With its broad bay bobbing with fishing boats at anchor, Tangalle was once the harbour for the fleets of the Dutch and the British. The town still retains its old world charm and is a perfect destination for those who wish to enjoy a tropical holiday away from the crowds.
Tangalle is home to perhaps the most beautiful beach or rather a series of small beach coves in Sri Lanka. To cater to the visitors, there are a number of upmarket beautiful villas dotting the beaches and the coves.
Tangalle remains relatively low-key compared to the resorts further west. What gives Tangalle added appeal, however, is the number of rewarding attractions in the surrounding countryside. Here are some that you can visit.
Wewurukannala Vihara: 15 miles east of Matara in the town of Dikwella is the Wewurukannala Vihara temple, dominated by an image of a seated Buddha. This 160 feet high statue, the largest statue in all of Sri Lanka, dates back to the eighteenth century. The temple has three parts, the oldest being about 250 years old. The second part houses life size models of demons and sinners depicting what happens when you deviate from the path of righteousness. Finally there is the enormous seated Buddha, which is as high as an eight storey building.
Hoo-maniya blowhole: At the Hoo-manaiya blowhole in Mawella, you can see the warm waters of the Indian Ocean being forced up to a height of 80 feet into the air through underground passages at high tide.
Mulkiirigala: The rock temple of Mulkirigala dates from the 1st century AD. It is the site of Sri Lanka’s ‘Rosetta Stone’ – a series of Pali manuscripts found in the 19th century that provided the key to translate the Mahavansa, the story of Sri Lanka’s earliest history.
Rekawa: The beach at Rekawa is Sri Lanka’s premier site for turtle-watching. It is visited by five different species which lay their eggs in the sand here every night throughout the year.
Goyambokka & Pallikaduwa Twin Bay beaches: Made up of a sequence of beautiful rocky caves, the twin bays to the west of Tangalle town are picturesque upmarket villages. Some of the best villas are located on the hillsides and offer spectacular sea views.
Kalametiya Bird sanctuary: Located 20 kms beyond Tangalle, Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary encompasses an area of coastal lagoons and mangroves which is rich in marine and birdlife.
Mawella: Located in Mawella, 6km west of Tangalla, this stretch of beach is Sri Lanka’s best-kept secret. Away from the busy main road, the wide beach is safe swimming.
Bundala National Park: Located 75 minutes east of Tangalle, the reserve offers great opportunities for bird-watching (with around 150 reported species). The salt pans attract a vast number of migratory shore birds, making this 6,216 hectare park one of the most important wetlands in Sri Lanka.
Uda Walawe National Park: Located at about a 90 minutes drive to the northeast of Tangalle, this is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular national parks, spread across 30,800 hectares. It is best known for its elephants (estimated to number around 400, including six tuskers) and bird-watching opportunities.