Wadduwa, Sri Lanka
With miles of saffron-hued sands, cradled by thick clusters of palms, Wadduwa – currently devoid of mega resorts – is appealingly under-the-radar. Most backpackers and beach bunnies head to buzzy Bentota or Hikkaduwa further south, or to nearby Kalutara to watch fisherman showboat along the Kalu River; however, Wadduwa is well placed for exploring the Western Province. Cosmopolitan Colombo is 35km north, Galle’s colonial landmarks are an hour’s drive away and visitor-friendly spiritual sanctuaries Mahavihara Bhuddist Temple and Kalutara Temple let you mingle with monks. Hidden within the lush greenery are colonial estates with grounds that make The Secret Garden look lacklustre, and toothy and tusk-wielding critters too: wild elephants forage in the vegetation and crocodiles laze in Bolgoda Lake.
When to go
For the ideal tan-perfecting temperature, visit between November and April, when the seas are settled and the sun is just right. The Galle Literary Festival is held in January; in March, boogie by the Fort at the Galle Music Festival.
PlanesInternational flights from Europe, Asia and the Middle-East land at Bandaranaike International Airport (www.airport.lk), a two-hour drive away on the main Colombo–Galle road.
TrainsWadduwa station is serviced by trains from Galle and Colombo Fort (www.railway.gov.lk). Second-class tickets are cheap and make for a scenic coastal journey; for air-conditioned comfort, hop on the luxurious leather-upholstered Rajadhani Express carriages (www.rajadhani.lk), which run twice a day (roughly US$8 for a one-way ticket).
AutomobilesIt’s best to hire a car with a driver if you’re keen to roam the chaotic roads in Sri Lanka. Acquire an international driving licence and recognition permit before you go; police are prone to stopping tourists for identification checks.