Tourism continues to take hold on the sun-baked sands of Unawatuna Beach, but it’s still one of the prettiest, most popular bays to lay your hat along the south coast of Sri Lanka. Historic Galle is just a 15-minute drive away, with its handsome fort, and set back from Unawatuna’s coast lie countless high-quality hideaways, where you can combine stylish digs with sightseeing diversions. Read on to find your favourite of these, the best hotels in Unawatuna.
Wake up to the sound of birdsong in your luxury eco lodge at Kaju Green. The property – which looks like it belongs in a high-end lifestyle magazine – is designed to maximise ventilation (no air con – no problem) and is shaded by towering palms and a kaju (cashew) tree. Just 10 minutes from the beach, with a saltwater pool, rooftop yoga classes and a plant-based menu, this is the ultimate spot to unwind.
Sitting within dense rainforest atop legendary Rumassala Mountain (which is actually more of a hill), Agnus Luxury Villa is just a 10-minute walk from Jungle Beach and 5km (3mi) from historic Galle Fort. Many of the hotel’s 10 comfortable rooms feature panoramic views of the ocean – but the best place to watch the sunset has to be from the dazzling rooftop bar and infinity pool.
Sweet tooth? The cafe at Sunil Garden Guesthouse is renowned for its excellent coffee and baked goods – think banana bread, brownies and thickly-iced carrot cake. The west side of Unawatuna Beach is just across the road, along which you’ll find plenty of restaurants, bars and an incredible ice cream shop, Love Gelato. The eponymous Sunil and his co-host Helen are so welcoming you may find yourself spending hours chatting over a latte in the cosy, plant-filled lounge.
With polished-wood floors, glitzy modern chandeliers and wrap-around balconies, Thaproban Pavilion Waves has nailed that beach-luxe vibe. Bright, clean rooms overlook the main pool, beyond which you’ll find a small, sandy, man-made beach and a saltwater rock pool. The hotel is actually a new ‘wing’ of the Thaproban Pavilion Resort next door – meaning you get access to the sister site’s facilities, too, including a spa and yet another pool, this time with a large deck and views of the crashing waves.
If you’re looking for a homely, peaceful place to hang out between sightseeing and beach hopping, book a room at family-run Villa Gaetano. Colourful rooms overlook the sprawling garden, which features a small pool, hammocks and plenty of tropical flowers. Scooter rental is available, but you can also hitch a free tuk-tuk ride to Unawatuna beach (10 minutes away) once a day.
Encompassed within a coconut grove and bordered by cinnamon and tea plantations, Instagram-worthy Good Vibes Villas is the ultimate tropical retreat. The infinity pool overlooks swaying palms, and there are a pétanque court, giant chess and table tennis to keep everyone entertained. The six chic suites feature splashes of colour in the form of local art, and two private villas (perfect for families) include huge open-air bathrooms.
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