From Tissa, we took public bus to Matara which was the usual chaos, but we got a seat and held on for a couple of hours. Matara is more of a local beach area and getting off it was chaotic! We grabbed a tuktuk to Polhena beach which, well, wasn’t a great beach in our view. Madiha beach ½ mile west is a lot quieter and better eateries and bars. However, the reason to go was that there are wild sea turtles just off the Polhena beach. So we hired some snorkel kit and went out, and after 30 minutes a little bored not seeing much apart from fish.
Then, someone tapped me on the shoulder and pointed, and there was a wild sea turtle! Now maybe naively, we thought they’d be small – but the first one we say was well over 1m long! The internet says when spotted they get crowded, but there was no one else there, so we could watch it eating and surfacing for air without any problem. Lovely to watch, and it was very unphased. Once it moved on we headed back and saw 2 others on the way back to the beach (once you know they are huge they are easier to spot!). After a break, we went in again and saw 4 more of various sizes. Literally, saw and swam with one, pointed it out to another swimmer, and then moved on and instantly saw another. Really sweet to watch and quite a treat and well worth doing. (Sadly no pics, but if you follow the all photos link there is a short/poor video) That said, one night, then snorkelling in the morning and moving on in the afternoon is a good idea – Polhena wasn’t a dream destination (bar turtles)
We left and grabbed a tuktuk to Mirissa beach which we heard mixed reviews – over crowded and over westernised. The latter is true, but the beach wasn’t busy at all – lots of beach bars and very much a tourist resort. But, being towards the end of the trip we fancied lazing around and drinking beer!
The beach was spotless, guesthouse was good, and the waves were huge – so we enjoyed swimming and being bowled over by the waves, and even rented bodyboards at a bargain 500LKR for two for as long as we wanted, and somehow managed to ride the waves quite well in between batterings.
They also had wakeboarding hire, so of course, had to have a go, (4000LKR) and this was being towed behind a jet ski. All our wakeboarding has been on smooth lakes and “jump starting” – but in the sea, its vv rough and its deep water start that I’d only tried a few times 10 years ago…. So the first few attempts were a bit flat on face taking more of a hammering, but then managed to get up (no idea how) and once up stayed upright for a few passes of the beach. Phew – thought I’d look a right plonker otherwise! With the rough sea it was tough to stay on, so no tricks from me – just didn’t want to fall in and have to do another deep water start! Battered and bruised, time for another beach beer.
In the evening the beach restaurants expand out and actually make a lovely calm atmosphere along the beach – and its really quite pretty. Lots of fresh fish and you can pick one you want. We opted for a tiger fish and the trimmings and a bottle of red! Yep, tourist resort….. After we finished it started to rain, and then it rained and poured – literally with people evacuating the beach in droves! We ran to a bar and waited for the rain to subside thinking we could get back fairly dry….. Well – we could – apart from there were floods everywhere! And literally with nowhere to go we had to run through rivers the best we could and just about made it back with squelchy shoes (doh – should’ve worn the sandals)
In hindsight, Mirissa would’ve been good for a few days at the end of the trip rather than one. Hey ho.
For our final night we headed to Galle about 1.5hr away on the bus. Galle has an old Dutch fort which still looks very much European and reminiscent of small walled towns. Interesting and worth a look around but being on core “package tour” routes, so many tourists!!! This in turn meant we had the most hassle anywhere else in Sri Lanka – felt like every local was trying to talk to us, to be a guide, to show is something, to drag us into a shop, to give us a tuktuk etc – it was a right pain and bit of a downer. Not had much hassle at all in the rest of the trip. Once we existed the fort “island” and headed into local town, the hassle got less (and the prices of stuff much less) – but overall, Galle for us is OK but not a must see on a backpacker trip. However, its closer to the airport….
Getting from Galle to airport is interesting. There are busses that go direct, but never seen one, and conflicting advice everywhere. So – do you trust waiting around for an undocumented bus? Our you can get a bus/train to Colombo and then get bus/taxi to airport. But, its very hot and the busses could take 3+hrs – do we want to be hot n sweaty before our flight.
And thus, back to airport, flights back and jetlag for a couple of days, and the end of an enjoyable and memorable trip
Or, the guesthouse offered taxi for 2.5hrs (approx.) including express way for 9000LKR…. And we have enough cash left…. So – yep – sod it – taxi it is…. Yeah – cop out of course, but easier than converting LKR back to GBP!!
For review and summary, click HERE