Originally published on Travelista
Sandy beaches and coconut trees are a dime a dozen on Sri Lanka’s south coast. Many praise the ‘Wonder of Asia’ for its verdant jungles, luscious flora and elephantine fauna. Indeed, there is something to suit every person, every taste: romantic lagoon retreats for couples, backpackers’ hostels for the solo traveller, five star hotels for the affluent and honeymooners.
However, the beaten path is well trodden. Kite surfers go to Kalpitiya, surfers to Weligama or Arugam Bay and history seekers flock to Anuradhapura and Sigiriya. For less than a day’s salary in some parts of the world, you can find yourself in the back of a jeep, inches from the lowly flapping ears of an Elephas maximus (Sri Lankan elephant).
Such activities are well and good—they are well infrastructured and cater to the taste buds of tourists. However, for this very same reason, it can be difficult to find peace, and space, when partaking in them (and without spending lots of money on an expensive resort).
Sometimes the best thing is to take a step back, and relax at the Japanese Peace Pagoda, Unawatuna. Watching the sun dip below the horizon while encased in its smooth white walls, a certain serenity descends.
Or, if you want to keep moving, take a rucksack and go for a long walk around part (or all!) of the perimeter of Koggala Lake. While crocodiles were introduced to the lake some years ago, its size means you are unlikely to encounter any. Romping from shore to shore, you can let the quietude of Koggala wash over you. If you go at the right time, you may even see traditional stilt fishermen, alert upon their pedestals, eyes trained on the abyss beneath.
Or, if you would rather spend some time near the sea, make a visit to Coco Beach, where you can snooze in a hammock big enough for three people, or soar on their giant rope swing out over the ocean. Be careful though, the sea can be a bit rough!
But this isn’t really about hiking, hammocks or swings. It is about the most important thing in the world – food.