Weligama; a popular beach resort and a perky fishing settlement located in the southern end of the paradise island of Sri Lanka. The name of this city, when translated to Sinhala, simply means ‘Sandy Village’. Without fail it lives up to its name with a sandy stretch of beach of about 2 kilometers in length. In a similar manner to all the other beach resorts in the south, Weligama (located in the district of Matara) too is another great spot for surfing in Sri Lanka. It is an ideal spot for novice surfers to learn to ride their first waves. It is not only a beach resort, but is a small town surrounded by coconut and rubber plantations. However, this quiet town is relatively uncrowded and untouched by mass tourism. The Weligama beach is also famous for its stilt fishermen who gather at the beach at daybreak and sundown. These fishermen perched on their vertical poles with crossbars, hard at work; trying to capture small fish by using their fishing rods made out of Bamboo, creates a postcard perfect sight. The sea close by is home to a collection of spectacular marine species. If you happen to be in this quaint fishing town, a boat ride along the bay is a must.
The tiny island in close proximity; Taprobane, is the most alluring and captivating sight of all. It is widely believed that this island was once owned by the exiled French Count de Mauny, and that he built a villa on the premises of this island. At present this villa consists of five suites and also an infinity swimming pool that attracts many tourists for its tropical beauty.
The statue of a king who remains to be unidentified even up to this date (the Leper King statue) stands proudly on the western end of this town. It is also believed to be the statue of the Mahayana Bodhisatva.
Weligama is also home to a snake farm. This snake farm has 15 different kinds of snakes. Pythons can also be found at this popular snake farm located 14 kilometers from Weligama. With proper assistance of the caretakers, visitors can even take some of these snakes in their own hands.
A walk along this uncluttered beach resort of Weligama, will leave you in awe and wonder with its tropical beauty. Weligama is also home to spice gardens, ancient temples, natural sanctuaries and exotic wildlife. With its fair share of ancient temples, Weligama is located in an ideal spot, which makes it a starting point, for journeys to some of the national parks in the vicinity.
The island of Taprobane, located off the shore, houses a villa at present. This villa is believed to have been built by the French Count de Mauny. He is best known as the owner and recreator of this island who stumbled upon it in the 1920s. Since then the ownership of this island has been passed down to a few noted people and the current owner is an Australian businessman by the name Geoffrey Dobbs.
Weligama is also the birth place of the distinguished Buddhist priest; Weligama Sri Sumangala Thero. There are a few historically sites of paramount importance here at Weligama. The Kushta Raja Gala is one such important site. As claimed by experts, this statue is said to be one of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (a person who is bound to be a Buddha in the future). This Bodhisattva is said to have been a renowned healer. However, it has also been stated that this statue is that of a King suffering from a sickness; and was healed by a resident doctor. There are various interpretations of this story.
‘Beeralu lace-making’ initially introduced by the Portuguese, still prevails in this region as a traditional handicraft.
The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and the Tsunami caused by it caused destruction in this area with a death toll of about 470.
How to get there
In order to get to Weligama from Colombo there are various modes of travel.
By road: traveling by taxi or driving to Weligama is the easiest option and it is also a time sparing mode of travel. The route via the Southern Expressway (E01) is the fastest routes because it avoids congestion. This journey to Weligama from Colombo would take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.
By bus: traveling by bus may leave you a little exhausted but if you wish not to splurge, this is one of the most suitable options. The starting point of this journey is the Colombo Bastian Mawatha bus terminal. From there you will have to board a bus bound to Matara. There are many buses traveling frequently on this route. This will take roughly 5 hours and 10 minutes. From the Matara Bus Station, the best option is to taxi to Weligama and it will only take 20 minutes.
By train: the train journey from Colombo Fort to Weligama takes just over 2 hours and is the most inexpensive mode of travel. The train that leaves the station at the station in Colombo will make 7 stops throughout the journey. Some of the major stations at which this train makes stops are Ambalangoda, Hikkaduwa and Galle.
By air: since there are no direct flights to Weligama from Colombo, the best alternative is to fly to the nearest domestic airport; the Koggala Water Aerodrome. There are daily flights from Colombo to Koggala. This is the fastest but the most costly mode of travel.
From Ella: flying is the easiest and fastest mode of travel if you wish to splurge. The first option when flying is to taxi to Hatton before boarding a flight to Koggala, and taxiing to Weligama. The next option is to taxi to Hambantota and board a flight to either Dickwella or Koggala. Again you’d have to taxi the small distance to Weligana from these locations. An alternative mode of travel is driving or taxiing and it takes just over four hours. The fastest route that avoids congestion to a large degree is the Colombo- Galle- Hambantota- Wellawaya road. If you wish to utilize the readily available public transport facilities the possible options are to travel by train or bus. The train journey can be a bit tedious because it takes nearly 13 hours. The train from Ella will arrive at Colombo fort before resuming the journey to Weligama. If you choose to travel by bus, you will have to taxi to Wellawaya. From there you can catch a bus bound to Matara and taxi to Weligama from there.
From Dickwella: when traveling from Dickwella to Weligama, the modes of transport available are very limited. There are only two options to choose from. The first option would be to fly Koggala and taxi to Weligama. The alternative would be to drive or taxi to Weligama via the Colombo- Galle- Hambantota- Wellawaya road (A2). When traveling by road another route that can be taken is via Weligama- Telijjawela road (B466).
Vehicle and taxi arrangements or flight bookings can be made for you by our tour consultants at Epic Sri Lanka Holidays.
The temperature in Weligama is very similar to the temperatures of the other beach resorts in the South. Average temperatures in Weligama vary very rarely and ranges between 25 degree Celsius and 31 degree Celsius. This area receives more tourists between the months of December and March.
Food and drink
Weligama has made a name for itself as a result of the incredible food served here; especially seafood. There are many restaurants that offer cheap eats and fine dining facilities. Some popular restaurants among visitors that are said to provide mouth wateringly delicious food are the’ W15’, ‘Aloha Home and Kitchen’, ‘Meewitha Cool Spot’, ‘AVM Cream House’, ‘Weligama Rotti shop’, ‘Sealine Restaurant’, ‘Fishpoint Weligama’, ‘Nomad Café Boutique’, ‘Ceylon Sliders’ and ‘Soul Café’. Dining at a few of these restaurants will be a treat to your taste buds.
Diving and Snorkelling in Weligama: The bay of Weligama is an ideal spot for snorkeling. The shallow reefs and rock formations are home to a variety of fish and marine species. Noted dive sites in Weligama are the Prince Heinrich Patch, Bridge Rock and the Yala Rock
Surfing in Weligama: this is the perfect spot in Sri Lanka for all you novice surfers to catch your first waves and learn how to surf. Advanced surfers can surf near the coral reef called Gurubebila.
Whale and Dolphin watching in Mirissa: Mirissa is undeniably the best place to watch whales and dolphins while in Sri Lanka because they flock together in this area (in order to breed in these warm waters). The whale watching season starts in November and continues till April; when the ocean is calmer. 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.
Kushta Raja Gala: There are various folk stories about this statue. While some claim that it is indeed a statue of Bodhistva Avalokitesvara, some others state that it is of a foreign King who had once suffered from a skin disease. The identity of this King has not been identified even up to this date. However, experts confirm that this is a statue of a Bodhisatva (a person who is to become a Buddha in the future).
Dutch Star Fort: located in the city of Matara, this fort got its name because it has the shape of a six pointed star. The Dutch, who took control of the Matara fort in 1763 A.D, from the Sinhalese, constructed the Dutch Star Fort as a structure that could be used to protect the main fort. It was also used as a place to deploy troops of the Dutch Army. Unfortunately for the Dutch, this Fort went into the hands of the British in 1796. In 1980, the Archaeological Department declared the Star Fort as an Archaeological Reserve.
Weligama beach: in Sinhala, the name Weligama means ‘Sandy Village’. When you visit the beach of Weligama you will realize the aptness of this name because of the sandy bay. This beach is quiet and peaceful because Weligama is a less travelled to beach resort. You can loosen up, unwind and just enjoy the sun and sand. If you are an adrenaline junkie you can engage in surfing, snorkeling or diving.
Midigama Beach: this beach is a well-known surf spot and there are five consistent surf breaks; plantation point, coconut point, Ram’s right (the best surf break), Lazy left and lazy right. All five of these surf breaks are located in close proximity to each other.
Snake farm: a visit to the snake farm/ snake conservation center just 12 kilometers north of Mirissa is a must. It is home to both venomous and non-venomous snakes. The crew at this farm provides detailed explanations about each one of these snakes before releasing the snakes (do not be alarmed because they follow necessary precautions and guidelines), so that visitors can observe their behavioral patterns.
Stilt fishermen: It is a beautiful sight to see the fishermen perched on the vertical poles with crossbars, hard at work; trying to capture small fish by using their fishing rods made out of Bamboo. Stilt fishing is done in the early morning and in the late afternoon, because the fish are said to come close to the shore in the morning and go back to the deep sea during sundown.
Dondra Lighthouse: this lighthouse located on the southernmost point of Sri Lanka (Dondra Head/ Devinuwara) happens to be the tallest lighthouse in Sri Lanka and one of the tallest lighthouses in South East Asia. The octagon shaped lighthouse is 49 meters in height and consists of seven floors and 196 steps to the top of the lighthouse. The Sri Lanka Ports Authority is in charge of the operation and maintenance of the Dondra Lighthouse.
Turtle watch Rekawa: Rekawa is situated in the vicinity of Weligama and offers the opportunity to watch sea turtles coming on to the shore to lay eggs. Out of the seven marine turtle species found in the world, five are found in Sri Lanka (Olive Ridley, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Green Turtle and Leatherback). The Rekawa Turtle Watch is a conservation program initiated with the intention of taking care of these turtles and their eggs.
Taprobane Island: a privately owned island with just one villa, was first built by the French Count de Mauny. He stumbled upon this utopia after a long but futile search around the world for a paradise on earth. The island then passed onto the hands of Paul Bowles; an American novelist who fell in love with the beauty of this island after a visit. After that the ownership passed onto a former United Nations Chief Prosecutor Sir Desmond Lorenz de Silva who was a Sri Lankan born, before ending up in the hands of the current owner Geoffrey Dobbs. Many authors, musicians and composers have visited this villa.