On our way to the beach village of Unawatuna, just a few kilometers up the coast from Galle, we saw a sign that read “Unawatuna: Tourist Paradise!” Which just goes to prove what we’ve been saying all along — Sri Lankans have a hilarious and darkly ironic sense of humor! Unawatuna, paradise for tourists. Ha! That’s a good one.
Maybe it’s us. Had we visited Unawatuna during our first week in Sri Lanka, as opposed to our last, we’d almost definitely have had a different opinion. The same thing always happens at the end of our 91-day stays: once we get familiar with a country, the shine of novelty wears off and we’re less forgiving of flaws. From our fatigued and slightly jaded perspectives, Unawatuna was about the worst kind of beach town imaginable.
If you want a trashy resort filled with stores selling overpriced junk and awful restaurants with cutesy names like The Pink Turtle, go to Cancun or Benidorm! Why come all the way to Sri Lanka? But hey, if you want to blow a ton of money on a flight, and be harassed every other minute by another necklace-seller or skeezy masseuse then, certainly: Unawatuna is for you. Enjoy.
I wish I were exaggerating about being bugged “every other minute” by people selling junk, but I’m not. That is unfortunately — unbelievably — accurate. It was non-stop.
The locals weren’t even all that nice; usually a dependable trademark of Sri Lankans! Maybe they were discouraged by the fact that nobody was buying their junk. That must get frustrating. The rich, sunburned Europeans flatly refusing to even look at their junk must make an attractive target for scorn. I’m sorry I don’t want your traditional mask, but please don’t mock me under your breath as you stomp away! Or do. I guess I don’t care.
Maybe it’s understandable. On the western end of Unawatuna, just past a concrete sewage tunnel, is the “locals” section of the beach. The division couldn’t be any more clearly-defined. Europeans over here, Sri Lankans over there in the filth. We’ve seen hotels here that refuse to rent rooms to Sri Lankans. How’s that for enraging? Try to imagine a foreign-owned hotel in your country that refuses you entry. A rich Russian opening a hotel in Miami that strictly prohibits Americans? Inconceivable. Maybe the question shouldn’t be why the Unawatunans were so rude, but how they have the self-composure to remain as civil as they do.
Ugh. We couldn’t leave Unawatuna fast enough. I realize that in this post, I’m completely ignoring the considerable natural beauty of the place. It has some charm — other people we spoke to enjoyed their time there. But I don’t care, we hated it. Plus, it was the start of monsoon season and we had terrible weather. So what, I can’t blame Unawatuna for the monsoon? Well, I do. I blame it for the weather, and I blame it for putting me in a bad mood. Unawatuna, tourist paradise. Heh, well at least that made me laugh.
–strong>Guesthouses in Unawatuna
This Post Has 7 Comments
As far as I know that most tourist like Unawatuna beach and I do not understand that why uthor so bothered about people selling their junk, if he does not want to buy just say NO. I am sure that it will stop there.It is very sad to see that the author does not see the beauty of the Unawatuna beach as others enjoy.
Compared to other beaches Unwatana is one of the beaches we like least!
Don’t blame you all.The best beaches are up north in Trinco though!
Totally agree! Best beaches were in trinco and we loved our time in A-Bay!!!
Hawkers, star hotels, everybody want tourist dollars perhaps that’s why locals are unwelcome to stay there, enjoyment or entertainment being replaced with business mentality.Don’t be regular visitors to any tourist spot ,that would only promote greed.
Hi! First of all, sorry fo my English, I’m Italian!I read your story but I don’t agree with you.I Love Sri Lanka and I understand your point of view, but maybe you have to think about their past. The war, the tsunami… They have a brillant future, and they have to thank you the tourism too!It’s amazing that most of the territory is wild, but you perfect know that turists are not all explorers, and if you want a good business you must have an offer for many kinds of tourists.Probably is not the best beach in SL, but is good for them!
We love Sri Lanka too and understand Sri Lanka’s past very well. We just don’t like the direction Unawatuna is heading!