Twenty-three kilometres east of Unawatuna, the sleepy fishing town of WELIGAMA (“Sandy Village”) meanders around a broad and beautiful bay, dotted with rocky outcrops and fringed with fine golden sand. It’s an attractive spot, though one which has never really caught on with foreign tourists – although this may change with the forthcoming arrival of the vast new Courtyard by Marriott hotel, rising (at the time of writing) like an enormous concrete bombsite on the beach just west of town. For now, however, things remain pretty somnolent and there’s not much to do other than stare at the sea – which may be exactly what you’re after.

Weligama itself is surprisingly attractive as Sri Lankan towns go: quiet and relatively traffic-free, its modest commercial centre trailing off into lush streets of pretty gingerbread villas decorated with ornate mal lali wooden fretwork, while along the well-tended seafront road ladies sit out in front of their houses hunched over pieces of lace, a local speciality since Dutch times.

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