With a long stretch of golden beach, peaceful inland lagoon, fascinating folk museum and famous airfield, Habaraduwa-Koggala is a great little destination 12km south east of Galle. The golden sands of the three-kilometre beach stretch from Habaraduwa – famed for its turtle-hatchery – to beyond Koggala, a Free Trade Zone further east, where big hotels stand shoulder to shoulder along the sand.
Habaraduwa’s palm-fringed beach is one of the widest and prettiest in the region, yet as you wander further east towards Koggala the beach narrows and it’s here you’ll see stilt fishermen at work. Inland is Koggala Lake, a meandering island-sprinkled lagoon which is a haven for wildlife lovers. Fishermen traverse the quiet depths leaving ripples in their wake as they hunt for fish, crabs and prawns. Spice islands and mystical temples also scatter the lake, and an early morning or evening punt atop the water in a traditional fishing catamaran is the best way to appreciate this quietly spoken scene.
Madul Doova, one of the islands in the lake, was the subject of a book written by the late Martin Wickramasinghe, a lauded local author. His home in Koggala is now a folk museum that charts the fascinating story of his life and times. Koggala Lake is also the landing strip for domestic Air Taxis, which reduce journey time to the south coast from Colombo's airport to just 40 minutes. Local restaurants centre on the beach hotels, and ATMs line the main road between Habaraduwa and Koggala.