Negombo is a small coastal town on the west of Sri Lanka, because of its proximity to the country’s main airport, it is best known for being a stopover destination before or after your journey around Sri Lanka. However, Negombo has a whole host of activities you can do there which range from historic, cultural, religious and even nature. Here are a few things you can do to experience the best of Negombo.
One of the best-kept secrets about Negombo is its amazing reef; most tourists tend to flock to the southern or north-eastern coasts for their large reefs, and this has allowed Negombo to have a wonderful and relatively untouched reef. A popular snorkelling point is Duwa reef which is teeming with a variety of colourful fish and coral, but the best thing about snorkelling in Negombo is the wreckage of a World War II aircraft! The historic aircraft has now been overrun by coral and other species of marine life and makes for an excellent diving spot.
Negombo is a predominantly Catholic town and because of this, the town is home to many churches, which is why it is fondly referred to as ‘Little Rome’, but Negombo’s most famous church is probably St Mary’s Church. The church is a landmark and it is situated in the heart of Negombo; construction for the church began in 1874 but after a long hiatus the church was only completed in 1924. This is one of the holiest and most beautiful churches in Negombo— definitely a must-visit.
Although Negombo is best known for its beach, the town also has a large lagoon serving as a wide network of brackish waterways. An excursion that many established hotels like Jetwing Lagoon offer their guests; is boat safaris along the Hamilton Canal which take you through to the Muthurajawela wetlands with their resident naturalist. The Hamilton Canal is one of the country’s historic waterways; the Portuguese, Dutch, and British used the canal to transport goods as well as connect Colombo and Negombo. The marshlands and the canal are great birdwatching spots, so remember to keep your eyes peeled.
Another remnant of the colonial era, Negombo Fort is situated on a spit of land between the lagoon and an inlet of the sea. The fort was originally built by the Portuguese in 1672 but was later captured and fortified by the Dutch. The fort was once an impressive pentagonal structure with 5 bastions, but today not much of the original structure stands apart from the eastern rampart. Nevertheless, the Negombo Fort is a wonderful excursion if you’re interested in history.