Unawatuna is a small beach resort village in Southern Sri Lanka located 5km east of Galle. It is one of the most popular beach destinations in the country for its calm waters, golden sand and palm trees.
How to get there: there are 3 daily trains from Colombo to Unawatuna leaving Colombo Fort Station at 6:55, 14:25 and 18:05 and reaching Unawatuna in about 4 hours. Find more info via this link:
Where to stay: Dunes Unawatuna Hotel was an excellent choice, however, the prices have increased in the last two years and the cheapest room costs now 55€ per night including breakfast (I paid about 30€ when I stayed there in January 2016). The owners are super helpful and friendly, and the breakfast was the best I had in the country with Ceylon tea, fresh fruit, juices, egg hoppers and other traditional Sri Lankan dishes of your choice. They have books to exchange and provide towels, mosquito repellent and sun-block cream.
Things to do:
Swimming and sunbathing in Unawatuna beach
Unlike most beaches of the south which are famous for surfers, Unawatuna water is relatively calm and perfect for swimming and sunbathing. There are plenty of budget restaurants and bars along the beach to enjoy a bite to eat or a cold Lion beer. I found the sunrise from Unawatuna pretty magical, when the beach still cool and empty.
Visit the Japanese Peace Pagoda
The Japanese Peace Pagoda is located on a hill about 2 km from Unawatuna, walking distance from the beach town. This impressive pagoda was a gift from the Japanese Buddhist monks to give peace during the Sri Lankan civil war in 2005. Local tradition associates this hill with some events of Ramayana, one of the great Hindu epics. The views of the bay make this amazing pagoda an excellent viewpoint, specially at sunset.
Relax in Jungle beach
Jungle Beach is a small sheltered bay lost in the jungle, about 3 km from Unawatuna. This is the best place in the area for snorkelling for its calm currents and clear water. You can either get there by boat, tuk-tuk or following the path to the Japanese Peace Pagoda, continuing along the track towards the sea. I walked there twice, and it takes no longer than 40 min from Unawatuna.
Day trip to Galle
Galle is the capital of the Southern Province of Sri Lanka and a UNESCO world heritage site for its Portuguese and Dutch colonial architecture. This fortified city was heavily damaged during the 2004 tsunami but was rebuilt by 2007. You can get to Galle from Unawatuna by tuk tuk, public bus or by train (there are 7 daily trains that go along the coast and take about 12 min). Once in Galle, don´t miss the Lighthouse, the city walls, Kalutara temple and the colonial buildings.