When you spot swaying palm trees and fishermen perched on stilts in the sea, you know you’ve reached Thalpe. This jungle-fringed stretch of shoreline is a small Sri Lankan gem – a retreat for those in the know. Unawatuna and the wonders of Galle are nearby. But this is the place to while away your days going little further than between the pristine beach and your boutique hotel.
A get-away-from-it-all idyll at the southerly tip of Sri Lanka.
Take yourself into the hills above Thalpe and you’ll discover a true Sri Lankan treasure. Handunugoda Tea Estate is prized for its Virgin White Tea – a precious, ancient blend traditionally made from leaves untouched by human hands. Make arrangements in advance and you can embark on a private tour of the bountiful estate with a resident planter. Tasting the white tea is a treat. Taking some home is a must.
Prepare to spend a whole day at Koggala Lake, near Thalpe. Small islands, spice gardens and a wildlife-rich mangrove will have you reaching for a camera – or binoculars. Much of Sri Lanka’s birdlife resides here at one time or another. See as much as you can with a boat tour that weaves around the lake and its islets.
With its gentle curve of rose gold sand fringed by deep green palms, Thalpe Beach is the quintessential Sri Lankan escape. Yet this narrow stretch of coastline is one of the country’s lesser-known beaches. That makes it ideal for luxury hideaways, with just the sound of the sea and the clinking of cocktails for company.
Check the calendar before a visit to the natural wonders of Koggala Lake. Along with the hawks, herons and other native birds, local people flock here at full moon – or poya.
Top tip from SLH