Where to Stay in Tangalla?

When we arrived in Tangalla after a pretty long bus ride from Ella in the hill country we were ready to RELAX. Beer, beach, sunset… that sort of thing. We were perfectly happy to while away a few days doing nothing. And after such a hectic itinerary in Sri Lanka thus far, we didn’t feel guilty in the least.

But how to choose a place to stay in Tangalla?

where to stay in tangalla

Tangalla is one enormous, continuous beach known in different areas by different names, but always under the general name of Tangalla.

Choosing a place to stay was tricky: when I was at home in Spain planning this trip, everywhere in Tangalla looked great. But some places looked more isolated than others; there’d be what looked like miles of beach and then one lonely shack. On one hand this was what we were looking for for a few days but on the other hand we like to have food and drink options nearby.

And as I found in Sri Lanka in general; information was limited, distances weren’t clear, places were missing on maps… All those things that make planning a trip real fun, you know.

In the end I found a few places that I liked the look of and thought we could check them out when we got there.


Tangalle Beach, Sri Lanka

Marakolliya Beach with our Lonely Beach Resort hidden amongst the trees

Marakolliya Beach

While we were in Ella we had called ahead to semi-reserve a hut at Lonely Beach Resort at the Marakolliya end of Tangalla and when we arrived, we were satisfied with what we saw so we stayed.

Lonely Beach Resort was a series of very basic huts right on the beach with a bed, a fan and a toilet and shower room right off the back. It was zero deluxe but total paradise. There was a larger hut that was a bit of a bar and they served food too. And further up the beach was a scattering of other restaurants in the form of beach huts.


Tangalle Beach, Sri Lanka

Toni spoilt for choice for places to lay his towel

Marakolliya Beach was serious paradise. And it was pretty much deserted. Having a stunning beach like this to ourselves had been part of the plan when I was researching Sri Lanka, and Marakolliya did not disappoint.

Needless to say, we did absolutely nothing for the rest of that first day in Tangalla.


How to get from Ella to Tangalle by Bus

We had the whole beach to ourselves


But curious travellers cannot remain idle for long and after a day or two we were ready to explore.


Tangalle Beach, Sri Lanka

A typical restaurant on Marakolliya Beach

We walked the length of the entire beach (and man, was it hard going? With every step we sank ankle-deep in the soft sand, making the going very slow. Our calf muscles were screaming). We walked until we ended up on the busier stretch of the beach close to Tangalla Town.

Then we knew that this is more what we would prefer, around the Medaketiya area. So we found a place and booked for the next evening.

Medaketiya Beach

Medaketiya Beach was really pleasant too but the accommodation was all in a row close together. The restaurants were too, meaning that there was more choice and more competition. There was quite a backpacker vibe in this area but it was still seriously chilled-out.

The second place we stayed at Tangalla was Coppenrath. This place was much more luxurious than Lonely Beach Resort (but still very basic). We were housed in an actual building for a start! We were on the first floor so we had a great view out over the beach. There was a paved walkway separating the buildings from the beach but we were still as close as possible to it, if not actually on it.

Coppenrath, Tangalle

The view from Coppenrath

Coppenrath had a decent restaurant as well and did some surprisingly great cocktails.

Interestingly enough, when we first go off the bus from Ella and we met Dilantha, the tuk tuk driver, this was the place that he wanted to take us instead of the Lonely Beach Resort. We didn’t know at the time but Coppenrath was owned by his friend.

We didn’t regret staying in Marakolliya, it’s just that we had had enough isolation and were ready to be closer to town. The thing is, we are always drawn towards deserted paradise but it turns out we like a bit more action.

What we learnt about Tangalla is that the closer you are to Tangalla Town the greater the accommodation and dining choices, and the further you go down the beach, the quieter it gets but also the more beautiful.

Another day from Tangalla we took a tuk tuk (with our new friend Dilantha) to explore the areas of Dikwela and Goyambokka. Because originally we had planned to stay just a couple of nights in Tangalla, then to move on to Goyambokka for a night and to slowly make our way to Mirissa. This was basically because I couldn’t make up my mind about where I wanted to stay and so I wanted to stay EVERYWHERE! In the end we couldn’t be bothered packing up and moving on so frequently, so we took a day trip to explore instead.

What we found was that we had made the right choice by staying in Tangalla and just visiting Goyambokka on a day trip.

Tangalla Town

Tangalla Town itself was hot, dusty and busy with traffic and noise. We didn’t stick around for long. And I wouldn’t recommend staying here when you have all that lovely beach nearby.

However, if you are staying close by, Tangalla Town is a great place to pick up supplies (read samosas), have cheap short eats for breakfast, go to the chemist and exchange money. We got the best exchange rate of the whole trip in Tangalla Town and we didn’t need our passports either. It was at a tiny gift shop on the main road, just look for signs and ask the rate.

Tangalle, Sri Lanka

Ladles: just what you need when you are backpacking.

The highlight of Tangalla Town (aside from the cheap, local food) was the market. We ended up with a kilo of bananas, three ladles made from coconuts and dried, salted prawns. The market was busy, smelly and full of things to make your eyes pop.

Have you been to Tangalla or are you planning a trip? Where did you stay? Would you do it differently if you were to go back? Are you having the same trouble that I had about choosing where to stay? If so, don’t hesitate to drop me a line, perhaps I can help.

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