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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Part 8 - Pub-crawling around the World - Wijaya, Thalpe Beach, Sri Lanka

I stayed in Hikkaduwa for most of the time in Sri Lanka, Volunteering for Manacare, but I definitely had a few social nights out, with a great group of girls who took me under their wing for the duration. Although Wijaya wasn't my most unique Sri Lankan experience, it was definitely the bar in which I spent the most time, and it's suitably off the tourist beaten track enough to warrant comment and recommend that people go there.

Wijaya is a stone's throw from Galle, in Dalawella, Unawatuna - a very short drive from the cluster of busy beach bars in Unawatuna. It's on the main (Matara) road, or can be entered from the beachside. My first afternoon spent there was a Poya Day so I couldn't partake in any alcoholic beverages, I really enjoyed the virgin fruit cocktails (mango...mmmmm) and their wood-fired oven-baked pizza's were definitely tantalising after the steady diet of "rice and curry" I'd been living on.

I was lucky that I was in the expat scene, by virtue of my friends living there, and it's a very popular spot for people that live there to hang out, whether by day or night. It's proximity to the beach (most people actually have a swim and then a bite for lunch/dinner in Wijaya) makes the views simply spectacular, and it's not spoilt by pounding music or loads of holiday makers trashing the beach. In fact, the beach is clean and you'll see many local people swimming in the sea here. Depending on the time of year and the tide, you may be lucky enough to experience the little whirlpools that form in small reefs along the beach, leading to a jacuzzi-like experience! (My camera wasn't waterproof, unfortunately - but I can still remember the sensation).
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If you just want to lie in the sunloungers/deck chairs make sure you get there early, particularly in season and at the weekend and you may just be lucky.

I visited a few times, and although you can definitely eat and drink in cheaper places (it's definitely not remotely expensive if you're holidaying from Europe/The Middle East/Oz or U.S.A) I don't think that you'll find anywhere as clean, with such great cocktails and food and it's definitely affordable on a backpacker budget. The pizzas are pretty renowned but I also ate prawn salad and some more Sri Lankan offerings and everything was fresh, delicious and with generous portions. The cocktails were yummy too, evidence of the amount of fresh fruit on offer.

Sarah, CJ and myself with yummy cocktails

Of course, as with any beach bar in Sri Lanka, if you're going any time past four pm, ensure you are sensibly lathered in citronella or deet as the mossies also like Wijaya, and I woke up with approximately 30 bites on my leg one morning! They must have smelt the sweet cocktails...

Although I didn't stay here, I believe Wijaya also has some boutique style guest rooms, which are romantic, clean and budget-friendly (also creepy-crawly free, according to people who have stayed there). If you need something more private and a little bigger - my friends have a beautiful place right across the road - with an open air shower and chipmunks playing in the trees. 

Ambience: 10/10 - I can't fault this place, from lounging and lunch, beach and beer or a cocktail night with friends, it's chilled but you can still party here.
Price: Rs. 400 alcoholic beverages start very reasonably but steadily rise.... cocktails are from Rs. 750 upwards. You can bring your own wine, corkage is approx. Rs. 1000 (which is quite reasonable). 
Food: The food here is a highlight, Pizza's around Rs. 1200, My prawn salad Rs. 850, and there were plenty of prawns. Yes, It's on the high side but the portions are healthy and the food is tasty and fresh.
Location: Matara Road (you can get a bus to stop outside! I used to get a Matara bus from Hikka or Galle), Dalawella, Unawatuna. From Unawatuna, expect to pay about Rs.400 upwards for a tuk.
Toilets: Very clean and there are outdoor showers to wash the sand from the beach off :D
Overall: I spent quite a few nights here, met so many expats, locals and holiday-makers. I really liked the place and I hope to visit again.

Their own website can be found here

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