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Small and sleepy SK Town hides along a beachfront on open Dondra Bay. It’s a relatively unknown corner of the Sri Lankan south coast, with just a few narrow streets, beach-view hotels, and family-owned eateries to welcome those who pass its way.
Talking of those who pass its way…the crowd is almost totally surfers. They come for the uber-reliable, and exposed beach breaks that roll into the sand.
Nowhere near as popular as the neighbouring surf towns of Hiriketiya and Weligama, it’s the sort of swell where you can enjoy morning sessions without another soul in view.
When you’re not on the waves, SK Town is really all about chilling. The palm-shaded café gardens and hotels that line the shore offer places to sit and get lost in a book. Some serve taste bud-tingling Sri Lankan cuisine; others bring a hint of France with their crispy pastries and coffee.
You can also enjoy visits to local Buddhist temples, and some pretty headland walks through groves of lanky coconut trees.
Where exactly is SK Town?
Also known as Lakshawaththa Beach, SK Town hugs the busy A2 coast highway on the far southern edge of Sri Lanka. It’s almost within walkable distance of the bustling transport hub and city of Matara.
To the east, the remoter and quieter beach destinations of Hirikeyita, Talalla, and Dickwella line the ocean.
Top Things to do in SK Town.
Wax down the board, ready the swimwear, and let’s hit the waves – SK Town is a surf destination at heart. But riding Lanka’s wild waters isn’t the only thing to do in this lovely corner of the Matara coast.
You’ve also got handsome headland walks, great food, and plenty of R&R to get stuck into to boot.
Surf – of course!
SK Town is rising to become one of the most popular surf spots on the whole of the Sri Lankan south-west coastline.
In a land inundated with gnarly reefs and powerful tubes, it stands out as a relatively easy-going beach break that’s even suitable for total beginners.
The upshot is that it’s a great alternative to more polluted Weligama, with far fewer people in the water.
SK Town is spoken of as a single surf spot, but in practice, it’s a whole array of different peaks that line up along the beach of Lakshawaththa. The waves at the eastern end face the town of SK itself.
They’re often populated by students of the local surf schools. Midway up the beach is where you’ll find the faster A-frame walls that come in hot during good groundswells. Then you catch the breakers in front of the Seascape hotel, which is usually better if you’re just starting out.
Hike Dondra Head.
The rugged rocks of Dondra Head poke out from the eastern edge of SK Town’s sand. You’ll be able to see the peninsula behind a haze of salt spray and rising warmth whenever you’re out surfing.
For a break from the waves, they’re perfect. Narrow paths fringed by palms and frangipani blooms wiggle down through the coast groves there to offer some stunning strolls along the shoreline.
As you go, you’ll be able to discover the photogenic outline of the Dondra Head Lighthouse, along with a speckling of haunting Hindu shrines dating back centuries. The gold-tinged sands of Devinuwara Beach also lurk in a cove over there, so be sure to take the swimming stuff.
Relax in the seaside hotels and bars.
Drop-ins and speedy rides on rolling Indian Ocean waves can be balanced out with plenty of chill time in SK Town. That comes courtesy of the row of breezy cafés and hotel bars that now line up behind the main beach.
With the rising popularity of SK Town as a whole, it seems like there’s a new one to add to the menu every year. Either way, the Parisian-style bistro of Vanina Villas and the terraces of The Seascape gastropub are both two top favourites.
Kick it on Polhena Beach.
Wow – talk about stunning. If you’re pining for a picture-perfect cove of yellow-tinted sand and green-blue ocean waters, then Polhena Beach could be just what you’ve been looking for.
The sort of beach you see in the travel brochures, it arcs under a few palm-topped hills just to the south of Matara. A short tuk-tuk drive from SK Town can take you there. Try to make the journey early because Polhena is famous for being a hotspot for sea turtles around dawn.
Eat uber-fresh Sri Lankan fare in UPRISING restaurant.
Blaring reggae tunes from the backstreets of SK Town is UPRISING restaurant, a small, family-owned joint that offers a sampling of hand-cooked local food. It’s a simple affair, with just a few ramshackle tables wedged under palm-thatched roofs.
Everything you order is made fresh, with the sounds of cracking coconut shells and sizzling onion in spices issuing from the open kitchen. The folk here even offer cooking lessons and are proud that their in-house recipes have even made it into several Sri Lankan cookbooks.
How to get to SK Town.
Because SK Town waits at the end of a long string of Sri Lanka’s most popular beach destinations, it’s actually relatively easy to reach. The most popular way to get in is to hop on the main railway line going all the way to Matara. The ticket costs 200-250 LKR ($1-1.50), and the ride takes just shy of four hours from departure to arrival when going from the capital in Colombo.
When you get to Matara, a quick tuk-tuk of around 20 minutes is all that’s needed to arrive at SK Town.
Alternatively, there are loads of private taxi companies ready and waiting to offer transfers from the arrival terminal at the Bandaranaike International Airport. That might be the best option if you’re planning on bringing the surfboard with you. Expect to pay in the region of 11,000-12,000 LKR ($60) for a car to yourself.
Where to stay in SK Town
The best place to stay in SK Town is right on the beachfront. Cue the establishments that let you wake up to the roar of the Indian Ocean and the smell of salty airs drifting off the waves. The cream of the crop are:
The super-friendly owner at the Top Secret Beach Hotel has rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that open straight out onto the middle of SK Town’s waves. You’ll be able to check the quality of the surf from the comfort of your own bed. There’s a huge breakfast offering that includes passionfruit and banana, rotis, and eggs any style – perfect for refuelling after dawn patrols. Access to the A2 road through the backstreets is also easy.
The Seascape ($$-$$$)
One of the newer establishments to grace the coastal cliff just behind the western end of SK Town, The Seascape faces waves that are just a little better for beginners. It’s a stylish affair, with a touch of the deluxe about it. The upper floor rooms are probably the best, facing a wrap-around terrace above a garden speckled with sunbeds and palms.
Vanina Villas ($$$)
Infused with a certain French elegance and charm, Vanina Villas brings a touch of the riviera to Lakshawaththa Beach. It’s stylish to the T, with a breezy café-bistro area that goes from swaying hammocks to hardwood tables. A lush garden conceals a glimmering pool built in the style of a Balinese resort, while the rooms are plush and comfortable – a surfing honeymoon, anyone?
Have you travelled through SK Town this year? Do you have anything to add to this ultimate guide? If so, we’d sure love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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