Mawella Beach House

Tangalle, Galle & South Coast, Sri Lanka Book from

Reviewed by Claudia Davies
A stylish 2-bedroom beach house with laid-back charm, set on a quiet fisherman’s beach near Tangalle (sleeps 2-4)
We were thrilled when we stumbled upon this charming 2-bedroom beach cottage. Its simple, pared-down style is a perfect complement to laid-back Mawella beach: a peaceful strip of sand which lies a few steps down the grassy garden through a private gate. Here, the ocean is relatively calm, with small waves perfect for keen swimmers and boogie boarders alike. A few minutes’ drive from the traditional town of Tangalle, the house is one of four small and nearly identical buildings on the site, 2 of which are for security and housekeepers. The owners of the neighbouring house are rarely there, so you will most likely have the grounds completely to yourself.

The house itself has 2 high-ceilinged, spacious bedrooms, both with ensuite bathrooms and views to the ocean, so you can fall asleep to the sound of breaking waves. French windows open onto a huge veranda running the width of the house, with wicker loungers and a separate dining area. Dotted about the long garden are recliners and a hammock, while a thatched pavilion overlooking the beach is a serene spot for shady reading on plump cushions. The house comes with 2 friendly staff who cook and clean for a few hours a day; otherwise, it is all yours. You can use the kitchen at any time, but one of the great luxuries here is tucking into Rupa's superb curries after a strenuous day in the sun - so make the most of their services (you only pay for the ingredients used). This is simple beach life made comfy.

Highs

  • It works equally well for an adventurous family, for a honeymooning couple, or for 2 couples who are happy to share the lounge and garden
  • We loved the calm, almost monastic bedrooms, and the wonderful sense of space in both garden and veranda
  • The 3km-long beach is one of very few that are safe for swimming during high season (Dec-April); and outside these times it is practically empty (we shared it with just a few fishermen on our September visit)
  • Unlike many Sri Lankan cottages, this one is really set back from the road, making it extremely quiet and private
  • If you want company, it's an hour's drive to the bustling beaches of Unawatuna and the historic town of Galle

Lows

  • Book early - it's often full!
  • The house and gardens are prone to insect visitors (as is the rest of the country), particularly mosquitoes and red ants, so take plenty of repellent
  • You will need a local tuk tuk to visit shops or towns, or a car with driver (but there's no driver accommodation here)
  • As often in Sri Lanka, you may need to ask staff for things, but they are incredibly friendly and are more than happy to help

Best time to go

October to April are considered the best months in this part of Sri Lanka. Temperatures hover around 28C throughout the year, but heavy rains usually fall in May/June and September/October. If cost is an issue, consider coming outside the peak season of December and January to make the most of lower prices charged by the villa and cheaper airfares.

Our top tips

Bring toiletries, books and games (there are none to borrow, yet), sun stuff, binos if you like birdwatching, your iPod (they have a dock) and your laptop if you want to check emails. If you like painting, reading, swimming, doing yoga / tae chi (without the need for instruction) or need some time and space to finish a novel, you'll love it here.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Beach cottage
  • 2
  • Self-catering with cook on hand
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Books and games
Room:

Rooms

Opening out to an inviting veranda with sea views, the 2 airy double bedrooms are furnished in a cool, minimal style: queensize beds dressed in fine linen (and stacks of pillows), white walls (no artwork), polished cement floors (a delight in bare feet), muslin drapes wafting in the breeze, mosquito nets, and a dash of colour in the striped bedspreads and spangly lime-green cushions. With a thin beamed-and-corrugated-iron roof, the air-conditioning and ceiling fans are both welcome additions.

Ensuite bathrooms have angular terrazzo sink stands and hot showers; you'll need to bring toiletries other than soap. There are cane chairs, bamboo ladders for hanging towels, and ample wardrobes made from cinnamon wood. All in all the effect is spare and stylish.

Both rooms are identically sized, and if you are coming as a couple they will give you a lower price for just using the one bedroom (the other will not be let to anyone else, of course!). The only downside is that neither room can be made up as a twin, so if you want separate beds you will need ask for an extra mattress to be placed on the floor.

The veranda which links the rooms will become your indoor-outdoor living-dining space, and a lovely space it is too, furnished with white wicker chairs, a driftwood-framed mirror, fresh flowers and a round dining table for 4-5. Beyond its gravelled border, lawned gardens stretch to the beach. You can safely pack your shoes away - this is simple barefoot living par excellence.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Barbeque
  • Boogie boards
  • Books and games
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Mosquito net
  • Oven
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi

Eating

One of the best features of the set up is the superb food on offer. Breakfast is laid on and included in the rates: a healthy selection of fresh tropical fruits, yoghurt, toast and drinks. After that, you can book whatever meals you fancy, note there's a daily charge for provisions - just discuss your requirements with Rupa, who will ask Rajika to pop off to Tangalle's fish and veg markets on his tuk-tuk (you can accompany him if you want) and bring back the ingredients for Rupa to whip up a feast.

Unsurprisingly, beautifully prepared curries are their speciality - chicken, fish or vegetable - and they can be toned down for younger or more sensitive palates. We had a fabulous curry feast including creamy chicken and potato curry, plus a huge selection of sides including coconut salad with curried green bean, freshly made dahl and akee - all very tasty and washed down with chilled beer (wines are also available). If you fancy a change, they can also manage several "international" dishes, including an excellent spaghetti with basil and king prawns. You eat on the lovely covered veranda, at a round table with space for 5.

Of course, you are free to check out local restaurants too. There's one right next door - Manahara Bungalows - which serves decent local food and beer; or try Il Camino for Italian cuisine, a 5-10 minute walk down the beach (check it's open first). For upscale dining, take a tuk tuk to Amanwella.

If you want to self-cater (most don't!), then take a tuk-tuk into Tangalle with Rajika, who will show you the best markets; back at the ranch, Rupa will help you in the kitchen if you want.

Features include:

  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • In house cook
  • Oven
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • You won't need to be told, but there's 3km of sandy beach literally on your doorstep: it's pretty safe for swimming, with small waves and no swell, and lends itself rather nicely to romantic water's edge walks too
  • Or relax by the pool with a book or bard game (both are provided in the beach house)
  • Active types can try boogie boarding, snorkelling or scuba diving (best in Dickwella or Unawatuna)
  • Tangalle is worth a visit, not least for its Wednesday and Sunday markets which are great for fruit and veg, clothes and local spices
  • You're a stone's throw from the beautiful Seeni Modara lagoon, which in full tides links directly to the sea - a great spot for birdwatching
  • Keep your eyes peeled, too, for Tangalle’s resident sea turtles swimming off shore; or failing that, check out the turtle conservation project at Rekawa, a small village 10kms from Tangalle
  • Pygmy Blue Whales and an Orca Whale have also been spotted from Mawella Beach
  • Talking of which, the nearby blowhole of Hummanaya (or Kudawella) looks like nothing more than a giant whale spout erupting from within the rocks (it can reach 30m high in monsoon season)
  • 10 minutes away by tuk tuk is Amanwella, a luxury hotel with spa, beach bar, cocktails and a gorgeous pool (all require booking); or if you prefer a more traditional massage or Ayurvedic treatment, there's a "local" spa at Kadju House
  • The coastal town of Galle (70km/1 hour+ away) is a must, either on your way here or as a day trip, for its famous lighthouse and enchanting 17th-century fort
  • Tucked away in the jungle near Galle, we loved the small but untouristy Buddhist temple of Kataluwa
  • Nearer home, don't miss the ancient rock temple of Mulkirigala (20km north of Tangalle), with its gruesome cave paintings (people being eaten, Boddhisatva donating an eye to the needy...); and if you can manage the 500 steps up to the top, you'll be rewarded with a magnificent view over jungle-clad hills

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Historical sites
  • Safaris
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Whalewatching
  • Wildlife

Kids

This is a lovely spot for a lazy family beach holiday, so long as you don't expect any kind of entertainment or activities laid on, besides swimming in the pool or sea (the shallows are pretty safe), boogie boarding and lazing in the garden. Bear in mind that there are no games or toys for kids.

In addition to the 2 double bedrooms, there is one travel cot free of charge.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cot

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The house staff can prepare child-friendly food, including milder curries, but if your kids are not (yet) into exotic foods, you might want to help prepare the first couple of meals.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Pool
  • Hammock
  • Beach at the end of the garden

Distances:

  • Airport: 2.5-3hrs (depending on traffic)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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