Beruwala, located on a naturally protected bay, 60 km south of Colombo Sri Lanka’s commercial hub, is an ancient port city where the country’s first Muslim settlements were said to have been established around the 8th century AD. The mosque Masjid ul Abrar, on a rocky headland overlooking the sea is believed to be the first mosque to have been built in the country and Kechimalai Mosque is thought to be on the site where the first Arab traders landed. A large population of moors is still found in Beruwala, many engaged in the gem trade in an area known as China Fort.
Besides the mosques the city is home to Al Fasiyatul Nasriyah Girls School, the first school for Muslim girls in the country. Among the other points of interest is the 110 ft tall lighthouse built in 1928, standing on the edge of a 50 ft high cliff in Barberyn Island, a five minute boat ride from the coast, still engaged in warning vessels off the rocky coastline there. The Beruwala of today is dominated by the fishery harbour that provides shelter to quite a few multi day boats and supplies shore, berthing and fish storage and selling facilities to fishermen and fishing boats operating out of the area. The most interesting time to visit Beruwala fishery harbour is around 6 am when the catch is brought in and the areas is at its most bustling.
The 130 km southern coastal resort stretch starts with the broad golden beaches of Beruwala that are ideal for bathing and water sports most year round. Beruwala beaches have gained a reputation as some of the best beaches in Sri Lanka if not in southern Asia. A ‘must do’ is a boat trip up the Bentota River that separates Beruwala from its coastal neighbor Bentota. Going deep into the mangrove forest, bending low under overhanging branches and seeing crocodiles both young and grownup just beneath the water is an unforgettable experience. Several other attractions along the southern coast are easily accessed from the town.
There are several well known dive sties deeper than 20 meters with multilevel rock formations, passages and crevices about half an hour away from the Beruwala coast. When the current is strong divers encounter shoals of fish and sharks are known to frequent the sites from time to time. Diving season is generally from November through to May.
Beruwala is easily accessible from Colombo either along the scenic coastal road or via the high speed Southern Expressway. The expressway permits visitors to spend an exciting day out and return home in the evening or to just go there of an evening to dine at some of the great restaurants.
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