Beautiful palm-fringed beaches, lush jungle, paddy fields, tea estates and of course, a seventeenth century Dutch fortress, are just some of the many fabulous jewels in Galle’s crown. This south coast resort is one of the island’s most popular tourist destinations and its mighty fort, replete with hefty bastions, thick grass-topped ramparts and a collection of striking colonial buildings in all their crumbling, ochre-walled beauty has become one of Sri Lanka’s most photographed attractions. A gentle walk around this colonial landmark is the best way to admire her architectural marvels – buildings in various states of repair dating back to the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British eras. A prominent café culture in the fort means that there are many places to stop for refreshments whilst the jewellery, handlooms and homewares of the fort’s many boutiques make perfect souvenirs for taking home.
Galle’s golden beaches unfold to the north and south of town, with generous sprays of sand filling bays and coves under the shade of exotic leaning coconut palms. Unawatuna Bay, a curve of sand lined with low-key beach restaurants and bars, offers safe swimming year round as does Dalawella Beach, which is more intimate, but similarly well-facilitated. Head further south and you’ll come across near-deserted strips of sand backed by private villas and homes, small beach clubs and boutique hotels where you can lay out your towel and dip your toes in the sea. Watersports in the Galle area include snorkelling, diving, deep-sea fishing, kayaking and surfing.
Inland the scene is luminous green. Lush expanses of carefully tended paddy fields stretch between palm-dominated jungle beneath which sit village homes and Buddhist temples fringed by bright white parapet walls. Guided bicycle rides are the best way to explore the narrow back lanes and bunds of this serene inland wildlife-filled hinterland, and kayaks can also be taken out to explore the narrow canals and waterways of this verdant scene. Further inland, there are rainforests to discover, temples to visit and tea estates to encounter.