24.09.2013 - 27.09.2013 35 °C
We were sad to leave Mirissa, it has been our favourite beach so far, but we wanted to move on and see more of the coast. Working our way back towards Galle our next step is Unawatuna.
It was easy enough to get there, jump on a public bus that runs along the coast, it took around 30 minutes of crazy driving to get us here, thankfully in one piece no thanks to the psychopathic driver with a death wish. The bus onlys costs 20Rs however so we cant really complain. As usual we had previously looked at places to stay and knew where we wanted to be, so grabbed a tuk tuk to take us to Peacock hotel. It is definitely the nicest hotel we have stayed in in Sri Lanka. We have a bright airy room, complete with (small) four poster bed and balcony overlooking the beautiful Unawatuna bay. All that for a bargain low season price of £7 a night.
There is one slight negative however, as there are currently some small works being carried out our side of the beach to keep the ever present tide a bay, this means that we can not walk from our hotel to the main area of the beach without having to walk about 3km around via the main road. It's not the end of the world but it is a nuisance.
We have not done much with our four days here, most of our time has been spent relaxing, laying in the sun, reading and walking along the beach. We are a little disappointed by the main beach. Although it looks stunning from our balcony, when you get there you realise how busy it is. There are lots of average restaurants and bars that spill out onto the sand with there tables, chairs and sunbeds, and there are a lot of people, even for low season. We suppose we were just used to our quiet tranquil beach of Mirissa. The sea is turquoise and when sand is not being whipped up by the waves is quite clear in the shallows.
We have swam at our side of the beach and as we have sat on our balcony, or in the restaurant we have seen three sea turtles, swimming and eating some vegetation about 20 ft away, it is quite unbelievable. We have spent hour watching them surface and dive back down. Getting a photo proved to be difficult and we didn't have the patience for it but see if you can spot him...
The main reason we have come to Unawatuna however is to go diving again, as it could be our last chance before we get back to the UK. There are a few dive shops to choose from, and we went for one near our hotel that looked professional and had new equipment. We organised the dive for yesterday, and were up and out for 9am eager to get under the water again. There were only three of us diving, us two and a Serbian man on his holidays. We readied our equipment (which we thankfully remembered how to set up) and had a brief about the dive and what we might expect to see. The dive sight was around 15mins off shore and was basically a large underwater rock going down to a maximum depth of 20 metres we would then circle it making our way back up. We jumped in a small motor boat with our equipment and set off.
The sea was immediately more choppy than it looked from shore, and did not improve as we came to the dive site. We geared up while being rocked from side to side and then had to wait for a safe chance to get off the boat. The Serb went first and was immediately surprised by a current, this means we had to wait on the boat until he was sorted, all the time getting hotter and hotter in our wet suits. Thankfully Liam went next backward rolling off the opposite side of the boat out of the way. The current was really strong and we could see why the Serb had being taken by surprise. The lead diver told Liam to descend to 5 metres where the current was less and wait for everyone, so he did following the anchor line to 5 metre and waited, alone, underwater for what was rather too long.
Because of the current the water was quite full of sediment and visibility was poor for the first 8 metre or so. Chelsea had had a hold up waiting for the Serb to sort him self out, then not having enough weights on to descend (we don't know why but she is super buoyant and needs at least 7kilos of weights on top of all the equipment to sink). When she finally got under, and saw the limited visibility, plus being moved around by the current it was just too much for her. She decided not go along with the dive as she did not think she would enjoy it. Liam waited whilst our lead diver tried to talk her through it (underwater, with hand signals) but Chelsea had made up her mind. Once she was safely back on the surface Liam carried on the dive with just the lead diver, the Serb had obviously opted out aswell.
The current decreased a bit as we approached 10-12m and then sediment was less dense so visibility increased, although the water temperature dropped. There was plenty of life around the rock, loads of fish, a lot more than we had seen at any one time in Vietnam. There were lion fish, parrotfish, puffer fish and loads of banner fish. There are lots of fish that Liam does not know the name of, some were really huge, there was a school of silver fish and other darting in and out of the cracks and holes in the rock. You could still feel the current, sweeping you backwards and forwards but everything moved with you, Liam was never taken out of reach of either the rock or the lead diver so was perfectly happy.
Our maximum depth was 20m, and we were under for around 40minutes. Liam really enjoyed the dive although sad he could not have done it with Chelsea. She was sunning her self on the boat we Liam bobbed a shore, she had been sea sick, which we think had been induced by rocking around waiting to get in the water and the heat in the wetsuit, but was fine. We had the option of another dive but decided against it as the visibility was not great so we might as well save the money for if we get another chance some where else.
On our last few days here we managed to find a shortcut to the beach, cutting through a perilous building sight with a shear drop onto a pile of rocks but it saved our legs from walking around. Further down the beach right at the end it is more peaceful. The restaurants and bars are more spaced apart and instead of horrible concrete monstrosities they are little wooden shacks and we have sat and enjoyed mediocre seafood for dinner over candlelight on the sand, petting the many beach dogs.
We are taking a break from the coast and heading to Colombo there to try and get our Indian visa, if we can not get it for whatever reason, we have decided we will extend our stay in Sri Lanka.