The three hideaways, each a former fisherman’s house, are nestled between the headland and the breakwater, which creates calm waters for leisurely swims. Each has 1 or 2 bedrooms, an airy living and dining space, and a basic kitchen for self-catering (a cooking team is available, shared between the hideaways). Though their layouts vary, they all brandish the same minimalist, monochrome interiors.
Escapist couples and adventurous families with older children will cherish the seclusion of these 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
- Mawella Beach (just steps away) has a breakwater to reduce waves and help fishermen land their boats, so the sea is shallow and good for swimming. There's also a pool beckoning within the gardens
- Waking up at dawn to watch fishermen hauling in their catch as the sun rises over the sea; this feels like a proper slice of authentic Sri Lanka
- The staff are extremely helpful and friendly, the food delicious, and the housekeepers are always on hand should you need anything
- The air charter/taxi service from Colombo lands on the nearby lagoon, so it’s easy to reach (500m)
- No bar, but you can BYO at no charge or ask the team to purchase it on your behalf
- The bungalows aren't air conditioned, so nights can feel sticky
- A little hard to find (use Nicola's map), and restaurants are a beach walk or tuk-tuk ride away
- 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
- Beach Villas
- 3 houses for 2-4
- Self-catering (+ cook)
- All ages welcome; best for older kids
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car not necessary
- 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 in leafy surroundings on either side of a grassy garden facing onto Mawella Beach and the sea beyond. 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 is a renovated fisherman’s house, enjoying the longest stretch of beachfront. Kahumba was built from the ruins of an old house and features a lovely open-air shower room, plus a guest bathroom and an alfresco table under its namesake tree.
Kumbuk: 2-bedroom coastal hideaway
Kumbuk is set a little further back, 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 a stone's throw from the beach (20 metres away).
- In room treatments available
- Mosquito net
The hideaways have simple kitchens equipped with fridges, stoves, kettles and toasters, plus the option of a cook if you so wish. Eat in your hideaway or in the pool house dining area. Chat with the cooking team each morning about what you’d like and they’ll do the rest; you just pay retail prices for the ingredients. Staff can shop on your behalf – useful if you want to order 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) or buttery prawns, while dinner options might include barbecues, grilled fish or a Sri Lankan curry spread. We dined by candlelight on the pool terrace and tucked into a gorgeous chicken curry, accompanied by cinnamon beetroot, green beans, lentil dahl and crispy poppadoms.
- Coffee / tea making
- Family friendly
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- In house cook
- Kids' meals
- Shopping service
- The main Mawella Beach, just steps away, is ideal for walking, jogging and swimming (the sand shelves slowly into the sea)
- Simply chill out by the large pool. It's shared between guests and has a pool house with shaded sofas for reading and relaxing, plus a kitchen for preparing poolside meals and snacks
- Unakuruwa Beach 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 (request in advance)
- 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
- Historical sites
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
The hideways are great for free-range families. Children of all ages will enjoy Mawella Beach (there's no life guard), and the section with a breakwater creates a calm lagoon for safe swimming. Bats, balls and bodyboards are available to borrow. There's also a large shared pool (unheated) complete with a pool house - perfect for shade and comfort.
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. 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:
- Large pool and pool house
- Boogie boards
- Board games
Kids Activities nearby:
Families Should Know:
The gardens are fenced, but the proximity of the houses to the sea means they're not best suited to toddlers, and you'll need to keep an eye on youngsters in general as there may be currents. The pool is unfenced and is 1.4 metres deep with no shallow end.
- Airport: 2.5-3 hours (Colombo)
- Hospital: 15 minutes (Tangalle)
- Shops: 15 minutes (Tangalle)
The hideways are located at the western end of Mawella Beach, between Dickwella and Tangalle, in southern Sri Lanka.
Most guests arrive via Colombo Bandaranaike (215km away). You could then take the air charter service to Mawella Lagoon, just 500m from the bungalows. Or, 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 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.
- Colombo Bandaranaike International 215.0 km CMB
- Beach 0.1 km
- Shops 1.0 km
- Restaurant 6.0 km