Unawatuna derived originally from the word ‘Onna-Watuna’ meaning ‘there it fell’ is one of the most picturesque destinations in the Southern region of Sri Lanka. With its beautiful beaches well guarded by coral reefs enabling safe swimming, diving and surfing, Unawatuna is increasing in popularity amongst travellers by the day.
From the International airport, a car ride of a couple of hours via the Southern expressway would suffice to get here. Lodging of all sorts, ranging from high-end hotels to affordable guesthouses are available for all kinds of travellers, hence accommodation and meals to suit your liking will not be a complication you would have to encounter.
The beach, fashioned in a semi-circular manner, does not extend any more than a kilometre and is bordered by plenty of coconut-palm trees. Ideal for some good sunbathing, this not so crowded and serene beach allows you to enjoy the sea breeze offering you the relaxation you were looking for. The town itself, though not too big, has great restaurants, shopping spots and quite a few fun activities, not forgetting some great sight-seeing.
While taking a walk along the shore, if you are lucky enough, you will be able to spot turtles laying eggs. A dive will present you the opportunity of enjoying these lovely creatures swimming in the clear waters of the Ocean.
If you are a swimmer, you will be delighted to know that this is an extremely safe site for you to enjoy yourself thoroughly. A natural pool created and protected by the double reefs over the bay provides an excellent spot for this sport, and by swimming midway through this stretch, you will be able to reach the Rock Island. While doing so, you can feast your eyes on a huge array of vibrant and colourful marine life too.
Divers and Surfers, you are in for a treat too! Wreckage of sunken ships ageing over 100s of years are there just lying on the Ocean floor, just a 20-minute boat ride away. A few popular wrecks are the ‘Rangoon’, ‘Tango’ and ‘Lord Nelson’ – the latter being a cargo ship which is about 10 years old.
Not a pro at diving but still enthusiastic to explore the wreckage? Worry not! There are plenty of diving schools in Unawatuna and trained professionals will guide and equip you to take part in diving activities so that you will not miss seeing these wonderful sights.
There is also the ‘Jungle Beach’ just 4 km from Unawatuna. You can either reach there by boat or through a minor road that leads there from Unawatuna. True to its name, it has a little wilderness behind it and this tranquil beach is well known for snorkelling.
Another popular spot for sightseeing is the Yatigala Rajamaha Viharaya which is a rock temple that ages about 2300 years. The Unawatuna-Hinatigala road will take you there where you will be able to witness an ancient temple with walls embellished with beautiful murals and has a reclining Buddha statue which is about 9 meters long.
A turtle hatchery also located at a distance of about 3 km South of Unawatuna, which is responsible for the conservation of turtle eggs laid by the Hawksbill, loggerhead and green turtles.
The Japanese Peace Pagoda is also a beautiful destination which can be seen from the main beach. A tuk-tuk ride from Unawatuna will bring you here and it will be worth the serenity you will feel. Upon climbing, the walkway encircling the shrine allows you to have an amazing 360-degree view of the jungle and bay.
Also if you are into canoeing, the many rivers, reservoirs and canals of Unawatuna, will allow you to traverse the natural landscapes along with its gorgeous flora and fauna. Canoeing will also be a great idea if you are interested in bird watching and exploring the beautiful wildlife here in Unawatuna too.