Unawatuna is for sure our favorite beach in Sri Lanka as it has everything to attract backpackers: a nice beach, a relaxed and funky atmosphere, many restaurants and hotels overlooking the beach (often too close to the sea by the way), small busy streets lined with restaurants and shops and… rare thing in Sri Lanka, a little bit of nightlife, thanks to a few cafes overlooking the beach run by “beach boys”, locals influenced by the reggae culture… But it remains protected enough from mass tourism, as most tourists are turning instead to Hikkaduwa
WHERE TO STAY AT UNAWATUNA?
We stayed at Peacock Hotel, recommended by Lonely Planet: good location, opposite the beach, but we do not recommend it because the manager was very rude to our Sri Lankan friend. Breakfast is included in the room rate.
As we strolled in the city, we found dormitories at the Restaurant and Bar Pink Elephant (110 Yaddahi Mulla Rd), on the main street, for a few rupees. Certainly the cheapest solution close to the beach! We spent part of our evening in the bar with a very hippie backpackers atmosphere where most consumers smoke chicha.
UPDATE: Since our visit in 2014, Sri Lanka was already quite developed for visitors and Unawatuna has a new hostel that I have heard very positive feedback, particularly loved for its warm atmosphere ! Its name is simply Unawatuna Hostel.
WHAT TO DO IN UNAWATUNA?
- Laying on the beach and swim in the sea.
- All water sports: diving, snorkel …
- Attend a cooking class, they organise it at Happy Spice: you go shopping to buy the right spices, you prepare the meal and then you taste it. We have not tried but we ate in the restaurant and it was fantastic
- The city of Galle and Dutch Fortress is only 15 minutes from Unawatuna. Perfect for a day trip. There are regular buses.
WHERE TO EAT IN UNAWATUNA?
We ate at Happy Spice (Yaddehimulla Road), a delicious rice and spicy curry!
WHERE TO PARTY AT UNAWATUNA?
- Smoke a chicha at the Pink Elephant, a backpackers bar. They also offer dormitory rooms for a cheap price on the second floor! It’s a casual atmosphere, perfect for a pre-evening.
- Find the best bar for the evening according to the day of the week. We were in Unawatuna on a Thursday, so we spent the evening in Chile (147 / A, Yakdehi Mulla Road), one of the bars overlooking the beach run by “beach boys”. You’ll find mostly tourists. They close only when there are still people or not. Music is essentially reggae but the bar owner did not hesitate to give us the control and we could put our own playlist, they even let us go behind bar at the end of the night We had a really good time, but we must admit that there were still not many people!
- Friday is apparently the best day to go to Happy Banana as they organise a disco party, and Saturday is the beach party of Kingfisher that should not be missed. There is as well the Lucky Tuna, located on the beach. On Wednesday and Sunday, the Riddim (Matara Road) organizes parties.