Tangalle – 12 Things to Do, Attractions, & Travel Guide

Last Updated on by Teddy

They say that less is more, and when it comes to Tangalle, they couldn’t be more right!

Situated in the Hambantota District on the southern tip of Sri Lanka, Tangalle has a mild climate and sandy beaches. It is the perfect jumping off point to visit the Yala National Park.

Due to its distance from Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, Tangalle is a less-visited destination with a typically laid-back crowd.

Things to Do & Attractions

1. Hummanaya Blowhole

Located only a few kilometers west from Tangalle this blowhole explodes with excitement. The second largest blowhole in the world, you need to be lucky to reach this spot at the right time. The high waters of the southwest monsoon forces water 23 meters high into the air through a natural chimney in the rocks. You will have to make an 800m walk to reach the blowhole. The perfect time to see it is in June when the current is very strong – just be careful near the edge as you may get soaked!

  • Duration: Less than 1 hour
  • Cost for foreign visitors: LKR 250
  • Location: Dikwella
  • Opening Times: 8am – 5pm

2. Dondra Head Lighthouse

Located on the southern most tip of the island, this well-maintained lighthouse is operational and ready for exploring. It is 49 meters high and is the tallest lighthouse in the country. Climb to the top or wander through the palm tree gardens – consider bringing a picnic with you as there are plenty of scenic spots for you to sit and relax.

  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Cost for foreign visitors: There may be a small fee to climb the lighthouse tower and you will also need to get approval/permission in advance from the navy in Galle or Colombo – check before visiting what the process is as you may not be able to climb the tower based on government rules.
  • Location: Light House Road, Dondra (try using a local tuk tuk driver to locate the lighthouse as it is difficult to find on your own).
  • Contact: +94 41 2 222595

3. Weherahena Buddhist Temple

Don’t miss this unique temple complete with an artificial underground cave and 200 cartoon-like scenes from Buddha’s life. There is a large sitting Buddha and the gardens are picturesque. Make sure you follow clothing customs as per religious sites; and take off your shoes within the temple. During the late-November or early December poya, they hold a perahera (procession) of dancers and elephants to celebrate the temple.

  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Cost for foreign visitors: LKR 250 – this is a suggested donation price and not necessary for entry. Guides are available – be sure to tip them if they offer a good service.
  • Opening Times: 7am – 6pm
  • Location: Weherahena RD, Weherahena, Matara
  • Contact Number: +94 71 492 4107

4. Wewurukannala Vihara

This ancient Bhuddist temple contains unforgettable art and sculptures. You can climb the large 50m seated statue of Buddha, and admire the mosaic frescoes. There is also an interesting hall of punishments, which may not be suitable for young children. As always remember to follow local religious clothing rules – and don’t wear footwear inside the temple. Not one to visit for people with animal rights concerns as they have an elephant tied up on site.

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Cost for foreign visitors: Approx LKR 200
  • Location: Dikwella

5. Madunagala Hermitage

Be sure to check out this traditional Buddhist temple that is surrounded by lush and dense forest. If you are looking for contemplative silence then this is the place to visit. Visitors are welcome at the temple but it is advised that you follow local etiquette rules which includes dressing modestly. It is also vital that you keep safe in the area as the forest has natural animal predators such as leopards and bears. Keep an eye out for the monks strolling in the temple grounds!

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Location: Tangalle

6. Talalla Beach

This one mile stretch of golden beach is relatively unspoiled and has nice ocean conditions for surfing. There are restaurants in the area but you can also arrange a meal at local homesteads or guesthouses. Don’t miss the sunsets on Talalla Beach – locals call them the eighth Wonder of the World!

  • Duration: 1-3 hours
  • Location: Talalla Beach

7. Mulgirigala Rock Temples

This beautiful rock temple is carved into the rocks while Buddha statues fill the nearby caves. The place has a rich history and dates back over 2000 years.  If you go early in the day (about 9am) you will have the place to yourself. The top of the temple is more than 500 steps up, and is a wonderful hiking challenge for those adventure seekers!

  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Cost for foreign visitors: LKR 500
  • Location: 450 B, North of Tangalle, Tangalle

8. Goyambokka Beach

Lovely scenic beach, but the water is too strong/high for children to swim in. You will find yourself sharing the beach with local tourists staying at the local resorts and hotels although it is not too busy. You’ll find plenty cafes with sun beds/umbrellas available for buying customers.

  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Location: Goyambokka, Tangalle

Medilla Beach

Do you love finding new local food? Then this is the beach for you! Once you’re done eating, hire a scooter and explore the villages, beaches, and temples. Keep an eye out for turtles. Not the place for you if you want to swim as the water currents are strong and the waves high.

  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Location: Medilla, Tangalle

Rekawa Beach

Rekawa Beach is one of Sri Lanka’s most important turtle nesting sites. Five of the world’s seven species of marine turtles nest here throughout the year. Among them is the leatherback turtle, the largest of sea turtles. From April to September, hawksbill and leatherback turtles struggle ashore at night to lay their eggs.

  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Cost for foreign visitors: Turtle releases are arranged by a local operator and start at 8pm daily, and cost LKR 1,000 per person. Make sure you consider the ethical concerns before embarking on this activity.
  • Location: Hambantota

Ayurveda

The benefits derived after a soothing Ayurveda treatment and massage are numerous. Most local hotels and resorts offer a range of packages. Sri Lanka is famous for Ayurveda therapies, so don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Cost: Prices differ depending on the venue

Go surfing

Sign up for surfing classes while visiting Tangalle. The experts at the surfing schools in the area are ISA certified instructors, and will ensure that you not only learn well but is safe too. They offer sessions across many sites in Tangalle.

  • Duration: 1-3 hours
  • Cost for foreign visitors: Prices depend on your chosen package.
  • Opening Times: 6am – 7pm

Foodies Guide

Best Food Experiences

1. Fish and chips at Buckingham Place

Originally a small fishing village, Tangalle is the gateway to the wide-open spaces and beaches of Southeast Sri Lanka. Tangalle has fresh food in abundance thanks to the town being surrounded with coastlines. The best place to dine here is at the boutique lagoon-view hotel – Buckingham Place. No, it has no relation to England’s Queen and their monarchy. But it is no less in its hospitality and delicious food. Head to this quaint place which serves the best fish and chips, hands down. You can also try their mighty Sri Lankan fare which features everything from authentic dishes to modern versions to suit all taste buds. And if you’re tired of the seafood and just want to laze besides the pool, don’t forget to order their Ceylon teas – an ultimate name in refreshment and tranquility.

2. Grilled fish at Mango Shade

Slowly grilled on charcoal, with simple lime and garlic seasoning, there is something about grilled fish that makes its taste linger in your mouth long after you have savored it. When in Tangalle, do not miss out on this preparation and head to Mango Shade that serves the best flavorful Sri Lankan style grilled fish with richly spiced sauces, and very moderate prices for the area. You can sit under the swaying mango trees and coconut palms as you enjoy your dinner/lunch of fresh catches from the ocean.

3. Lobsters, Fries and Salads at Cactus Lounge

If you prefer the food you see cooked and ready to eat, go to the highly recommended Cactus Lounge on Matara Road. Hundreds of tourist who visit this lagoon recommend this venue for their Lobsters, fries and salads. Yes, salads! Now that’s how you satisfy the vegetarian and non-vegetarian souls! And you might ask what’s so special in the fries. These super thin shoestring fries are hand-chopped by the owner himself and fried skin-on in vegetable oil. This eatery gets brownie points for their beautiful presentation of food that is a treat to the eyes and the taste buds. Not just vegetarian friendly, this place is also fitness friendly as the health freak in you can enjoy gluten-free fare from around the world. So whether it is fresh lobsters, crunchy fries or veggie and healthy salads, you know where you can get a wholesome meal as per your taste.

Where to Eat

Nearly all guesthouses serve food. But the difference in Tangalle is the country style spicy seafood and the curd. Don’t miss curd and treacle at least once as a dessert! Most say its heavenly, but see how you feel! As a tip: always try to get the curd made that day for the best quality.

We have here few mouth watering places in Tangalle:

1. Verele ($$$)

Goyambokka Estate, Tangalle 822 | +94 47 224 4466 | www.tangalle.anantara.com/verele/

A Japanese restaurant with a Sri Lankan flair, this restaurant is the perfect combination of the best of both cuisines. Enjoy succulent meats while the chefs provide acrobatic cooking entertainment for you. The ambiance is pure luxury combined with seascape and it really beats most restaurants in Tangalle with its unique cuisine itself.

2. The Lobster Pot ($$$)

Muhudu Mawatha, Unakuruwa, Tangalle |+ 94 779642391

A relatively new hut, the Lobster Pot offers . . . you guessed it, amazing lobster dishes! And that is not all. The food comes with great hosts and ample stories of Sri Lankan history and fishermen anecdotes along with your meal.

3. Sha Sha Seafood ($$)

Kapuhenwala Rd | Marakolliya, Tangalle

Authentic and Sri Lankan as can be, this place is run on the sands of the Tangalle beach and offers a neat beach meal without much ado. Campfires, candlelight meals, or whatever else you need, this place has it to offer. With no hotels or eaterys alongside on the beach, this is a special place that offers solitude and great food.

4. Siesta ($)

After the Tangalle Bridge and onto 52 Medaketiya road, Tangalle

This typical Lankan home was made into a charming eatery. The Siesta provides authentic homemade food for anyone who ventures inside. The usuals are rice and a choice of curries, pol sambol, and a choice of fish meals. A friendly atmosphere and lovely staff makes this place a must visit, and their low prices don’t hurt either!

Or check our complete list of best places to eat in Tangalle for more delicious options.

Where to Sleep

There are several accommodation options in Tangalle that range from low-priced rooms to high-end suites.

1. Buckingham Place

Do you prefer a royal experience? Book your rooms at the Buckingham Place! (Not to be confused with Palace.) Needless to say they offer all the necessary amenities, delicious food, excellent beverages (try their famous Arrackito drink.)

2. Frangipani Beach Villa

Those who desire quiet surroundings, Frangipani Beach Villa is the ideal hotel for you. The villa overlooks the sea and is equipped with all the necessary amenities and facilities.

3. Coppenrath House Tangalle

The Coppenrath House has rustic Sri Lankan style guest rooms fitted with private balconies, and offers impeccable service. Enjoy activities like snorkeling, fishing, cycling, and a campfire on the beach.

4. Villa Tangale Lagoon

This luxurious villa has five spacious luxury family rooms, five luxurious chalets with big verandahs, five beach bungalows, and six villas with private pools. They also offer world-class cuisine in a beautiful setting.

Shopping Guide

There isn’t much high-end shopping in the area but you can still find local places selling traditional crafts and jewelry. There are carved wooden items, decorative masks, and artisan textiles. You can also find regionally-grown teas, handmade leather bags and gemstone jewelry. As always do your research before shopping so that you know if you are big overcharged; feel free to haggle politely; and never feel like you have to buy something.

When to Go

Best time: November to March, when the climate is perfect for sunbathing, surfing, and exploring!

Time to avoid: May to October. The Southern coastline receives the highest rainfall and biggest waves during this period – most water sports activities will be cancelled or reduced in operation.

Dress Code

If you are visiting Tangalle and the surrounding area it is important to follow Sri Lanka’s modesty dress code. When you are not on the beach, you must cover your knees and shoulders when out and about (applies to men and women) or at restaurants. Consider bringing a wrap/shawl/shirt with you so you can easily cover up. When visiting religious sites you will also have to cover up on this manner, and you will have to remove your footwear upon entry (have a bag with you so that you can keep your shoes/sandals with you, otherwise you may lose them!)

Getting in and Around

Colombo: You can catch the bus from Colombo Bastian Mawatha Bus station to Tangalle Bus station; the journey will take about 6 hours. Taking a taxi will take a third of the time. The train is a good middle ground – it takes about 4 and a half hours from Colombo Fort train station to Beliatta (from there you can take a taxi to Tangalle).

Airport or Negombo: A taxi to Tangalle using E01 expressway will take around three and half hours. Alternatively, you can take a taxi/bus to Colombo Fort train station and take the train. You can also take a bus from Katunayake Airport Bus Station directly to Tangalle – the whole journey will take about 8 hours.

Galle: You can take a taxi to Tangalle and the journey will be about 1 hour and 15 minutes long. For a significantly cheaper option consider taking the bus from Galle Bus Station to Tangalle Bus Station – it will only take 45 minutes longer.

Kandy: Taking a taxi directly from Kandy to Tangalle will take around  six hours. A cheaper option is to take train or bus with a transit in Colombo.

Ella: Taking a direct taxi from Ella to Tangalle will take two and a half hours. Alternatively, you can take the bus from Wellawaya to Matara Bus Station, and then take an ongoing bus to Tangalle Bus Station, which will take around six hours.

Dambulla: Best public transport option will be to take a bus to Colombo and take either train or bus from there. It will take almost 10 hours. A quicker option is taking a taxi directly to Tangalle – the journey will take about five to six hours.

Budget

Accommodation prices do vary depending on the type of venue you stay at, with local rooms in guest houses or home stays costing about $20-40. For mid-priced hotel rooms you will be paying from $60 to over $300. Luxury accommodation can cost upwards of $500.

Local restaurants sell Sri Lankan dishes for as little as $5, but seafood items cost significantly more. Expect to pay high prices at eateries and bars located on beaches and within hotels. When visiting local temples you may be asked to pay a small fee for entry, but this is usually considered a donation and you do not have to pay if you do not want to.

Traveler Quotes

“The sunsets are breathtaking. This could be the perfect beach if you ask me!”

Maria of Nerd Nomads

Although quiet, the beautiful place is not forgotten! Whether you’re dodging spraying water from blowholes, meandering through Buddhist temples, surfing with Bandula Surfing School, or trying out fresh seafood from local restaurants, you’re guaranteed to remember Tangalle.

We hope to see you here soon—we’ll keep the lighthouse on!