Tangalla, also known as Tangalle, has the most perfect beach I have ever seen, with long stretches of white sandy beaches dotted with palm trees. The water is so crystal clear and depending on the sunshine the ocean can turn all shades of blue. You can walk for hours along the coastline and not see a single other tourist! I loved the sound of tropical birds and the breathtaking views of the mangrove lagoons.
Tangalla is located on the south coast of Sri Lanka. The town suffered badly in the devastating tsunami of December 2004, caused by a major earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra. Sri Lanka was the second-worst affected country and in the Tangalle area about 400 people died. Rebuilding has been slow, but Tangalla is now ready to receive more tourists.
Things to do in Tangalla
Observe the Fishermen and Muck in
Tangalla is a regionally important fishing town so it is a must to peek into the local fishermen’s life by observing the boats leaving and returning to the coast with the catch of the day. They highly appreciate it when you muck in to drag the heavy fishing nets out of the water.
Between January and July, several species of marine turtles come ashore at night to lay their eggs in the sand nests. Turtle Watch Rekawa is located about 10 km east of the town. It is a satisfying experience to set off in the middle of the night and be rewarded by seeing a turtle crawling back to the sea if you are lucky.
This astonishing rock temple is a popular excursion from Tangalle, situated about 20 km north of the town. After many steps, you will reach a series of caves with numerous ancient wall paintings and Buddha statues. At the summit, you can set your eyes on the picturesque surrounding countryside. If you have already seen enough temples in Sri Lanka (like I have), you can entertain yourself with the playful monkeys that surround it.
Snorkel or Dive
Learn to Surf
Tangalle Surf School has some great instructors that offer both private and group lessons. Tangalla has excellent waves for advanced surfers, as well as beach breaks ideal for beginners. The best waves are usually found from April till November.
Stroll around Tangalla Market
The centrally located market is a perfect place to mingle with locals and observe their daily life, buy some fresh local products, clothes or ceramics.
Walk along the beach during sunset passing the few small restaurants that serve seafood and enjoy a delicious seafood barbeque.
Where to Stay in Tangalle
There are plenty of accommodation options in Tangalla. We loved our stay at Star Fish Beach Guesthouse which is beautifully located right on the beach. The friendly owner and his wife together with the staff gave us helpful information about the region. The freshly cooked local food is truly delicious. The room was clean and very sunny with a balcony offering ocean views. The guesthouse is very well situated, about 2 km from the bus station. You can either walk or take a tuk-tuk.
Tangalla can be reached from the capital Colombo by bus which takes about six hours. Another option is to take the train to Galle (4h), then continue on the bus.
Where to go next?
From Tangalla you can either go back to Colombo or venture out the major wildlife reserves of Sri Lanka. Yala, Udawalawe and Bundala National Park are respectively 1.5 hours, 1 hour and only a 45 minutes drive. The surf haven of Weligama can be reached in around an hour.