Thanks to the infamous palm tree rope swing, Dalawella beach has become one of the main attractions in Unawatuna. As you probably guessed, the Instafamous rope swing was at the top of my list of things to do when we decided that we would be visiting Sri Lanka back in January 2019. Be sure to check out our full 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary.
But there are so many other fabulous reasons to visit Dalawella beach. It’s not just about the tree rope swing. And it’s not because this is where I got engaged to the love of my life. Ok maybe it’s got a little to do with that. But Dalawella beach has a vibrant charm of its own. While the rope swing has made it a tourist hotspot, for the most part Dalawella beach feels private and peaceful.
Where is Dalawella beach?
As you’ve probably gathered, Dalawella beach is in Unawatuna – a beachside town in Southern Sri Lanka. We were in Sri Lanka for two weeks and Unawatuna was our favorite part of the whole trip. It’s quickly becoming one of Sri Lanka’s biggest tourist destinations. Many tourists like to spend their time in the Southern parts of Sri Lanka, mainly because the south boasts the most beautiful beaches in the country.
Only about a two hour drive down from the capital city of Colombo, Unawatuna is the perfect place to stay for a few days. It’s a small town and has some great shopping, trendy restaurants, and fun activities nearby. There are also some really great day trips that you can do from Unawatuna. We took the bus into Galle one of the days and, of course, spent some time exploring Galle fort. I wouldn’t recommend staying in Galle itself, but it is great for a day trip. Mirissa, another popular beach resort town is also fabulous and it’s only about a 40 minute bus ride away. We had so much fun at the Palm tree forest and secret beach of Mirissa.
But, when it comes to the Unawatuna beach – while it is quite nice – it’s very touristy and full of hawkers. There’s also no shortage of restaurant owners who will do just about anything to get you into their establishment for something to eat. If you’re looking for a little peach and quiet under the palm trees, Dalawella beach is the place to be.
5 Fabulous reason to visit Dalawella beach
So before I go on anymore about why Dalawella beach is so fabulous, here are some reasons that you definitely don’t want to miss out on a visit here.
Far less crowded than Unawatuna beach
If you’re looking to escape the crowds then Dalawella beach is where you want to go. Unawatuna beach is great for swimming but it’s full of tourists and always busy. The main section of Dalawella beach – in front of Wijaya beach bar – also gets rather busy. But not nearly to the extent that Unawatuna beach does.
Also, Dalawella beach stretches on for miles, and is separated by a few coves and bays. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, you can walk a little further up the beach (just past the first cove), and there will be virtually nobody else in sight. You can’t swim in these areas though, which is why the first part of the beach is the most crowded. But, if you like the idea of feeling as though you’re just about the only people in paradise – you will love it!
When I say only people, I do mean people, because we came across the cutest little beach puppies further up the beach. Is there anything cuter than beach puppies?? Not in my eyes! They seemed to be resident pups – I think they lived at one of the beach houses. So they spend their days playing in the sand – What a life! P.s I nearly got my hair ripped out but it was totally worth it.
Dalawella Beach Swing
Of course, this list would not be complete if I didn’t mention the bucket list swing photo. My photo turned out nothing like those fabulous ones that I had seen and envisioned (sigh). But I had a lot of fun and it was so worth it.
The story behind the iconic palm tree swing photo is actually really cool. The original swing can be found outside a guesthouse called Dream Cabana. The guys here built the swing as something fun for themselves and it’s since evolved into one of the most talked about attractions in Sri Lanka. All it took was an epic shot from a few popular Instagrammers and Vloggers and it exploded on social media. Now it’s one of the must-do things in Sri Lanka.
In the matter of full disclosure, we never actually found the “original” swing. Since the rise in popularity of the palm tree swing, just about every guesthouse, restaurant and backpackers along the Dalawella beach has put up a swing of their own. Originally, the Dream Cabana swing was free, but they have now all started charging between 200 and 500 rupees for a go. It’s really not much and it’s a lot of fun so you should definitely do it.
There are at least eight different swings along the Dalawella beach now. If you’re not concerned about the photo and just want to do it for fun, any of them will do. But, if you want to capture a good photo you will probably have to judge for yourself which one is best. Since we couldn’t find the original swing, I decided to just do it for fun. I still would have loved a great photo, but I settled for fun instead.
Prior to our trip we didn’t realize that Dalawella beach would be so much nicer than Unawatuna beach. So I guess we got lucky in that we just happened to book an apartment that was in the Dalawella beach area. Since our trip I have read posts from so many travelers who say they would stay in Dalawella as opposed to the main Unawatuna beach area if they ever visit again.
Dalawella has a personality of its own and it shines through in all the establishments that surround the area. It’s laid back, authentic, and peaceful. Although it’s only about a two minute tuk tuk ride away from Unawatuna main beach, it feels like a different world. You can trade the madness of the main beach for pure peace and tranquility.
From backpackers to guesthouses, and hotels to cute little apartments, you can find all sorts of accommodation at Dalawella beach. Many of these place are actually on the beach. When we visited in February 2019 there was a new 5-star hotel going up on the beach. I’m not sure when it will be up and running, but it looks like it’s going to be a big hit.
Most of the time we book our accommodation through Airbnb. If you haven’t yet signed up on Airbnb you can follow my link here and get £33 off your first home booking, and £12 to use towards an experience worth £40 or more.
Restaurants and Establishments
We came across the cutest little family run restaurant about two properties down from our apartment. It’s called Jungle Restaurant and we ate either lunch or dinner here just about everyday during our stay. If you ever visit Unawatuna you have to check it out. It’s a fully family-run restaurant with the husband and wife in the kitchen and the son and daughter taking orders.
With the jungle-like setting, delicious food, and amazing hospitality, you really can’t go wrong here. They have fairy lights and lanterns set up in the gardens which makes for a magical dinner setting. If you’re looking for traditional and tasty Sri Lankan cuisine you won’t be disappointed. Jungle restaurant was probably the most authentic dining experience we had over our entire trip.
There are plenty of other great restaurants in the Dalawella beach area as well. Wijaya resort is one of the more popular options, but we weren’t all that thrilled by it. The service wasn’t great and neither was the food selection. But everywhere else we went to was fabulous. I absolutely love enjoying a drink or a meal with the waves crashing in the background. And there’s no shortage of beach bars at Dalawella beach.
We witnessed the most beautiful sunset that I’ve ever seen at Dalawella beach. We had sunset swims just about every night during our time in Unawatuna. It was so magical and breathtaking. The way the shimmering sun went down into the calm ocean on a clear summers night is one of the most awe-inspiring moments that I’ve ever experienced.
Believe it or not, I didn’t get any photos of the sunset that I’m talking about. On our first night at Dalawella beach, we arrived with just our swimming attire to have an evening swim. As soon as I stepped onto the beach and saw that view I regretted leaving the camera behind. Our apartment was about a 5 minute walk away but we decided that since we would still be there for a few more nights, we could take sunset photos on a different evening.
Honestly, it was a blessing in disguise. With only each other and no camera in hand we got to experience the magical Dalawella beach sunset with no distractions. No evening after that was as clear and beautiful. But in all honesty, I doubt a photo (especially with my level of photography skills) could have captured that sunset in all its beauty. It was definitely one of those moments that you have to experience for yourself. Even if you only go to Dalawella beach for the sunset, it will be worth it!
When to visit Dalawella beach
Anytime from October to April is a good time to visit anywhere in the Unawatuna area because the monsoon rains have passed and temperatures are fairly stable. But the absolute best time to visit is said to be between February and April, when calmer seas and lower rainfall make for the perfect weather to explore. We visited in February and had a wonderful time.
As for Dalawella beach itself, the best time to visit is early-mid morning when the sun is still rising but isn’t to harsh. Or, of course, golden hour as the sunsets.
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