Situated approximately 5km away from Galle and 108km away from Colombo, Unawatuna is yet another coastal town popular for its beach, corals and rich biodiversity. This small town is filled with shops, restaurants, hotels and chic cafes. The breathtakingly scenic semicircular stretch of coast with palm trees and the serene atmosphere makes Unawatuna the perfect place for swimming and relaxing. Many species of native birds and a wide variety of turtles and fish have also been spotted in Unawatuna. With Unawatuna being a major diving attraction, there are diving schools with instructors, to guarantee visitors a memorable diving experience. Divers can also explore ship wrecks and the Rumassala coral reefs that are in close vicinity. Snorkeling is also an exhilarating activity in Unawatuna. Snorkeling equipment can either be bought or rented out from places nearby. Yet another popular activity is whale watching in Mirissa; a city located in close proximity to Unawatuna, where both dolphins and whales get together because of the ideal warm coastal conditions.
The scenic and enthralling Unawatuna beach with its sandy shores, restaurants and cafes lined alongside the palm trees, is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The Jungle Beach is a perfect spot for an unforgettable snorkeling experience. It is also the place to be if you wish to do nothing but swim, relax and just savor the moment since this beach is uncluttered. The Dalawella beach is yet another beach in Unawatuna that has gained popularity mainly for its palm tree rope swing (the Insta-worthy swing), in which you can fly towards the Indian Ocean.
The Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya is one of the oldest rock temples in our country and is believed to have been built about 2300 years ago. There is a vast terrace that provides a panoramic view of the whole area. The Wella Devalaya is another religious site.
As claimed by the Ramayana (an Indian Epic poem), the Rumassala hill and the surrounding area is said to be a part of the Himalayan mountain range. The forest and the surrounding area is home to various species of flora and fauna. On top of the hill, there is a Buddhist temple known as the Japanese Peace Pagoda built with the assistance of the Japanese.
If you do not wish to engage in water sports, you have the possibility of exploring areas like Galle, Hikkaduwa, Bentota and other places in the vicinity.
This bay, protected by coral reefs is without a shadow of doubt, a place where you can enjoy the sun, surf and sand. The atmosphere in Unawatuna is buoyant and lively, however it is not as wild as the atmosphere in Hikkaduwa.
According to myths, when Hanuman (the monkey warrior) was sent to Himalaya in India to fetch medicinal herbs in order to treat Lakshman who was wounded after engaging in battle with the Sri Lankan King Ravana, in order to save Princess Sita. Since he was unable to identify these medicinal herbs, he thereby lifted a chunk of the entire mountain and came back. On the way back, this chunk of the Himalayan mountain range had accidentally fallen down in Unawatuna. Accordingly, the name ‘Una-watuna’ is said to have been derived from the meaning ‘fell down’.
An alternate mythology is that a banished Prince from India who was shipwrecked headed to Unawatuna. Then the Goddess of chastity, Pattini, is said to have created a wall of fire in order to restrict him from coming ashore. However, this prince had set in motion a tsunami to extinguish the fire and reached the shores of Unawatuna and since then he had lived in Unawatuna while assisting the locals in possible ways. Now he is being venerated and worshipped and Unawatuna is believed to be the abode of the Devol deity.
The devastation caused by the Boxing Day Tsunami affected Unawatuna greatly. It has been duly restored at present. Inconsiderate development activities too have caused a lot of damage and erosion, which in result has caused an enormous loss of sand from the beaches. Since then, actions had been taken to improve this situation and is in much better condition in the time being.
How to Get There
There are several modes of transport available in order to reach Unawatuna from Colombo.
By road: the drive from Colombo to Unawatuna takes approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes and covers a distance of 131 kilometers. For this you have to take the Southern Expressway (E01). You could either hire a vehicle, and drive, or taxi; which is the most relaxed mode of travel.
By bus: if you are hoping to travel to Unawatuna by bus, the entire journey would take a little over 4 hours. Buses leave the terminal every two hours. Once you board the bus at the Colombo Bastian Mawatha bus terminal, you can reach the bus station at Galle within 4 hours. After getting down at Galle the best option would be to taxi the short distance to Unawatuna.
By train: if you are looking for the most economical mode of travel, then travelling by train is the most suitable option. With trains leaving the station thrice a day, it is an easy mode of travel. The train journey from Colombo fort to Unawatuna takes just about 2 hours and 50 minutes and makes stops at 15 stations. Some of the main stations at which this train stops are Dehiwala, Moratuwa, Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Galle and finally Unawatuna.
By air: since there aren’t any direct flights from Colombo to Galle, the best option is to catch a flight to Koggala from Colombo. This flight operated by Cinnamon Air, would make a short stop at Dickwella, before arriving at Koggala. After arriving at Koggala, you will have to take a taxi to go to Unawatuna.
From Kataragama: in order to reach Unawatuna from Kataragama, you can either fly, drive or taxi, take the train or catch a bus. The easiest mode of travel is flying, and there are many alternative flights that can be taken. The first option would be to taxi to Weerawila or Hambantota, and board a flight to Koggala from either one of these locations. From Koggala, you’d have to taxi to Unawatuna. Another option is to fly to Dickwella from Hambantota and then taxi to Unawatuna. The other effortless mode of travel is to taxi or drive to Unawatuna from Kataragama. The journey would take only 3 and a half hours. Since there aren’t direct trains going from Kataragama to Unawatuna, you’d have to take a catch a bus (no 32) to Colombo and then take the train to Unawatuna. If you wish to travel by bus itself, you’d have to catch the bus bound to Galle; bus no. 32-1, and then taxi to Unawatuna. However travelling by bus and train takes more than half a day and would leave you exhausted.
From Galle: the short distance between Galle and Unawatuna can be covered in just 15-20 minutes via the Colombo-Galle-Hambantota-Wellawaya road (A2). Another possible option is to travel by train.
Vehicle and taxi arrangements or flight bookings can be made for you by our tour consultants at Epic Sri Lanka Holidays.
Like all of the other southern coastal resorts, Unawatuna too is a year round destination. However, the best times to visit Unawatuna is from July to September and from December to April. The temperature in Unawatuna ranges between 25 degrees Celsius and 31 degrees Celsius.
Food and Drink
The food available in Unawatuna extend from local cuisine to international cuisine. There are a plethora of restaurants that offer street food, mid-range and fine dining. Restaurants with excellent tourist reviews in Unawatuna are ‘Bedspace Kitchen’, ‘Bedspace Beach’, ‘Kingfisher restaurant’, ‘Dreamhouse’, ‘Mati Gedara’, ‘Roti shop’, ‘Sunrise seafood restaurant’, ‘Hot Rock’, ‘Jina’s Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant’, ‘mmmh Sucre and Sale’, ‘the Shack Beach Café’, ‘Pink Elephant’ and ‘Le Café Francais Bakery and Boutique’.
The Unawatuna Beach– this picturesque beach with its golden sandy shores and wondrous blue water, with restaurants and cafes lined up along the shores has become a popular seaside resort among both tourists and locals. This beach is a famous spot for not only swimming, but also for snorkeling and diving.
The Jungle Beach– secluded from the eyes of visitors; this beach is a hidden paradise, and the ideal place for snorkeling. Since this beach is not as crowded as the main beach, it is more tranquil and calm.
Dalawella beach and the Palm Tree Rope Swing– irrefutably, this beach is the most instagrammed place in all of Sri Lanka. This beach has gained popularity and visitors from all over because of the palm tree rope swing or the ‘Insta-worthy swing’.
Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya– this temple is believed to have been built about 2300 years ago and is considered as one of the oldest rock temples in our country. Vibrant and colorful murals depicting certain events in the life of the Lord Buddha too can be seen in this temple.
Rumassala and the Japanese Peace Pagoda– the Rumassala hill and the surrounding area is said to be a part of the Himalayan mountain range, as claimed by the Ramayana (an Indian Epic poem). The Japanese Peace Pagoda at the top of the hill has been built with the assistance of the Japanese.
Sea Turtle Hatchery- this is an organization that has been established in order to conserve turtles from poachers and also to prevent their extinction. Visitors may get the opportunity to set them free by releasing them to the ocean.
Lagoon canoeing at Unawatuna: the popular beach resort of Unawatuna is blessed with a lagoon and canoeing is the best way to explore and admire the beauty of the lagoon. During this canoeing trip one can witness the changes in the landscapes and also admire the variety of flora and fauna
Food culture at Unawatuna: one of the best things to do while in Sri Lanka is to try out the amazing sea food and what better place better than Unawatuna to do so. There are many cafes and seaside restaurants in Unawatuna that serves delicious seafood dishes and thus offers a plenty of options for you to choose. The hot favourite here is the ‘Rotti Shop’ that have drawn many tourists.
Whale watching in Mirissa– Mirissa is undeniably the best place to watch whales and dolphins while in Sri Lanka. Whale watching is a thrilling and exciting activity to engage in, as it provides the opportunity to witness these marine creatures in their natural habitats.