Kalutara, West Coast Sri Lanka
  • Sri Lanka
  • Kalutara

Kalutara

Located on the mouth of the Kalu River and only a short distance from the airport, Kalutara has become one of the most popular holiday resorts in all of Sri Lanka. The town enjoys a great selection of sandy beaches, unique scenery and historic buildings for you to enjoy during your visit.

When to go

The temperature in Sri Lanka stays fairly consistent the whole year-round, especially in the coastal regions. The tropical climate sees temperatures in the mid-20s to low-30s at most times throughout the year, and you’ll enjoy at least 6-8 hours of daily sunshine regardless of when you find yourself in Kalutara. Given its location on the south-west coast of the island, the best time to visit falls between December and March, as this will allow you to avoid the monsoon, which brings with it wet weather from April to September.

Top Attractions

Whereas this used to be an important spice-trading hub, it is today more renowned for its shoreline (more on that in a second) and being the source of the island’s finest mangosteens. These purple-coloured “Queen of Fruits” can be found in many a roadside stall and in the various restaurants. If you’re in Kalutara, you simply have to try one of these delightful treats. For a dose of local history, the impressive Kalutara Bhodiya is a Buddhist complex that features the world’s only hollow Buddha shrine, as well as a sacred bodhi tree.

Beaches

Given the bustling nature of the town, the Kalutara beach is mercifully free of distractions and remains largely untouched. In fact, it is so sparsely populated that sunbathers are likely to be outnumbered by fishing boats. But rather than deter, that should encourage you to spend time among the golden sands and surrounding palm-dappled scenery.

Dining

With so many fishing boats and the local fish market on-hand, it is little wonder that this is a popular spot for seafood cuisines. From traditional Sri Lankan dishes to upmarket lobster offerings, you’ll be sure to find a host of options to whet the appetite.

Entertainment

With its laidback and low-key ambience, parties aren’t exactly the speciality of Kalutara. For a livelier time after the sun has set, the hour-long trip to Sri Lanka’s capital city Colombo, which boasts rooftop bars, clubs and open-all-night casinos is a better option.

Culture

If you want to spend your holiday to Kalutara exploring the culture of Sri Lanka then you only need to step away from the beach to be surrounded by unique scenery including the only hollow Buddha shrine in the world, as well as old colonial buildings including an old plantation mansion. During your visit, you’ll also be able to immerse yourself in local life by observing the production of Kalutara’s famous exports, including its production of coir rugs, basketwear and reed mats.

Adventure and Sports

The river safari along Madu Ganga comes highly recommended and will give you a great feel for the ecology, as well as a chance to explore secluded passages in the mangrove forest.

Additionally, nearby Bentota has a fantastic water sports club or you could check out the Turtle Conservation Project or Sinharaja Forest Reserve.

Getting around

As is customary in this part of the world, the most abundant form of local transport is the tuk tuk, which you’ll be able to grab hold of on most streets about town. To head further afield for attractions or to find a bit of nightlife, there are also taxis available that you should be able to acquire by speaking to the reception desk at your hotel.