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Weligama

Weligama, literally translated as ‘Sandy Village’, has quickly become a hub for the water sports enthusiast. The sleepy fishing town in Sri Lanka, however, still keeps its rustic charm and traditions alive with just a few concrete buildings, and the existence of traditional stilt fisherman. Weligama, just 2 and a half hours away from Colombo, is a wonderful mix of southern Sri Lanka’s best.

Top Reason to Visit

Surfing in Sri Lanka has become a major attraction to many foreigners and locals alike due to the many surfing havens along the coast of the country. Weligama is considered to be the beginner surfer’s goldmine with the perfect breakers and sandy bottoms, making it just that much safer. In addition to its surfing scene, water sports, such as snorkeling and diving are also great activities you can indulge in, thus making it the top reason to visit the seaside town.

While You're There

Grab them surf boards and snorkels:

Come the months of July to October, and the surfing season is at fever pitch. The weather is clear and calm during these months, along with predictable breakers across the shore. Beginner surfers flock to the beach area equipped with all the necessary facilities to master the sport, so do not worry there is plenty of surf boards to go around. Already mastered the surfing technique? Then go explore the wildlife down below the water. Swimming and snorkeling around the pristine Weligama Bay area is another site to behold as it holds diverse marine life that would make anyone awe at the very sight.

A lasting tradition:

Along with the surfing scene, the fishing town is also famous for its lace making. First introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century, many of the local women still continue the traditional art making exemplary crochets and tatting lace: blouses, table clothes, table mats etc. Finding that perfect souvenir to bring back home could not be easier, as there is a variety of designs to choose from when prowling along the coastal stretch.

Fishing on poles?:

Further along the lines of tradition, being a town that is dependent on the fishing industry, local fishermen still practice a rather unorthodox method of catching fish, entailing them to climb up on stilts that are firmly placed quite deep in the sea. These fishermen would wait for hours on end sitting on top of the stilts waiting for a tug on their line. Partaking in such an activity really tests your patience to its limit.

The unknown statue:

To the western end of the town is an unknown statue, called the ‘Kushta Raja Gala’, who is believed to be a provincial ruler that miraculously recovered from leprosy after drinking coconut milk for three months. The statue was erected to commemorate the ruler’s miraculous recovery from the potent disease. However, a religious account of the statue argues that the statue is a depiction of a ‘Bodhisattva(a person who has achieved Buddhahood), named ‘Avalokiteśvara’. Regardless of the two different accounts, the statue is always an intriguing due to its contested identity.

Insider Advice

Travel: The best and cheapest way to travel around the town is by bus since there are ample that pass by and will charge a minimum of LKR 12 (This will increase when your destination is quite far away). There are tuk-tuks available for hire, however, it would be quite expensive since they do not have metres, which could lead to overcharging.

Weather: The months of January to March have shown to be the best times the town experiences ideal weather, however, the best surfing weather generally lasts from July to October since the breakers are much calmer as a result of less wind.

Money: Credit and debit cards will be next to useless around here as many of the shops, apart from the few supermarkets, do not accept plastic. Therefore, it is highly advisable to carry cash in hand with small notes like LKR 20s, 50s, and 100s.

Clothing: Beach wear while partaking in any of the water sports is mandatory. Light / casual wear is the best bet when going around the town since it can be quite warm during the day.

Safety: It is quite a safe area, however, it can get quite crowded, so please to be mindful of your belongings.

Meals and refreshments: Tuck into some fresh from the ocean seafood at one of the shorefront fish shack joints opposite Taprobane Island. But if you are looking for a more local touch, there are a few eateries scattered across the town.

In conclusion, the ‘Sandy Village’ is a unique town in the southern coast of the country, offering a great deal of fun with its ideal spots for water sports activity, and traditions that have continued for generations in the form of stilt fishing and lace making.

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