Welcome to Kalpitiya, between Colombo and the cultural triangle !
If you’re heading from Colombo to the Cultural triangle by taking the newly refurbished West coast Puttalam highway, the Kalpitiya peninsula is worth a halt.
The town of Kalpitiya, called Calpenteyn or Calpetty by the Dutch, is situated at the end of the narrow strip of land that forms the Puttalam lagoon. Its colonial buildings offer a perfect getaway to tourists in search of sea, sun, serenity and sports. The tourist-friendly eco-lodges or colonial-style establishments situated all along the strip that encircles Dutch bay (consisting of 14 islands) offer quality accommodation and eventful excursions.
Kalpitiya is known for its Dutch fort that was constructed by Sri Lanka’s former colonial masters in 1667. The fort however can be visited only if a special permission is granted by the Sri Lanka Navy.
The peninsula is bordered by immaculate beaches that open to the ocean and offers adventurous outings such as fishing.
Diving off Kalpitiya where the coral reef is simply stunning is one of the best experiences you can live during your stay in Sri Lanka as the marine life here is dense, various and colourful.
Best tips to reach Kalpitiya from Colombo or elswhere in Sri Lanka
Kalpitiya is easily reachable by car from Colombo thanks to the newly refurbished highway.
Accommodations are available at all price tags. Alankuda Beach offers few eco-lodges and resorts that you may want to treat yourself to.
St. Anne church and the Dutch fort are the top attractions in Kalpitiya
The Dutch Fort of Kalpitiya was built in 1667 on the spot where the Portuguese had a stockade and a Jesuit chapel. Today, you need to get a special permission to enter the place, as it is also a naval base for the Sri Lankan armed forces. The walls of the fort are about 4 meters high. Inside there are remnants of a chapel, a commander’s house, barrack rooms, a prison, warehouses and secret passages that were used to enter the fort without using the main entrance.
St. Anne's Church
The famous St. Anne's Church is not located in Kalpitiya but in Talawila some 17 km from Kalpitiya. The church dates back to the 17th century and is today one of the most famous catholic shrines on the island. The feast of St. Anne on July 26th draws massive crowds from all over the country. Historians have not yet determined the reason behind the construction of the church at this spot but there are two equally accepted versions. The first one is about a Portuguese merchant who was shipwrecked and vowed to build a church if he returned back to Portugal and made a fortune. The second legend is about a poor Portuguese man who had a vision of Saint Anne in a dream while asleep under a banyan tree on the route between Colombo and Mannar and decided to build a church in honour of the saint.
Puttalam, with its salt pans and shrimp farms, has a great landscape
Situated at the centre of the Coconut Triangle, Puttalam is the second largest coconut producer of the country. Puttalam is also the second largest salt producer of the island and is also famous for shrimp farming. In the 14th century, Puttalam was the capital of the kingdom of Arya Chakravarty, a Tamil dynasty that ruled over the northwest part of the island.
It is in Puttalam that the Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta is said to have arrived in the 14th century. It was Ibn Battuta who discovered the spicy delicacy named cinnamon that made Sri Lanka world famous, well before it got its notoriety for tea. The town may not be of great interest to tourists but the landscapes that encompass the town are certainly worth a halt.
Kapitiya beach is a great place for tourists seeking relaxation
Beaches Nature in beauty
The beach in Kalpitiya is sure to be a definite hit among tourists in search of quality isolation and tranquil freedom. Only the sound of waves and the chirping of birds can distract you from the splendid intake of nature the place provides during the best tourist season.
Tourists can watch wildlife and dolphins when in Kalpitiya
Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks of Sri Lanka. It remained closed for many years during the civil war. Since its reopening in 2010, it has proved to be a hit with tourists. 'Wilpattu' means “land of lakes”, so you wouldn't be surprised to know that this park contains about sixty natural lakes of different sizes where water birds of every hue and size flock almost all year round. Wilpattu is an ideal park to visit especially if you are not planning to head to the south of the island to visit parks such as Yala. The water and meadow landscape is quite a sight but visitors are generally more impressed by leopards that are spotted regularly. Other animals such as deer, wild pigs, and of course, elephants and sloth bears prove to be a great hit among visitors.
For more information, check here.
A trip to watch spinner, bottlenose or humpback dolphins is a winner among travellers of all ages. The coast off Kalpitiya is famous for its abundance of dolphins, stingrays and marine turtles. The trip can be coupled with other options such as boat excursions here during the high season that runs from November end to April during which the sea is relatively calm. As you need to go far off from the coast, trips can last four to five hours, something you definitely have to consider if you are travelling with young children. It is always better to enquire the size of the boats before you reserve as some tour operators try to make a fast buck by carrying too many people in one boat.
Enjoyable things for children in Kalpitiya
What to do with Kids
The marine sanctuary offers a variety of habitats ranging from reefs, coastal plains and saltpans. Wild donkeys graze in small herds.
Local resorts offer sailing trips to lush mangrove swamps and vast sand dune beaches. Others organize exploring trips on horseback. If your children love diving or snorkelling, the Bar Reef that hosts over 150 varieties of coral and almost 300 varieties of fish offers a great opportunity.
Between October to April, whales can also be spotted, if you're lucky. Older children would, if they are kitesurfing or kayaking enthusiasts, be tempted to stay here longer to enjoy the ideal conditions of this spot and master their kite boarding talents.
You can also try your hand at catamarans and canoeing. The Boat House in Alankuda can offer donut rides.
The area around Kalpitiya is also a great place for cycling.
Kitesurfing is a popular attraction in Kalpitiya
If you are into kitesurfing and planning to visit the western part of the island during the right season, you will just have to head to the lagoon. Here, the wind is continuous form May to October and the weather conditions are simply perfect.
The site offers two different opportunities depending on your needs. On the Indian Ocean side, you can enjoy free ride or skim the waves. On the lagoon side, the conditions are optimal for both beginners and freestylers.
For those of you in Sri Lanka between December and March, afternoons can be windy. But you can still try and book a spot for your kitesurfing passion at the local clubs set up by experienced and friendly people.