Matara is much more than your average commercial town hosting branches of reputed companies from Colombo. It has a rich history of Sinhalese occupation followed by the invasion of the Dutch, British, and Portuguese. Even to this day, the city continues to bear tokens of its antique culture. Apart from the variety of places to visit, there are many adventurous things to do in Matara.
5 Best Things To Do In Matara
From relaxing at the beach to exploring the underwater kingdoms – everything is possible here. Getting around the town is convenient on the three-wheeler named tuk-tuks, and there is an array of wares available for shopping enthusiasts. Amongst the many places to see in Matara, the following are some adventurous things to try out while exploring the town:
1. Kite Flying - At the Crow Island
Due to the strategic position of the Crow Island at the mouth of the Nilwala Ganga River and in the sea, it experiences strong gusts of wind. The conditions make it conducive for flying colorful kites in the sky. Apart from flying kites, there are many activities available in the Crow Island Beach Park. You can hike along the walking track crisscrossing the island. You may even mount horses and horse carts for an equestrian experience. Nature lovers can soak in the various ecosystems supported by the island. The timber deck offers gorgeous views to capture brilliant photographs.
2. Snorkeling - Polhena Beach
The offshore coral reefs circle the Polhena Beach to offer calm, shallow waters that are ideal for snorkeling. The colorful corals offer refuge to a range of aquatic wilderness. The water is pristine and unpolluted allowing you to witness the vibrant fishes. However, visibility is an issue if you are visiting the area during the monsoon. If underwater adventures do not sound appealing, then you could relax in one of the shacks along the coastline. Many hotels and resorts are present at the beach to provide their services to the tourists.
3. Climb Dondra Lighthouse
The Dondra Point is the southernmost point of Sri Lanka. Constructed in 1889, the Dondra Head Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Sri Lanka. Commissioned by the Imperial Lighthouse Service and designed by Sir James Nicholas Douglass, the lighthouse was erected under the supervision of William Douglass. A set of spiral stairs allow visitors to climb to the top of the lighthouse, which leads to the balcony. The balcony offers a splendid aerial view from the 160 feet high lighthouse. One can witness the undulating mountains in the north or the vast expanses of the ocean in the south.
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4. Visit Devinuwara
Devinuwara is a Sinhalese word that translates as “The City of Gods.” It is located some 6.5 kilometers south of Matara City Center. At one point in history, it was one of the busiest ports of Sri Lanka. To this day, one can visit the majestic temples dedicated to the Hindu God, Lord Rama, who is an avatar of Vishnu. The main Dondra shrine is a mix of Buddhist and Hindu architecture and is spectacularly decorated during the Esala festival. The 3-storeyed building bears a vibrant shade of blue on its external walls, which contrast with the shiny copper roof tiles. The walls and the insides of the temple are intricately designed.
5. Surfing - At the Medawatta Beach
Medawatta is a surfer’s delight, and the beach is present just outside Matara. The spot with its sandy bottom acts as a base for many local and foreign-owned surf training camps. From rookies to expert, everyone can exploit the different sections of the beach that offer an assortment of breakpoints with varying difficulty levels. After an enjoyable surfing session, visitors can relax and sunbathe on the sand. Tourists sparsely populate the place, so it offers a much-welcomed breather from the crowd. Additionally, there are many budget accommodations available around the Medawatta Beach, which is another advantage over other congested beaches.
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How To Reach Matara
Getting to Matara is possible through various modes of transport. Popular modes of getting to Matara include:
1. By Road
You can hire your personal vehicle and cruise from Colombo to Matara. It might be an expensive alternative, but driving along the scenic Galle Road is well worth the investment. The 4-hour journey along the coast will reward you with stunning visuals that Sri Lanka has to offer. However, if time is of the essence, you could also catch the Southern Expressway and make your way from Colombo to Matara in a record time of 2.5 hours!
2. By Rail
The city has its own Matara Railway Station, which is the last railway station on the railway lines heading south. The town is a mere 5-hour journey by train from the capital town of Colombo. However, there are limited options while traveling by train.
3. By Public Transport
The commonest way to get to Matara is by traveling via a bus. Buses ply to Matara after every 30 to 60 minutes. The Matara Bus Stand is located right in the City Center and is, in fact, outside the historical monument of Dutch Rampart. Matara is a major transport hub amongst the southern cities of Sri Lanka and is well-connected to other major towns such as Kandy, Ratnapura, Pottuvil, etc. You could pick between the air-conditioned and non-AC buses traveling to Matara.
Whether you are a travel enthusiast aiming to explore all corners or a lazy tourist simply hoping to relax, there are many things to try out in Matara while on your visit. So, plan a trip to Sri Lanka right away!
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