Jessica de Smidt
Where to Stay and Eat in South Sri Lanka
Updated: Apr 3
We went on a family surf trip to the south of Sri Lanka over December 2022 and January 2023. We stayed in Unakuruwa for ten days and spent the remaining eighteen days in Midigama. I wrote about our stay in Unakuruwa, which you can read about if you click here. I also wrote about the waves in South Sri Lanka, specifically for longboarding, which you can read here. This blog post is all about where to stay and eat in Weligama, Midigama, Ahangama and Mirissa.
Weligama Weligama is a long strip, with its focal point being the beach break. It has a very touristy, busy feel, but it has a lot of locals bustling about in their daily lives, so it doesn’t feel busy in a bad way. This is a great place to stay if you don’t want to catch tuk tuks much and you’d just like to walk to different restaurants and shops. The beach is a lively section, lined with various restaurants and accommodations. If you embrace the chaos, you can get into the upbeat vibe here.
Where to eat in Weligama: Hangtime Hostel: This is a hostel and the restaurant has a beautiful view over Weligama beach. The menu is more Western, but with a bit of a Sri Lankan flair. I recommend the grilled chicken burger. This is a great place for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Ceylon Sliders: This is one of the trendier places to eat, so it is a bit more expensive, offering mostly Western meals, but its worth the higher price. I highly recommend adding the little poatatoes and aoili to whatever meal you order. Their key lime pie is also really good. The one time that we had it, it was sensational and the next time it was just normal, so give it an order and hope for the best! You can also eat breakfast, lunch and dinner here. Nomad: This is another trendy spot, with prices to match. It’s a beautiful spot, with really delicious breakfasts. I didn’t try any of their lunches. This is a brunch spot. I recommend the eggs benedict on the potato rosti. It’s really scrumptious! I really didn't like their smoothies, they were super sweet, so if you order one of these make sure to ask for no sugar! Home Plus Chicken: This is a local spot, that has a guy who spins out fresh roti at the front of the store. Even just going past to have a look at this is quite an experience. They have an extensive menu. I never tried the kotthu, but it looks really good. Kotthu is roti that is cut up into strips, that resembles tagliatelle and then it is fried up with veggies/meat, so in the end it becomes a kind of noodle stir-fry. They also have rotisserie chickens that I saw a few locals pick up as takeaway, with a couple of rotis and curry. Moochies: I never went here, but I heard great things! What to do in Weligama: Global: Global is a supermarket that is the equivalent of Game. It’s such an experience to go here though. They have absolutely everything that you can think of from clothing, to crockery, fabric and suitcases. Give yourself a decent chunk of time to browse here, or go back a few times. I would recommend buying sarongs and throws at Global. They’re about a quarter the price of the ones that are sold at the beachfront shops. Have a look at the clothing section upstairs too. If you’re a woman, it’s super intriguing to see a women’s clothing section that is almost entirely floral. I shall say no more. If you happen to go through Matara, apparently the Global there is a whole another level of amazing! Food City: I found that Food City had better quality food items as opposed to Global. For example they offered quite a few different options of an item, sometimes including an organic option too. It is solely a food store though, so it’s more just the usual interesting experience of going to a supermarket in a foreign country.
The bus in Sri Lanka: Take the bus everywhere. It’s such an experience and it is really efficient and regular. There are two kinds of busses, the long distance bus and the short distance busses. The long distance busses only stop in specific towns, whereas the short distance busses stop at every stop where there is a person waiting. The 350 bus is the short distance bus and it stretches all the way from Galle to Tangalle, possibly with a change over in Matara. It probably stretches even further than that, but that’s as far as I went. You can’t take surfboards in the bus. Be prepared for the price to be quite inconsistent, depending on what the bus conductor decides to charge you. Either way it’s super cheap and efficient. Depending on where you go, it’s between R2 and R5 one way. It’s great to use the bus to get to lunch/dinner spots. I downloaded the offline Google Maps of South Sri Lanka and found this really helpful when I was on the bus, to make sure that I was going to get off at the right stop. The short distance busses pretty much stop at 10pm, I was rarely awake after this time haha, so this didn’t really affect me.
Midigama is a quiet, little village with a few accommodations and restaurants located around a really beautiful beach. It is just 5km out of Weligama, in the direction of Galle. The main beach has two waves out ahead, Lazy Left and Lazy Right. If you’re wanting to stay somewhere where you can walk to a wave, I wouldn’t recommend staying here, just because I find both those waves to be really average and way too crowded. However, if you want to stay in a quiet, beautiful place and you’re happy to catch tuk tuks to different waves, then this is your spot. It’s pretty amazing, because almost all of the accommodation options that are located behind the railway line, are nestled in the Midigama forest. So almost all of the accommodations are surrounded by huge, towering trees, filled with monkeys and squirrels.
Where to stay in Midigama:
Midigama Holiday Inn: I couldn’t recommend Midigama Holiday Inn enough. Hansi and Udi run this accommodation with the utmost care. The rooms are super clean, spacious and affordable. It was about R300 per person per night. We paid less than that because we received a discount for our long-stay. The holiday inn is a Bnb set up, with one big main building that has different units for rooms and then a communal breakfast/chill area. The holiday inn is just a 200m walk to the beach. Initially, when we were looking at accommodation options, we thought that we’d want to be on the beachfront, but in retrospect we’re so glad to have stayed at accommodations that were set back from the main beach stretch. The beachfront is also the main road, so being set back from the beachfront, means that you’ll end up in a more quiet and lush place. All the rooms have aircons, as well as fans. There is also hot water. Hansi is super attentive to detail, so you can ask her to help you with anything. You can also order breakfast here at a really affordable price (between R40 and R60). I ate the banana pancakes every single day for 18 days. They are the best pancakes I’ve ever had in my life. I’m normally a savoury person for breakfast, but these pancakes were just too good to not eat every day. Please have them at least once on my behalf if you stay here.
This accommodation is directly across the road from Midigama Holiday Inn, so it’s also located in the Midigama forest. When you walk in, you can’t begin to imagine that there could possibly be that much space, stretching off from the road. There are beautiful rondavels (circular cottages) that are scattered around a really large plot. There is even a giant elephant as one of the accommodation options. There is a dam, as well as a swimming pool. This is the ultimate spot for relaxation and rejuvenation. The rooms don’t have air conditioners, but they do have strong fans and hot water. This place is also super affordable, at 30$ (R550) per rondavel, that sleeps two people. They also do cheap, tasty breakfasts and lunches here. Where to eat in Midigama:
Cafe Pleasure: This little locally run restaurant is great for a quick, cheap, tasty meal. I think that this was probably the most affordable place that we ate at in our entire stay. It is run by an elderly Sri Lankan couple, who really give hearty portions. The chicken and vegetable kotthu was yummy, as well as the vegetable fried rice. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Surfing Wombats Pizzeria/Hostel: This place is dangerously close to Midigama Holiday Inn and Subodinee Cabanas, if you end up staying at one of those places. They make Neapolitan-style pizza, with the puffy crust and super simple, but delicious toppings. There are also a few other dishes. The chocolate brownie is really good too. Open for lunch and dinner. They may be open for breakfast too because it’s a hostel. Their pizzas are quite expensive, ranging between R150 and R300, but it is unbelievably good having one of these after a long day of surfing. A plus is that they have a ping pong table here, as well as a ping pong champion night. They also have open mic nights. Have a look at their notice board when you’re there for their evening activity plan for the week.
Blue Portch Surf View Rest (Yes, their official name is spelt incorrectly): This spot is opposite the surf spot, Rams. It has a sea view, so it’s a great breakfast and lunch spot. It’s also wonderful for dinner, because of the cool sea breeze. This was my favourite restaurant on the Weligama/Midigama/Ahangama stretch. The menu is so extensive that you could eat here for every meal for your entire stay and try something different every time. The portions are unbelievably huge, so you could easily take takeaways for lunch the next day (and this is coming from a big eater). My favourite meal here was the chicken buddha bowl. The tofu one looked really good too. All the fresh juices are amazing here too, make sure to say that you don’t want sugar, just in case. The funny thing about this place is that they just bring the dishes as they’re ready, so if you’re in a big group, the dishes sometimes arrive up to 30 minutes apart. The food is worth it though! Manika Restaurant & Laindry (Yes, that should be laundry): This spot is also a super affordable local spot, that gives hearty portions. All the dishes that I saw being served there, looked good. My favourite dish here was the dahl. I ordered that when I felt a bit of flu coming on and it felt like it hit the spot. This is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The “cold coconut” lady on the Midigama beachfront: There is a lady, with a wooden stand set up on the Midigama beachfront with a white sign that has “cold coconuts” written on it. These were the best coconuts that we had during our stay, but make sure to order the green cold coconuts. There is a local smaller orange/yellow coconut that is good, but the green ones are the ones you really want. They’re R15 and so worth getting one of these every day. The roti shop in Midigama: Directly opposite the coconut lady on the Midigama beachfront, across the road, on the corner of the T-junction, is a little shop that doesn’t seem to have a name. They have super tasty triangle roti’s (they look like samoosas that have been pan-fried, instead of deep-fried) for R5. This is such an ideal pre/post-surf snack. A couple of these, paired with a cold coconut makes for a pretty solid lunch. Ahangama: Ahangama is a suburb of Galle, which I actually didn’t know when I was there. It feels like a little town, that is less busy than Weligama, but more happening than Midigama. It’s just 4km from Midigama. There are some really great shortboarding waves here, as well as a couple of longboarding spots. We never stayed here, but this seems like quite a good spot to stay, because it’s still quite chilled, but with a lot of great accommodations and restaurants around, as well as quite a selection of waves. Cactus: This cafe has one of the most beautiful settings. It has a similar aesthetic to Nomad and Ceylon Sliders, but the food is far more affordable and the quiet location on the beach is unreal. I tried pretty much everything on their menu and it was all really good. The smoothies are the best that I had in Sri Lanka, specifically the cacao one and the Flu Fighter. All of their food is delicious, but I really loved their vegan toasty, because it was loaded with such a variety of tasty ingredients. This is a breakfast, lunch and dinner spot.
The Kip: This is a super tranquil little cafe that is also quite a trendy, minimal and natural setting. It is quite expensive, in relation to the other spots and for their small portion sizes, but really worth it for the cosy, getaway feeling. It’s maybe not a spot to eat at regularly, but definitely worth going to at least once. I recommend their toasty and gazpacho. Don’t go here when you’re ravenous after a surf, maybe go here when you’re taking a chill day. It is open for breakfast and lunch.
What to do in Ahangama:
Ayurvedic Store next door to Cactus: This Ayurvedic pharmacy is a great place to get Sri Lankan products, specifically Samahan tea and Healing Ayurvedic Balm. These two are both must-buys when you’re in Sri Lanka and great gifts. Most people get the Sri Lankan flu at some stage during their stay and these are both two great products to help with that.
The Cinnamon Experience: This tour is 30$ per person for a 1 hour tour, so it seems quite expensive in relation to the cost of other things in Sri Lanka. However, it is well worth it and super informative. You harvest your own cinnamon from an organic cinnamon plantation, which is super cool! Cinnamon is only indigenous to this region in Sri Lanka and in Northern India, so it’s quite an amazing activity to take part in. You can WhatsApp this number, +94 76 801 5151 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can catch the bus to Koggala, which is a bit further on from Ahangama. You can then get a tuk tuk for the remaining 3km, to take you inland to the location of The Cinnamon Experience. You can search that name on Google Maps and the location should pop up. The Cinnamon Experience is located close to the Soul and Surf accommodation. It’s on the same road. Mirissa: Mirissa has a super long beach, with a few different little bays next to each other. It’s definitely worth spending a beach day here and giving Mirissa Point a surf. I didn’t spend much time here, so I never got around to surfing it. I also never ate anywhere in Mirissa, nor did I stay anywhere in Mirissa, but there are a few things that I did do that are definitely worth sharing. Mirissa is 8km by bus, in the direction of Tangalle, from Weligama. What to do in Mirissa:
Snorkel at Turtle Point Mirissa: This is one of the coolest turtle snorkelling experiences that I’ve had. Every time that I swam out in to this bay, I saw at least three turtles. There is a man who sets up a station on the beach, where he rents out snorkel gear and also offers snorkel guiding. I’ve read online that he’s really great and is also a turtle hero of sorts, who organises beach clean ups and really cares for this little area. So, he’s well-worth supporting. I brought along my own snorkel and mask, so I just went out on my own. I went here about five times and even chose snorkelling here over a surf sometimes, that’s when you know that it’s a great spot. If you’re not staying here, you can just catch the bus through to Mirissa.
Shop at Gayathri Tourist and Tailor shop Mirissa: This shop is a family-run business, where the son works in the shop and his grandma and aunty make all of the clothes. It’s pretty amazing because everything in the store is handmade by the aunt and grandma. They can also alter the clothing items to your liking, at no additional cost. I would not-so-conveniently walk past here on my way to Turtle Point, just to see if there were any new items for sale.
We were blown away by the hospitality in Sri Lanka. The people are super warm and welcoming. They take a lot of pride in their businesses, so this means that they have really incredible food and accommodations on offer. So many of the ingredients that are used in dishes in Sri Lanka are locally grown and fresh. We ate out for the entire month that we were away and we felt so good from the food that we ate. I often associate eating out with feeling a bit gross and craving a home-cooked meal, but this just isn't the case in Sri Lanka. We're going on a trip
to Arugam Bay in August 2023, so keep your eyes peeled for a blog post on what East Sri Lanka has to offer!
Written by Jessica de Smidt