Mawella Hideaways

Mawella, Galle & South Coast, Sri Lanka Book from

Reviewed by Emma Boyle
Three relaxing hideaways (for 2-4) and a high-end secluded villa (for 2-6) near Tangalle, with stylish interiors and staff to cook, clean and shop
On Sri Lanka’s beautiful south coast, near the market town of Tangalle, four enchanting hideaways await. Each is utterly individual. You’ll find 3 simple hideaways nestled behind the sweeping 2km curve of Mawella Beach and, perched on a nearby bluff in Unakuruwa, a fourth rather luxurious 3-bedroom villa.

At Mawella Beach, you can wander through your homely hideaway's garden gate and down to the sand, where a plethora of colourful fishing boats lay poised for action. Aside from short periods at dawn and dusk when the boats come and go, the beach is blissfully quiet. Expect a few fishermen hard at work mending their nets, which lay in giant coils at their feet, and little else. The 3 comfortable hideaways each have 1- or 2 bedrooms, an airy living and dining space, and a basic kitchen for self-catering (a cook is also available). Though their layouts vary they all brandish the same uncluttered, monochrome interiors.

At Unakuruwa (a 10-minute drive away), the palatial and contemporary 3-bedroom villa gazes over three headlands, with the sound of crashing waves floating up from the rocky coastline below. The beach at the bottom of the garden isn’t safe for swimming, but that’s of little concern when you have a 60ft private infinity pool to enjoy, rock pools to examine and Unakuruwa beach a short stroll away.

Escapist couples and adventurous families with older children will cherish the seclusion of either of these two laid-back localities. Rock-top temples, hidden coves and turtle sanctuaries all lie within easy reach.

Highs

  • We loved the privacy and barefoot informality of the simple hideaways, as well as the luxe seclusion of the 3-bedroom villa
  • The sea at Mawella Beach is shallow and good for swimming (just steps from the hideaways and a 5km tuk-tuk ride from the villa), whilst the waves further along are ideal for body boarding and surfing
  • Hideaway guests can wake at dawn to watch fishermen hauling in their catch (have some cash handy to buy fresh fish for lunch)
  • The staff are friendly, the food delicious, and the housekeepers are always on hand should you need anything
  • The Air Taxi service from Colombo lands on the nearby lagoon, so it’s easy to reach (just 500m from the hideaways and 5km from the villa)

Lows

  • No alcohol is available (though you can bring your own at no charge or ask the team to purchase it on your instructions), and restaurants are a tuk-tuk ride away
  • The hideaways lack swimming pools, air-conditioning and TVs, but breezes circulate freely and they're located right on swim-friendly Mawella Beach
  • The pool at Villa 123 is unfenced and the rocky beach at the bottom of the garden is not suitable for swimming
  • Villa 123 is 5km tuk-tuk ride from the hideaways, if you were thinking of booking everything for a big group
  • Nature often finds its way indoors, so don’t be surprised to come across an insect or two
  • Full pre-payment is required by bank transfer only

Best time to go

November to April are considered the best months in this part of Sri Lanka, both for their hours of sunshine and for their calm seas. Temperatures hover around 29C throughout the year, but heavy rain usually falls in May/June and September/October.

Our top tips

The hideaways at Mawella Beach are a very different provide a different, simpler experience to the 3-bedroom Villa. Choose what suits you best.

Want a barefoot beach-side break? The hideways on Mawella Beach will be perfect for you, offering simple surroundings and safe sea swimming.

Dreaming of an indulgent home-from-home? Villa 123 has high-end design and a relaxing private infinity pool (but no swimming at the bottom of the garden due to the rocky beach).

Either way, be sure to bring your own books, digital entertainment and toiletries (including insect repellent).

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Villas
  • 3 hideaways + 1 villa
  • Self-catering (+ cook)
  • All ages welcome; best for older kids
  • 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
  • Laundry Service
  • Housekeeper
  • Bats, balls and body boards to borrow
Room: Kahumba

Rooms


Kotamba & Kahumba: 1-bedroom beachfront hideaways
Sharing the same simple yet chic décor and facilities, these 2 hideaways sit either side of a private strip of grassy garden (owned by the owners) facing onto Mawella Beach. They have four-poster beds wrapped in mosquito netting, big ensuite shower rooms and living rooms with oversized daybeds made from local kithul wood. Doors and windows open onto wraparound verandas; monochrome photographs of local life set the scene (we loved the portrait of a wizened old fisherman in Kahumba’s bathroom).

Kotamba, a renovated fisherman’s house, enjoys the longest stretch of beachfront, with views of the whole bay from the terrace or the dining pergola. Kahumba was built from the ruins of an old house and features a lovely open-air shower, plus a guest bathroom and an alfresco table under its namesake tree looking onto the beach.

Kumbuk: 2-bedroom coastal hideaway
Kumbuk is set a little further back from Mawella Beach, just behind Kahumba Hideaway. It has 2 bedrooms (a double and a twin) and a larger garden to compensate. We’re yet to see this space, but the setting appears to offer a greater sense of privacy while still being within strolling distance of the beach (20 metres away).

Villa 123: 3-bedroom luxury coastal villa
For something entirely different, stay at super sleek Villa 123, a 10-minute drive away. With minimal contemporary styling, its 3 ensuite ocean-facing bedrooms are spacious, bright and breezy. It has a large open-plan kitchen, dining room and living room, beyond which lies a wide terrace and stunning 60ft pool. We had a really relaxing day swimming lengths here. The villa faces 3 headlands - the furthest of which is beyond Mawella, where the blowhole can be seen in the distance. Wander halfway down the hill to the floating lookout point for more secluded gazes at the ocean. Although there is access to a beach here, it's rocky and not great for swimming so we recommend taking a tuk-tuk 5km to Mawella Beach or strolling to Unakuruwa beach.

Features include:

  • Barbeque
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Mosquito net
  • Oven
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • WiFi

Eating

The hideaways and villa each have private kitchens and dining areas. Villa 123 has a modern fully equipped kitchen and a dedicated full-time cook. The 3 hideaways have simple kitchens equipped with fridges, stoves, kettles and toasters, plus the option of a cook if you so wish. Whether in the hideaways or in the villa, chat with the team each morning about what you’d like and they’ll do the rest; you just pay for the ingredients. A tick-list of essentials is provided so that staff can shop on your behalf - useful if you want to order mixers for drinks, midnight snacks, or specific items such as cereal.

If you do have a cook, meals tend to emphasise local cuisine. For breakfast you might try string hoppers with creamy curries and sambols, or go continental with bread sourced from the local musical tuk-tuk; we would highly recommend the delicious buffalo curd, too. Lunches are light affairs such as salad Niçoise (the fresh local tuna is fabulous), while dinner options might include barbecues, grilled fish or a Sri Lankan curry spread. We dined by candlelight on Kotamba’s terrace and ate spicy chicken cooked in a clay pot, along with deliciously herby aubergines.

Features include:

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

Activities

  • Mawella Beach is ideal for walking, jogging and swimming (the sand shelves slowly into the sea). If you're staying at Villa 123, either take the 5km tuk-tuk journey here or stroll 5 minutes to Unakuruwa beach. The rocky beach at the bottom of the garden is not suitable for swimming
  • Unakuruwa Beach, a short walk from Villa 123, has reef breaks for surfers; if you want to take lessons, Bandula's Surf School will pick you up and take you to the best beaches for your ability level, but be sure to book early as he is very popular!
  • Keen photographers will love the Mawella Beach fishing scene; dawn is usually a hotbed of activity. Staff can arrange for you to head out to fish with one of the boats (cost negotiable with the fishermen)
  • Thai-style massages can be arranged in the privacy of your hideaway or villa (request in advance). For a comprehensive range of treatments, book into Amanwella’s lavish spa down the coast
  • Take a tuk-tuk to Tangalle, whose bustling harbour and markets offer an insight into local life
  • Observe marine turtles hatching and laying eggs at the Rekawa Turtle Sanctuary
  • Hike to the top of Mulkirigala, a sacred Buddhist rock temple, to admire the cave murals and stunning 360-degree views

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Body boarding
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Wildlife

Kids

The hideways and villa are great for free-range families.

At the hideways, children of all ages will enjoy Mawella Beach (there's no life guard) and the bats, balls and body boards. The gardens are fenced, but the proximity of the waves mean it's not best suited to toddlers, and you'll need to keep an eye on youngsters around the sea as there may be currents.

At Villa 123, the set-up is best-suited to children old enough to safely navigate the unfenced infinity pool. The rocky beach immediately below the villa is not safe for swimming.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Kumbuk hideaway has 2 bedrooms (a double and a twin) and a fenced garden; it's tucked 20 metres back from Mawella Beach for added privacy (just behind Kahumba). The other 2 hideaways are beachfront, with one double bedroom each, plus 2 daybeds in their living rooms. Note that Kahumba has a guest bathroom and larger living area. Villa 123 has 3 ensuite double bedrooms and a 60ft infinity pool immediately in front of the villa off the terrace. A baby cot is available if requested in advance.

Babysitting:

English-speaking childcare can be arranged with advance notice.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cot
  • Booster seat

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

Children's meals:

The cooks can tailor meals (and spice levels) to young taste buds, and the kitchens are handy for whipping up kids' snacks.

Kids Activities on site:

At Mawella Beach:

  • Four boogie boards
  • Net and bats
  • Footballs
  • Board games

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Mawella Beach is excellent for swimming
  • Yala National Park (100km) for leopard, elephant, fish eagles
  • Seasonal turtle hatching (Rekewa 20km has 5 endangered species)
  • Udawalawe National Park (65km)
  • Kalametiya bird sanctuary, go bird watching via boat across fresh water lagoons
  • Whale watching excursions from either Mirissa (40km) or Dondra (22km), December - April

  • Distances:

    • Airport: 3.5-4 hours (Colombo)
    • Hospital: 15 minutes (Tangalle)
    • Shops: 15 minutes (Tangalle)
    Kid Friendly:

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