The final stop before our return to Colombo was Galle Fort, a former Dutch colonial fort and a recognised UNESCO Heritage Site. We had arranged to stay for two nights before heading back to the capital for our flight home.
Within the walls of the Fort itself was unlike anywhere else we visited in Sri Lanka. It has much more of Western feel to it, and was far quieter and more relaxing than anywhere else. We spent our first day wandering around the walls, and through the Forts narrow streets, as well finding some time to make friends with the locals!
Overlooked by the walls of the Fort and surrounded on either side by the Indian Ocean is the Galle International Stadium. One of Sri Lanka’s test cricket venues, there can not be many better located cricket grounds in the world. However unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask) there was no cricket of any description being played during our time in Galle.
The Fort walls are dominated by the impressive lighthouse which is still in operation. This overlooks a small beach which seemed to be very popular with the locals, despite the days stormy weather.
Galle also felt more touristy and had an upmarket feel to it compared to other places we visited and while still not expensive, the price of food and drink reflected this. However the choice of cafes and restaurants was also much better, especially in the Old Dutch Hospital, which has been redeveloped into a dining complex. We had some of the best meals of our trip in Galle and would highly recommend visiting both A Minute by Tuk Tuk and Crepology.
We had chosen to stay in Galle due to its proximity to some of the most popular beaches in the Southern Province, and our second day we decided to make the most of this. First up we took the 45 minute bus journey (less hectic this time) to the town of Hikkaduwa.
We took a walk further up the coast to the Hikkaduwa Turtle Sanctuary, located right on the beach. Once outside of the resort centre, the damage along this coast from the 2004 tsunami became far more obvious, and the sanctuary itself had actually been entirely destroyed, with the owner tragically losing their life.
It has been rebuilt and, still run by the same family, it now houses rescued turtles as well as an egg hatchery, with baby turtles looked after until being released into the wild. Entrance was R.500 each, and for this we were given a short guided tour with lots of information about the different types of turtle and dangers they face.
Back in Hikkaduwa, we were disappointed with the beach which was very touristy and overbuilt. It had a bit of a tacky feel to it, which was even more noticable given we had been in Mirissa just a few days before. We didn’t hang around and jumped back on the bus, going back past Galle by around 20 minutes to Unawatuna.
Another one of Sri Lanka’s more developed resorts, the beach at Unawatuna was much quieter. There was still plenty of restaurants and cafes lining the edge of the beach, as well as various water sports on offer including jet-skis.
We decided to spend our final afternoon of the holiday doing some much needed relaxing, taking advantage of the sun loungers on offer at Tartaruga hotel, where we also had a very enjoyable lunch. We were even treated to one more sunset before we headed back to Galle.
The next morning we were up early and ready to travel back to Colombo. On the advice of our host we avoided the local buses, instead taking a privately ran tourist service. While slightly more expensive, this was far quicker and even included the luxury of air-conditioning! A tuktuk from Colombo to the airport and we were on our way home, disappointed to not be staying in Sri Lanka for longer.