Saturday, 14 January 2017

Things To Do In Unawatuna - Sri Lanka Travel Diary #3

Hello again, three times in one week? You are lucky! The third instalment in my Sri Lanka travel diary is about the time we spent in Unawatuna, which is a coastal town situated south of the island.

When I looked up Unawatuna in the Lonely Planet guide, it wasn't highly commended, however I've got to admit I quite liked it. It's a small(ish) place with a few shops, restaurants and a decent beach. While it's clearly becoming more and more touristy, it's still quiet enough to enjoy relaxing on the beach or having a peaceful meal out.

We stayed in the Gloria Grand Hotel, Unawatuna, which I'd say was probably my third favourite hotel (out of five in total). The hotel is ideally located, as it's just a short walk from the beach and quite literally opposite some really great restaurants.

On our first night in Unawatuna, after a long day of driving, we decided to take it easy so we freshened up and headed to Hot Rock restaurant, which is situated halfway along the beach. Hot Rock does really nice Thai curries (we shared a butternut squash curry and a prawn curry, both of which were delicious). As we sat and ate, with the waves crashing in the distance, we watched the bats flit between the treetops. It was a sight to behold.

The following day we took a tuk tuk into Galle, which is about a 20 minute ride from Unawatuna, to see the Dutch fort. Now I'm going to be honest with you, considering it's one of Galle's number one attractions, it's not all that. It's basically just the remains of a big wall which the fort must have sat behind at one point. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to walk along the wall (or what's left of it) and admire the sea, but that's literally all there is to do there. It is free to go and look around though, so that's good! #Bargainz

After an afternoon in Galle, we headed back to Unawatuna and spent what was left of the day on the beach, reading our books and taking in the fresh sea air. That evening, we decided to check out the vegetarian restaurant opposite our hotel called Jina's (we'd noticed it had good reviews in our Lonely Planet book, so thought it would be worth trying). Needless to say, the food didn't disappoint. I had a selection of veggie curries including a potato curry, mushroom curry, chickpea dhal and some other interesting concoctions - all of which were delicious (see picture below). Dan tried the pittu, which is basically a large cylinder of flour, dried coconut and some other ingredients. It came with coconut milk, which you pour onto it, and dhal. It's quite a heavy dish so if you do try it I'd recommend ordering one to share.

The following morning we woke up at 5am to go whale watching in Mirissa. The fishing town is about one hour's drive (in a tuk tuk) from Unawatuna. We had booked the trip through a place that organises excursions near to our hotel, it cost us 10,000 rupees in total, which included transport to and from Mirissa, the boat trip and breakfast. When we arrived in Mirissa, we boarded the boat and were handed life jackets (which probably should have made us feel safer, but actually just terrified me even more). We sailed out to sea as the sun was rising, which made for some pretty dishy photographs.

It took about 90 minutes by boat to get to where the whales were. The sea was pretty choppy so I ended up shutting my eyes for most of it (and miraculously ended up falling asleep). I was pretty glad we were wearing life jackets at that point. When we eventually got to where the whales were, it was well worth the 90 mins of cray cray waves.

In the distance, you could see spray in the air where the whales were pushing water through their blow holes. The captain of the boat then decided to put his foot down and we ended up colliding with waves to get to the whales, which resulted in the boat rocking BIG TIME. I was clutching the pole on the side of the boat with one hand and my SLR in the other, while adopting some kind of mega squat stance to keep my balance. Despite the terrifying ride, it was magical to see the whales. There seemed to be so many of them and in the distance you could see them spraying water into the air. After a bit of research we deduced that the ones we saw were sei whales, which can grow to be 66 feet long. Here are some of the photos I managed to snap of them...

After whale watching (and a 90 minute journey back to shore, during which we saw a dolphin) we headed back to Unawatuna, just in time to check out of our hotel at midday. When we got back, we grabbed some lunch nearby and then got a tuk tuk to our next hotel (aka the best hotel I've ever stayed in) which was situated halfway between Galle and Hikkaduwa - about a 30 minute ride away. AAAANNNND my next blog post will be all about our stay there... 

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  1. This looks like such an amazing place to visit - and your photos are beautiful! xx

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