Matara and Tangalle
Matara is a bustling town between sandy beaches and typical Sri Lankan countryside which was historically a commercial center. The third largest river of the country ‘Nilwala River’ flows through the Matara District and has fed the paddy fields, tea plantations and rubber plantations of the area for years. Although the Portugese had a presence in Matara it was the Dutch who fortified the town and established an important commercial center for trading of Cinnamon and Elephants
Some of the important attractions of this city are a well preserved Dutch fort facing the Indian Ocean, built by the Dutch in 1640 and any other structures of the Dutch and British era. One of the oldest structures within the fort is the Dutch Reformed, built in 1706 this church is one of the oldest Protestant churches still in use in the country.
The nearby low-key beachside suburbs of Polhena and Medawatta are good for swimming, snorkeling and surfing, while other interesting sites include the giant Buddha statue at Weherehena and the town of Dondra, where sits a 40 meter built in 1890 slender lighthouse which marks the Sri Lanka’s southernmost point.
About 48 km further south of Matara is Tangalle, one of the largest natural bays in the island which is protected by a vast reef. Visitors are privy to beautiful beaches hidden among small coves and bays. These peaceful little beach fronts are ideal hideaways for beach lovers to relax and unwind whilst enjoying the cool breeze that sweeps across the tranquil Tangalle bay.