“Boho-chic beach resort on Sri Lanka's pristine northwest coast, with great snorkelling, dolphin trips and a cool pool”
Accommodation is divided between simple cabanas for 2-4 and larger 2-bedroom family villas. All share the same simple beach-shack style, with open sides, lofty thatch roofs and smooth screed floors. We loved the quirky bits of recycled furniture: tables of polished driftwood, old ship lights, taps made from huge conches or cowries, and showers hidden within the trees. The living areas - some of them semi-outdoor - have inbuilt sofas with splashes of colour from sea-blue, lime-green or crimson cushions; these double as extra beds for those who don't mind sleeping close to the elements (they all have mosquito nets). Bedrooms are tranquil, enclosed rooms with kingsize beds. Bear in mind that there's no hot water in any of the lodgings (just sun-warmed), and some bathrooms are open-air.
The Cabanas are the simplest: open-sided wattle-and-daub huts which we thought charming, especially for a couple. They have rattan blinds to close them off in the evenings, and outdoor bathrooms (a simple sun-warmed shower, a pretty wooden basin and a toilet) within their fenced gardens. There's no air-conditioning, but you do get a fan. The cushioned seating areas can convert into 2 single beds, making them an option for budget-conscious families or groups of friends.
Those wanting more space are better off in one of the 2 Family Villas - spacious 2-bedroom thatched houses with high ceilings and a huge veranda. Both bedrooms have double beds (no twins) and ensuite shower rooms; together with the veranda's 6 inbuilt sofabeds, you could squeeze in up to 10 people per villa - and there's an additional loo and shower in the private garden.
Meals are generally served in an ambalama - a row of clay pots laid out on a traditional oruwa (canoe), and typically filled with seafood curries using the catch of the day (think fish, crab or crayfish), plus rice and vegetables. Once you've piled your plate high, you can sit around the pool or under the thatch - there's no standing on ceremony, and guests mingle freely.
Sometimes there will be a barbecue instead, and during the day there is a simple à la carte menu, but - delicious and fresh as it all is - there is little variety. Also, they don't have a liquor licence so if you want wines and spirits you'll have to bring your own.
If you fancy a change of scene you can visit Dolphin Beach for dinner, just a short stroll down the beach. The Alankuda Beach Club is a good spot for evening drinks.
This is a child-friendly beach hideaway with plenty of accommodation options to suit families. The Cabanas sleep 2-4 and the 2-bedroom Family Villas sleep 4-10. However bear in mind that there are no cots, so those with tiny tots will need to share their double bed, use cushions or bring a travel cot. All in all, we feel it's better suited to older kids who will enjoy the watersports, splashing in the pool (though the separate shallow area is safe for young kids) and taking safari trips to Wilpattu.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Cabanas are fine for budget-conscious parents with 1 or 2 older children who are happy to sleep on the veranda daybeds. Family Villas are better for those with younger kids, or who want more space (they have 2 double bedrooms).
There are no lifeguards by the pool or on the beach.