Legend has it that thousands of years ago, the beautiful queen of India, Sita, had a romance with the King of Sri Lanka, Ravana. It is said that the Queen had gardens in this very place. They were so beautiful that people came from far away to see them. It is very refreshing to come by the water, and many couples come here for the romantic surroundings. In Sri Lanka, the whole family lives together in small homes, until marriage. Then they take advantage of the garden rooms where they can have a discreet, intimate moment that nobody knows about. A charming little place!
The quiet place of Arugam Bay is at the end of the beach. The lagoon is formed at low tide and leave a few fish captive. People strip steaks, but standing water fish makes it so some never leave and are not as good as those caught in the ocean. Also I wouldn´t recommend to go swimming for the same reasons. The ocean is better, though it s a more hectic. Some boats offer to take you from one side to another of the lagoon, or you can walk, maybe 20 minutes.
When you go further into the interior of the country from Matara, I recommend that you stop to see the ruins and the Buddhas of Buduruwagala. The tuk tuk that will take you from the main road (it´s 4 kilometers, and the heat is terrible so I don´t recommend walking unless you have water and sunscreen) provides a stop at the "lake" of Buduruwagala. Before, it was a large deep lake that the monks from the temple used for drinking and bathing. Now you can see how much drier it has become. While the interior of the country looks pretty green, there are some areas suffering from severe drought, as in this place. The saddest thing is to see the boats of the fishermen who stay on shore because there are no fish...
The charming Kandy Lake in located inhe center of the city. It is an artificial lake that was initially a water tank excavated by the British during colonization. The British turned Kandy into a large administrative center and they wanted to create a place where you could relax or have a leisurely walk, with a lake as its centerpiece. It´s still a popular place today to go for a walk at the end of the afternoon. There are also some shore restaurants and games for children. On the one side there is a security check to enter the sacred temple of the tooth and on the other side, there´s the bus station. You can also see the lake from high up on the hill which is another nice walk. Since there are guards at night, it´s still safe in the dark.
Koggala Lake is a large, peaceful lake around 15 minutes from Galle Fort by tuk-tuk. People who head to Sri Lanka’s south coast usually do so for sun and sand, so having a place like Koggala Lake nearby makes for a nice break from the beach. The lake itself is huge and contains several island which you can visit. One of the islands contains a pretty interesting old temple while the other has a tourist-oriented cinnamon plantation.
To visit the lake, you really have two options. The first is exploring the edge of the lake on your own. There are a lot of nice paths and walkways surrounding the lake which are actually popular among Sri Lankan youth who want to make out far away from their conservative parents’ watchful gaze. If you’re interested in seeing nature and wildlife, I’d recommend you stick to the walking tour around the lake.
Your other option is to hire a boat tour at one of the many establishments around the lake. The boat tours last around 1.5 hours and cost somewhere in the region of 4,000 rupees. The tour takes you around the lake, through some cool overgrown canals, and makes stops at the interior islands.
I did the boat tour and, honestly, would probably not repeat. The temple was cool, but the cinnamon plantation was kind of a bust. Still, I’d recommend taking a walk around the edge of the lake first thing in the morning when it’s still cool and the birds, lizards, and other tropical critters are out and about.