The Koggala area is an unhurried area of natural beauty, particularly around the tranquil Koggala River and Lake, the shorelines of which are punctuated with mangroves and rocky outcrops. River safaris in this region can take you to explore the lagoon islands, which include a cinnamon plantation, spice garden and Buddhist temple. The fishing town of Weligama is also a place of interest, especially the tiny and intriguing island of Taprobane, which is able to be hired for complete privacy and island seclusion.
Retaining a sleepy fishing village feel, Mirissa is set further along the coast as one of the prettiest bays on the island; a perfect crescent beach backed by palm trees and vegetation. From here it is possible to enjoy many water-based activities such as sailing, kayaking, surfing, deep-sea fishing, diving and snorkelling. If you are here between the migration season months of December and April, it is also possible to enjoy whale watching tours to see blue whales and, if you are lucky, pods of dolphins that frequent the waters.
The quiet town of Dickwella meaning ‘long bridge’ is mostly known for having the island’s best dive spots, with bright offshore coral and two exciting wrecks to explore – a steam ship and cargo ship. Two kilometres from here in Beliatte is the tallest Buddha statue in Sri Lanka, Wewurukannala Vihara, making it a popular area with pilgrims.
The fishing town of Tangalle is the next important area of interest, with brightly coloured boats along its shoreline and a large beach backed by coconut palms. It is home to the luxurious Amanwella resort which, designed by renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, looks out to the Indian Ocean, flanked by two headlands.
Nearby is the Rekuwa turtle sanctuary, which provides another safe breeding ground for the endangered turtles.