Today, I am taking you to southern Sri Lanka to visit the beautiful city of Tangalle. This part of the island is not very popular among tourists but Tangalle is clearly one of the most beautiful cities in the area. You will find beautiful (mostly deserted) beaches there, and the atmosphere is also quieter and more relaxed compared to other southern cities like Mirissa or Galle, for example.
I really enjoyed Tangalle and ended up spending 5 memorable days there. I tell you everything about it in this blog post but let’s go over a few transportation and accommodation tips first.
How To Get To Tangalle
- from Ella: just over 4 hours
- from Mirissa: a little over an hour
- from Galle: about 2 hours
Bus trips are not very expensive in Sri Lanka, so keep in mind seat availability and air conditioning for more comfort when booking.FYI, I went around Sri Lanka on a scooter and it was absolutely amazing. I will tell you more about it in a dedicated blog post! 🙂
Where To Stay In Tangalle
When choosing your accommodation in Tangalle, I recommend you look at hotels that are as close as possible to the beach. If you’re on a budget, you can book at the Lucky Beach Tangalle inn. The rooms are clean and not too expensive. You’ll be ready to dive in because the hostel is literally on the beach. The evening brings on a good atmosphere to the Lucky Beach Tangalle and I met many cool people there.
If you can afford better accommodation, I recommend the beautiful Palm Paradise Cabanas + Villas which is further west of Tangalle. The accommodation is amazing and the setting will blow you away! Enjoy the hotel’s triangular pool! I admit I had trouble getting used to its shape at first! 😀
The rooms are also beautiful and you can rent small cabins that are perfect for couples, or entire villas that are ideal for families. Make sure to book early though because the hotel sells out pretty quickly, especially during high tourist seasons.
The Best Restaurants in Tangalle
If you want to eat great food in Tangalle, I suggest you go to the Dream Family Restaurant which is located here. As its name suggests, it is run by a very friendly Sri Lankan family and you will have very good local dishes there. Tangalle has a fairly active fishing port, so make sure to try the city’s fish and seafood.
The 8 Best Things To Do In Tangalle
Let’s start our visit to the city of Tangalle and its surroundings with these 8 places I loved visiting! To make it to all the attractions I’m listing below, I recommend you stay at least 2 days in Tangalle.
- Mangrove Beach
- Tangalle Beach
- Tangalle Navy Monument
- Goyambokka Beach
- Silent Beach
- Wewurukannala Raja Maha Viharaya
- Mulkirigala Rajamaha Viharaya
- Thissamaharama Stupa
1. Mangrove Beach
Mangrove Beach is the first beach I visited in Tangalle. To get there, head to the Mangrove Beach Chalets hotel. You will then have to cross the lagoon via this beautiful wooden bridge. Don’t worry, it’s a sturdy bridge!
You can kayak in the lagoon if you’re interested. I guess you have to ask directly at your hotel reception desk for prices but I’m sure they’re affordable.
By the way, it’s the mangroves you see all along the lagoon that gave the hotel its name. I wasn’t aware of it but the mangrove is a very important tree in the Southeast Asian ecosystem. Mangroves make it possible to retain sand (and therefore beaches) on the coast and their roots swarm with animals including crabs and shrimps. I learned all about it by participating in a mangrove plantation program in Palawan, the Philippines.
Let’s go back to our Tangalle tour! 🙂 After crossing the bridge, you will find yourself in a palm field that covers a large part of the beach. This place is utterly magical so make sure to explore as much of it as you can, it’s truly mindblowing.
2. Medaketiya Beach
Medaketiya Beach is the main beach of the city of Tangalle. It is a very large beach and since it looks onto the ocean, the water is often rough so it’s not the best beach if you’re looking to have a dip. You can still go there for a stroll or a drink and enjoy the sea view.
3. Navy Monument
Let’s head west and visit the Navy Monument, also called the War Heroes Monument. It is often mistaken for a lighthouse, but it is actually a war memorial for the victims of the Sri Lankan Civil War. You can get inside and climb to the top of the tower to have a beautiful panoramic view of the entire coast.
4. Goyambokka Beach
Goyambokka Beach is one of my favorite beaches in Tangalle. I would go there at lunchtime and eat whatever I had. As you can see, the sea is still a bit too rough to swim in. The most beautiful spot in the city is yet to come!
5. Silent Beach
Silent Beach is undoubtedly my favorite beach in Tangalle. I had not planned to visit it because nobody really talks about it on the internet. But I got a little bit lost somewhere around the Goyambokka beach and met a Sri Lankan who recommended the beach to me. I’m glad he did! It is located in some kind of cove so the water there is calm and crystal clear.
To get there, you will first have to enter the Aga Surf View which looks great, by the way.
The beach is just a few feet away! I really went there every day and I felt like I was in paradise. 🙂
For more spots, you can also read this blog post: Sri Lanka Beaches.
6. The Wewurukannala Raja Maha Viharaya Temple
We’re leaving downtown Tangalle to venture into the region surrounding the city so the following attractions are located outside Tangalle. Let’s start with the beautiful Wewurukannala Raja Maha Viharaya temple which is located about 15 kilometers west of the city. As you can see, it is a Buddhist temple. It was built in the 18th century by King Rajadhi.
One of the most impressive features of the temple is, of course, the enormous sitting Buddha statue that is a little less than 50 meters high.
Don’t just look at the temple from the outside! Visit the building and enjoy the many statues and murals illustrating stages of Buddha’s life.
At the back of the temple, there’s a kind of cave with statues of demons who are supposed to punish sinners. It’s a bit like the concept of hell in monotheistic religions.
7. Mulkirigala Rajamaha Viharaya
Entrance: 500 rupees (~ $3)
The Mulkirigala Rajamaha Viharaya is a Buddhist archeological site located about 20 kilometers north of Tangalle. It’s a pretty big site so give yourself a couple of hours to visit the whole thing. It is sometimes called the “rock temple” because it was built on a rock that is almost 200 meters high.
This temple is even older than the previous one because it was built in the 3rd century by King Saddhatissa. It was then expanded several times over the years.
To access the temple, you will have to climb many steps.
You will then get to the entrance of several caves. There is also a small stupa at the top of the rock.
8. Thissamaharama Stupa
Our tour around Tangalle ends with the huge Thissamaharama stupa. It is 75 kilometers east of Tangalle and is more or less going to be on your way if you’re planning to go to Ella. The Thissamaharama stupa was one of the four largest monasteries in the country when the monk Mahinda introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka (in Mihintale, near Anuradhapura).
It is said that Buddha himself meditated there with 500 of his disciples. The stupa was built precisely at that spot and is more than 47 meters high. The exact date of construction was not determined but it would supposedly go back to the 2nd or 3rd century BC.
We’re done visiting Tangalle, guys! I really loved this city, especially because I could go on cultural tours in the morning (visiting Buddhist temples for example) and relax in the afternoon on the city’s beaches, without mingling with tourist crowds that much. How awesome it that? 🙂
Let me know in the comments if you liked this tour of Tangalle and if you plan to visit it on your next trip to Sri Lanka. If you’ve already been there, let me know how you liked it!
See you around for new adventures in Asia! 😉