Pooja Kanda sits on the top of a hill near Koggala and the south-coast market town of Habaraduwa, ten minutes' inland from the beach. Famous for accommodating the celebrated Sri Lankan author, Martin Wickramasinghe (who has an interesting museum dedicated to him in town), Koggala has a fine stretch of beach and is renowned for its enchanting lagoon. Here, rich jungle spills onto a meandering expense of water traversed by fishermen leaving nothing but soft ripples in their wake. A boat ride to spice gardens, bird-filled islands and Buddhist temples is the best way to familiarise yourself with these sensational surroundings and be absorbed by local life around the lake. Galle’s seventeenth-century Dutch fort – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is a 20-minute drive away. The fort’s narrow cobbled streets are home to splendid colonial buildings, tiny cafes, churches, boutiques and museums whilst its mighty grass-tufted ramparts are the place to be for superb seaside sunsets.
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- International airport
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Things to Do
Your villa supervisor has a wealth of information about nearby places of interest and will help arrange transport and make any bookings required. Do also ask the staff about the local area. Many of them live nearby and will be able to give an interesting insight into some of the fascinating aspects of Sri Lankan life.
In the meantime, here’s a taste of the many and varied activities on offer within reach of Villa Pooja Kanda
- Head to Koggala or Habaraduwa beach for a long walk along seemingly endless golden sands.
- Take a late afternoon boat trip atop the glorious Koggala Lagoon to look for birds, visit spice gardens, watch fishermen and experience the sun setting over the water whilst meandering this peaceful waterway.
- The late Martin Wickramasinghe, a famous Sri Lankan author, was once a resident of Koggala. You can now visit his old home in town, which has been made into an interesting folk museum.
- In nearby Habaraduwa is a turtle hatchery that the kids will love. For a small fee you can admire the resident turtles and even watch as the hatchlings are released into the sea.
- Head to the beach. There are many idyllic beaches within a 30-minute drive of the villa, and it’s hard to resist the irresistible draw of the warm turquoise sea.
- Experience the living museum that is Galle Fort by taking a relaxing guided wander around the charming backstreets of this UNESCO listed fortress; stop and chat with locals, admire the fort’s many heritage buildings, visit the growing collection of boutiques and finish off by watching life playing out on top of the ramparts at sunset.
- Take a trip into Galle town to experience the multi-sensorial spectacle of the fish, fruit and vegetable markets and browse the colourful roadside wares of peddlers on its buzzing Main Street.
- Embark on a scenic bicycle ride through the emerald green paddy fields of Galle’s hinterland with Idle Tours. Enjoy the ride at your own pace and gain a unique perspective of village life. End up at the beach with a glorious cool down swim.
- Yatagala Temple, just inland from Unawatuna, is an ancient Buddhist temple that’s best visited on a full moon holiday when white clothed devotees flock here clutching prayer flags and bunches of flowers. Another notable local temple is at Kathaluwa.
- Around 10 minutes’ drive from Villa Pooja Kanda is a tea factory, whose tea leaves are the closest of any in Sri Lanka to the sea. Handunugoda Tea Factory is not only famous for its black tea but also for its white tea, which retails as some of the world’s most expensive tea. Tours of the factory include a tea tasting session and cake.
- Go whale watching! Just a half hour drive from Villa Pooja Kanda is Mirissa where boats depart every morning during the season (November until April) for whale and dolphin spotting tours. It’s thought to be the best place in the world to sight blue whales. Enroute, stop at Ahangama to photograph Sri Lanka’s famous stilt fishermen.
- Eat out! Excellent local restaurants include the luxurious Fortress Hotel, the homely Italian-owned WB and Cantaloupe Aqua’s top Thai menu. Wijeya Beach Restaurant, near Unawatuna, is a popular spot with expats whose rooftop bar is the place for spectacular sundowners over the sea.