Calamansi Cove by Jetwing is situated in a hidden spot in a corner of an ancient fishing village Brahakmana Watta close to Ambalangoda, a place famous for having over a hundred highly talented, some ninth generation, artisan families and master craftsmen. On the hotels range of exclusive experiences you can enjoy the buzzy Ambalangoda market, create coconut oil the traditional way, see textiles being woven on a hand loom, mask-make with Sumit, work with life size puppets being tailored by Nalin Gamvari and family, get creative with batik art pieces appearing like magic from wax, do acrylic paintings, see fabric designs in old and new styles, enjoy quirky sculptures, and even a spot of metal expressionism.
The Calamansi Cove people are also specialists in the art of cooking fish dishes using local black pepper and cinnamon. I learn, at Calamansi Cove by Jetwing, how to cook the authentic local fish dish on cinnamon leaves with black paste and salt, and curry leaves sprinkled on top, in a low flame.
The Buddhist temple art is also truly incredible in Ambalangoda, known by experts, such as architect Geoffrey Bawa who borrowed much from it, for the small details and inspirational styles that have been influencing local artists since the 1700s.
Calamansi Cove is also known for the traditional pulling in of the fishing nets by over a hundred men dragging in the catch of the day. All this exciting action takes place in their Merlin-like private stretch of beach, where The Calamansi Cove by Jetwing is situated – a superb area where you can swim or boogie board on the waves all year round. I learn as I pick Calamansi fruit to make a cheese cake that there are more than 620 families living in this idyllic area and to learn more about it everyone should go on an experiential artist’s tour with one of Sri Lanka’s most famous painters, Janaka De Silva, who grew up in the temples surrounded by beautiful artwork. He will show you secret places and curates excellent exhibitions by some of these artists in The Galle Fort Gallery, which everyone should go to when in the old city. Janaka will loose you in a world of story telling puppets, and centuries old mask making. He will show you how and why the masks differ according to use from theatrical to others which are simply good for protecting the superstitious, or simply colourful to decorate the homes.
The half day tour that can include lunch, will wet your appetite for a longer day tour, which includes a church converted into a Buddhist temple and a chance to have a go at some of the local traditions including making coconut oil.