We booked a private air conditioned car from Unawatuna to Tangalle, an even smaller beach town on the south coast. There was a problem with one of the tires, so we had a short visit at a turtle hatchery & hospital while the driver got it changed. In one pool around twenty 10 days old turtles were swimming around, ready to be released in a couple of days. There were also several turtles injured by fishing nets that were receiving treatment, and one disabled turtle swimming in circles. We also had a short stop in Weligama to see the poles used for stilt fishing, and in Mirissa to see yet another beautiful beach.
After 2,5 hours we arrived at our hotel, Ceylon Sea Hotel & Spa, where there was a wedding party going on in the garden. The hotel was less than a year old, and is rated as a 4 star hotel, but it didn’t really live up to the expectations. The location was superb, with a short walk through the garden to a beautiful beach, but with weddings in the garden pretty much every day (starting with loud drums at 8 am) it wasn’t that easy to reach after all. The hotel is built with the balconies away from the sea, there was two dining room chairs and no table on the balcony, the 24-hour reception closed at 4 pm, the spa was a yoga instructor with a table, and none of the other advertised facilities were available (including internet). The young trainees were superb tough, showed us around, fixed what could be fixed, and always met us with a huge smile.
In addition to the loud weddings, we also had quite a bit of rain while in Tangalle, so we spent a lot less time at the beach than originally planned. But we spent a lot of time in the warm ocean, fascinated by the waves, the super soft sand bottom and “being all alone in the sea”. We went to the local bottle shop to buy some dark beer, which was kind of a crazy experience. Locals pretty much climbing on top of each other waving money around, but after a while one of them helped us to the front of the line. There were not a lot of tourists at all in Tangalle, so everybody wanted us to eat at their restaurant (mainly family owned places it seemed). We had dinner twice at Sea View restaurant, which was highly recommended on Tripadvisor, had really good food, a few cozy tables at the beach and a very friendly waiter (Lali). Our first night there it started raining, so we were invited for some arrack and soda with the owner and friends until it stopped.
We also had dinner at Kura restaurant one day. Afterwards we were invited over for some drinks with some locals and an American couple. We had a great time for a few hours, but then more and more friends kept showing up, and they all wanted a piece of us, so we figured it was time to leave. Friendship Beach Bar was also an interesting place at the beach. It was very laid back, and some young locals were playing drums and guitar. They were quite good when playing local songs, but we struggled to keep a straight face when they tried to sing modern pop songs. Fun for a while though. All in all, Tangalle was not the paradise we were hoping it would be, but we still had a good time there, and it felt a lot more genuine than Unawatuna.