highlights and main attractions of the west coast

The area of rock and sand-lined coastline between Colombo and Galle is home to the most developed beach resorts for tourists. Originally discovered in the 1970s when tourism was relatively new to Sri Lanka, it was explored by a favoured few as part of the ‘hippy trail’.

Nowadays there is a mix of smaller villages and larger resort towns that welcome international tourists year-round to their shores to enjoy the wide, sandy beaches and clear waters of the Indian Ocean.

Where is the West Coast?

Where to stay and what to do on the west coast

Immediately south of Colombo along the Galle road you will reach Mount Lavinia, home to the Mount Lavinia hotel, one of the island’s oldest hotels and an iconic monument to the bygone colonial age. Kalutara is the next town, recognised by its giant hollow stupa which rests on the banks of the Kaluganga River. Nearby to here you may also visit Richmond Castle, which demonstrates an interesting fusion of Indian and British architecture.

Beruwela is the next destination you reach along the coast, some 60 kilometres south of Colombo. It marks the start of a stretch of coastline that measures 130 kilometres and was the first Muslim settlement. Arab traders settled here in the 8th Century and the village’s mosque still stands today. The nearby ‘Aluthgama’ is filled with shops and markets selling masks and carvings, local fruit produce, fish and spices.

A little further down the coast is Bentota, which is the largest beach resort in Sri Lanka, offering a range of accommodation from boutique hotels and villas to large five-star hotels as well as opportunities for water sports. Around the beaches of Induruwa and Kosgoda you will find important turtle nesting grounds and hatcheries. Of the eight species of marine turtle in the world, five are able to be found in Sri Lanka, but many of these are endangered.  Located just 3 kilometres south of Bentota bridge, the sea turtle conservation project allows visitors to gain insight into this important conservation aim.

The last important coastal resort along the west coast before reaching Galle is Hikkawduwa and this mellow, laid-back retreat was once a popular spot with backpackers. Its tropical marine life makes it an important diving centre, although much of the offshore reef system has been eroded over time due to ‘El Nino’. Our chosen accommodation Aditya Hotel is close to this area and is a small, intimate and charming base from which to explore the coastline.

Choose one of the beach destinations after your wildlife safari or combine a few for extra coastal activities.

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