Villas in South Coast, Sri Lanka

Stretching between Galle and Hambantota, the south coast is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in Sri Lanka. Characterised by historically significant fortified towns, numerous picture-perfect palm-fringed beaches, a sultry turquoise sea, swathes of iridescent green paddy fields fringed by lush green jungle, ancient Buddhist temples, expansive waterways, nature-filled rainforests and tea-carpeted hills it offers enough variety to be a destination in itself; fabulous for families, groups and couples alike.

Galle is one of the region’s most significant attractions for its sixteenth century Dutch fort filled with an evocatively rich collection of buildings, boutiques, museums and luxury digs that hug a peninsular to the south of town. Galle’s popular beaches are better-facilitated, more developed and safer for swimming than those in and around Tangalle, but the further you travel east the more expansive, deserted and nature-filled they become.

Surfing, snorkelling, diving, whale watching, sailing, fishing and kayaking can all be done along this magnificent stretch of coastline as well as cycling, walking and trying your hand at Sri Lankan cookery. Inland, the scene varies as the westerly wet zone’s lush jungle interior gives way to the arid dry zone plains a little beyond Tangalle. Taking off by bicycle is often the best way to explore the hills, plains, sanctuaries and jungle whilst a boat is a must to navigate the scenic lakes and rivers that wind in between.

Some of Sri Lanka’s most popular national parks – Uda Walawe for elephants and Yala for leopards and bears – as well as a trio of its most accessible rainforests – Sinharaja, Kottawa and Kanneliya - are easily visited on a day or overnight trip from anywhere along the south coast.

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Villas in Sri Lanka by region

Hill Country, North West Coast, South Coast, West Coast
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Villa Saldana

Villa Saldana

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Habaraduwa-Koggala

We enjoyed three wonderful days at Saldana and adored the villa’s cosiness. Its design is grand but homely with the sea nearly always in view. The living room was especially comfortable and the front veranda is best sited to soak in the ocean vistas – drag a few chairs out there or even the dining table for a wave-chorused lunch as you count the lumbering ships on the misty horizon. The house and the swimming pool appear to float above the lawn and this aspect improves the airiness of the property.

The two master bedrooms both have sea-view terraces, but the bedroom opening onto the swimming pool terrace is less private - fine if you’re a single family grouping or a couple but maybe less so if you’re a group of friends. It’s ideal for midnight skinny dips though! The twin bedroom is ideal for children although the high beds might be a worry for parents with younger kids.

The kitchen is great and comes with everything that you’ll need if you’re looking to self-cater. The small staff team includes a cook who’s more confident in cooking Sri Lankan cuisine and simple snacks than elaborate western meals, but learning fast. The staff were always very discreet and gave us privacy, which we liked, although they were a little bit shy at times. Knowledgeable managers are on-call however, and they can help with restaurant bookings, massage appointments and onward travel. The turtle hatchery (0.2km) will be a delight for young children who can learn about the five species of marine turtles in tanks that come to lay their eggs on Sri Lankan shores. They’ll also have the opportunity to set new hatchlings free into the sea.

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Walatta House

Walatta House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Tangalle

This is one of those fabulous finds you really want to keep for yourself.  We loved Walatta House – from its eco-chic concept to its beautiful ocean views and tranquil hillside location – and no sooner had we arrived than we were working out when we could come back again with friends.  The design is simple and the size manageable, even for two people, and the house is furnished with an eye-catching collection of design-orientated furnishings and fittings – the bulb installation above the dining table caught our eye.

The 20m swimming pool is a treat for long leisurely swims, and the air-conditioned TV room is a top addition as it provides the perfect snug for watching movies (bring your own) or catching up on the news and sports.  There’s a desk and computer here too.  We wandered down to the pretty beach, but currents can be strong so the staff advised us to head for Seenimodera Beach (over the hillside, and accessed via road) if we wanted to swim or jog as the beach here stretches for a few kilometres.

There’s a small staff team at Walatta House, including a chef who also acts as the manager.  Having worked in various Middle Eastern countries he specialises in Middle Eastern / Arabian food, however you won’t find it on the menu, so if you fancy some hummus or tabbouleh, make a special request.  The kitchen is not located within the house (there is a little pantry with drinks cooler, coffee machine and tea making facilities) but is adjacent to the main building, and can be used by guests.
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Wetakeiya House

Wetakeiya House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Dickwella

You could easily hole yourself up for weeks on end here. As a writer, I thought Wetakeiya House felt like the perfect bolthole for composing and relaxing. It’s clearly a cherished home, and we loved the oversized daybeds, the interesting photographs and prints, and the eye-catching antiques artfully scattered throughout the house. There is loads of living space for six people and we liked that the pool was out of sight of the house as it gave yet another private spot for chilling out. The garden eventually leads to a collection of huge rocks smashed by the sea – a great scene for photographing but definitely not for swimming!
 
With three bedrooms, Wetakeiya House is ideal for a family, but since the garden drops off in places and slopes down towards the rocky beach, it’s probably more suitable for children over three. Since the two guest bedrooms are situated to the back of the house, and the master opens straight onto the main veranda, the house would also work really well for an indulgent couple looking for a little extra privacy and space. With a garden ripe for barbecues, fairly equally sized bedrooms, convivial living spaces and a good music system, groups of friends (singles or couples) could have lots of fun here too.
 
There’s a small staff team of four, and the lovely couple who manage the villa have recently returned from over 30 years in the Middle East and Greece. One of the pair, Chris, who is also the cook, prepares the usual Sri Lankan fare along with dishes she’s discovered on her travels. We dined on baked cheese gnocchi with salad, and for breakfast, tried her amazing pol sambol (grated coconut with lime, chilli and tomato).
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Why House

Why House

Sri Lanka » South Coast » Talpe

We visited Why House with a few friends and organised a special surprise birthday dinner for one of them in the evening. The villa staff pulled out all the stops and made our simple request into a real occasion. Rum cocktails and dips on the veranda at dusk were followed by an authentic British roast. The meal was superb and it was difficult to believe that the chef wasn’t English given the delectable cauliflower cheese and bread sauce! The lemon birthday cake for dessert was equally divine and the setting – tropical flower displays adorning the table - further enhanced the occasion. The whole evening was a great example of exactly why Why is such a good choice for groups and for entertaining. The staff – headed by wonderful hostess Henrietta – are equally proficient at looking after guests’ day-to-day needs. I found the main house bedrooms and bathrooms to be more luxurious than the others but they all come with their own special charm and are equally well-facilitated – air conditioning, satellite TVs, mini fridges and baskets full of mags, sarongs and games all come as standard in the rooms. DVD players are available on request and there’s a library of movies to choose from. The main living room has sound wired into the ceiling so it makes a great spot for getting together and having a bit of a bash! Why House might not be on the beach but you’ll find a sandy selection just five minutes away. We loved the villa’s inland location and spacious surroundings that couldn’t have felt more tropical and serene. A number of restaurants are within easy reach although with the chef’s excellent cooking – the menu lists Sri Lankan and Thai dishes, seafood grills, BBQs plus other western cuisines – it’s very likely you’ll choose to stay in. Breakfast is included in the rate and all other meals are at cost price plus a 10% charge for service. The villa is great value since several other services such as laundry, fax and WiFi are included in the rate.
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