Best Things to Do in Weligama

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The name Weligama means ‘sandy village’ which refers to the area’s sandy sweep bay. Weligama’s benign beach break is ideal for novice surfers and many independent travellers learn to ride their first waves here.

Weligama was significantly affected by the 2004 tsunami, with 15% of the area destroyed, with over 2,200 houses damaged or washed away, and 469 reported deaths. Since then, the sandy village has overcome the damage done and become one of the hottest tourist spots, with the Marriott Weligama being booked even with falls in tourism from the pandemic.

However, there are several hostels and smaller Airbnb that you should definitely check out at a fraction of the hotel price, as well as more helpful to the local community.

Weligama is perfectly situated between tourist spots such as Mirissa, Thalpe beach & Unawatuna, so it’s a good place to stay if you’re planning a down-south excursion.

 If you don’t have personal transport, the train to Weligama leaves at 6:30 am and costs 200 rupees. It takes about 2 hours from Colombo to Weligama, so if you leave early you’ll be there just in time for the perfect morning waves.

Weligama is known for its calm beaches and turquoise waters, which stay waist level for almost 30 metres in. This is one of the reasons it’s perfect for learning to surf. On any beach, especially the famous Weligama bay, there are surf schools and private tutors almost every 20 metres on the shore, all for Rs 1000 upwards for lessons. The tutors are extremely experienced and it takes the average person only a few hours to get the hang of it.

Diving is also a tourist attraction which is readily available at Weligama bay- multiple diving schools reside on the shores as well.

Other than water sports activities, there are a number of cultural attractions.

Cultural Attractions

 The Stilt Fishermen are a symbol of Sri Lankan culture, these distinct stilt fishermen erect a single pole in the chest-deep water on the beach, just a few metres off-shore, where they perch on a crossbar and using bamboo fishing rods cast their lines out beyond the surf break to catch small fish. It is an ancient
Sri Lankan tradition that still carries today.

 Devil Dances – local devil dances are still occasionally performed in the villages and on the beach. You can go see the dances at the night, and it provides a splendid photo opportunity – the colourful masks, the fire & the impressive acrobatics.

Beeralu Lace-Making

Weligama is recognised for its beeralu lace-making. First introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century, lace-making has remained a traditional handicraft along the coastal area of Weligama, with several households producing crochet and tatting lace. You can find tons of items that have been crocheted at hippie markets on the beach – such as clothes, hats, bags etc. all of which make a lovely souvenir to take home!

Temple Agrabodhi

Temple Agrabodhi is the most ancient temple in Weligama city, which dates back to the time of King Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BC) According to the Sinhala Bodivansa, the Bo tree of Agrabodhi Rajamaha Vihara temple is the very first sapling out of the first 32 saplings of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Bo Tree (oldest historically authenticated tree in the world).

 The Stupa of Agrabodhi Rajamaha Vihara temple was erected around 1890.

Also, there is a Statue house with statues of Lord Buddha and other Theros. There are some drawings on the walls that tell some stories of the ages of Lord Buddha.

 The famous statue Kushtarajagala is also located very close to the Agrabodhi Temple. The story of the Kushtarajagala is also related to the Agrabodhi Temple.

 The temple is located near the Siddhartha school and Senanayake playground, about 1.5 kilometres from Weligama city.  Overall Weligama is a beautiful vacation spot that’s not too well known, making it the perfect getaway for the weekend.

By Ruelle Sittampalam