Things to do
Also known as Devundara (City of Gods) is a cape in the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka. The Dondra Lighthouse, ruins of several hindu shrines and a Vihare (budhist Temple) are located in the vicinity. Dondhra was until the late 16th century CE a historic Hindu temple port town complex. Its primary deity was a Hindu god Tenavarai Nayanar and at its zenith was one of the most celebrated religious sites of the island, containing a thousand statues.
The temple was destroyed in February 1587 CE by the Portuguese colonial De Souza d'Arronches, who devastated the entire southern coast. Its ruins of granite pillars that formed the shrines' mandap can be found in the town spread over a considerable area. The temple's ancient Lingam statue and sculpture of Nandi excavated in 1998 provide early examples of Pallava Hindu contributions to the island.
There was a temple to Vishnu with a gilt copper roof, destroyed by the Portuguese and the place still attracts pilgrims today to the Dondra Fair and Perahera held in the month of Esala (July–August).The roots of the Devundara Devalaya date back to "Tondeswaram Temple" which is said to be one of the five temples on the Island that were dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is documented that Ibn Batuta visited the temple in the 14th Century during his travels.
Dondra is approximately 4 kms to the west and cycling or a tuk tuk ride is the most convenient way to get there. An early morning visit would give you an experience to witness the fisher folk coming in from the Sea with their catch. Plenty of kiosks with local food and other essentials are available.
6 km east of Dickwella at Kudawela there is a turning to the right that leads to a cliff where the only known blow-hole in Sri Lanka -and only one of a small number worldwide - is located. This spectacular natural phenomenon is known as Hoo-maniya, which is a rendering of the sound that it makes just before the water shoots up into the air. Water in a cave at sea level below the cliff is forced upwards through a fissure in the rock in high seas, especially during the southwest monsoon in June and July. After travelling several metres through the fissure to the top of the cliff, the water is then propelled into the air, sometimes to a height of 20 metres or more.
The Dickwella market is held on Saturdays – Produce from the interiors of Dickwella is brought here. It is a colourful sight and is busy throughout the day. Produce such as vegetables, Dry Fish, handcrafts and other items are for sale. Bargaining is a common sight at the Market.
Recommended to cycle to Dickwella southwards or a tuk tuk ride.
Yala National Park
Including the Sri Lankan Elephant 44 species of mammals are resident in Yala National Park, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. 25 individual leopards are estimated to roam in Block I. The elephant herd of Yala contains 300–350 individuals. The Sloth Bear, Sri Lankan Leopard, Asian Elephant, Wild water buffalo are threatened species that Yala is harboring. The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is located about 125 kilometres from Dickwella town.
A day excursion could be done by vehicle to Yala and at the entrance to the park jeeps are available for hire. An early morning departure from Kottan-on-sea is recommended. It takes around 2 hours drive to the park.
Cafe Ceylon is the best sea food restaurant in the southcoast. The best seafood restaurants are in a school all their own, celebrated for top quality fresh fish, lobsters, oysters and other seafood. With the Indian ocean as an inspiration, Cafe Ceylon does what they do best, drawing on cross-cultural culinary traditions to offer everything from Sri Lankan seafood recipes to dishes infused with Mediterranean and Asian flavors. Led by German Dimaano, a four-star rated chef from Melbourne, we specialize in offering mouthwatering seafood with Chef German's unique concept of beyond curry!, where he seamlessly melds western cooking techniques with locally sourced ingredients. Our seafood is freshly caught daily and prepared to accentuate the natural flavors of the sea without overwhelming them. We use only the freshest bounty from the ocean and nearby Koggala lake which includes fish, lobster, shrimp, crab, oysters and other shellfish. Our vegetables are fruits are locally grown or collected from home gardens and forests.
Kabalana is some of the best surf points in the south coast of Sri Lanka. In fact, the Rock at Kabalana is considered the best A-Frame reef break in Sri Lanka with good power, lefts and rights with a good ride of around 150m. The steep take off and hollow walls are ideal for both intermediate and expert surfers. During the peak season of January-February, waves can reach 10ft, making it popular amongst advanced surfers. For all its fame, most days there is hardly anybody in the water which makes the Rock one of our favorites surf points.
Weligama have a reputation as one of the best surf spots in Sri Lanka but it also holds more waves than anywhere else on the island There are three breaks within paddling distance of one another so you can take your pick if you are regular or a goofy foot. With a bit of skill you can get a decent 250m ride on a slow, low power wave. The bay has a completely sandy bottom and no rips so a great place to learn safely. It does however regularly get bigger swells up to 10 feet which can challenge even very good surfers. For beginners there are a number of surf schools and it is easy to rent a long board that will give you a better chance of catching your first ride. More advanced surfers can take their pick from Ram's Point and Plantation Point.
Mirissa is a beautiful crescent shaped, sandy bay surrounded by palm trees. You can surf a low power right-hander over the reef break near the rocks and a left-hander near the harbor. Works really well with a good swell up to 6 ft. However check the local tides as the reef can become shallow when the tide is out. Good for beginner and intermediate surfers to build confidence on a reef. More advanced surfers will find the reef point break at Midigma or the reef right hander at Mirissa more enticing.
Matara historically belongs to the area that is called Ruhuna, which was one of the three kingdoms in Sri Lanka (Thun Sinhalaya). The temple in the middle of the town is also built by ancient kings, and now it is a very popular sacred place among the Buddhists in the area. In the 16th and 18th centuries, Matara was ruled by the Portuguese and the Dutch respectively. The culture and architecture can still be seen in the area. The two fortresses that were built by the Portuguese and the Dutch can be found inside the city.
The Star Fort is still in its original structure in the shape of a star was built in 1765. The letters marked VOC on the arch of the entrance to the Star Fort is a name of a company which is written in Dutch language as follows: " vercenigde ostindenche compagne ".
Other important works by the Dutch are the St Mary's church and the market place in Nupe junction.