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Galle living

The Bon Viants and Gypsetters are heading to Galle in south-west Sri Lanka. Artist, Hip Lawyers, Surfers, and entrepreneurs have now discovered this Serendipitous enclave.

 

Until recently, Galle was an almost undiscovered hideaway in this tropical paradise. The preserve of just a few intrepid families, beach bohos and slightly eccentric Asiaphile second-home owners. 

Today, Galle flourishes the travel and fashion pages of Vogue, Tatler , Elle and  Harpers Bazaar along with almost every considered travel magazine.

 

Sri Lanka and the Galle area is fast becoming the destination of taste, style, spiritual awakening and sheer indulgence for a more enlightened traveller, seeking balance and inspiration on their travels.

WEATHER IN SRI LANKA THROUGHOUT THE YEAR

 

JANUARY - MARCH

A fantastic time to travel across the whole country, Sri Lanka is generally basking in sunshine and relatively dry all over throughout these months. Temperatures will be lovely and warm, although a touch cooler up in the Hill Country. Beaches on the south and west coasts are dry, hot and sunny.

APRIL

Sri Lanka’s weather in April is usually at its hottest and driest - especially in the central and Cultural Triangle regions with temperatures at least in the mid-30°Cs. It’s a great month to head to the beach, with clear skies and long, sunny days. Make sure to avoid the hottest hours of the day (11am-3pm) when sightseeing during April.

MAY - JUNE

The south-west monsoon blows through May and June, but as the name suggests it only affects the south-west quarter of the country such as Colombo and Galle. It is also the more gentle of the two monsoons that Sri Lanka experiences, with mainly short and sharp showers that tend to pass quite quickly.

JULY - SEPTEMBER

This is what is known as "inter-monsoon" season, meaning that spare the odd shower, the weather is great at this time of year. Temperatures remain high across the country at around 29°C average and the beaches are hot and dry. A brilliant option for families looking for a tropical summer holiday and all in all, a great period to travel.

OCTOBER - NOVEMBER

The north-east monsoon blows in October and November, and it is the heavier of the two monsoons that Sri Lanka experiences. Whilst the name may lend itself to the north-east only, this monsoon does in fact affect the whole country. This monsoon can be unpredictable – it can be stronger, lighter or more sporadic than past years, and sometimes it never comes at all!

DECEMBER

Weather in Sri Lanka in December is typically hot and dry across the island, making it a lovely choice for a Christmas or winter break. It is worth noting that in recent years, there have been instances of monsoon rains lasting into December, but these usually calm by the end of the month. The plus side is that the seasonal rains help restore the lush green landscapes, making holidaying soon afterwards an exceptionally beautiful time to enjoy the rural regions.

Getting There

 The journey south to Galle from Colombo, is a pleasant, unique and scenic one along the Southern highway, which takes one hour by car. Alternatively, there is also the old Galle Road that hugs the coastline and takes about three hours to reach Galle.

Although a textured journey! which encounters local villages and the lives of local folk, this tiny road continues to flow relatively freely and the views are stunning.

 Galle can be reached by car, train or the Air Taxi service which when operational lands on Koggala Lake, about 20 minutes to the south. Useful drive times include: Colombo to Galle (one hour); Airport to Galle (2.5 hours); Galle to Mirissa (45 minutes) Galle to Tangalle (2 hours); Tangalle to Yala (2.5 hours); Kandy to Galle (5.5 hours); Nuwara Eliya to Galle (6 hours).

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Historical Background

Galle owes its historic importance to its natural harbour and strategic location.  It has long been a hub of trade and commerce with ships from all parts of the world docking at the ancient port to barter their goods for treasures from this island: precious gems, pearls, spices, and scented woods.  Galle is even referred to as the Biblical `Tarshish’ where King Solomon's ships called at port to take aboard treasures. 

 

The accidental arrival of the Portuguese Lorenzo De Almeida in 1505, when his fleet of ships steered off course following a storm at sea, changed the history of this island nation.  The Portuguese were followed by the Dutch in 1640 and then the British in 1796.  With each occupation, Galle’s landscape changed and the cultural influences remained.  Colombo became Sri Lanka’s main port in the 1870s and Galle’s influence waned, perhaps protecting its charm.

Today Galle is a bustling provincial capital where a kaleidoscope of ethnicities and religions live side by side. The majority of Galle’s population is Sinhalese but there are significant communities of Moors, Malays, Tamils and increasingly a scattering of Europeans, largely but not exclusively British, who have been attracted by the area’s rich cultural heritage, beautiful beaches and laid back lifestyles. Artists, designers and writers flock each year for rest and inspiration.

Sights

The southern heritage is rich in culture, architecture, folk drama and crafts.  Galle’s main attraction is the 17th century Dutch Fort.  Much of the old Fort and the township within still remain, with its well-preserved bastions, public buildings, churches, lighthouse and a maze of narrow streets.  The ramparts that surround the Fort are today used for romantic evening strolls and convenient viewpoints to catch breathtaking ocean sunsets. Below the ramparts, Sri Lanka’s cricket team regularly plays at the rebuilt Galle International Stadium. Several sandy beaches are within easy reach, including the beautiful, crescent-shaped Unawatuna Bay.

 

The sea is generally calm and in Unawatuna and the reef shelters more fish than the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  Between Galle to Ahangama, there are many smaller lesser-known bays and beaches, several popular with surfers. Buddhist temples, tropical rainforests, and mangrove-lined lakes and waterways home to numerous species of birds and monitor lizards makes this area interesting for nature lovers as well.

Shopping

The Galle Fort is one of the most famous and iconic locations of Sri Lanka’s South Coast. It is a lasting reminder of the island’s rich colonial past and a marvel of architecture at that. Nowadays, not only is the fort a popular destination for history buffs and sightseers, it is also a lively shopping precinct that boasts all manner of exciting products!

Now, there’s a litany of shops, bars, cafes and vendors to choose from in the fort, so much so, that you’ll probably end up feeling a bit lost on where to start.

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Unawatuna

Located in Sri Lanka’s Galle District, Unawatuna is a very popular tourism spot due to its beautiful beaches and coral reefs. Whether its dining, sunbathing, or scuba diving, there’s no end to the activities you can participate in at Unawatuna.
 
Enjoy One of the Best Beaches in the World

Unawatuna is a small village and the beach is the main focus. It is quite narrow with beautiful sand, and now that a lot of rebuilding has occurred, there are many restaurants and accommodations along the beach. Jungle Beach in particular is lovely, and the water is clear & deep. On Wednesday evenings in season there is even a DJ beach party.

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Visit the Beautiful Buddhist Temple

A stroll up the western end of the beach to the top of the hill rewards you with a pagoda and a nice ocean view of the jungle beach on the other side. On a clear day you can sometimes see the outline of Galle fort in the distance.

 

It’s worth the walk any time of day, but its particularly beautiful to watch the sunset, when there are usually a few locals having a good time.

Just 1km  from Galle Henna estate, the Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya is a quiet rock temple with a 9m reclining Buddha. The mural-covered walls are painted in the typical style of the Kandyan period. Monks have been living here for at least 1500 years. You'll seldom find tourist here , which only adds to the appeal. As you ascend the long flights of stairs, there are good views over the rice fields.

Go Scuba Diving Near the Coral Reef

Unawatuna has a beautiful coral reef, and many nearby outfits offer diving with full equipment. Many friendly diving services offer wreck dives and coral dives, for reasonable prices and accommodating tourists of many different countries.

 

If you thought the beaches of Unawatuna were beautiful, what’s under the water is sure to blow you away.

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Yellow Tea
Virgin white Tea - From Galle

It is bought by Mariage Freres in France which is the most exclusive tea salon in the world.
(A deliciously delicate brew from Sri Lanka’s Handunugoda Estate located only a few kms from all three Galle Living properties on the south coast)

Virgin white tea is originally from China where legend has it that emperors allowed only virgins with silk gloves to cut the tea buds with gold scissors into gold bowls. In Sri Lanka,the Handunugoda Estate has introduced this tea to great acclaim.

 

Pickers have to wear gloves to prevent any tainting, by perspiration or perfume, of the delicate taste, and their work is carried out in the early hours before the buds unfurl. The buds are then dried using only filtered sunlight and they Yield is tantalisingly small, resulting in grams at the end of the pick rather than the kilos elsewhere on the plantation.

It has also been discovered that this tea has an antioxidant content of 10.11 per cent, the highest naturally occurring amount in any beverage, and has a powerful range of health benefits.  

Virgin white tea might be the estate’s most noteworthy brew, but my visit uncovered myriad other delicious offerings, including the sapphire oolong tea, so called because the soil where the tea is grown inlaced with minute sapphires, the gem for which the Island is also famous for. 

Surf Sri Lanka

Although the swell all around Sri Lanka is seasonal, one exception is the Weligama beach break where surf is available all year around for beginner and advanced. Located only a few km from Galle Living properties. This is a prime location for surf training.

 

With wave’s heights ranging only  2 ft to max., this is all absolutely the ideal location for beginners and Children.There are also a number of surf boards for hire with instructors along weligama Beach.

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Yala Safari Park

Yala National Park is one of the best places for sightings of wild Elephants. The park is home to many animals including Buffaloes, Leopards, Monkeys, Crocodiles, Wild boars and Bears.

The cats chuff can be heard from a distance and is so soporific. They love to bask in the sun at the top of 30ft rocks and it’s breathtaking, so take a zoom/telephoto lens. The western part of Yala (block one) is named as the area with the highest leopard concentration in the world.

Feb-Jun/Jul is the optimum time to visit when water tables are low. Leopard, elephant and many smaller animals are competing for the same drinking supply. You are likely also to see sloth bears, deer, wild boar, buffaloes, crocodiles and monkeys. Birds are in profusion – up to 130 species. The park also contains a monastic settlement, Situlpahuwa and other important centres of pilgrimage.

 

Be aware Yala is usually closed in September.

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