"Kalutara" Kalutara by mightywease

Kalutara Travel Guide: 5 reviews and 17 photos


Kalutara was the destination for the second week of our holiday in Sri Lanka.
The town is approximately 42km south of Colombo and known for basketmaking and producing excellent quality mangosteens (delicious, sweet fruit)
The town itself is bisected by a busy major road with small shops, business, markets etc.. on either side. There was quite a lot of traffic when we visited which made the town seem quite noisy (as well as not making it very easy to cross from one side of the town to the other!). It was certainly a busy, quite lively place, a little scruffy and run-down in parts but we happily spent an afternoon walking around, doing a bit of shopping (we got some very good bargains on shirts, tops and sarongs).
The highlight for me. though, was visiting the Gangatilaka Vihara, the Buddhist shrine situated by the bridge across the Kalu Ganga. It has, I think, one of, if not the only, hollow dagoba in Sri Lanka the inside of which is decorated with a frieze of paintings. By the road there is also a sacred Bodhi Tree where drivers can stop to make offerings.
It was wonderful to walk round the shrine and sit quietly inside the dagoba. Peaceful and contemplative.

The Beach

Although it was nice to stroll along the beach at Kalutara I'm not sure that it is one of the most picturesque or pleasant beachs in Sri Lanka. We found there was quite a lot of detritus washed up on the beach, from driftwood to rubbish and patches of oil.
The sea was generaly quite rough and the red flag was flying for most of the days we were there, however, that could be because we went slightly out of season. If you are looking for somewhere where there is quite a range of water-sports and other such activities then I don't think Kalutara is the best place to choose. However. I don't want to put people off. We strolled along the beach most days and it was very relaxing staring out to see and watching the boats on the horizon. If you are staying near the beach it makes a fantastic backdrop.

The Royal Palms Hotel

We stayed at the Royal Palms for our 8 nghts in Kalutara. It's a lovely hotel, all the rooms have balconies overlooking the pool and towards the sea. The rooms are large and very comfortable, plenty of space to spread yourself and your things out! The pool and gardens are fabulous. The pool almost circles the hotel. In the most part it is quite shallow with a deeper area that is well signposted. There is a kind of jacuzzi part, which is good fun to sit in, and a bar that you can swim up to and order your fruit cocktails from!
Loads of sun-loungers though the ones with umbrella shades are at a premium.
The foyer in the hotel is large and cool and leads on to the Royal Pavilion Bar where you can sip cocktails and stare out over the gardens and to the sea.
There are two restaurants for evening meals. The main one, the Ranthalu, is a buffet serving meats, fish, pasta dishes, chips, mashed potatoes, that kind of thing. To be honest I was a bit disappointed with this restaurants. Although the food is of a very good quality I found the range offered a little limited and there didn't seem to be any Sri Lankan dishes on offer. The week perviously, in our tour round the island, we had enjoyed sampling Sri Lankan cuisine and I did miss having the opportunity to do so again. The other restaurant, however, the Orient, was fantastic. It's a seafood restaurant where you choose your dishes from a range including lobster, prawns, mullet, cuttlefish etc.. Price is based on the weight of the seafood and also includes fish soup to start, salad and rice ro accompany your main course and fruit platter to finish. The food is excellent, the restaurants is intimate and quiet and the cost very reasonable. The most we spent was about 7 pounds sterling each for a 3 course meal and drinks.
During the day the main restaurant serves staple hotel food such as burgers, sandwiches, devilled prawns or meat and sometimes pizzas and kebabs.
Entertainment in the evening can be found at the Nightjar disco, which also has, on certain nights, Kandyan dancing shows, kareoke, and a magician. The Royal Pavilion Bar also has pianists and cabaret style entertainment.
There is a small shopping arcade in the hotel, currency exchange facilities, a fitness suite and the opportunity to have a Ayuvedic massage. Also the road leading down to the hotel has a number of shops selling souvenirs, trinkets, soft drinks etc..And don't be concerned by the railway track running behind the hotel. The only time we really heard or noticed any trains was when we deliberately went out to see one go past!
We had a very nice time at the Royal Palms. It was relaxing, luxourious, the staff were friendly and helpful and we felt completely at ease. I'd recommend it.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The Gangatilaka Vihara, the views out to sea
  • Cons:Thr beach seemed a bit dirty.
  • Last visit to Kalutara: Sep 2002
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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