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Beruwela in Sri Lanka

The small resort town of Beruwela sits on the south western coast of Sri Lanka. The starting point for 130 kilometres of beach the area has developed rapidly over the last few years as a tourist resort. Historically the town is claimed to be where the first Muslim settlement grew on Sri Lanka. There is still a large Moorish population here, most of them gem traders and descendents of the original traders who came here in the eighth century. The beautiful Kechimalai Mosque stands here and claims to mark the spot where the first Arab traders landed and is a popular destination with Muslims in the month of Ramadan.

Originally a small fishing village Beruwela maintains its charms despite growing into a popular tourist resort. Flanked by the major beach destinations of Bentota and Aluthgama this is a contrast between the busy town and the relaxed tranquility of the beautiful beach. The beach is ideal for swimming and there is a turtle hatchery nearby so the lucky visitor may spot one of these slow moving creatures making its way into the ocean. Cooled by a constant breeze the long beach beckons in the early morning, tempting the visitor to take a leisurely stroll to the spot where the colourful fishing boats are unloading their catch. One of the most interesting aspects of the town is that it was partly devastated by the Tsunami in 2005, yet no trace of that devastation remains now.

As with the rest of Sri Lanka there are some beautiful temples in the town that are well worth a visit. The Giant Buddha temple is not only a significant holy place for Buddhists, the temple contains a statue of Buddha which is over 1600 feet tall. The Sri Pushparam temple is another popular place with visitors. The prayer flags flutter on the trees in the open courtyard and the feeling of peace seems to fill the quiet atmosphere.

The main focus of activity is on the picture postcard beach if you want a tropical beach holiday with palm trees swaying in the breeze and perfect blue skies then there is no better place. The length of the beach means it is never going to be crowded. The harbour charges a nominal fee for entry. There isn't much to recommend a walk round the harbour as it is a working harbour and the smell of fish tends to linger, but if you want to buy a fresh lobster or take a boat trip to the lighthouse with its panoramic views then it's worth the nasal challenge.

Divers and snorkellers will love a trip to the coral gardens just off the coast. There are many "guides" available but make sure you pick a reputable company if this is your first underwater experience. The Yala National Park is a popular day trip. Elephants, crocodiles, jackals, boars, there is a whole range of wildlife here with elephants being the stars of the show.

There are many boat trips available from local entrepreneurs on the beach, taking you up river to see the sights inland. Watch out for the water monitors as these giant lizards move stealthily along the banks.

There really isn't much nightlife in Beruwela although the beach front has a selection of restaurants most offering fresh seafood. The Sunflower Restaurant is actually on the beach and will take advance orders for your evening meal. Ypsylon Hotel has a good restaurant on the beachfront. Hard to imagine a more pleasant evening than watching the sunset over the Indian Ocean from a restaurant sitting on the white sands of the beach.

Shopping here consists mainly of the ever present beach sales force selling everything from leather goods to cigarettes. Although sometimes irritating, many of these people lost their homes in the Tsunami and are trying to rebuild their lives. Some of the goods are perfectly good quality so have a good look and if you like something then buy it.

Most of the hotels here are for the package holidaymaker although there are search engines that will let you find rooms to book independently. There is also a selection of B&Bs. The Ypsylon is a very friendly little guest house near the beach, offering good food and service and is perfect for beach lovers. The Club Palm Garden is the other end of the scale and is ideal for families and offers a range of meal plans.

Beruwala offers the visitor the chance to take a step away from the pace of the real world and relax in the temples and traditions of Sri Lanka or to enjoy a traditional package style holiday. It will never be buzzing with nightlife or the spot to head for if you are a party lover, but if you want perfect beaches, clear sea and the feel of being somewhere completely different then Beruwela is it.