Your travel guide for Sri Lanka

Tangalle is a coastal town in Sri Lanka's Southern Province. Known for its beaches and scenic beauty, this destination offers an array of experiences. This travel guide aims to provide travelers with all the information they need to make the most of their time in Tangalle.

Overview of Tangalle

Located on Sri Lanka's Southern coast, Tangalle covers an area of 8.4 square miles. It is a fishing port and a regional center for trade. The town offers beaches, wildlife reserves, and historical landmarks. With a population of around 60,000, Tangalle has a laid-back vibe. Visitors often praise the pristine beaches and friendly locals.

Attractions and Things to Do

Beaches in Tangalle

Tangalle is particularly known for its beaches, which are less crowded compared to other coastal destinations in Sri Lanka. Medaketiya Beach is popular among families due to its calm waters, making it a safe spot for swimming. Goyambokka Beach attracts visitors with its rock formations and small eateries along the shoreline. Silent Beach offers a more secluded experience, perfect for those who prefer privacy. Water sports like snorkeling and jet-skiing are often available for tourists eager for some adventure.

Rekawa Turtle Conservation Project

Situated about 10 km from the town center, the Rekawa Turtle Conservation Project is a haven for turtle conservation. Five of the seven globally endangered species of marine turtles come to lay their eggs here. Tourists can join night-time turtle-watching tours, where they get the chance to see turtles laying eggs. Guides provide information about the types of turtles and the threats they face.

Mulkirigala Rock Temple

About 15 km north of Tangalle, Mulkirigala Rock Temple dates back to the 3rd century BC. The complex consists of seven cave temples situated on a massive rock approximately 200 meters high. Inside these temples, visitors can admire Buddha statues and ancient frescoes that depict various stories related to Buddhism. A climb to the top offers views of the surrounding countryside, paddy fields, and even the distant coastline.

Hummanaya Blowhole

Located in the small fishing village of Kudawella, about 12 km from Tangalle, the Hummanaya Blowhole is a natural marine geyser. Water gushes through a natural hole in the rocks and sprays up in a fountain-like display. The phenomenon is most impressive during the monsoon season. The site has a visitor center that provides information about the geological aspects of this natural wonder.

Shopping in Tangalle

Shopping in Tangalle is a blend of tradition and local flavor, best exemplified by the town's vibrant market, where you can buy fresh produce, seafood, and local spices. Beyond the market, you'll find small shops and stalls near beaches and attractions offering handmade crafts, wooden sculptures, beaded jewelry, and traditional Sri Lankan garments. While the town may lack sprawling shopping malls, the available options are rich in local craftsmanship and culture, providing visitors an authentic and enriching shopping experience.


Tangalle is primarily influenced by the Sinhalese community, but you'll also find traces of Tamil, Muslim, and colonial heritage. Buddhism plays a significant role in the daily lives of the locals, evident from the many stupas and temples that dot the landscape.

In addition to religious practices, the town is deeply connected to the sea, given its coastal location. Fishing is not just an economic activity but also a cultural tradition. The local fishing community often employs traditional methods like stilt fishing, and the sight of fishermen on stilts is common along the coastline. The fishing harbors are bustling with activity during the early morning hours when boats return with their catch, offering a glimpse into the livelihoods that sustain many families here.

Handicrafts are another integral part of Tangalle's culture. Artisans use local materials such as coconut shells, palm leaves, and wood to create a variety of goods like baskets, ornaments, and furniture. These crafts are often sold in local markets and offer tourists the opportunity to take home a piece of Tangalle's culture.

Food and Dining Options

In Tangalle, the food scene is influenced by its coastal location, making seafood a common feature in many meals. Local kitchens often use freshly caught fish, shrimp, and crabs to prepare dishes that blend spicy, sweet, and sour flavors. Rice and curry are staples, often served with a variety of side dishes like vegetables, lentils, and pickles. Both simple eateries and upscale restaurants contribute to the town's dining options, each adding its own unique touch to traditional recipes. Overall, dining in Tangalle offers a satisfying and diverse experience that caters to various tastes and preferences.

Accommodation Options

Accommodation in Tangalle ranges from budget-friendly options to luxury resorts, making it suitable for travelers with different budgets and needs. Budget travelers can find guesthouses and hostels that offer basic amenities and a comfortable stay. Mid-range hotels provide added features like swimming pools and beach access, while high-end resorts offer luxury villas and top-notch service. Regardless of where you choose to stay, the options often focus on showcasing the natural beauty of Tangalle, whether through beachfront locations, garden settings, or scenic views.

Location and How to Get There

Tangalle is about 195 km from Colombo. The quickest way to get there is by car or taxi, which takes around 4 hours. You can also take a bus from Colombo that will get you there in about 6 hours.

Another way is to take a train to Matara, about 35 km from Tangalle. The train takes around 4 hours, and then you can catch a tuk-tuk or bus to Tangalle, which takes another hour.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Tangalle is between December and April. During these months, the weather is generally dry and sunny, making it great for beach activities and outdoor exploration. The sea is also calmer during this period, offering good conditions for swimming and water sports.

From May to July, the region experiences its monsoon season, resulting in heavy rainfall and rough seas. While the town is less crowded during the monsoon, many outdoor activities may be limited due to weather conditions.

Tips and Advice

  • Safety: While Tangalle is generally safe, it's advisable to be cautious with your belongings, especially on the beach and when using public transport.
  • Transportation: For fair pricing, use metered tuk-tuks or negotiate the price before starting your journey. Local buses are an affordable but crowded option for short trips.
  • Swimming: Be cautious when swimming in the ocean, as some areas have strong currents. Always adhere to local advice and warning signs.
  • Hydration: It's very important to stay hydrated, especially in the heat. Always carry a bottle of water and use sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • Wildlife: If you plan to visit the nearby national parks or turtle conservation areas, follow the proper guidelines.

Nearby Attractions

  1. Yala National Park: Located about two hours from Tangalle, Yala National Park is famous for its significant leopard population and diverse wildlife.
  2. Matara: A town near Tangalle, Matara offers Dutch colonial architecture and an array of beautiful beaches.
  3. Mirissa: Situated an hour's drive from Tangalle, Mirissa is well-known for its whale-watching tours and vibrant beach scene.
  4. Galle: The historic city of Galle is about a two-hour drive from Tangalle and houses the iconic Galle Dutch Fort, along with charming streets and buildings.
  5. Udawalawe National Park: Located approximately two hours from Tangalle, this park is famous for its large elephant population and offers jeep safaris for wildlife viewing.

Tangalle is a captivating coastal town that promises an unforgettable Sri Lankan experience. From its pristine beaches to its vibrant local culture, it's a destination that offers more than just a getaway. Whether you're a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, Tangalle invites you to explore its diverse offerings and find your own slice of paradise.

Featured photo by Malinda Bandara
You’ve successfully subscribed to Wonders of Ceylon
Welcome back! You’ve successfully signed in.
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Success! Your email is updated.
Your link has expired
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.