7 Must-Dos in Negombo, Sri Lanka
A short drive from Colombo, the coastal city of Negombo proves the perfect welcome to Sri Lanka. Story and photos by Ian Lloyd Neubauer.
Published on Apr 3, 2015
The gelato, tiramisu and crêpes at (1) Dolce Vita (freewebs.com/dolcevitasrilanka) are good, but the sunset from the beachfront balcony—blood-red and uninterrupted—is out of this world. A short stroll down the strip, (2) Samurai Sushi Bar (+94 31 227 9500), one of Negombo's restaurants, buys tuna, prawns and lobster from the sprawling fish markets on the southern end of the beach. For tropical fruits that sell for peanuts, head down to the fruit market on King George Drive.
Farm-to-floor produce at the fruit market on King George Drive.
Negombo's Dutch Canal was completed by Dutch traders in the 17th century, but the charming neighborhood it cuts through is known as (3) Little Rome for its winding alleyways and pastelcolored churches. The standout is St. Mary's Church, a Portuguese-era chapel on Main Street with stained-glass windows and intricate nativity frescoes splashed across its ceilings.
The Dutch Canal stretches all the way to Colombo.
See it on a self-guided walking tour or in a custom-built replica of the speedboat James Bond used to leapfrog the local police in the 1973 film Live and Let Die. Hourly tours depart from (4) Viksund Water Sport Resort (viksundboatasia.com). Afterwards, rejuvenate with a Shirodhara oil massage at (5) Spa Hundira (villahundira.com). Every corner of this sanctuary is festooned with art and antiques collected by the Swedish-Sri Lankan couple who built and run the place. Ayurvedic treatments are provided by a local healer.
Spa Hundira, Negombo.
Punching far above its weight is (6) Hotel J (hotelj.lk/negombo), where guests enjoy all of the deluxe necessities—beachfront pool and sunbeds, high-speed Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, hot showers, an in-house restaurant and snappy service; but none of the extra frills such as toiletries, minibars or room service.
The beachfront swimming pool at Hotel J.
A few hundred meters up the strip, but on a completely different planet, the trendy (7) Pledge 3 (hotelpledge3.com) is Negombo's coolest place to stay. From the industrialchic furniture to the pop art wall prints, everything here is designer and cutting edge. Ask for one of the over-sized attic suites, which come with their own private sundecks, elegant desk alcoves and monsoon showers.
Pledge 3 offers some of the city’s most stylish rooms.