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Negombo, Our Final Road Trip Destination!

This incredible road trip through Sri Lanka is coming to an end. What could be better than completing it with a few days lying on the beach at Negombo?

As you can see from the map, Negombo is about four hours from Galle. Our advice: add a few hours to the journey so you can take it easy, there’s a lot to see on the way.

 

Tsunami Photo Museum

Do you remember what you were doing December 26th, 2004? For the people of, and visitors to, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, and Thailand, it’s a day they’ll never forget.

In the small village of Telwatta, north of Hikkaduwa Beach on the south-west coast, the day began like any other.

Then came the first wave.

A special relationship develops while living beside the ocean and this “high tide” was one the locals didn’t recognise. The withdrawal of that first wave sucked so far out to sea, villagers grabbed their children and ran.

Returning to what was left of her home, a Telwatta villager commenced a mammoth restoration task with the inclusion of a small photo museum.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

Inside you’ll find a collection of photos from that day reminding us of Mother Nature’s strength.

Visiting this tiny makeshift museum is not an uplifting experience but it is a humbling one. One that slaps you in the face with the reality of what these people endured.

Sri Lanka’s death toll from that fateful day tallied at around 35,000, almost 1,700 were on the coastal train at the village of Peraliya. Sadly, warnings of the tsunami from the main station in Colombo weren’t received.

Entrance to the photo museum is free, donations are appreciated and further donated to the Cancer Society for patients requiring financial assistance to purchase medication.

 

Ambalangoda Mask Museum

Ambalangoda township is the go-to place for traditional Sri Lankan wooden masks.

Made of a light balsa-type wood called Kaduru, locally grown around rice paddies, these masks are central in dance performances to ward off evil spirits, tame attacking cobras and combat psychiatric conditions.

As this form of healing has slowly diminished in the country so too has the mask’s production. At Ambalangoda Mask Museum, the Wijesooriya family are keeping the tradition alive.

120 masks represent the characters from ancient performances and the Wijesooriya family intend to create them all. Currently displayed is a representation of characters from two of the performances.

You can watch the mask carving process, and purchase any on sale.

Ambalangoda is free to enter but a small donation is appreciated.

Sri Lanka: Colombo, the Commercial Capital.

 

Madu Ganga Boat Tour

The Madu Ganga or Madu River feeds an important wetland on Sri Lanka’s southwestern coast.

Playing a huge role in flood control during monsoon season, Madu Ganga also helps retain nutrient run-off from nearby cinnamon plantations.

Opening into the large Madu Lagoon and eventually emptying into the Indian Ocean, Madu Ganga is alive with mangroves and over 300 types of wetland plants. More than one hundred bird varieties, thirty reptile species, fifty kinds of butterflies and 25 different molluscs call Madu Ganga home.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

Previously featuring 64 islands, Madu Ganga now only has 25 with just 15 of them of any great size. Some islands are inhabited. Residents are cinnamon industry employees, fishermen, or boat tour operators.

Madu Ganga’s biodiversity can be experienced via a boat cruise. Poisonous water monitors keep a watchful eye as you putter past. Black-faced monkeys observe from the trees and cormorants patiently await meal times.

You’ll see the local fishermen diving to release fishing nets oblivious of crocodiles and the water monitors’ vicious tail.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

Cultural heritage is seen through numerous ancient temples in the surrounding area. One, in particular, is on the smallest island in the lake’s centre.

Fish spas are synonymous with Asia, although Madu Ganga fish spas are unique. Vast areas are netted off to maintain the fish’s natural habitat. Your boat pulls alongside the deck and your feet go straight in the river. I’ll just mention, these are the largest foot spa fish I have ever seen.

At the mouth of Madu Ganga where it flows into the Indian Ocean, many seafood restaurants specialise in the day’s fresh catch.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

While cruising through the mangroves, huts built above the water are adorned with commercial soft drink signage. Stop for a king coconut water fresh from the shell, they’ll be hanging from the hut’s exterior.

We recommend arriving midmorning at the small town of Balpitiya for your boat cruise. Spend a couple of hours on the water exploring this fascinating microcosm. Take a break, enjoy a foot spa, then stop off for some fresh seafood before continuing your journey.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

If you’re in the market for cinnamon, this region ensures the best value take-home prices in the country.

A Madu Ganga boat tour will cost up to USD $25. Combined with other tours, discounts will be applied. A tip for the boatman is always appreciated.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

 

Victor Hasselblad Sea Turtle Research & Conservation

Photography enthusiasts will immediately recognise this turtle research and conservation centre’s, sponsor.

As a member of Sweden’s most successful photographic supply family, it stands to reason Victor Hasselblad was considered a camera expert, not through nepotism, but through his technical understanding and published photography articles.

In 1940 Victor was 34 years old when a German aerial surveillance camera came into the hands of the Swedish military. Victor was asked to replicate it. He refused but promised to build a better one. The rest, they say, is history.

At the time of his death in 1978, Hasselblad willed USD $8 million to the Erna & Victor Hasselblad Foundation. Conservation was a high priority for the foundation and a small portion of those proceeds sponsored the commencement of Victor Hasselblad Sea Turtle Research & Conservation (VHSTRC).

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

At VHSTRC, the local sea turtle activity is monitored and nesting sites conserved. Tours are aimed at spreading awareness of how endangered these beautiful creatures are.

Female sea turtles are not the most maternal creatures. Referring to memory, they return to where they were born to lay their eggs, cover them (at least) and then leave.

Predators and poachers on the lookout for newly laid eggs are led almost directly to them following the path mum left in the sand.

This is where VHSTRC comes in. Transferred to the hatchery’s protection, eggs are left to naturally hatch in their nests away from poachers and predators.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

When it’s time, a bright light simulates the moon guiding them to, what they think is, the sea.

Sea Turtle Hatchlings are released after the 3rd day giving them a fighting chance out in the open ocean.

Hatchlings with unformed shells, deformities or blindness are kept for observation to finally be released or kept at the centre.

VHSTRC is also a rehabilitation centre for turtles caught in nets, injured by fish hooks, with bellies full of plastic, or have succumbed to injuries by predators.

This short, but informative tour is highly recommended and worthwhile for all visitors to Sri Lanka’s west coast.

Tours at VHSTRC are paid by donation and volunteers warmly welcomed.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

 

Negombo, our final destination

Under ten kilometres from Bandaranaike International Airport, Negombo is an excellent location to begin or end your Sri Lanka adventure.

As a final destination, the beach may be all you need. Stretching for miles, Negombo beach’s wide corridor of yellow sand is scattered with oruvas and paruvas. These sailing vessels, primarily used for fishing,  are also available for sightseeing.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

Negombo Lagoon, south of the beach, is the perfect place for a boat cruise. The extensive mangrove swamps and distinct flora attract hundreds of birds and coastal animals.

At the northern end of the lagoon is one of Sri Lanka’s largest fish markets, Lellama. Head there early for the day’s catch or to arrange a fishing trip.

Almost two-thirds of Negombo’s population are Roman Catholics.

Prior to Portuguese arrival, the area’s fishermen and cinnamon harvesters were Buddhist or Hindu. As the Portuguese usurped the cinnamon trade, positions of authority were offered to the region’s locals in exchange for their conversion to Catholicism.

Today, with 25 Roman Catholic Churches in the city, Negombo is referred to as “Little Rome”. St Mary’s is of particular note for its pink exterior and beautiful interior frescoes.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

Portugal held the Sri Lankan cinnamon trade for almost a century before the Dutch arrived.

Unlike the Portuguese churches, the Dutch presence is evident at Negombo Fort and in the 120-kilometre canal joining Puttalam in the north to Colombo in the south.

Originally built to transport spices, the canal is now used by local fishermen to reach the sea. Early morning boat tours can be arranged to observe the canal’s birdlife.

Negombo’s bustling centre and beach roads are full of food outlets and shopping. Large department stores, boutiques and supermarkets will satisfy your retail craving.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

In my very humble opinion, Negombo’s pièces de résistance are the spectacular sunsets. Grab a lounger, order a king coconut, glug some arrack into it 😉 and listen for the sun’s hiss as it sets into the Indian Ocean.

Negombo was hit hard Easter Sunday, 2019, particularly Saint Sebastian Church.

The weeks following Easter saw few, if any, visitors to Negombo. A heavy military presence walked the streets, beaches were deserted, and the lack of frenetic daily activity was eerie.

Let’s hope it won’t be long before the people of Sri Lanka, especially Negombo, Colombo, and Batticaloa can return to some degree of normality.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

 

Jetwing Blue

Jetwing Hotels have quite a presence in Negombo with three hotels on Negombo Beach, one on the lagoon and their Ayurvedic Villas. It’s not surprising really considering Herbert Cooray, the late founder and chairman of Jetwing, opened his first hotel here in 1973.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

That hotel was the Blue Oceanic, now Jetwing Blue, which began as a six-room operation and now boasts 120 rooms in varying floor plans.

Designed to maximise the stunning backdrop of Negombo Beach and the Indian Ocean, Jetwing Blue’s magnificent swimming pool is the main attraction.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

Beach loungers face the ocean under swaying palm trees and if you’re up early enough, you’ll catch the toddy harvesters in the palm tree canopy.

Jetwing Blue, like all Jetwing properties, has sustainability at its core. Biomass boilers, solar panels, recycling, reusing, and community-based projects continue to evolve.

Jetwing Blue is keen to share their sustainability strategy and welcome guests to join their back of house sustainability tour.

Negombo. Sri Lanka.

Thank you for joining us on our Sri Lanka Road Trip. We hope it encourages you to explore this magnificent country in your own way.

The welcoming people, magnificent scenery, extraordinary culinary experiences, and the country’s commitment to conservation have placed Sri Lanka high on our list of places we love….

Ayubowan – may you live long!

Disclaimer: This article contains discounts and upgrades that will never affect our 100% honest opinions.

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For accommodation in Negombo Jetwing has you covered. You can book through us below.

For other accommodation options, please enter Negombo in the search window then filter your preferences. You’ll find a wide selection of hotels, hostels and homestays within your budget.

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Getting There & Getting Around

If you’ve decided on a Jetwing Travels itinerary then you don’t need to worry about this at all. Your guide/ driver will transport you to Negombo.

Negombo’s close proximity to Bandaranaike International Airport means buses, taxis, tuk-tuks and your Über app can get you there without a hitch.

Negombo has four train stations connecting the city north, south and to the central hill country.

 

When To Go

Negombo is on the central west coast of Sri Lanka with a tropical rain forest climate. The southwestern monsoons bring the rain from May to August and October to January. The rest of the year is quite dry.

Temperatures vary little throughout the year with the average daytime temperature about 29C and evening 24C. Humidity is between 70 and 80% throughout the year.

For more Sri Lanka info, please follow this link to plan your adventure. “Sri Lanka: Where to Begin?”

Sri Lanka: Colombo, the Commerical Capital! gives an overview of where to #eat #drink #explore #shop & #stay in the commercial capital.

If you’re interested in road tripping Sri Lanka, our first leg is covered in Sri Lanka: Colombo to Kandy Road Trip!

Continuing through tea country on Sri Lanka’s famous Blue Train can be found in Sri Lanka Road Trip: Hill Country, Highlands & Plains!

For a unique experience at Sri Lanka’s first Agro-Eco-Luxury resort please follow this link to Sri Lanka: Kaduruketha.

If it’s wildlife you’re seeking, then don’t miss Sri Lanka: Yala National Park & the Beach!

Galle, on the southwestern coast, oozes history at the Dutch Fort and Mirissa is the place to see Blue Whales and Dolphins. For more, check out Sri Lanka: The Coast Road from Yala to Galle!

 

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Negombo. Sri Lanka.

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