Kalutara was my final destination on a amazing adventure of Sri Lanka. It is a large town in the district of Kalutara, in the Western Province. Location wise it is about 40 km away from Colombo and stands on the west coast of Sri Lanka. The origins of the name Kalutara come from the Kalu Ganga River, known as the Black River. There are a few high end hotels in this area, dotted along the unspoilt palm tree lined beach, perfect for a relaxing stay and complete chill out.
I chose to stay at the Avani Kalutara hotel for 8 nights, as I felt it would be a perfect end to an incredible journey around this amazing country. The hotel is situated between the Kalu Ganga river and the beachfront, along St Sebastian Road. A beautifully tranquil setting on its own, with modern accommodation and good amenities. I would recommend staying here if you want pure relaxation. My only criticism comes with the food on offer in an evening, as the main restaurant has a very small selection of food for the size of the hotel, this doesn’t seem to change much each night and the A La Carte option was not up to standard, which was a great shame.
I wanted to relax and enjoy the beach and hotel facilities, unfortunately I was on such a high from travelling place to place it took me quite a while to attain this state of ease. After a couple of days I felt more in the swing of things, taking a daily beach walk or two and chilling with a book by the pool. However I still wanted to explore the area, so I asked one of the beach boys what was around to see or do. Next thing I knew I had booked him and his tuk tuk to take me to Bentota for a River Safari and a trip to a Turtle Sanctuary, stopping off on the way for picture perfect moments. The travel reps will try and deter you from using the local beach boys, but having spent a lot of time speaking with them they have a great deal of local knowledge and offer excursions for half to a third of the price of the travel companies. We used a guy called Frank and highly recommend him, he brought us king coconuts daily when we arrived on a morning by the pool.
River Safaris are available to Bentota River. This is another coastal town, located in the Galle District of the Southern Province. I took the tuk tuk to Bentota along the coastal route taking in the scenic views, arriving riverside within 30 mins. A boat took me through the mangroves, stopping every so often to witness crocodiles, monitor lizards and birds such as Kingfishers. It lasted a couple of hours and was an enjoyable morning ambling along the river.
Turtle Hatchery is a conservation project for sea turtles in Bentota, helping turtles of all ages that are now classed as endangered, making sure that the future of the sea turtle remains bright. I was shown around the hatchery, looking at turtle eggs, to babies that you can hold and onto the larger adult sea turtles. The hatchery depends entirely on entrance fee money or donations, they were badly hit by the Tsunami in 2004 and have taken time to recover and protect the turtles. This is a lovely opportunity to learn, see first hand the beauty of the sea turtle and give to a good cause in visiting.
Food options other than the hotel resort were very limited in Kalutara, however I found a lovely seafood restaurant along the beach, called Fresh Lobster. If you are staying in the area or surrounding areas such as Bentota I would go, for lunch or dinner. I ate there several times and the family run restaurant serves good food, normally in the form of lobsters, Sri Lankan homemade curry and rice followed with fresh fruit. Delicious! Price wise it was very reasonable and the setting is beachfront with an authentic charm.
Overall I enjoyed my time in Kalutara immensely, I left feeling rejuvenated and somewhat sad to be leaving Sri Lanka. I will return at some point and explore the east of the country, I cant recommend it enough, the people, the food, the scenery and of course the weather are all a delight. If you haven’t been to Sri Lanka GO!