The most famous beach in Colombo is Galle Face. The navy port is also based around the beach so it had been off limits for some time now. Heavy security with ID checks guard the area around beach, which is also surrounded by numerous international hotels and bars.
The locals come here to get the scent of fresh salt water while the sun sets over the Indian Ocean. It is the largest open space in Colombo. Ironically, the beach is posted with no swimming signs because the waves are too strong and you can feel the splash of the water from the promenade. The sunsets are simply gorgeous and it’s a wonderful way to hang out with the family or friends, buying snacks from vendors and people watching.
Mount Lavinia is located about an hour south of Colombo by bus, and it is the other most famous beach in the surrounding area. This is due to its resort feel, which attracts much of the foreign crowd. The area around the beach has numerous accommodations and the locals on the beach seem to really now how to sell you things you don’t need.
The beach is more isolated and you don’t get the feel that you are in a city anymore. At the tip you see the Mount Lavinia hotel, a white Victorian style building which gleams at the bay. Along the strip there are loads of local restaurants and couples hiding underneath umbrellas, in between the rocks. Further down the beach are the slums, filled with locals who probably work the beach and live off the tourists. The locals here are super friendly because they are more used to the tourist.
We went to Mount Lavinia hotel for tea time and it was true class! It caters purely to the foreign crowd, with a swimming pool overlooking the ocean. It was beautiful indeed and the prices weren’t too shabby.
Returning back to Colombo I took the train from Mount Lavinia station, which is also located just off the beach. This train winds down the coast as it heads north to the city and the views are beautiful. It passes by slums and the waves. In less than an hour you end up at Fort Station, in the heart of Colombo next to Pettah market.
No matter how beautiful the beaches, it really is a danger to swim in them. The waves easily took off my sandals when I was in ankle deep water so I can’t imagine how it would be to be fully immersed.
One of my last days was spent at the Dehiwala zoo. I was told that it was quite an impressive zoo for a small country, and that it really was. The Sunday I went it was pretty packed with families. The indoor aquariums were the only air conditioned bit and the route to take is simply by following the numbers. This is the map you have to follow:
which is really a signboard at the entrance. Of course my friend
Las and I didn’t realize that at the beginning and did a totally confusing loop and ended up spending more time resting by the animals rathar than actually admiring them. Most of the animals could be seen up close which was cool. Most of the animals were also pacing due to the heat and lack of space which is so not cool!
As my time in my motherland comes to a close I am truly sad to say goodbye. This has been a trip of a lifetime for me, something that I have waited 25 years for. This land has exceeded all my expectations and I feel a warmth and belonging that is indescribable. I can not wait to return someday… soon!