Situated between a historic lagoon and the wide blue sea, Negombo on the west cost of Sri Lanka combines some of the best golden beach for sun
and adventure in the island. Staying just a day or spending an entire vacation, the predominantly coastal town offers an eclectic mix of relaxation,
history, cuisine and adventure.
The wide golden beaches front everything from fishing villages, historic churches, restaurants and pubs and a range of accommodation, including award winning luxury hotels.
For the explorer, check out the Old Dutch Fort gate built in 1672 now a part of the prison and 100 kilometre long Dutch Canal which was then a supply route to the Dutch administration. Of course, the old churches and fishing villagers are musts as well if you are staying for longer.
For more of an adrenalin rush, Negombo offers pristine beaches and an assortment of water sports. The coast is popular for wind and kite surfing, sea canoeing and jet skiing in the lagoon. Fishing is an option too, and for a little more excitement you can join the local fishing community in hauling in the fishing nets with the day’s catch.
Nature enthusiast can take a leisurely boat tour through the mangroves or head to the marshlands to discover endemic and migratory birds, reptiles and other wildlife that have made the marsh their home.
The mark of the 17th century Dutch colonizers and their predecessors are unmistakably evident with the myriad of churches spread all throughout the Negombo region. A more recent and colourful addition is the monuments dedicated to the patron saint of their respective church and hoisting flags in honouring the saint. Even if you are not into religion, history and architecture, the 17th century churches are awe inspiring. Some of them have ornate painting on the ceiling and others elaborate stories about their origins.
Despite the strong catholic influence earning its name ‘Little Rome’, Negombo is a multi-religious city, with many historic Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim places of worship.
Agurukaramulla Raja Maha Viharaya is probably the most famous Buddhist temple. It is unmistakable with its daemon month entrance and remnants of a 300 year old library.
South of Negombo and probably 45 minutes’ drive is the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, which is believed to have been hallowed during the third and final visit of the Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka, setting its origins back to 500 BCE. It is definitely worth a visit, especially in the late afternoon if you want to catch a glimpse of the daily perehera procession that circles the temple grounds lead by drummers and flower bearers.
The ‘Maha Lelama’ is the centre of the fresh fish auction and sales in Negombo and is an experience on its own. Some of Sri Lanka’s best seafood lands here, including lobster and lagoon prawns and crab and are noted for their succulent flavour and delicious texture.
This abundance of seafood only means one thing – exception seafood feasts along the costs. A lot of the local bars and restraints have crafted their own versions of popular international seafood preparations and come from mind and flavoursome to burn a hole in your stomach spicy. The freshness however is unmistakable and is definitely a treat for any seafood lover.
For the less adventurous, the stretch of luxury hotels lining the costs include a generous spread of seafood in their elaborate lunch and dinner buffets and offer a long à la carte menu of seafood delicacies to choose from.
Negombo has a few DJ’s spinning their tunes to the town’s visitors on a daily basis, with the occasional beach party organised by the hotels. Head to Colombo, which is an hour’s drive for more variety in the music and ambiance. Each nightclub in Colombo tries to bring its own vibe and is a great attraction for club hoppers and younger party goers. Colombo also houses a wide assortment of pubs and restaurants that host live bands and are popular among a more mature audience. Most venues serve a wide selection of liquor and cocktails. The locals have separate picks for reasonably priced drinks and venues for the music and are generous with their advice on where to go for each.