A couple of kilometres west of the centre of Matara, the rather down-at-heel beachside suburb of Polhena has some good snorkelling straight off the beach, with lots of colourful fish and a small section of live coral; swimming conditions and visibility are best outside the monsoon period.

At the picturesque eastern end of Matara Bay, about 1.5km east of the town, another low-key suburb, Medawatta, is popular with long-term surfers who come here to ride waves of up to 4m at Secret Point, best between November and March.

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