Visiting Unawatuna and Galle in Sri Lanka

September 16, 2016
Unawatuna- Rachael, Scott, and I arrived in Unawatuna after having spent five days in paradise at the Sun Island Resort in the Maldives. Since everything on the resort was so expensive--almost $5 USD for a liter of water and cocktails that were about $15 each, we were so excited to be in a cheaper place. Also, in the Maldives, we just had to eat at the same place for most of our meals. Don't get me wrong, the food was good, but one of my favorite things about traveling is discovering new restaurants, which Unawatuna was perfect for! In fact, on our first full day, the very first thing we did was go shopping and then we stopped at a fruit juice stand. Fresh fruit was abundant in Sri Lanka! Usually I struggle and fail to eat the recommended daily serving of fruit, but not so in Sri Lanka. Scott and I said we felt so healthy there because we were eating so well, getting enough sleep, and didn't really have any responsibilities (so the ideal vacation). 


As far as the shopping was concerned, besides clothes and trinkets, there were so many jewelry shops selling pieces made of moonstone, rose quartz, topaz, and rubies. The list goes on. We all bought jewelry at some point, as we found some nice items to give as gifts to our friends and relatives.

For the clothes, I couldn't really find anything that fit me. Almost everything seemed like it was for someone tiny, or at least someone tinier than me (99% of all women), so I bought my petite friend some printed pants. One of the shop owners said she could tailor a dress for me, but when I tried it on, it looked so terrible. It seriously looked like I was wearing a sack, and I left it behind in the guest house because it wasn't even worth taking it with me. At least it only cost me $7 and we all got a good laugh out of it.


Rachael and I wanted to try an Ayurvedic massage, so we stopped by Kahuna Club. We both have to say that our massage experience was unlike any other. One portion of the massage was called Shirodhara, which our masseurs kept referring to as the third eye oil massage. Basically there is a funnel like contraption placed over your head while you're lying down. Oil drips from this onto your forehead and then it seeps down to your scalp. The speed at which the oil drips can be controlled, at least mine was! I have to say that it was pretty relaxing, and the oil is supposed to be good for your scalp and hair. For the last part of my massage, I went into what Rachael and I describe as a "hot coffin." Your head does stick out the top part of it, and then the "door" is closed over the rest of your body. It gets so hot and you are supposed to sweat out all of your toxins that way, similar to what happens in a sauna.



Of course we also had to have a beach day since that is the main thing to do in Unawatuna. There are a bunch of beach chairs owned by different restaurants. If you order food and drinks, then the owner will let you sit in the chairs "for free." (Even though it's not really free). It was fine though because we enjoy a good cocktail now and then. The beach was nice, but a bit crowded, or at least we thought so. However, we had just come from the Maldives where there were just a few/no other people on the beaches we went to. Anyway, we liked it there, but just go in knowing that there will be many other tourists and the locals will come around and try to sell you stuff.


Another attraction to go take a look at are the fisherman who sit on stilts to fish. This way of fishing is dying out, and nowadays the fishermen make you pay money if you take a picture of them fishing, but it's still worth a look, in my opinion.


For Food in Unawatuna

Roti Shop: We stopped here for a snack to take with us on our way to the beach, although there is seating inside. You just select your filling, and they're fried up right in front of you. Both sweet and savory options are available. Some of the choices I remember were: honey, banana, chocolate, mushroom, tomato, cheese, etc. Of course you could get combinations of those, too. Highly recommended for an inexpensive meal or snack.


Shifting Sands Cafe: The vibe of this restaurant is what got me. It's so relaxing in there, which is good because like most places in Sri Lanka, there will be a long wait to get your food. We got used to that, and just enjoyed each other's company and conversation while waiting. I got the prawn sandwich, and all three of us were very happy with our food. The food was reasonably priced and freshly made.


Pink Elephant: This was a place that the expat owners of our guesthouse recommended to us. We figured we could trust their judgement since they lived there for so many years, and they were right. I had a very delicious spicy prawn cream curry with banana fritters for dessert. Actually, I think this was my favorite meal in Sri Lanka.

Koha Surf Cafe and Lounge: We had dinner here one night after browsing the menu and liking the selection of food that was offered. I got a vegetarian chickpea burger that was tasty. We sat near the front of the restaurant, so it was a good spot to people watch as others passed by on the street. It's just a nice place to chill and have a decent meal.



Galle- We visited Galle (pronounced "Gawl") on a day trip from Unawatuna. I recommend either doing this or else staying in Galle and going on a day trip to Unawatuna, depending on your preferences. The two towns are only about 6 kilometers apart, and we didn't want to bother with changing accommodation, so that was part of the reason why we just took a day trip. It was very easy to get from one place to the other, and we went by tuk tuk. We didn't book it in advance, although you can. It was easy enough to just hail a tuk tuk and then ask the driver to take us.  We didn't have any problems on the way up or back, and it was 400 rupees each way.

The city used to be controlled by the Portuguese, and then the Dutch took over. The architecture of the city reflects this, and the city itself is surrounded by a fort. We strolled along the fort and took in the views first. Then, we stopped for a bite to eat at The Hammock Cafe. The cafe lives up to its name and is full of hammocks to sit on while you have your meal! I had a Hawaiian salad served inside of a hollowed out pineapple.





We walked up and down streets to check out the sights and do some shopping in some of the boutiques.  Again, there were a lot of gem and jewelry shops. We also all purchased items at a shop that sold handmade goods completely made by women, and some of the profits went back to them. All three of us also bought different types of Sri Lankan tea in a tea shop.




We walked around town a bit more, stopped for some gelato, and then headed down to take a look at the lighthouse.


Where We Stayed

Palm Grove- Scott picked this guesthouse for us based on Trip Advisor reviews. The owners were nice and the staff was attentive and professional. We really liked the rooftop area, as it was a relaxing place to chill out. Scott spent a few hours up there just reading. To be honest, my favorite thing about staying there was the breakfast! A lot of places didn't have stellar coffee, but Palm Grove's coffee hit the spot. We were brought several different types of fruit, coffee or tea, freshly baked bread with butter, and one day I added on pancakes. The rooms were clean, but our room was so hot and stuffy, even though we had A/C and a fan going. You might think, "Well, it's Sri Lanka, so it's going to be like that everywhere," but other places we stayed in got quite cool with the A/C. It wasn't that big of a  deal once we got used to it, but on the first night, I had trouble sleeping. The location was also good, as there were tons of restaurants and shops nearby and the beach was within walking distance, too.



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