The city of Galle has a very colorful history going back hundreds of years, before the 16th century Galle was the main port on the island used to export and trade goods and spices. Ceylon cinnamon has been exported out going back 1400bc. Galle was occupied by the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonies; it was used as a stronghold. According to Sir James Emerson, Galle was the ancient sea port of tarnish which King Solomon drew ivory, peacocks and other valuables from.
Modern day Galle is very quaint; especially the fort. Galle has one of the most loved international cricket stadiums. Galle is one of the major tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. And the roads along the shoreline are mind blowing. There are endless things to see and know about this beautiful city. Let’s start with the most important ones and the tiny ones that most people don’t notice.
Fort of Galle
The Galle fort was originally built by the Portuguese in 1589 to defend Galle, it was more extensively fortified by the Dutch in the mid 17th century ¸ then it was taken by the British a week before Colombo was captured. The fort was first called “Santa Cruz “or holy cross. The fort is listed as an UNESCO world heritage site.
Located in the natural bay of the southwest coastline ¸ fort of Galle is a must visit, with its rich blend of colonial architecture and Sri Lankan heritage, it is truly a stunning fortified sea town , with its beautifully laid cobble stone streets ,and its small aesthetic shops¸ you will feel like you’ve gone back in time.
Taking a walk at the fort is somehow different. Every step you take you will feel harmony , If you pay attention you’ll notice that every single piece of this fort has a story to it , the charming vintage shop sings , the friendly guy cutting up the coconuts ,the artwork on tuk tuks ,the hospital buildings that turned into favorite hangout spots ,lives lost, lives lived ,lives remembered, these stories are why this historic establishment connect with us to our core in levels that go beyond borders. the first time I was there I loved every moment of it until for some reason I let a guy wrap a giant snake around my neck….. You can do that too. They don’t bite, I think… (Talking about an actual snake btw) . Walking is not really your thing? No problem! Keep an eye out for the vintage cars parked along the streets because you can rent them out for a stroll. Almost all the old structures have become coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, etc. There are arrays of clothing and jewelry stores for the shopaholics.
If knowing facts is your bread and butter, you should definitely check out the national museum there, they got facts and stories you won’t believe.
The ocean view at the fort is surreal, the salty winds touching your hair, the rays of the day break sun bringing warmth. The seaside bastions and the fort walls alongside the light house are the nicest places to just be still and enjoy each and every tranquil vibration. There are small beaches that define the true colors of the beautiful Indian Ocean. Even the rocks are artistic. The locals take full advantage of these waters, from casual swims to crazy dives off the walls.
Town of Una
This historically and economically valued town has some staggering beaches ranging from petite beautiful pieces of paradises to full on massive endless white beaches that go on as far as you can see. White sandy beaches with a ton of sea life, king coconuts, smooth waves, tasty foods, whale watching, cute baby turtles ……. You name it they got it. Rich in its biodiversity, Una is home to hundreds of precious animals.
Unawatuna main beach is the most famous beach in Galle. The beach is enormous and you can spend hours, just enjoying the clear blue water and working on you tan. One side of the beach is occupied with just sun beds so you got plenty of space. There is nothing like just chilling at Unawatuna, lying on a hammock; breaking out a cold beer and just listening to some house mixes after a good swim. If you’re lucky you can even swim with sea turtles but they’re really shy so be cool. There are ton of places renting out snorkeling gear, if you don’t have any. Dusk is a whole different vibe all together at Una. the beautiful colors of the dying sun lighting up your faces while moving through the air on the illustrious rope swings , just makes you lose your way through the moment. Capturing that swing shot during golden hour is on every traveler and instagramers’ bucket list as well as other hotspots like coconut hill in Mirrissa or the train shot from Ella
If you were meaning to get surf lessons, Una is definitely for you. Almost all the beaches in the south coast has ton of places to get surf lessons. The lessons are super cheap; and the instructors are very good at their job. And the waves are… oof, the waves are spectacular. You can get diving lessons too actually.
On the outskirts of Galle, after a small hike (30mins give or take) through a crinkly forest flour, you will find Jungle beach. Although it is secluded, it has been becoming more and more popular, especially with the local rebellious teens. The water is amazing so it’s a nice place for a peaceful swim session. There are some pebbles and stony areas on the beach but it’s not a deal breaker. You will see couple stores selling delicious snacks and fresh drinks so you can easily catch some shade and refresh .Since its so far off the main beach area.. still not much people like to walk that far, so this tropical beach is still keeping its cool. Covered with a paradise green tree line;. Jungle beach is a true natural beauty.
The Japanese peace pagoda on the hillside forest of Uawatuna is one of the best view points in Galle. Best place to soak in the calm sunset, overlooking the bay of Galle.
Unawatuna has some major mythical roots; this description in the Ramayana is believed to be about Una
“a seashore dotted with thousands of trees, coconuts, and palms dominating, strings of houses and hermitages along the coastline, human beings and superior beings such as Gandharvas, Siddhas, and ascetics, living in them and countless bejeweled celestial nymphs thronging the shore, the coast intermittently visited by heavenly beings, Gods and demons.”
There are endless possibilities when it comes to night activities. your imagination is your limit(ehh not really.all kinds of other limits. ¬)
If you’re a foodie; the beach side sea food is a must try, it’s as freshet as they come. you can actually choose the fish you want to eat on the beach before the meal is made , if you hustle for a bit you can get a super good dinner for a fair price; definitely compare prices with at least couple restaurants. Check out the Sri Lankan crab, with the pineapple curry or the red snapper and some king prawns house special. Combine those with some good cocktails; you can get a great night out of it. If sea food is not really your thing; you got about a million restaurants and bars to choose from all over Galle (well not a million exactly but…close enough)
There are some good campsites in Galle if you’re looking for adventure. Got a ton of places to rent tuks or motorcycles, since the streets are clear; you can even go on a road trip around the coast and check out those details you missed. (I can’t think of anything you can’t rent at Galle tbh).
During season they’re so many music festivals on beach and off beach with the best DJs. There are parties going 24\7 you just need to know where to look, lol. Drink in your hand, good tech house set playing on the background just before the sunrise…. It CAN be lit..
Galle has a diverse population of 101,749. Majority of the people employ in primary production, with a growth of entrepreneurs. This beautiful city is held up by these dreamers and hardworking humans. lost in the crowd; there are people making the most amazing jewelry, cloths, foods around or idk, even giving the best boat tours… you can notice them out the crowds because they always got a smile in their face and kindness in their hearts.