What to see and do in the West Coast

Golden Mile

The stretch between Bentota and Beruwala has aptly been named the golden mile due to their pristine beaches, both having won awards. The area offers a host of water sports from surfing to snorkelling to water skiing. Bentota is famous for the Ayurveda healing and ‘Toddy’ a coconut nectar based alcoholic drink. Beruwela is known for the oldest mosque in Sri Lanka, as the first place Muslims settled. As an area to relax and unwind it is almost unbeaten. The pretty hotels in the area are mainly all designed by Geoffrey Bawa a local architect.

Bar Reef Kaliptiya

Bar reef, a complex system of coral reefs with the largest biodiversity of any coral reef in Indian water. It is home to over 150 species of coral and nearly 300 species of fish as well as manta rays, reef sharks and turtles. Subsequently the diving in this area is spectacular; an hours boat trip will take you to the hub of activity. Largely untouched by tourism yet it offers a peaceful exclusive dive to largely untouched reefs.

Turtle Hatchery

Many sea turtles are protected in Sri Lanka with 5 species that lay eggs onshore; the Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley and Loggerhead turtle. The turtles are protected by the Sri Lankans and the eggs are laid all along the eastern coast. However there is a famous hatchery in Kosgoda which has been open since 1988 and has released over 1 million baby turtles into the sea, rebuilding after the devastation of the Tsunami. Within the hatchery you can view each turtle species, the nest sanctuaries, the seawater nurseries and learn about the conservation efforts. Due to large numbers of hatchlings the owner will allow you to help a baby turtle make its journey to the sea, usually done at night. This is a good stop off on the road down to the south coast and Galle to break up the journey.

Madu River

A shallow body of water with the Buddhist Kothduwa temple situated in the middle. Its mangrove islets constitute it as a significant wetland with high biological, ecological and aesthetic importance. It is home to over 300 species of plants and many land and marine animals. You can take a river safari here to learn more about the species inhabiting the area and the production of peeled cinnamon and cinnamon oil by the local fishermen.

Richmond Castle

A historical building close to Palathota, Richmond castle is famous for its architectural features built just over 100 years ago by Padikara Mudali. It is now used as an educational centre for children and for community activities the spectacular gardens are open to the public. The building itself is characterised by intricate wood and glass carvings. The mudaliyar was a lover of nature and the gardens are full of statues and fruit trees.

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