Insider’s Guide to Colombo Beach

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Colombo is the largest city and most visited city in Sri Lanka, which is a part of most Sri Lanka tour packages. The main international airport and the main harbour of Sri Lanka are located in Colombo, therefore, most international travellers set their fort in Colombo first on their Sri Lanka trip. Almost every Sri Lanka package tour starts in Colombo and ends in Colombo.

Colombo has a unique blend of history, culture and Nature with Buddhist temples like Gangarama, Dutch period built 16th-century mansions, churches, old parliament etc. The city offers a large number of historical and cultural places but it is lack natural attractions like in most urban cities. Even though Colombo has no major natural attractions within its border, Colombo beach boasts to be one of the most useful natural assets of the city. It adds beauty to the city and even the more nice place to hang around for the people.

Galle face beach and Wellawatte beach are the 2 most popular Colombo beaches with a large gathering of local and foreign visitors every day. The beach of Colombo is the largest stretch of coastline of the island which begins from the southern border of Colombo harbour and spread up to Mt.Lavinia and always sitting next to the southern railway track.

If you would like to enjoy the sea breeze while you explore this fascinating metropolis you can either drop into Galleface or Wellawatte beach.  Below is a description of both these beautiful localities of Colombo beach.

Wellawatte beach

Wellawatta is a working city with overwhelming diverse activities. Wellawatta is crowded with a lot of people and the area is overflowing with offices, restaurants, fast food stalls, cinemas, shopping malls, houses, apartments and restaurants.

The setup in this Colombo beach is very suitable for various types of business activities and Wellawatta is not considered a destination for a top-notch beach holiday in Sri Lanka. But Wellawatta also inherits the qualities of some of the best beaches on the west coast of Sri Lanka. Especially the beach around marine drive attracts a considerable number of people in their free time.

Still, the Colombo beach around Wellawatta is not on the radar of foreign holidaymakers mainly due to the rough sea and underwater current. Therefore the tourism infrastructure and facilities are at the low end when compared to other tourist places such as Bentota beach, Hikkaduwa and Nilaveli.

There are few differences between Colombo beach and beaches on the south and west coast of Sri Lanka. Beaches on the south coast such as Rekawa are very popular for beach holidays and watching Sea turtles. But, it is highly unlikely to watch sea turtles in Colombo.

Marine drive

The marine drive which is a newly created road between Dehiwala and Kollupititya, which runs parallel to the Galle road and Colombo beach in Wellawatta has become a very active spot during the night. And it is one of the very popular tourist places in Colombo, due to its endless pristine beaches.

Towards the west of marine drive is occupied by sandy, calm, beautiful Colombo beaches. It is being used by the city dwellers for jogging and various recreation activities, people are gathering here to enjoy the cool breeze of the Indian Ocean.

Playful tide provides endless joy for the old and young alike. Even though the sea around Wellawatta seems to be calm, it is not predictable and is highly recommended not to be used for bathing. During the weekend people are pouring into the beaches around Wellawatta.

The beaches of Wellawatta end in popular Mount Lavinia beach in the direction of South and it is Colombo harbour towards the end of the other side. One can clearly see the World trade centre or twin tower from the distance. The beaches around Wellawatta can be considered clean and well-managed Colombo beaches.

Family holiday places

Wellawatta considered being one of the best places for a family outing in Colombo. Nowadays more and more people are gathering at Colombo beach to relax after hard work during the week. During the weekend and after office hours the area seems a little empty with very low traffic.

Wellawatta housed some of the best restaurants in Colombo at the same time they provide a large range of special recipes for their customers. The beaches of Wellawatta are especially romantic in the evening with the sundown and it is unbelievable tranquil at the sunset. You hear only the roar of the mighty Ocean and the various sounds of birds, even one might be surprised to experience such a calm atmosphere in a city like Colombo.

Galle face Beach

Galle face green is one of the oldest landmarks of the city of Colombo and it is located towards the south of Fort in the southern portion of the city. This open place is being used for recreation purposes by the city dwellers today, you can observe large gatherings at Galle face with the sunset.

Galle Face is one of the best places to try Sri Lanka street food at an affordable price. Colombo sightseeing tour is very popular among the travellers and Galle Face beach is included in most Colombo sightseeing tours.

Galle face green occupies the huge area at the start of Southern Colombo spreading from the old parliament to Galle face junction. It is located bordering the Indian Ocean from one side with beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, on the other side of Galle Face is many popular hotels in Colombo such as Jaj Samudra and Shangri-La. Galle face is one of the important places visited during the Colombo city tour.

The name Galle face derives from the Dutch word Galle-Fosse (canal) used to name the place during the Dutch rule. There had been a canal that was built to guard the fort against the southern direction, during the Dutch occupation of the island. The Galleface was the open place from the southern direction of the fort. Thereby providing open space to target the invading army from Galle direction. Several canons installed by Dutch are still visible in the area.

At the beginning of the British occupation, Galleface was used by British military forces and also executing place among the British forces. According to sources, at least four soldiers were hanged here, who were found to be guilty of various crimes. From 1828 it was freed from the military occupation and used for the purposes of the general public.

Initially under the supervision of Governor Edward Barnes racecourse was constructed here for the rich people of the city. There had been many house races performed and it was enjoyed mainly by the British people. 

Being located next to the beaches, there was a major threat to the racecourse from the crabs. Sea crabs were creating holes in the nearby racecourse during the night and it was a major threat to the horses. After a few accidents with valuable horses due to sea crab holes, the British rulers of the country decided to stop the horse races. Other than the horse races musical shows and concerts organized by the British military could be seen often at Galle face. Young people who were playing cricket could also see here very often during that time.

Galle face is one of the most popular meeting places in the city today. There is a large gathering of city dwellers in the evening and especially on the weekend. Most people in the city are living in apartments and they use the place to play sports, jog, exercise, walk or enjoy the beautiful beaches in the city.

At the southern end of Galle face green is an old British style building which is still in very good shape. The building is non-other than the famous Galle face hotel and it is one of the oldest hotels in Asia. The hotel was constructed in 1864 and was the most luxurious hotel in Asia.

Old parliament another important landmark of the Colombo city tour is located at the north end of Galle face and the Taj hotel is located towards the east of the site. Old parliament is located in a very attractive locality with the Indian ocean on its opposite. The guests who venture on a Colombo walking tour, march up to Old parliament from pettah and Galle face before they hop in their vehicle.

Beira Lake which is the most picturesque reservoir in the city falls into the Indian Ocean next to the Old Parliament building.  Towards the north end of Galle face, there are several historical places and economically important places such as the world trade centre, Colombo harbour, the Dutch hospital etc.