Your travel guide for Sri Lanka

Madol Duwa is an island situated in the southern region of Sri Lanka. It gained popularity through a novel written by Martin Wickramasinghe. Over the years, the island has transformed into a notable travel destination. This travel guide aims to offer an overview of what you can expect when you visit the fascinating Madol Duwa.

Overview and History

Madol Duwa is an island with both ecological and cultural importance in Sri Lanka. It's part of a larger archipelago in the southern region of the country. The waters surrounding the island are brackish, a mix of both fresh and saltwater, forming a unique habitat for a diverse array of plants and animals.

The island gained mainstream attention through the novel "Madol Duwa" by Martin Wickramasinghe. The book tells the story of two young boys who find refuge and purpose on the island, turning it into a thriving plantation. While the novel serves as many people's introduction to the island, Madol Duwa's history extends beyond the literary world.

Originally, the island was a stopover for local fishermen during their fishing expeditions. Over time, it also became a sanctuary for various forms of wildlife and plant life. Recognizing its ecological significance, local authorities designated it as an eco-sensitive zone. Measures have been put in place to protect its unique biodiversity.

Culturally, Madol Duwa serves as a symbol of hope and resilience, partly due to its portrayal in the novel. This literary connection has led to a unique blend of visitors, ranging from eco-tourists and bird watchers to students and literary enthusiasts. The story is part of the educational curriculum in Sri Lanka, and many students visit the island on school trips.

In addition, the island attracts researchers and conservationists. Various studies aim to understand its ecology, informing conservation efforts and policies to maintain the area's ecological balance.

Features of the Madol Duwa


The island is not just a flat expanse; it also has some minor elevations that offer different viewpoints. These elevated areas are easily accessible and offer opportunities for short hikes. While the island itself is relatively small, its varied topography makes exploring it an interesting activity.


The Koggala Lake, situated adjacent to Madol Duwa, is a significant feature. This lake is a vital resource for the local communities and acts as a gateway to the island. Its calm waters are ideal for boating activities. Additionally, the area where the lake meets the sea forms a unique aquatic environment, offering both ecological and visual interest.


Madol Duwa has been developed with a focus on eco-tourism. Signboards and educational materials are scattered around the island to inform visitors about its ecological importance, particularly the role of mangroves in the ecosystem. Waste disposal bins are strategically placed to encourage responsible tourism. The island also has guided tours that educate visitors on the local flora and fauna, as well as the island's role in conservation efforts.

Mangroves and Ecology

The island is surrounded by mangrove forests that serve as a natural protective barrier. These mangroves are a critical part of the local ecosystem, helping to prevent soil erosion and acting as breeding grounds for various fish species. Due to their ecological importance, cutting down mangroves is strictly regulated, and there are initiatives to plant more.

Flora and Fauna


Madol Duwa is primarily known for its mangrove forests, which are also referred to as kadolana plants locally. These mangroves serve as a protective barrier for the island and are crucial for maintaining the area's ecological balance. Beyond mangroves, the island is home to a variety of other trees, such as coconut palms and cinnamon trees. Cinnamon trees are especially noteworthy as they are part of the local spice trade. Aquatic plants like water lilies and reeds can also be found in the brackish waters surrounding the island. These plants contribute to water quality and provide habitat for aquatic life.


The island is a haven for birdwatchers, featuring species such as kingfishers, herons, and egrets. These birds are often seen near the water, hunting for fish. Speaking of fish, the waters around Madol Duwa are rich in different species like mullet, tilapia, and catfish. Aside from birds and fish, other wildlife like mongoose and monitor lizards are also present on the island. The ecosystem is further enriched by smaller creatures like dragonflies, butterflies, and various species of frogs, which play vital roles in pollination and as food sources for larger animals.

Attractions and Things to Do

Boating and Canoeing

One of the primary activities to enjoy at Madol Duwa is boating. You can rent boats or canoes to explore the Koggala Lake that surrounds the island. It's a peaceful experience that allows you to appreciate the unique aquatic environment up close. For safety, life vests are mandatory, and tours are guided.


Bird enthusiasts will find the island a paradise for birdwatching. With various species like kingfishers, herons, and egrets commonly seen, it's an excellent opportunity to hone your bird identification skills. For those who are serious about birdwatching, early mornings are the best time to catch a glimpse of these beautiful creatures.

Nature Walks

Well-marked paths make it easy for visitors to go on nature walks. It's a great way to explore the diverse plant life and maybe spot some wildlife along the way. Signboards provide information about the flora and fauna, making the walk educational as well as enjoyable.

Guided Tours

Guided tours are available for those who want a more structured experience. The tours are led by guides who are very knowledgeable on the island’s ecology, history, and conservation efforts. The tours often include a trip through the mangrove forests and may also involve some birdwatching.


With its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife, Madol Duwa offers ample opportunities for photography. Whether you are an amateur or a professional, you'll find plenty of subjects to capture. However, visitors are reminded to be respectful of the environment and not disturb the wildlife while taking photographs.

Educational Activities

Schools often organize trips to Madol Duwa as an educational experience. Students can learn about ecology, conservation, and the historical importance of the island. Interactive workshops and educational materials are often part of these trips.

Location and How to Get There

Madol Duwa is situated near the town of Koggala in southern Sri Lanka, about 22 kilometers away from the major city of Galle. The most common route to reach the island is via the Southern Expressway from Colombo to Galle, followed by the Galle-Matara road to Koggala. 

Once in Koggala, boats are available at the Koggala River for a short 15-20-minute ride to the island. 

Best Time to Visit

The ideal time to visit Madol Duwa is between November and April. These months are part of the dry season in southern Sri Lanka, offering pleasant weather conditions for outdoor activities like boating, birdwatching, and nature walks. 

The skies are generally clear, and the likelihood of rain is low, making it easier to explore the island and its surroundings. This period also coincides with the migratory season for many bird species, enhancing the birdwatching experience. 

However, this is the peak tourist season, so advance booking for accommodation and activities is recommended.

Tips and Advice

  • Advance Booking: Since Madol Duwa is a popular destination, it's advisable to book your accommodation and activities in advance.
  • Local Guides: Utilize the services of local guides for educational and safe tours, particularly if you are interested in birdwatching or exploring the mangroves.
  • Footwear: Opt for comfortable and durable shoes suitable for walking on uneven terrains, as you'll likely be doing a lot of walking.
  • Weather Precautions: Always check the weather forecast before your trip. Even though rains are less frequent during the dry season, unexpected showers can occur.
  • Responsible Tourism: Follow the signs and guidelines on the island to protect its natural environment. Refrain from littering and disturbing the wildlife.
  • Sun Protection: The island can get quite sunny, especially during the dry months. Make sure to take sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.
  • Stay Hydrated: Outdoor activities can be dehydrating, especially in warm weather. Carry enough water to last the visit.
  • Photography Ethics: While photography is encouraged, be respectful. Avoid using flash when photographing animals.

Nearby Attractions

  1. Koggala Lake: Located just a few kilometers from Madol Duwa, Koggala Lake offers boat tours that let you explore small islands and see various bird species. It's a peaceful setting, ideal for nature lovers.
  2. Galle Fort: Sri Lanka's most famous fort, this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site about 17 kilometers from Madol Duwa. The fort boasts well-preserved colonial architecture and offers a range of shops, cafes, and museums.
  3. Martin Wickramasinghe Museum: Situated in Koggala, this museum is dedicated to the life and work of Sri Lankan writer Martin Wickramasinghe. It's an excellent place to understand the local culture and literary history.
  4. Unawatuna Beach: Unawatuna is a famous beach located just 12 km from Madol Duwa. It's a popular spot for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
  5. Jungle Beach: This secluded beach is situated near Unawatuna and offers a quieter atmosphere. It's a great place to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings away from the crowds.

Madol Duwa presents a blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and history, making it an appealing destination for travelers. If you are traveling near Galle and looking to escape into nature, you should definitely add this amazing island to your itinerary.

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