Beruwela - the Golden Mile of Sri Lanka

The beach at Beruwela stretching south towards to Bentota is home to Sri Lanka’s biggest concentration of resort hotels, catering to a predominantly German clientele. This is the best established package-holiday destination on the island and some parts have largely sold out to the tourist dollar. If you are looking for unspoilt beaches and a taste of local life, this isn’t the place to find them.

Beruwela is famous for the Golden Mile of Sri Lanka – a strip of beach which is known as Sri Lanka’s resort destination par excellence, perfect if you’re looking for a nice tropical holiday with the heaving beaches, bland food and characterless accommodation. Big resort hotels stand shoulder to shoulder along the broad and still attractive beach, separated by the stout fences and armed guards from any contact possible contact with the ordinary life of Sri Lanka outside, while the locals poke their noses through the fences and ogle the fantasy of foreign luxury within the hotel premises. Things are a lot better and quieter at the northen end of the beach, which preserves a fine swathe of relatively unspoilt sand and offers a couple of reasonable budget options. There are lifeguards all along the main stretch of Beruwela beach, flags outside the resort hotels indicate whether it’s safe to swim or not.

Although some areas of the coast here – the main section of Beruwela beach in particular – are now eminently missing due to the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami which happened in December 2004, there are still exceptions, including a cluster of excellent (though relatively expensive) boutique hotels at the quiet end of Bentota, and a handful of attractive (and much cheaper) guest houses on the beautiful lagoon which backs the busy little town of Aluthgama, sandwiched between Bentota and Beruwela. Many of the hotels here are the work of local architect Geoffrey Bawa.

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