This is a beachcomber’s paradise. A coastline of narrow coves, long sandy beaches and rocky outcrops make the Tangalle area the place to come for true beach escapes.A holiday in Tangalle is worth the trek. Not least because the best luxury hotels have set up shop here.
Tangalle is located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka and is a couple of hours drive east of Galle. The highway stops an hour or so short so Tangalle has the laid back feeling of a town that hasn’t yet had the tourist boom. The town itself is authentically Sri Lankan and a little unremarkable. But its beaches and hinterland are spectacular.
The hotels in Tangalle have changed beyond recognition in recent years. There has been an explosion of accommodation on this once remote shoreline. Luxury hotels in Tangalle are now plentiful with some big names on the scene. However, as always, we just love those smaller boutique hotels in Sri Lanka that deliver excellence in spades. The Sri Lanka boutique hotel scene is unlike any other in the region and our chosen hotels in Tangalle are amongst our favourites.
Fishing for compliments
Unlike in more developed parts of Sri Lanka, the beaches around Tangalle are not only light on tourist hordes but they are still home to pockets of fishing communities. You’ll find pretty harbours behind breakwaters full of fantastically coloured boats with flags fluttering in the wind during the daily spectacle of the fishermen hauling their nets onto the beaches. We’ve seen huge tunas, barracuda, mahi mahi and no end of red snappers being landed.
If you only do three things in Tangalle…
- The beach! The coastline around Tangalle is littered with sandy coves and swaying palm trees so take your sunhat and favourite book for a slice of heaven.
- If you have the energy, take a ride into Tangalle town. It is still geared up for locals, so you’ll find it charming and uncommercialised.
- Want a chance of glimpsing the world’s largest mammal, the Blue Whale? Take a whale-watching trip a few kilometers out. You’ll almost certainly see bottlenosed and spinner dolphins.
But Tangalle isn’t just about beaches. Inland, the dense jungle is interspersed with vibrant villages and lush paddyfields. Communities continue the way of life their ancestors lived for generations. This part of Sri Lanka is still authentic but get in soon as things are scheduled to change with the construction of a new highway.
Out and about
Venture a little further west down the coast from Tangalle and you will come to Dondra Head, the most southerly tip of Sri Lanka. If you were to plot a course due south of here, the next land mass you would hit would be… Antarctica. Dondra lighthouse was constructed by the British in 1887. It still functions proud today, although the signalling units are now electric. It’s worth climbing to the top on the narrow steel staircases (manufactured in Birmingham) for magnificent views.
A little further lies the city of Matara. It’s a sprawling major commercial hub, providing a fascinating window into modern-day Sri Lankan life. Interestingly, it completely lacks tourist infrastructure. However, the star-shaped fort of Matara is reasonably well preserved (although not a patch on Galle). In front of it lies Pigeon Island. It is picturesque and accessed via a cable footbridge if you’d like to wander around the relatively modern Buddhist temple.
Eating and Drinking
There is a whole raft of beachfront restaurants and shacks around Tangalle, all pretty similar in appearance and service. The fresh seafood is reliably decent and, of course, rice and curry can be found in abundance.
Inevitably, the best restaurants are found in the Yonder hotel shortlist. Given that you’ll probably be in the Tangalle area for rest and relaxation after a few days on the road, or simply escaping work headaches back home, why not just kick back and enjoy the superb service and food in your chosen hotel? You know it makes sense.
Thoughts on a postcard
We laughed about our efforts to create the perfect holiday shot. The iPhone was on timer on a piece of driftwood and we stood in the white foam, with an untouched bay and turquoise ocean as our backdrop. Say cheese!
OUR FAVOURITE PLACESEast Coast / Tangalle / Gal Oya National Park / Yala National Park / Uda Walawe National Park / Tea Country / Jaffna / Cultural Triangle / Kandy / Galle and the southern beaches / Colombo /
Tangalle : The map
Our Escapologists only recommend hand-picked, delectable properties we have sampled and savoured ourselves. We judge all our hotels by their excellence, the sheer hedonistic pleasures they have to offer. And we reject a lot that don’t meet our exacting standards.
Some of our selections are classics, with reputations recognised the world over. Others are discoveries: boutique havens where hospitality, relaxation and fine cuisine have been distilled into a rare art form. You’ll find a few options for the budget conscious too, where Yonder’s principles are still to the fore. And for those who just need an airport stopover on their way to paradise, there’s one or two convenience choices, too.
We provide in-depth descriptions of every property, based upon our own experiences there, along with our unique Yonder rating and icons that will give you further insights into what’s on offer. We even tell you the types of clientele you might soon be rubbing shoulders with!
Now that’s choosing a hotel Yonder style!
Here at Yonder we have devised some exciting itineraries that will illustrate just what amazing journeys you could enjoy through Yonder’s exciting far-away destinations. Of course every one of Yonder’s clients is a unique individual and we only create personalised itineraries that reflect those personal desires and wishes. So your Yonder journey will be as individual as you are.
But to help you envisage just what amazing adventures might be possible, we have devised sample itineraries that we are confident will inspire you. You only have to pick up the phone to explore how any one of these ideas might be adapted to create your own perfect journey Yonder.