“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”
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
Our top tips
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).”
- Boutique Villas
- 3 hideaways + 1 villa
- Self-catering (+ cook)
- All ages welcome; best for older kids
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
- Laundry Service
- Bats, balls and body boards to borrow
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.
- Coffee / tea making
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Mosquito net
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.
- Children's meals
- Coffee / tea making
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- In house cook
- Shopping service
- 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:
- Boat trips
- Body boarding
- Historical sites
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
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.
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 cot
- Booster seat
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
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
- Board games
Kids Activities nearby:
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
- Airport: 3.5-4 hours (Colombo)
- Hospital: 15 minutes (Tangalle)
- Shops: 15 minutes (Tangalle)
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.
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).
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.
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