Sri Lanka: The Coast Road from Yala to Galle!
May 1, 2019|In Asia, Asia Guide, Galle, Sri Lanka, Yala|By paraphernalia.coShare This
Table of Contents hide Sri Lanka: The Coast Road from Yala to Galle! Blue Whales & Dolphins. Sri Lanka’s Famous Stilt Fishermen. Galle. Galle Fort. Fish Market on the Beach. Jetwing Lighthouse. Booking.com. Getting There & Getting Around When To Go Pin it for later.
Sri Lanka: The Coast Road from Yala to Galle!
What a wonderful experience, being immersed in Yala’s wildlife. Visits from monkeys, squirrels and wild boar before breakfast ensure your day begins with a smile.
My apologies for dragging you away, but the road trip continues, and our destination is Galle.
Before arriving in the city of the famous fort, we have a surprise for you. Here’s a clue, it’s massive and it’s blue. Any ideas?
Blue Whales & Dolphins.
At Mirissa, a whale and dolphin watching industry thrives.
The attraction, aside from Sperm whales and the odd sighting of Orcas, is the largest creature on earth, the Blue Whale.
The timid blue whale is generally no different to most whales and migrates, travelling vast distances from the warm waters of the equator to the north and south poles. However, these Blue Whales have made the southwest coast of Sri Lanka home.
There are three main reasons:
- The water’s depth is around 1km suiting their great size
- Food is in abundance to suit their daily consumption of almost 4 metric tons.
- The water temperature is consistent and perfect for breeding
Sri Lanka born Marine Biologist, Asha DeVos leads the 1st major study into these Blue Whales. De Vos is the first, and only Sri Lankan, to gain a PhD in marine mammal research.
She has named these whales “the Unorthodox Whales because they actually break the stereotypes we have for this species.”
While her mission is to study these whales, her ultimate goal is to protect them.
Shipping lanes off Sri Lanka’s coast are some of the busiest in the world. Only 10% of the vessels passing so close to Sri Lanka’s coast are destined for Colombo port. These shipping lanes navigate straight through numerous whale sighting areas. The obvious result: whale deaths.
Asha De Vos proposes the shipping lanes move 15 kilometres further from Sri Lanka having little effect on transport while making it safer for the whales.
This 10-minute video, “How Finding Blue Whale Poop Changed My Life” is a brief introduction to Asha De Vos’ commitment to the Sri Lankan Blue Whales. It’s engaging and informative. Please take a look.
Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war gave the Blue Whales sanctuary. No one knew they were there because no one could go out to sea.
Since the first sighting post-war, a whale-watching industry has developed and is fast becoming a threat.
Although new measures to regulate the industry are being formalised, whale watching licenses have been approved by simply paying a fee and meeting basic standards.
Seizing this opportunity, fishing vessels have been converted and new vessels built. Hundreds of entrepreneurs have entered this tourism niche.
Approved by the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Marriot Cruise takes its responsibility seriously.
Safety is first and foremost, both for passengers and marine life. Captain and crew respect the environment and display a community spirit.
Sightings are never guaranteed but with Captain Sanka’s experience with Blue Whales, he will do his best to scour the area for the familiar breach on the horizon.
Our five-hour tour turned into seven and a half. Discussing the previous day’s sighting being early afternoon and perhaps the same would happen today, we all agreed to remain on the water.
Suddenly, a huge pod of performing spinner dolphins surrounded our boat.
Just minutes later, the sight we’d all been waiting for, the familiar spout of air and water synonymous with a whale breaching.
As a general rule, they breach for a few minutes then dive and won’t be seen again for 15 to 20 minutes. We observed this a number of times before they decided to move on to the next feeding ground.
Blue Whales can grow to 30 metres and weigh 140 tons. A small child can crawl through their arteries. The size of a Blue Whale can be estimated by its tail measurement from tip to tip x 10. According to Captain Sanka, our whale was about 20 metres, just a teenager. 😉
What an absolutely amazing experience!
Sri Lanka’s Famous Stilt Fishermen.
This would not be a guide to road tripping Sri Lanka without mentioning the country’s famous stilt fishermen. Let me preface this by saying our experience was at one location on the way into Galle. I’m sure there are many locations where genuine stilt fishing still occurs.
This was, without a doubt, the least remarkable experience of our Sri Lanka adventure.
As the photo below shows, the scene is staged. There’s a price to take a photo per fisherman and the transaction was made in a manner we had not experienced in Sri Lanka on the entire trip. Enough said.
The trading village of Galle was accidentally discovered by the Portuguese in 1505 when Lourenço de Almeida’s vessel was blown off course on its way to the Maldives.
Cultivating an alliance with the king, Dharmaparakrama Bahu, the Portuguese began constructing numerous examples of Portuguese architecture. What you see today is an obvious mix of native and Portuguese architectural styles.
After decades of accumulating land and trade along the west coast of Sri Lanka (at the expense of the Sinhalese) King Raja Singha had had enough of the Portuguese. Forcing them out of Colombo, they had little choice but to return to Galle.
It was 1588 when the Portuguese built a small fort out of palm trees and mud. They called it Santa Cruz and used it to imprison Portuguese opposed Sinhalese. Later, the fort was extended to include a watchtower and three bastions to guard the harbour.
Galle Fort, later known as the Dutch Fort, was extensively fortified through the late 1600s after the Dutch successfully ousted the Portuguese. They went on to develop the fort as it’s seen today.
Defences continued to evolve up to the early 18th century. Galle Fort consisted of public administration buildings, warehouses, business premises and residential quarters.
The Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka is responsible for extensive restoration and continued maintenance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even after more than 400 years, Galle Fort retains its historical, architectural and archaeological heritage.
While the town of Galle was devasted by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, Galle Fort was protected by its imposing ramparts. These surround the entire fort peninsula and form the base for the “new” lighthouse.
Sri Lanka’s old lighthouse dated back to 1848 but was destroyed by fire in 1934. This new lighthouse is about 100 metres from the original and was completed in 1938.
Historical buildings of interest while wandering Galle Fort are the baroque style Protestant Church built in 1775, the Commandant’s residence, the arsenal, and the gun house.
Galle Fort’s streets are packed with restaurants, cafés, shops, spas, and accommodation.
Amangalla, one of Aman Resorts 5-star properties, is built within Galle Fort. Originally the New Orient Hotel, it was completed in 1715 with a section of the hotel dating back to 1684. It’s a stunning hotel appropriately named: Aman means peace and Galla, Galle in Silhanese.
Museums and historical buildings are open from 09:00 – 17:00 but Galle Fort itself is open 24/7.
Galle Fort is incredibly popular so go early or stay for sunset. You’ll need at least a couple of hours to take in the historical sites but, if you have time, allow a day for wandering.
Taste the Sri Lankan Cusine at a number of cafés and restaurants. You’ll be pleased you did.
Fish Market on the Beach.
Galle has a prolific fishing industry and when you visit the beach, you’ll be surrounded by it.
Fishermen head out the night before and return with their catch early morning.
The business happens on the beach. Fishmongers and fishermen haggle, boat and net repairs are carried out, and a community share fishing stories.
At the many beachside stalls, parrotfish, red mullet, coralfish, crabs, prawns, squid, octopus, an incredible array of seafood is sold.
This is a vibrant place to stop and have a chat with locals and find out about their daily life.
A Small Luxury Hotel of the World, Jetwing Lighthouse was built in 1996. Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s premier Architect, produced an open plan design where each space is linked with another. Simple, chic architecture with design elements incorporating the blue-green ocean and natural seagrasses.
Expanded and renovated recently, Jetwing Lighthouse now claims 80 deluxe rooms incorporating historical thematic objet d’art.
Entering the main hotel lobby, a unique sculptured staircase by a friend of Geoffrey Bawa depicts an altercation between the Sinhala King and the Portuguese army. Not letting the facts get in the way of a good story, the drama unfolds as you wind up the stairs. Quite a novel way to enter Jetwing Lighthouse.
The extensive lawns and huge pool overlooking the ocean exude tranquillity or alternatively, if you’re lucky, an incredible late-afternoon thunderstorm and light show.
At low tide, a plethora of sea flora and fauna appear and a short walk along the hotel’s coast displays marine algae, seagrasses, hermit crabs, mudskippers, starfish and other marine life. Join one of Jetwing Lighthouse’s naturalists on a seashore wander.
Visit the spa pavilion at least once during your stay and opt for the Lighthouse Signature. This Ayurvedic mind-body-spirit connection stimulates pressure points through massage followed by an invigorating body scrub. The use of plunge pools and steam rooms are included with treatments.
The last leg of our Sri Lanka Road Trip is coming up. We’ll spend the day visiting more attractions before reaching our final destination, Negombo.
Disclaimer: This article contains discounts and upgrades that will never affect our 100% honest opinions.
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Getting There & Getting Around
If you’ve decided on a Jetwing Travels itinerary then you don’t need to worry about this at all. Your guide/ driver will be on call (within reason) and take you where you’d like to go.
Galle can be reached easily from many directions via bus, train and car.
With your Über app, private cars, taxis and tuk-tuks are available.
When To Go
Galle is on the west coast of Sri Lanka with a tropical rain forest climate. Although drier through January and February, Galle doesn’t really have a dry season. Heaviest rainfalls occur through October & November.
Temperatures vary little throughout the year with the average daytime temperature about 29C and evening 24C. Humidity is between 70 and 80% throughout the year.
For more Sri Lanka info, please follow this link to plan your adventure. “Sri Lanka: Where to Begin?”
Sri Lanka: Colombo, the Commerical Capital! gives an overview of where to #eat #drink #explore #shop & #stay in the commercial capital.
If you’re interested in road-tripping Sri Lanka, our first leg is covered in Sri Lanka: Colombo to Kandy Road Trip!
Continuing through tea country on Sri Lanka’s famous Blue Train can be found in Sri Lanka Road Trip: Hill Country, Highlands & Plains!
For a unique experience at Sri Lanka’s first Agro-Eco-Luxury resort please follow this link to Sri Lanka: Kaduruketha.
If it’s wildlife you’re after, then don’t miss Sri Lanka: Yala National Park & the Beach! and finally, for R&R conveniently located a stone’s throw from the airport, then Negombo, Our Final Road Trip Destination! is for you.
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