered through the estate and its lush gardens.

15. Water Sports – Bentota River

If you’re looking for a different kind of fun on the water, check out the different water sports available to do on the Bentota River. From jet skiing to banana boating, this will be fun for the whole family!

16. Bentota River Cruise

Further up (away from the water sports), cruise through the mangroves along the third largest river in Sri Lanka and spot some crocs, snakes, bats and the second-heaviest lizard after the Komodo dragon!

17. Kudawella Blow Hole – Dickwella

Visit the site of the Hummanaya Blowhole and witness the only known blowhole in Sri Lanka. It is also considered to be the second largest blowhole in the world. The water is set to blow up to height between 25-30 meters!

18. Kosgoda Turtle Care

Spend some time here to learn about huge efforts to increase the rate of hatching, and survival of baby turtles in their very initial stages. You will also see how they take care of sick or injured adult turtles before releasing them back into the ocean when they are ready. There are also  volunteer programs and awareness programs for local and international visitors, if that is your thing. Five species of sea turtles lay eggs along the west and south coasts of Sri Lanka and all of them are on the endangered list.

19. Community Tsunami Museum – Hikkaduwa

 A visit to this small local Museum that preserves memories of the 2004 Tsunami will be promise to be sobering but it really captures such a devastating part of the history of the South of the Island and will truly amaze you at what Sri Lanka has bounced back and developed into.

20. Beruwala Gem Market

The buzzing “Pathe” gem market in Beruwala is also known as China Fort, named after Chinese traders who settled there about 300 years ago. There are up to 5,000 dealers spanning over two blocks. Buyers from all over the world come here to make their purchases and the market is highly active with millions of dollars worth of gems being traded every day.

TARU VILLAS SOUTH COAST

The best boutique hotel experiences in Sri Lanka

Rock Villa

An Enchanting, Tropical Escape

Bentota

The Muse

Inspired Style & Discreet Service

Bentota

The Long House

Exquisite Space & Exceptional Service

Bentota

River Cottage

A Haven of Peace & Privacy

Bentota

Leela Walauwwa

Tranquility in a beautiful colonial Manor house

Induruwa

906

Small is Beautiful at this Perfect Beach Hideaway

Hikkaduwa

Seventy 7 at Leyn Baan

An Oasis in Central Galle Fort

Galle Fort

LightHouse Street

Style and Character in the Heart of Galle Fort

Galle Fort

Rampart Street

Step into Romance & History

Galle Fort

Mawella

Relaxed Charm & The Perfect Ocean Bay

Tangalle

The Tangalle Social

Beach Club Pitstop By Day, Blissful Retreat By Night

Tangalle

Yala Ruhuna

Your Private Jungle Oasis

Yala
Whole Villa Booking

45 types of people who should visit Sri Lanka now

people WHO SHOULD VISIT Sri Lanka NOW

Given that Sri Lanka is offering a FREE on-arrival visa for tourists from 45 countries, thus making a trip to Sri Lanka more appealing for citizens of these nation states, one could be forgiven for assuming that this list is going to be no more than a list of the 45 countries included in this offer – but the truth is now is the time for so many people to visit,  no matter what country you have your passport from…. So lets take a look and see if you fall into one (or more) of the categories listed below:

(oh and by the way – we do also include a list of the 45 countries whose citizens have had this benefit extended to them, so do look out for it at the end).

Whatever you fill in as your current status on social media….
  1. In a relationship
  2. Single
  3. Married
  4. Engaged couple
  5. Baby Moon(er)
  6. Families
  7. Empty Nester
  8. Grandparent
  9. Retiree
  10. “Actively seeking new friendships”

Sri Lanka has so much to offer you… Get to know your better half as you go on Instagram-worthy hikes, incredible train rides and discover the island (and more about your travel companion!!!).  If you know all you need to about your partner and kids – and just want to find an itinerary that keeps everyone entertained then add a little zip-lining, beginner surf lessons, whitewater rafting or visits to turtle hatcheries. Sri Lanka will keep the kids in wonder and tire them out enough so that you can relax with some cocktails by the beach in the evening.  Meanwhile, relaxing is exactly what you will need to do if you are on your “Baby Moon” awaiting the arrival of your baby or alternatively if you are an Empty Nester, having spent the last chunk of your life helping your kids to manage their lives… This paradise island is the perfect place to take time out to chill out –  either by the beach in Bentota, by the Mawella Bay  or sipping Ceylon tea right in the lush hills of Sri Lanka.

Speaking of accommodation, however you define your level of travel

  1. Luxury
  2. Budget
  3. Whole Villa
  4. Student travel
  5. Group travel
  6. Explorers

Sri Lanka has accommodation options that will suit both your personality and your budget.

Whether its backpacking your way around the island, enjoying streetfood, staying amongst the locals, or setting out on a pilgrimage or cultural tour with a group, Sri Lanka offers itineraries that get you the best deals on accommodation. Speak to Taru Villas about helping you organise a specialised itinerary that ensures you get the most out of the time spent here.  A jam-packed itinerary may not be your thing if you are looking instead to organise a vacation where you set the pace, with days alternating between bespoke activities and ultimate comfort.  If you are looking for Privacy, comfort, luxury and the freshest most delicious food you can indulge in then the Taru Villas collection offers whole Villa bookings where you and your people can ramp up your days at a level that suits.

However you like to get around

  1. Running
  2. Walking / Hiking
  3. Swimming
  4. Train Travel

There are scenic running tracks around the city of Colombo where you can ensure you get your routine run in at any time of the day or night or perhaps you prefer the pace of a walk or stroll along the beach, the heritage sites or simply exploring the city streets. There is so much to experience in the way and the pace that you prefer. If swimming is your thing – then speak to Taru Villas about the seasonality of the beaches to ensure that you are visiting them at the best time to enjoy ocean swims or surfing. Choose the place to go where the tide is best for kids or when the sand, grass or poolside is optimal for working on your tan. If train travel has always seemed appealing, the train routes in Sri Lanka are some of the most beautiful in the world. Take the train to the hill country, through old pine forests and foggy tea estates or along the coast and be blown away. It is also possible to catch a train to the south coast where Taru Villas – The Long House, Taru Villas – The Muse and Taru Villas –Rock Villa  are all perfectly placed, so that when you get off the train you can easily get to the start of your relaxing stay.

No Matter your interests:

  1. Shopperholics
  2. Foodies
  3. Chefs
  4. Adventurers/ Explorers
  5. Surfers
  6. Artists
  7. Respecters of beautiful Architecture and Design
  8. Sightseers

Perhaps you are a keen shopper with a good eye, then Sri Lanka offers both many popular name brands to artisan Sri Lankan handicrafts and contemporary art to take home as a souvenir. If food is more your currency then tuck into a variety of deliciously mysterious Sri Lankan cuisine and its delicacies! From appetizing streetfood to sumptuous 7 course meals, we have something for everyone. If you enjoy learning how to recreate the flavours you have tasted on the Island, then delve into local wares, learn from home-cooks and world-class chefs. You may want to consider some of the Taru Villas ‘Cooking experiences’  or simply travel around the island and be inspired by our fresh and unique produce and cooking practices. However you learn it – becoming a Master Chef is only a trip away.

However you like to capture the moments

  1. Photographers
  2. Video editors
  3. Instagrammers
  4. Writers

Sri Lanka offers so many beautiful backdrops to your memories that no matter your preferred method of capturing these, you will be wanting to share what you have on film or on paper with all those you love. Be prepared for all your social media posts to be well received and ‘liked’. Even the most amateur of photographers and videographers ( their phones as their ‘equipment’ of choice) are able to walk away with a library they can be proud of and recall for a #TBT for years to come.

No matter how many times you have been

  1. First Time Visitors
  2. Returning guests
  3. Diaspora

That’s the thing about Sri Lanka… you just cannot get enough of it. Something about this island keeps drawing you back. Perhaps it is the pace of life here that allows you to stop and smell the spices in the air.  Reuniting with friends that have become family during your last visit.. Taking in the incredible views atop the Sigiriya Rock or watching the sun set on the ramparts of the Galle Fort  – they never lose their splendor. Try Taru Villas -Rampart Street or Taru Villas- Lighthouse Street for that perfect stay in Galle Fort. If you re planning a trip in the latter part of the year, then speak to the team about the possibility of staying at the new addition to the Taru Villas collection – Seventy 7 at Leyn Baan.

Whatever your preferred cuisine is

  1. Curry tasters
  2. Fans of fusion
  3. Lovers of Tea
  4. Cocktail samplers

Traditional Sri Lankan Rice and Curry beloved by locals and visitors alike can be sampled islandwide with taste variations according to locality! Sample rich Jaffna flavors in curries in the North of the Island or even indulge in modern twists on local favourites in Colombo at trending restaurants. Rooftop bars are all the rage in the city or go on a  quirky “local haunts” walking tour and experience some of the local hot spots with lots of character and characters!

Those who like different adventures

  1. Bird Watchers
  2. Groups of Friends travelling together
  3. Reunion attendees
  4. Safari goers
  5. Sports enthusiasts
  6. History buffs

Forbes recently listed Sri Lanka as the next best destination for safaris outside of Africa, where you can spot leopards lazing on low branches or majestic elephants bathing their young at the watering hole. Sri Lanka also is a sweet spot for diving from Nilaveli to Negombo burgeoning with marine life and mysterious old wrecks waiting to be explored.  

Perhaps your idea of heaven is an uninterrupted day out on the links – Sri Lanka is home to three of the finest 18 hole championship Golf courses in Asia.

With local history dating back as early as 547 B.C. expect to find the ruins of old kingdoms, temples and early settlements. 

Oh yeah….. and the citizens of the following countries – all of whom are invited to visit Sri Lanka NOW –  while the Visa on-Arrival fee is being waivered….

  1. Australia
  2. Austria
  3. Belgium
  4. Bulgaria
  5. Cambodia
  6. Canada
  7. China
  8. Croatia
  9. Cyprus
  10. Czech Republic
  11. Denmark
  12. Estonia
  13. Finland
  14. France
  15. Germany
  16. Greece
  17. Hungary
  18. Iceland
  19. India
  20. Ireland
  21. Italy
  22. Japan
  23. Latvia
  24. Lithuania
  25. Luxembourg
  26. Malta
  27. Malaysia
  28. Netherlands
  29. Norway
  30. New Zealand
  31. Philippines
  32. Poland
  33. Portugal
  34. Romania
  35. Russia
  36. Singapore
  37. Slovak Republic
  38. Slovenia
  39. South Korea
  40. Spain
  41. Sweden
  42. Switzerland
  43. Thailand
  44. United Kingdom
  45. United States of America 

It really is the time to come to Sri Lanka!  We look forward to welcoming you soon. 

TARU VILLAS EXPERIENCE

The best boutique hotel experiences in Sri Lanka

Lake Lodge

Location, style and luxury for less

Colombo

Rock Villa

An Enchanting, Tropical Escape

Bentota

The Muse

Inspired Style & Discreet Service

Bentota

The Long House

Exquisite Space & Exceptional Service

Bentota

River Cottage

A Haven of Peace & Privacy

Bentota

Leela Walauwwa

Tranquility in a beautiful colonial Manor house

Induruwa

906

Small is Beautiful at this Perfect Beach Hideaway

Hikkaduwa

Seventy 7 at Leyn Baan

An Oasis in Central Galle Fort

Galle Fort

LightHouse Street

Style and Character in the Heart of Galle Fort

Galle Fort

Rampart Street

Step into Romance & History

Galle Fort

Mawella

Relaxed Charm & The Perfect Ocean Bay

Tangalle

The Tangalle Social

Beach Club Pitstop By Day, Blissful Retreat By Night

Tangalle

Yala Ruhuna

Your Private Jungle Oasis

Yala
Whole Villa Booking

10 reasons to have a Villa Stay holiday in Sri Lanka

10 Reasons to have a Villa Stay Holiday

 What’s the difference between staying at a popular resort versus a beautiful villa in Sri Lanka when you’re on holiday? We’ve got the low-down.

1. Privacy

When you’re finally able to take off work and escape for a few days, you are looking for a decent amount of peace and quiet. Often times, at large hotels in Sri Lanka it is rare to find a spot to yourself, a “little slice of heaven” where you can set yourself down with a good book or just lay down for an undisturbed nap. Given that villas in Sri Lanka have far fewer rooms, you are more likely to enjoy your well-deserved break with few interruptions and end your holiday feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and in most cases wanting to stay an extra night (or two!).

Taru Villas – 906, in Hikkaduwa, and Taru Villas – River Cottage in Bentota, might be the best options for those looking for that added element of privacy as both 2-bedroom villas are sold for the private use of one party.

2. Service

The Service Staff at Villas are trained to anticipate your wants and needs. You don’t have to stress out about shooing away turn-down service while enjoying a long hot bath, and at most boutique villas staff tend to go the extra mile to ensure that you are quite spoiled.

 3. Curated Meals / Customised diets

Dining at Villas are actually one of the finest experiences to have because they tend to personalise their services down to the detail, especially when it comes to food. Dietary restrictions can easily be accommodated, and the food served is always fresh!

Taru Villas – Rock Villa has set the benchmark for the industry with regards to the food that they serve, and this high standard has been upheld at all properties in the Taru Villas collection.

4. Bespoke Activities

Learning how to cook a traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry or a quick surfing lesson can be easily be arranged. Most villas will also have their own bespoke experiences, so be sure to check with the staff to ensure that you don’t miss out.

5. Security – Keeping track of the kids

In order for a family to have fun, it is important that they feel safe in their surroundings. With fewer strangers milling about a much cosier environment, parents can feel more secure about their children moving about the Villa. Villas are also located in secluded, residential locations away from the glitzy, busier parts of town, and staff are always vigilant, especially when kids are around, to ensure that they remain safe.

6. Finding the perfect spot by the pool

Ever zipped across a busy hotel restaurant to the pool area only to find the best sun loungers already taken? That feeling of disappointment is a thing of the past at a Villa. There will always be the perfect spot available to you to luxuriate in the sun while you’re waited on hand and foot.

Taru Villas – The Muse and Taru Villas – Rampart Street each have its beautiful pool set in a tranquil garden setting.

7. Group holidays

Family reunions and spontaneous trips with friends are the best! Depending on how raucous your group could be, taking out a whole Villa is the best way to enjoy the utmost privacy and space to be yourselves and let your hair down.

8. Living among the locals

Villas are typically located in more residential areas, away from the hustle and bustle of town. When you stay at a Villa, venturing outside the compound immerses you in the day-to-day activities of the locals and instantly connecting you with the culture.

9. Flexibility

Staying at a Villa gives you the flexibility of choosing what’s on the itinerary or relishing in not sticking to a schedule at all! Villa staff are ever-willing to accommodate special requests, making your stay more personalized, and inevitably more relaxing.

10. Exclusivity

Villa stays aren’t just luxurious; they are extraordinary. It provides you with a unique way of experiencing the country you’re visiting as well as ensuring that you can do what you want, when you want to.  The photos captured and memories made will be incomparable to the ordinary tourist adventure.

TARU VILLAS EXPERIENCE

The best boutique hotel experiences in Sri Lanka

Lake Lodge

Location, style and luxury for less

Colombo

Rock Villa

An Enchanting, Tropical Escape

Bentota

The Muse

Inspired Style & Discreet Service

Bentota

The Long House

Exquisite Space & Exceptional Service

Bentota

River Cottage

A Haven of Peace & Privacy

Bentota

Leela Walauwwa

Tranquility in a beautiful colonial Manor house

Induruwa

906

Small is Beautiful at this Perfect Beach Hideaway

Hikkaduwa

Seventy 7 at Leyn Baan

An Oasis in Central Galle Fort

Galle Fort

LightHouse Street

Style and Character in the Heart of Galle Fort

Galle Fort

Rampart Street

Step into Romance & History

Galle Fort

Mawella

Relaxed Charm & The Perfect Ocean Bay

Tangalle

The Tangalle Social

Beach Club Pitstop By Day, Blissful Retreat By Night

Tangalle

Yala Ruhuna

Your Private Jungle Oasis

Yala
Whole Villa Booking