Unawatuna is a little beach town in the southeastern side of Sri Lanka. When I booked our time there it was primarily for diving. I was under the mistaken impression that there was a chance to dive with whales in Unawatuna. This ended up not being the case, in fact we only dove one day because the diving was really not great.
However, we did have a great time in Unawatuna seeing the sights and just enjoying the very chill vibe in town. There are some incredible views of the ocean, and romantic dinners on the beach in Unawatuna which make this town even more endearing.
The first day we toured Galle Fort, which is about a 25 minute ride via tuk-tuk from Unawatuna. The fort was built in the late 1500’s by the Portugese and then extensively fortified by the Dutch in the late 1600’s. It is now a place of entertainment, with snake charmers and other street performers, eating, shopping, touring and houses some very nice hotels. We spent the afternoon there and were quite surprised by how upscale the shops were, and many of the restaurants.
There are beautiful ocean views, monkeys, good food, and some pretty interesting sites. One thing we did notice was the prices are very high here.
If you get hungry there are some good vegetarian restaurants along the way, and also a nice restaurant called Sugar in the Dutch Hospital. We were disappointed in the maritime museum but understand they are trying to rebuild after the tsunami.
We toured a “museum” there which was a huge collection of all kinds of crazy antiques by one jewel dealer. It was pretty cool to see everything he had collected over the years, as well as watch people make lace as they used to, and to show how they cut gems by hand. It was free to enter, but they do try to sell you some jewelry on the way out.
We also spent time in the little shops in the town, and ate at a great beachfront restaurant called Kingfisher, very romantic!
The second day in Unawatuna we dove. As I said earlier I wouldn’t really recommend Unawatuna for diving, it is mostly just rocks and very bad visibility. We did manage to see an octopus though who was quite cool.
One thing we weren’t really prepared for was the stories of the impact of the tsunami on Unawatuna. It pretty much wiped out the entire town when it hit in 2004. Everyone here was affected in some way and while the town has done an amazing job recovering you can still see areas they are working to rebuild. We were especially touched by this sign in one of the restaurants.
The rest of our trip we spent relaxing, enjoying our amazing view of the ocean, and eating yummy wood fired pizza!
The drive from Yala to Unawatuna was really interesting. The government is moving the capital from Colombo to this area and they have rebuilt an entire city here to move the capital. There are also some amazing ocean views along the way. It took us about 4 1/2 hours to get from Yala to Unawatuna with a driver.