Best 9 Things to Do in Unawatuna in 2023

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Unawatuna is the most popular beach town in Sri Lanka and for good reason – great beaches, buzzing nightlife, and lots of hipster cafés make this a place you might never want to leave!

In this post, we will explore some of the best things to do in Unawatuna, helping you make the most of your visit to this amazing destination.

Also read: Sri Lanka Travel Cost – Budget Breakdown

1. Palm Tree Rope Swing at Dalawella Beach

A group of friends decided to create a rope swing for their own fun one day and accidentally created the most viral social media hotspot in the country, can you imagine?!

Man swinging from Palm Tree Rope Swing at Dalawella Beach
Couple at the Frog Rock in Dalawella, Sri Lanka

Note: watch our Instagram Reel from this dreamy experience and follow along 🥰

The palm tree rope swing is located right in front of the Dream Cabana guesthouse and there’s a 500r fee for 3-5 swings. It’s easy to see why it’s become so popular and even if rope swinging isn’t your thing, the beach here is just as dreamy.

2. Unawatuna Beach

Perfect for a comfortable and relaxing day by the ocean, the main beach in Unawatuna is lined up with plenty of palm trees, restaurants, and bars. It is definitely busier than the other beaches around the area but it offers a great lively vibe that goes on all the way to the evening.

Unawatuna Beach seen from above
Woman sitting at the Hideout Unawatuna

Hot tip: at the end of the beach there’s the Unawatuna Devol Devalaya & Temple and a small trail up the hill for a stunning sunset spot.

Woman sitting in front of a cafe in Unawatuna, Sri Lanka
Fruit Stall on the streets of Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

Also read: Unawatuna – Your Go-To Travel Guide

3. Hike to Jungle Beach

A hidden gem not many tourists know about just yet, this beautiful beach is located just an easy 30-minute hike away from Unawatuna’s main beach.

Aerial view of Jungle Beach, Unawatuna - Sri Lanka

It is considered a great spot for snorkeling as the bay is protected from waves by a coral reef, but make sure to bring your own mask as there is almost no infrastructure in the area. Here you can spot schools of colorful fish, moray eels, crabs, triggerfish, and more!

You can find all about it in our Jungle Beach – Best Hidden Beach in Unawatuna post.

4. Don’t Miss the Japanese Pagoda

On top of the hill overlooking Jungle Beach, you’ll find the Japanese Peace Pagoda, which stands as a symbol of peace and purity and offers amazing views of the area! If you opt to hike to the beach, the Pagoda marks half the way there.

Japanese Pagoda of Jungle Beach, Unawatuna
Japanese Pagoda of Jungle Beach, Unawatuna

You don’t need to pay anything to visit the Pagoda, although locals are all around the entrance selling drinks and flower offerings. The flowers are not expensive so if you can afford them, it’s a nice way to support the local community.

Fun fact: the pagoda was built in the 1970s as part of a global initiative to promote peace and harmony among all people and religions.

5. Visit Galle Fort on a Day Trip

Galle Fort is recognized as a UNESCO heritage site – all to preserve its extraordinary history. Conquered by the Portuguese in the 16th century, fortified by the Dutch in the 1700s, and ruled by the English until 1948, its beautiful old buildings now house boutique hotels, trendy cafes, and hipster shops – all just a 10-minute ride from Unawatuna.

Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

For more information to help you plan your time in Galle, check out our Galle Fort: Things to Do at Sri Lanka’s Colonial Gem complete post.

6. Go Beach Hopping

Unawatuna Beach is great, but the best part about it is that there are so many other beaches you can easily visit from here. You can walk from Unawatuna to Dalawella and swing from a palm tree, or take a 30-minute ride to Weligama and Mirissa and learn how to surf, or even head to Hikkaduwa to see turtles.

Frog Rock, Dalawella, Sri Lanka
Frog Rock seen from above, Dalawella, Sri Lanka

You can visit Weligama and Mirissa by taking the coastal train line towards Matara, and Hikkaduwa by taking the line back towards Colombo. It’s the cheapest option for beach hopping but note that 2nd and 1st class train tickets are best as the 3rd class is usually packed.

Black sand beach Mirissa, Sri Lanka
Aerial view of the Coconut Tree Hill in Mirissa

Pro tip: if you prefer to have more flexibility during your time in Sri Lanka, we recommend the most authentic way of travel in the country – renting and driving your very own Tuk-Tuk with TukTuk Rental! For a special discount, use our code “wheretoflow” when making a booking 🛺

7. Party on the beach

If you’re a partygoer then Unawatuna is just the place for you! Parties usually take place in the many bars on the beach which come alive after sunset with live music, dance performances, and fire shows.

Sunset in Mirissa, Sri Lanka
Full Moon seen from palm trees

Tip: We did find the beach bars to be a little on the expensive side. Nothing too crazy but the bars on the main street are usually cheaper and also offer a great vibe.

8. Enjoy the Food Scene

The main street in Unawatuna is filled with lovely restaurants and bars, small hipster cafes, and honestly, enough options for you to try a different cuisine every day. Do yourself a favor and ask for a spiced cappuccino at Una Beach Hotel & OLU Cafe!

Cafe table with brownies and coffee
Man drinking coffee in a cafe in Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

Tip: For more restaurant recommendations, check out our Unawatuna – Your Go-To Travel Guide post.

Man riding a bike on the streets of Unawatuna
Mike's Souvenir Corner in Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

9. Boat Tour of Koggala Lake

Outside of the beaten tourist track of Unawatuna, you’ll find Koggala Lake – a huge freshwater lake sitting around 3 meters above sea level. The lake is dotted with islands filled with cinnamon fields and spice gardens as well as an ancient Buddhist temple, and is considered a bird sanctuary.

You can see it all on this boat tour that usually takes 1:30 to 2 hours and costs around 60 euros per person for a group of 4 including pickup and drop-off from your accommodation in Unawatuna.

Hot tip: Some beautiful hotels sit on the shores of the lake, such as the Tri by Amaya, Villa Mayurana, and UYANA Boutique Hotel.

Also read: Sri Lanka Safari – The Ultimate Guide

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We’re Nick & Bruno, two creative souls who decided to set off to explore the world while sharing authentic experiences, travel resources and tips, and inspiring adventures online. We hope you can find inspiration and motivation from our posts to chase your travel dreams too. Come decide Where to Flow with us!

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