Unawatuna, in my opinion, should be renamed to Hakuna Matata! This coastal village on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast has to be one of the most beautiful places I have come across and indeed I felt as if there were no worries.
I have put this complete guide of the 8 Best Things To Do In Unawatuna to help you plan your trip ahead of time.
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HOW TO GET TO UNAWATUNA?
The local buses are by far the cheapest and most convenient means of transport between destinations in Sri Lanka.
I personally took a bus from Hikkaduwa to Unawatuna Beach which takes around one hour and the cost is 50 Rupees.
The buses are clearly labeled in English on the front windscreen of the location they are headed. Make sure you hold on tight because the bus drivers in Sri Lanka are the craziest drivers I have ever seen.
8 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN UNAWATUNA SRI LANKA
JUNGLE BEACH UNAWATUNA
If getting off the beaten path is your thing, then I know just the spot for you! Make your way over to Jungle Beach on foot, which is on the opposite side of the headland from Unawatuna Beach.
There is a dirt trail that leads you towards Jungle Beach. You will come across a fork in the trail, the trail to the north is an easy walk through the bush and over to the other side of the headland emerging at the beach.
The second trail will take you down to some small, rocky cliffs on the seaside. This is the off-beaten path I was talking about. From here you can scale around the boulders and over rock pools, eventually emerging at Jungle Beach.
This tucked-away beach is a great spot for a swim and one of the best things to do in Unawatuna. There is also a bar and restaurant on the sand under the palms to enjoy some food and drinks!
Jungle Beach Unawatuna
BEST TOURS IN SRI LANKA
JAPANESE PEACE PAGODA
Direct your gaze up on top of the headland and you will spot a big white sculpture, standing tall above the trees, that is in the shape of a bell. This is, in fact, the famous Japanese Peace Pagoda.
A Buddhist stupa to inspire peace among all races. There is no entrance fee to visit the Japanese Peace Pagoda, though please be respectful, wear suitable clothing and take off your shoes when wandering around the sacred site.
Tip: If you visit here in the late afternoon you will be blessed with an amazing view of the sunset.
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Japanese Peace Pagoda
Take a day trip to Galle and visit the old Dutch Fort which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Galle Fort is a historical, archaeological, and architectural heritage monument. The Galle Fort even withstood the 2004 boxing day tsunami.
Galle is located 15-minutes north of Unawatuna Beach. The best way to get to Galle Fort is to jump in a tuk-tuk or rent a scooter for approximately 1000 Rupees per day.
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On the outer walls of Galle Fort is the Galle Lighthouse. Discover the old lighthouse down by the water which is surrounded by palm trees and beautiful beaches.
The Galle Lighthouse is another great viewpoint for sunset and not to be missed.
DALAWELLA BEACH PALM TREE SWING
2km south of Unawatuna Beach is Dalawella Beach. This spot is up there with one of the most beautiful stretches of beach I have been to. A palm tree oasis, golden sands, and electric blue water await, so be sure to add it to your list of things to do!
This is also where you can find the Instafamous Palm Tree Rope Swing on Dalawella Beach. This palm tree rope swing blew up on Instagram and it’s now the reason why some people are visiting Sri Lanka just to have a turn!
Full Blog Post → Dalawella Beach Swing
Palm Tree Rope Swing
LOCAL STREET FOOD
Cafe’s and seaside restaurants fill up the seaside town. During the high season, December to March, the prices for food and drinks are around 1000 Rupees ($10) for a meal and 500 Rupees ($5) for a beer.
If you are a budget traveler like myself and want to spend 250 Rupees ($2.50) on a meal, try one of the local street food vendors and order a plate of Kottu Roti. A traditional Sri Lankan dish with roti, vegetables, egg, and spices. It is considered the equivalent of a hamburger, in terms of popularity and a personal favorite of mine.
Local street food
There a number of Yoga studios for those yogis out there and also for people who have never tried yoga and are willing to give it a go. Daily yoga classes are available at Thambapanni Retreat, Yoga With Asiri, Sri Yoga Shala, and The Secret Garden Dome.
I attended a yoga class at The Secret Garden Dome and it was one of the best experiences to relax and unwind after a few days of adventuring.
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Early morning yoga class
Yatagala Rajamaha Viharaya is about 4kms east of Unawatuna. A 2300-year-old Buddhist place of worship. The temple is made up of 4 huge granite boulders that create a natural cave that is used as a meditation hall. Newer developments include a peace pagoda stupa and a giant Buddha statue.
I spent one hour exploring the Yatagala Temple and I highly recommend adding it to your list of things to do.
WHERE TO STAY
There are hundreds of homestays, private villas, and beach resorts to choose from in Unawatuna, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the places to stay to suit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: Thaproban Pavilion Waves
The best 5-star resort in the area! Thaproban Pavilion Waves offers beachfront accommodation, an outdoor swimming pool, sun terrace, a bar, billiards table, and dartboard. The rooms are modern and fitted with air-conditioning, flat-screen tv, equipped kitchen, seating area, and private bathroom. American or Asian breakfast is included.
Mid Range: La Villa
I personally stayed at La Villa and highly recommend this accommodation. The staff are very friendly and great cooks. The rooms are spacious, comfortable, air-conditioned, private ensuite and free wifi is available. The staff can help you organize snorkeling trips and other activities. Perfect for couples and friends traveling on a budget.
Budget: Green Gecko Hostel
The best and cheapest hostel! The Green Gecko Hostel has dorm rooms available with a shared bathroom. The property has free wifi and a buffet breakfast is included for guests. Perfect place to stay for solo travelers and friends.
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Another option for accommodation is to stay at an Airbnb, which generally has some great deals in the area.
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MORE SRI LANKA TRAVEL GUIDES
Sri Lank Travel Guide: 2 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary
Hikkaduwa Travel Guide: 7 Things To Do In Hikkaduwa
Ella Travel Guide: Best Things To Do In Ella
Udawalawe Travel Guide: Udawalawe Safari Tour
LONELY PLANET SRI LANKA
One of the best books to take on your trip is the Lonely Planet Sri Lanka Guide!
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ONLINE ENGLISH TEACHING
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I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions about what to do in Unawatuna, please leave me a comment below this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can.