Galle

The ancient port town of Galle on Sri Lanka's southern coast was successively colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British beginning in the early 1500s. The well-preserved remnants of this diverse history, particularly the 17th-century Dutch fort and surrounding ramparts, helped the city gain UNESCO World Heritage protection.
The ancient port town of Galle on Sri Lanka's southern coast was successively colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British beginning in the early 1500s. The well-preserved remnants of this diverse history, particularly the 17th-century Dutch fort and surrounding ramparts, helped the city gain UNESCO World Heritage protection.

Experiences

Galle National Museum

Visit the Galle National Museum. Housed in an old Dutch building in the center of the fort, the museum features exhibits on colonial weaponry, including a collection of Portuguese and Dutch swords, stone cannon balls, and battle axes made of brass and iron. Native handicrafts like turtle-shell ornaments and decorative pieces are also on display.

Game Fishing

If you are interested in game fishing, your boat will take you eight miles off the coast, where the continental shelf drops off and such fish as tuna, sailfish, marlin, and wahoo are common.

Hiyare Rainforest

To the north of Galle to visit the beautiful, untouched Hiyare rainforest, which surrounds a 51-acre lake. A wildlife guide from the reserve will accompany you and illuminate the many interesting species of animals and plants that are found there. Hiyare has established its own tree nursery, and it is possible to plant a tree as part of their carbon offset program.

Koggala Birdwatching

Visit the nearby port town of Koggala. Take a cruise down the Koggala River and its estuaries with a naturalist who will tell you about the various types of bird and wildlife that make Koggala their home.

Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery

Visit the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery and witness how the newborn turtles are being cared for until they are ready to be released back to the ocean. The wide, sandy beaches that dot the coasts of Sri Lanka are utilized by several species of marine turtles as nesting sites.

Maritime Archaeology Museum

Explore the 40,000 square-foot Galle Maritime Archeology Museum. If one is available, meet with a curator. The original museum building was entirely destroyed by the 2004 tsunami, but its collection has been reestablished in the newly renovated Dutch warehouse in Galle Fort. The exhibits of artifacts discovered on the ocean floor around Sri Lanka include the Avondster, a Dutch ship that wrecked off Galle Fort in 1659.

Mirissa Boat Trip

Spend the day on a boat trip out of Mirissa Harbor, a 40-minute drive to the east of Galle. The harbor is home to an Indonesian fishing trawler that has been restored for leisure cruising in Weligama Bay. Go swimming and snorkeling from the boat, and try fishing with a hand line.

Ramparts Walking Tour

A great way to get an overview (literally) of Galle is to circumambulate the small historic center via the centuries-old Dutch ramparts that encircle the fort area.

Yatagala & Rhumasala Temples

Visit the temples of Yatagala and Rhumasala. Sitting atop a 120-step staircase, the 1,200- year-old Yatagala Temple, carved directly into the rock of a hillside, is one of the oldest in the region, and is set in a beautiful valley lined with rice terraces. On a lovely headland across from Galle fort, Rhumasala is a brand new temple, built as a gift from Japan, and boasts wonderful views across the water towards Galle.

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