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Matara

Travel Guide Asia Sri Lanka Matara

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Introduction

Matara is one of the three districts in the Southern province of Sri Lanka. The coastal region is lovely with nice beaches, especially Polhena and Tangalle. The University of Ruhunu and the Uyanwatte stadium, which is the biggest in the southern province is located here. This is also the hometown of the famous Sri Lankan cricketer, Sanath Jayasuriya and a village in this district has been named Sanath Jayasuriyagama (literally meaning Sanath Jayasuriya village).

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Sights and Activities

Weligama

Weligama is a beautiful coastal area and one can see lovely fishing boats that look quite funny with two long poles balancing them on either side as they bob sideways in the waters. Also, unique to this district is the stilt fishermen. Stilt fishing as the name suggests is fishing carried out by standing on stilts in the water.

Taprobane Island

Also off the coast of Weligama is Taprobane Island, the only private island in Sri Lanka and the villa on the island was originally built by Count de Mauny in the 19th century and has had many famous visitors to the island, including Somerset Maugham, stay there but is now owned by Geoffrey Dobbs, the founder of the annual Galle international literary festival. The property can be rented out and is about 2000 dollars a day.

Vevurukannala

Vevurukannala Buddha, constructed by a Buddhist society project, is the tallest standing Buddha in Sri Lanka. Though it is a more recent work, it is interesting for its story house and the Jathaka stories passageway. The story house beside the standing Buddha statue has the story of Buddha painted alongs its interior walls providing an opportunity for visitors to learn about the life of Buddha from his birth as Prince Siddhartha to his becoming Buddha. And, even more interesting is the passageway parallel to the standing statue that allows one to climb up to the top of the statue. Along the passageway are painted all the Jathaka stories, which is an ancient fictional (for the believer, it is the truth and not a fiction) series of chronicles about all the births of the Buddha, his evolution into Buddha.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Hummana Blow hole
  • Dondra Light house: The tallest light house in Sri Lanka though visitors are not allowed to climb the lighthouse
  • Turtle hatchery project
  • In the centre of Matara town, there is a beautiful mosque which is also a beautiful sight to see. And, off the coast of Matara town, opposite the public bus stand and market, there is a buddhist temple that has been constructed in the middle of the waters and one needs to walk over a short bridge to reach the meditation hall and temple.

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Getting There

The Galle road is generally the busiest road in Sri Lanka hence travelling the road from Colombo to Matara, one will have to face the traffic.

By Plane

There are chartered flights to Dickwella and Deccan aviation is one such company offering the expensive water taxi flights.

By Train

The inter-city train goes around the coast from Colombo to Matara and takes nearly 4 1/2 hours.

By Car/van

Hiring a car or a van or using your own vehicle is the best way to travel to Matara.

By Bus

There are inter-city buses that depart frequently from Colombo to Matara.

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Eat

Apart from the hotel restaurants which are pretty good, there are a few smaller cafes in town:

  • Mayura Beach restaurant is an establishment on the main road overlooking the Matara beach. It has a snack cafe at the front and a quieter restaurant serving a-la-carte menu (nothing fancy though) at the back. Decent food and fast service.
  • Galle bakery is located on the main road and is hard to miss as it has a nice colonial architecture. Food is very basic and the eating place even more so but alright for a quick stringhopper breakfast.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Beach InnsBeach Road, MadihaGUESTHOUSE86
The Retreat MadihaPubudu mawataGuesthouse-
Ravana Ridge124/A, Beach Road, PolhenaGUESTHOUSE-
Hilten Surf HutMatara Road MidigamaApartment-
Reef EdgeNo 11 C, Beach Road PolhenaHOTEL-

Budget

  • Emerald Bay Inn, Polhena

Mid-Range

Lalitha Hotel: This hotel is located close to the town area and is not ideal for a holiday rest but for an overnight stay, while passing through the town. The rooms have the basic facilities of air-conditioning and hot water as well as TV.

Polhena Reef Garden: A cosy establishment by the Polhena beach. Rooms are large with hot water and airconditioning but with no TV. Meals are nicely cooked here.

  • Tangalle Bay Beach hotel is a hotel right on the Tangalle bay and is therefore a nice location to be. The hotel is supposedly built in the form of a ship's deck. The rooms are alright and have nice private balconies overlooking the sea. Food is horrible though.
  • Eva Lanka hotel, Tangalle has cottage style rooms and an ayurvedic center
  • Palm Paradise Cabanas, Goyambokka is a nice place with individual cabanas and is the preferred destination for many visitors to Matara
  • Tallala Retreat is another lovely place with accommodation that is very basic and has an open air theme with most of the cottage being open to the elements but for the bamboo shutters.

Upscale

  • Dickwella Resort: This is a lovely resort with some stunning views of the ocean. The rooms are spread along the property and all have balconies facing the sea, either directly or across the garden. The furnishing in the rooms includes large four poster beds and window seats and have airconditioning, hot water and TV facilities. There is a lovely pool and a nice restaurant and huge walkway overlooking the ocean, with the Milkyway bar. The resort also houses the sanctuary spa and the prices for treatments are equivalent to the room price.

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  • Weligama Bay Resort Hotel
  • Amanwella, Tangalle is a luxury hotel that is worth experiencing

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 5.949305
  • Longitude: 80.535347

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