Tangalle, Sri Lanka

Here, nature rules; calm fishing boat-flocked coves carpet a zig-zaggedy stretch of coastline west of town and wild turtle-trampled beaches extend eastwards for miles. Watersports and whale-watching beckon if you're feeling adventurous, with spas and spicy cuisine back on shore for spoiling yourself. Beyond Tangalle's seductive sands, explore the lush green interior of paddy fields, rock temples and national parks, a wow for wildlife safaris. Sri Lanka's shape is often likened to a tear-drop but we reckon a sojourn on its sleepy southern shores should put a smile on your face.

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When to go

November–April is best for Smiths who like their climate sunny but not sweltering, and the sea is also at its most serene. By May, humidity soars, storms intensify and the rain falls in short, sharp bursts until June and again from October–November. The northern ‘inter-monsoonal’ summer months falling in-between see infrequent showers mixing it with sunshine.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Sri Lankan Airlines (www.srilankan.aero) is the only carrier flying to Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport (www.airport.lk) from select European destinations, plus Sydney direct. Other one-stop operators include Emirates (www.emirates.com), Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com) and Cathay Pacific (www.cathaypacific.com). Sri Lankan Airlines also offers an in-country Air Taxi service (www.srilankan.lk) to Dikwella, 20 kilometres west of Tangalle, which dashes journey time to less than an hour.
  • Trains

    Trains do run from Colombo as far south as Matara town, but rail isn't the most convenient or comfortable way to reach Tangalle, an hour's taxi journey further east. Plus if you're coming from the international airport north of Colombo, you'll need to do the first hour-long stretch to the capital by cab too. It's far speedier to fly.
  • Automobiles

    At just short of six hours, the slog from the airport south to Tangalle can be exhausting at best, and there’s no reason to self-drive. Hayleys (www.hayleys.com) can arrange tours and transport around the country, or arrange a chauffeur-guide through your hotel in advance. If you travel by twilight you can shave an hour or so off your journey time.
  • Taxis

    In the absence of metered taxis, tuk tuks offer the most practical means of getting around, but are best for short trips only. For longer journeys, smart Smiths take a chauffeured car (arrange one through your hotel).