Mawella Hideaways

Mawella, Tangalle & South Coast, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £79 per night

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 near-deserted 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 minimalist, 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.


  • 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 extremely helpful and 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)


  • No alcohol is available (though you can BYO 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
  • The pool at Villa 123 is unfenced and the rocky beach at the bottom of the garden is not suitable for swimming
  • Nature often finds its way indoors, so don’t be surprised to come across an insect or two - particularly in Kumbuk, which is set a little further inland
  • 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...

Great Outdoors
  • 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


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. The setting offers 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:

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


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:

  • Barbecue
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • In house cook
  • Oven
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
Eating: Kahumba


  • 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


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.


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

    Families Should Know:

    Villa 123 is located in a separate area to the other hideaways. Its pool is unfenced and is not alarmed, and the beach at the end of the garden is not suitable for swimming.
    The sea can get very choppy, making it a little dangerous for swimming

  • Distances:

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


    The 3 hideways are located at the western end of Mawella Beach, between Dickwella and Tangalle, in southern Sri Lanka. Villa 123 is 5km from Tangalle, on the outskirts of a village about 1km from the main Galle road.

    By Air:
    Most guests arrive via Colombo Bandaranaike (215km away) and then take the Air Taxi service to Mawella Lagoon, just 500m from the bungalows / 5km from the villa. Alternatively, staff can arrange transfers from the capital's airport in a comfortable minivan (a 2-3 hour drive).

    By Train:
    You can take the slow but scenic train from Colombo to Matara (30 minutes away), where staff can arrange for a taxi to meet you.

    By Car:
    It you want to hire a car and driver for your entire trip, enquire through our Tailormade Tour Operator. Otherwise, the bungalow and villa staff can arrange cars, drivers and tuk-tuks for day trips and local journeys.

    Detailed directions will be provided when you confirm a booking through i-escape.

    More on getting to Sri Lanka and getting around


    • Colombo Bandaranaike International 215.0 km CMB


    • Beach 0.1 km
    • Shops 1.0 km
    • Restaurant 6.0 km

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 14 independent reviews from i-escape guests


    Quite simply we loved everything about Mawella Hideaways! It’s the most fabulous location for a relaxing break and for us it was perfect. The house is beautifully designed, the staff were delightful, the food delicious and the location stunning. We swam straight from the house, wandered along the mostly deserted beach feeling like it was our private paradise. There are 3 restaurants a short walk along the beach, two of these are informal shacks right on the beach cooking fresh local produce. There's also a newly opened restaurant with swimming pool and very elegant terrace, serving delicious local and international food. We didn't venture far as were happy to soak up the ambience of the hideaway and just relax. Day trips can be arranged with the house team - nature reserves, whale watching and temple visits all on offer.


    The setting is idyllic, with what feels like your own private beach and the cooks are fantastic. The place is large but quite rustic and a lot needed attention when we arrived - change of light bulbs, mosquito net etc. Taru Villas down the road is excellent so is the restaurant.


    We decided to go here for our 40th wedding anniversary and it was perfect. Every day the weather was fantastic, the sea, once you get past the surf, was great to swim in and felt safe all the time. The Hideaway itself was spacious, very clean and tastefully designed. The staff looked after us really well and nothing seemed too much trouble and the food was marvellous. Completely recommend this whether you're a couple like us or a family looking for somewhere unique to spend quality time together.


    Villa 123 was a joy to stay at, the staff were amazing as was the food that they were preparing with fresh ingredients every day! The villa itself was modern and had one of the most stunning views I’ve ever seen... we didn’t want to leave. The only thing we would suggest is that it needs a coffee machine and maybe some softer pillows as these got a bit uncomfortable at times. Could not recommend more highly!


    It was marvellous stay. No shortcomings or disadvantages. Excellent home, excellent food and service.


    A total joy. The villa is beautifully designed, with a lovely big garden and entirely open to the views and the breeze if you want it to be. The beach is great for long walks, swimming and watching the fishermen (it is a working beach). There are monkeys in the trees and gorgeous sunrises. The team are so welcoming and take great pride in their work, going out of their way to provide anything you need. The food was incredible, and I felt very spoilt and cared for by the team as a solo traveller. If you want to cook, Tangalle is a short tuk tuk ride away with good shops and a market. This is a very special spot and highly recommended for people who want peace, quiet, privacy but in a way that feels connected to seaside Sri Lankan life. I would love to return again and again.


    We rented these 3 stylish cabanas, each set in its own large garden and connected by sandy lanes and gates during February. Extra cots and high chairs (especially made for us by the local carpenter!) and mozzie netting were set up for our group of 6 adults and 4 children and the staff could not have been more helpful and accommodating to us throughout our stay. It’s a really beautiful and almost deserted stretch of beach and we particularly enjoyed watching the local fishermen pulling in their huge nets and the night time fruit bats at very close quarters. In the evening a delicious selection of Sri Lankan curries were served up in a purpose built communal pavilion. It is worth noting that for much of the year it can be quite windy here and the sea a bit choppy, so probably best suited to older children


    We could have stayed here forever. Any longer than our blissful 4 days and I would have had to be rolled to the airport! Without a doubt the best food we ate in Sri Lanka. We enjoyed looking out on to the stunning, deserted Mawella beach and monkeys jumping about in the trees. We had a long list of places to go, things to do and restaurants to eat at in the area but we managed just the 1 outing. There is just no reason to leave this quiet little oasis, especially when you're being looked after by such gracious and helpful staff. We've already booked ourselves in for New Year so that should say it all!


    Loved the location and local staff. The food was the best we had in Sri Lanka without doubt. In fact this was the best stay in Sri lanka.


    Our stay at the Hideaway was really beyond words. Fantastic concept. We wouldn't change or add a thing. We were thinking of not writing a review as we would selfishly like to keep it to ourselves as our secret hideaway. The house and it's location are excellent. Service, perfect. The manager organized everything very professionally (including the airport pick-up/drop off) and he also came to visit us and ask if everything was ok regularly. The manager and housekeeper on the site was great. Really, got us everything we needed/ordered. He was there for us at any time. Next door but "invisible" otherwise. Cooks were amazing and so was food. The best part is the location of the place. Quiet, non commercial, with just a few steps away from the ocean. We are really, really impressed and can't wait to go back.


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