What’s a Cool Retreat?
Sustainability & Eco Awareness
There are very few places in the world where you can experience such a variety of countryside and climates: hot, sandy beaches, cool hillside terrains, lush rainforests and elephant-filled national parks are just some of the reasons why Sri Lanka is known as the “pearl of the Indian Ocean”. The influence of the Dutch, Portuguese and British can be seen in the country’s culture, customs and architecture, and the fabulous Southern coastline, with its villas and colonial heritage, is the place to stay.
GETTING TO AND FROM THE VILLA – We are situated in the small coastal town of Ambalangoda in Galle province on the southern coast, approximately 2 hours from the international airport.
Transfers can be arranged at any time directly to the villa; however, some guests choose to spend their first night or last night in Colombo in which case transfers can be arranged to/from your overnight hotel.
There are many things to see and do at Samudrawasa; Kingsley and his team will be delighted to assist you in organising any trip that you should like to make. Please find below a selection of local options.
Colonial Antiques & Mask Museum – a 10-minute walk from the villa will take you to Ambalangoda’s mask museums (there are several). Masks are an important part of Sri Lankan culture, and Ambalangoda masks are considered to be the best. En route, you should stop off at the vast antique shop on the corner of Beach Road. They do a lot of work for many museums worldwide and the owner, Roshan, will be happy to ship any item around the globe for you. He supplied most of the furniture in Samudrawasa.
Turtle Up – there are a number of turtle hatcheries and “retirement homes” for less fortunate turtles on Ambalangoda beach, just in front of the villa. Further afield, Kosgoda is one of the oldest and can be seen while touring Bentota if desired.
Balapitya Lagoon Boat Trip – just 5km up the road, it is possible to take a lagoon boat trip. Wildlife such as the Sri Lankan alligator can be spotted while taking in the cinnamon plantations that are synonymous with the Sri Lankan landscape. The trip takes approximately two hours and is charged per boat.
Galle Fort – this is a must-see for anyone visiting the area. Built by the Portuguese in the 1500s, it was extended by the Dutch and British during their occupation. It is one of Sri Lanka’s premier tourist destinations and its ramparts play host to many small streets, shops, restaurants and historical sites. You could easily spend a whole day here, but allow at least three or four hours. Lunch in one of the colonial hotels is a highlight.
Tea Plantations – there’s a plethora of tea plantations in the area, growing what is known as “lowland tea”. Just past Galle, one of the most interesting is the Handunugoda Tea Estate. You can taste over 25 different teas, tour the factory and take tea in the gardens. The visit takes about one-and-a-half hours and can easily be added to the Galle excursion.
Stilt Fisherman – en route to the Hadunagoda Tea Plantation, take the opportunity to see the stilt fisherman. Best times to visit are early morning or afternoon, when the fisherman are out in force.
Bawa Brothers – Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s most prominent architect, and his brother Bevis, both have houses near Bentota. It is possible to view the gardens and the houses, which are a delight for both garden lovers and those with an interest in Ceylon’s colonial lifestyle. The Bawas were colourful characters who hosted a number of international figures including Edward VIII, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. Bevis Bawa’s house is now owned and run by his old Chief of Staff, who will delight you with tales from these times. Stopping for lunch in Bentota, at one of Geoffrey Bawa’s hotels, will round up a fabulous day trip.
Marissa – during the whale-watching season (Jan/Feb), a trip to Marissa (about one-and-a-half hours from the villa) is an absolute must.. The boat excursion can take two to four hours, depending on your requirements. At other times of the year it is possible to see pods of dolphins merrily dashing through the surf.
Sinharaja Rainforest – only two hours away, this is one of the oldest rainforests in Sri Lanka and plays host to a cornucopia of plants, birds and animals.
Uda Walawe National Park – if you feel the need to see elephants en masse, this is the place to go. Only two-and-a-half hours away by car, this is an extraordinary experience and if you’re lucky you might even see the elusive leopard. There is an opportunity to stay overnight “on safari” inside Uda Walawe.
Ayurveda – there are enormous numbers of Ayurveda treatment spas and centres in the area. Although a little bit traditional by Western spa standards, the good doctors will happily deal with complaints from verrucas to diabetes. If you would like to visit one, Oom Sri Ayurveda Centre at the Villa Ranmenika Hotel seems to do a pretty good job for a reasonable price.
Massage and Beauty – manicures and pedicures are hard to come by; however, the Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel in Galle will happily dispatch a therapist to the villa for the price of the treatment plus RP 1000 for travel. Please ask for details.
Hikkaduwa – Only 10km from the villa and famous as a popular hippy hangout in the 70s, Hikkaduwa makes an interesting diversion with a number of gift shops, gem shops and Ayurvedic massage shops. The Refresh Restaurant, right on the beach, is a good lunch stop. There are several well known surf breaks here and boards are available for hire. Surfing lessons are also available.
Trips further afield – for those with a little more time, Yala National Park, Sigiriya, Colombo and the Central Highlands are all possible. The staff can advise you on these and the costs.