The southwest Sri Lankan destination of Galle is a charming fortified city 75 miles from the capital Colombo. It bears many signs of its occupation across the centuries, with Portuguese and Dutch influences particularly prominent. The 36-hectare fort itself is the largest remaining in Asia built by European occupiers.

Within its encircling walls, you will find an astounding collection of structures and landmarks - snapshots of life here across the centuries. Other highlights include Galle's spectacular natural harbour and St Mary's Cathedral, which was founded by Jesuit priests. For something a little slower-paced, head to Unawatuna, famed for its beautiful beach, with shipwrecks and corals beneath the Indian Ocean. You may be fortunate enough to spot a variety of exotic fish, resident turtles and rare birds like the Lesser Whistling Duck, Asian Palm Swift and Turnstone Loten's Sunbird. As the main city in southern Sri Lanka, Galle is well connected to Colombo and Matara by rail should you wish to venture further.


Shore excursions in Galle

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

Galle Panorama and Cultural Performance

Activity lowRefreshments included

Duration: 4¼ hours

Gain an overview of Galle, and experience a typical Sri Lankan Culture Performance.

Setting off from the pier, you’ll take a short drive to Koggala on the outskirts of Galle, to view the stilt fishermen. Stilt fishing is a tradition that only around 500 families still practice today. Enjoy the sight of the fishermen seated precariously on their stilts hoping to catch a bite.

Your drive will continue to a typical local Batik factory for a brief stop to gain an insight into Batik art and to admire the colourful textile patterns. Afterwards you’ll head to Galle Fort, built in 1958 it is the centrepiece of the town and has earned UNESCO world heritage status. Here, a short photo stop will be made for you to admire the Dutch Church.

Your final stop is the Unawatuna Beach Resort, where you can enjoy a typical Sri Lankan cultural performance. Watch the local dance forms such as, the Kandyn dance of the hill country and Pahatha Rata Natum, the low country dance of the southern plains. A tea, coffee or soft drink and a savoury and sweet snack will be available during the show.

Your return drive will take you past the Martin Wickeramasinghe Museum, built in memory of the famous novelist known as the ‘Shakespeare of India’, before arriving at the pier.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach. This tour involves limited walking, however passengers must be able to negotiate steps on to and off the coach. There are also around 10 steps to the entrance of the Batik factory. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended. If entrance to the Dutch Church is possible on the day, for those passengers who do wish to enter, modest dress is required. There are around 3 steps to the entrance.

Handungoda Tea Estate

Activity highRefreshments included

Duration: 3¾ hours

Visit the Handungoda Tea Estate to discover how their internationally recognised speciality virgin white tea is produced.

Just a short drive from the pier to Koggala, on the outskirts of Galle, you’ll catch sight of one of the long time Sri Lankan traditions, the stilt fishermen. Enjoy a few minutes watching the fishermen seated precariously on their stilts hoping to catch a bite, before heading to the Handungoda Tea Estate.

Handungoda is a 200 acre property and a working museum that produces virgin white tea, the only one of its kind on the island. The production is not en mass but just small quantities of the choicest tea that has won international recognition. The estate also comprises of rubber, cinnamon, pepper and coconut plantations.

During your visit, an estate guide will show you around and explain the tea production process. You’ll also experience the practice of proper tea tasting, along with a slice of cake to enjoy. There will be an opportunity to purchase a tea blend, before the return drive to the pier.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. Modest dress is required. This tour involves around 1½ - 2 hours of walking over varying terrain including steps and uneven ground. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended. US Dollars are accepted for purchases.

Madhu Ganga River Safari

Activity mediumRefreshments included

Duration: 5 hours

Explore the Madhu Ganga wetland and mangroves, an eco-reserve that is home to a diversity of flora and fauna.

Setting off from the pier, your drive will take you to the fishing village of Balapitiya. Upon arrival, you’ll step aboard your mangrove boat and glide along the Madhu River.

The wetlands spread across 915 hectares, 145 of which are made up of 36 small islands. The inhabitants are mainly local fisherman and you may be lucky enough to catch sight of the traditional method of prawn trapping. As you pass through the mangroves, keep a look out for amphibians, birds and admire the lush plant life. You’ll disembark on one of the islands to enjoy a display of the traditional Sri Lankan cottage industries, such as coconut leaf weaving. Your boat ride will also allow you to view and explore some of the other small islands and visit an ancient Sri Lankan temple.

During your tour, refreshing local fruits and King Coconut will be offered.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach, boat and on foot. Children and pregnant women may not participate. The drive to Balapitiya is approximately 1 hour. The mangrove boats are flat fibre glass kayak type boats and accommodate 15 passengers per boat; a degree of agility is required to board. The boats do have shade canopies, however these may not always be in use and it is advisable to wear a hat and take sun protection. Insect repellent is also advised. There are limited toilet facilities at the embarkation point. This tour involves around 1 hour of walking over uneven and rough ground. Comfortable, flat shoes are recommended. The mangrove safari lasts approximately 3 hours.

Unawatuna Beach Resort

Activity lowMeal included

Duration: 5 hours

Unawatuna Beach Resort is the perfect place to relax and enjoy some Sri Lankan sun.

Unawatuna Beach Resort offers the ideal combination of a golden sandy beach, a protected bay and a beautiful headland. Located just a short drive from the pier, it is said to be amongst the best in Sri Lanka.

Upon arrival, the time is yours to spend as you please. The resort hotel swimming pool is available for use, or you may prefer to take a dip in the ocean and relax on the warm sand on the beach. During your stay, a local style buffet lunch will be available.

Once you’ve had time to unwind, you’ll be ready to head back to the ship.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach. Children under the age of 6 may not participate. The time spent at the resort is around 4 hours. It is advisable to take a towel; these are offered at the hotel but may be limited. Please remember swimwear and sunscreen. Sunbeds and umbrellas are not included but may be hired for around $4. Two bottles of water are included and additional refreshments are available for purchase. The beach is part of the hotel complex and may become busy. Please refrain from drinking alcohol prior to swimming activities. Passengers have access to the hotel and use of the pool, however on site activities are not included and are payable locally. US Dollars are accepted for purchases. There may be independent suppliers on the beach that offer watersports. These are provided by parties unconnected to P&O Cruises.

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