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Negombo

Negombo is a major fishing town 29 km north of Colombo and 6.5 km from the Bandaranaike International Airport, making it a convenient first or last stop on your stay here. The town used to be an important cinnamon trading and export centre during Dutch colonial times. Old Dutch canals extending from Negombo all the way south to Colombo, and north to Puttalam, can be followed for some distance on a bicycle, and make for pleasant diversion. Almost total conversion to Catholicism has resulted in huge, beautiful churches being built right along the coast. Negombo is also home to the country's second-largest fish market, the Llelama, at the north end of the town's lagoon. The lagoon is a good place to watch fisherman at work, bringing in their daily catch of crabs, prawns and fish to be sold at the fish markets. Water-sports and diving are also extremely popular among guests, with a few well preserved coral reefs and a 50 year old shipwreck (Kudapaduwa) that serves as an artificial reef for many varieties of fish.

Kalpitiya

Placed 150 km north of the capital, Colombo, the Kalpitiya region is one of the most beautiful coastal areas located in the Western Province of Sri Lanka. Kalpitiya is a peninsular that separates the Puttalam lagoon from the Indian Ocean and is a marine sanctuary with a diversity of habitats ranging from bar reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangroves swamps, salt marshes and vast sand dune beaches. Given the investment opportunities available, in 2008 the Sri Lanka Tourism launched the Kalpitiya Dutch Bay Resort Development Project. The tourist attractions within the area, Dutch & Portugal Bay, Bar reef marine sanctuary, sea turtles, fisheries, ornamental fish collections, Whale & Dolphin watching, Birds & butterflies, sea grass beds

Bentota

A 100-acre National Resort complex at Bentota singles it out as one of the most popular beach resort areas on the island. The Bentota River, which forms the boundary between the island's western and southern provinces, is ideal for boating excursions. With a well equipped centre for water sports including deep sea diving, Bentota also provides a variety of interesting sites including the 12th Century Galapata Viharaya. Beaches also attract nature lovers and conservationists who plot the movements of turtles swimming up to lay their eggs in the warm sands. The town is also a favourite destination for watersports.

Beruwela

58 km or 1-¼ hours' drive from Colombo, Beruwela marks the start of the commercial strip of southwest coastal resorts. This is one of Sri Lanka's two top tourist destinations, the other being Bentota. The fine palm-fringed beaches here attract the majority of visitors to the island, especially towards the end of the year, when the northeast monsoon ensures calmer seas this side of the island. Beruwela is a predominantly Muslim town and boasts the oldest mosque in Sri Lanka, situated on a beautiful headland just out of town. It is believed that the mosque was built at the landing site (then known as Barberyn) of the first recorded Muslim settlers. Thousands of pilgrims flock to the mosque each year for the festival at the end of Ramadan. Close by is also has a turtle hatchery and if you are lucky you may spot one of these slow and gentle creatures and enjoy one of the longest beaches in Sri Lanka.

Galle:

Home to an International Cricket Stadium, and 115 km from Colombo, Galle is perhaps one of the most important cities on the South Coast. Now fast acquiring a reputation as the starting point of Sri Lanka's equivalent to the "Riviera", the city's origins are shrouded in legend and mystery. Some believe that it is the Tarshish of the Old Testament, which channelled a thriving trade in exotic luxuries including precious metals and stones, ivory, tropical beasts and of course spices. This whitewashed town has an extremely large fort, built by the Dutch over 400 years ago, as its oldest landmark. The Galle fort is a world heritage site and the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers. A number of important churches are located within the fort, including the Groote Kerk, the oldest Protestant church in Sri Lanka and St. Mary's Cathedral founded by Jesuit priests. Guests can spend hours exploring the famous Dutch fort, go shopping at one of the oldest markets of Sri Lanka and the modern shopping complexes or you can enjoy the one of the colonial-style hotels and restaurants.

Hikkaduwa

100 km south of Colombo is the very popular resort of Hikkaduwa, known for its wonderful coral gardens. Originally a small settlement to the north of the present town, Hikkaduwa has long attracted tourists with its unique beach culture, and variety of water activities. The resort area has now engulfed two or three villages south of it, and is now a 4km strip of hotels, shops, bars, restaurants, night clubs and guesthouses. The beaches are nice and wide and swimming is safe here, though the currents are stronger south of Hikkaduwa proper. The impressive coral reef runs just offshore and is still populated by exotic fish and sea turtles. Glass bottomed boats are available for visitors wanting to admire the wonders of the deep while keeping their feet dry! Even off the beaches Hikkaduwa has a lot to offer: scenic temples, a beautiful fresh-water lake where you still be able to see fishermen, tranquilled village life which just a few meters down the road.

Unawatuna

Situated on the south coast of Sri Lanka, Unawatuna is a wide curving bay protected by reef, located 5kms from the city of Galle, a former Dutch fort. Popular with travelers from all over the world, it is calmer than the more bohemian resort of Hikkaduwa, and the picturesque sweep of beach is dotted with pretty cottages, restaurants and bars and other small places to stay. It can get quite busy during the 'season', which is from December to April. Snorkeling and diving is excellent, and the reef makes swimming here a very safe pleasure. Traveling time from Sri Lanka's International Airport to Unawatuna takes about 4.00 hrs by car / taxi. The Village of Unawatuna offers accommodation for all budgets, including private guest-houses and up-market hotels, and you can find the usual mix of small supermarkets, Internet cafe's and handicraft shops

Tangalla

Situated 195km from Colombo Tangalla (also spelt Tangalle, but usually pronounced ten-gol) is one of the nicest spots along the coast, particularly if you just want somewhere to relax and soak up the sun. The town itself is an easy-going place with some reminders of Dutch days. From Tangalla the white sands of Medaketiya Beach stretch for more than 3km northeast. Heading southwest there is a whole series of smaller bays and beaches. From a distance it looks idyllic, but up close it is another story. Tangalla suffered grievously from the tsunami. Thousands died in the area and hundreds of homes were destroyed, especially going northeast from the Kirama Oya.

Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay is a fishing village situated on the Indian Ocean in the dry zone of Sri Lanka's southeast coast. The bay is located 320 km from east of Colombo which is about 8 to 9 hrs drive through beautiful Countryside. For many years Arugam Bay has been a popular sea side holiday resort for local travelers, the bay is richly endowed with a beautiful stretch of ocean and vast expanses of deserted beach. Arugam Bay has developed in the last couple of years, into a big attraction for lovers of the surf and had developed into low budget traveler's centre. Arugam Surf Point has a very long, consistent, section right hand break. The Bay offers infinite possibilities for all kinds of water sports and underwater photography. Arugam Bay has been made a "year round" destination with excellent weather and ideal conditions for a nice, relaxed.

Trincomalee

After its journey from Adam's Peak, the Mahaweli River, meets the ocean at Koddiyar Bay on the east coast. On a spit of land to the north of the land locked bay, is the old town of Trincomalee. It is a seven-hour drive (257 km) from Colombo and about five (182 km) from Kandy. The town's best-known feature is its natural harbor - believed to be one of the largest, safest and most picturesque natural harbors in the world and it is accessible to all types of craft in all weathers. Calm, placid, shallow seas lap wide, white sand beaches. Blessed by sunshine almost all year round, and with more than a dozen sheltered bays, Trinco (as it is also known) offers explorers a wealth of visual delights, and is a paradise for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling.