Galle is a beautiful city and even though it’s right on the ocean, it’s not where one would necessarily go for a beach vacation.
Our advice is to rent a house in the jungle. We recommend Belinda’s colonial property – it’s in a village that’s about a 15 minute walk from the beach at Thiranagama. It’s cooler in the jungle. It’s very lush. And you have monkeys and lizards and jackfruit trees and authentic Sri Lankan architecture. People whose families have lived on the land for hundreds of years. Flowers. You wake up in the morning and the jungle literally comes alive. It rains in the jungle so you get that coolness. Drawback: mosquitos. There’s no malaria is south Sri Lanka yet, but there is Dengue Fever. If you eat a lot of raw garlic, the mosquitos seem to stay away.
The property is really quiet, although surrounded by the sounds of wildlife. Two main houses, cement ruin converted into a guesthouse and an old water tower with a ladder and viewing perch. The home is safely located, surrounded by Sri Lankan families that have lived in the jungle village of Hennatota Dodanduwa for generations. There’s an outdoor, covered, long terrace area on the property that can accommodate multiple families lounging in peace. It’s the best way to stay because you meet fellow travelers and Sri Lankans. Belinda is fun and she loves life and she loves Sri Lanka and she speaks excellent English – almost perfect British English.
The house has all these really charming nooks and crannies. There’s one room that’s bigger than a New York apartment. It’s painted red. Really beautiful colonial furniture and woodcarvings. A water tower with a platform to lounge on. Outdoor showers. Papaya trees. Monkeys jumping.  A monitor lizard that lives in the roof. Manic chipmunks run along the rafters. Oh. And peacocks.
Three dogs on the property are friendly and protective. You can laze in a hammock, laze on a day bed, with locally made textiles hand stitched into quilts; laze in your guest house with feather pillows; mosquito nets over the bed. There are lots of places to hang out – the heart of the house, the kitchen, and the outdoor dining area.
Next door, Kumara and Chamila, create Sri Lankan curry feasts. They are the parents of a lovely family, not a restaurant, and will cook for a fee if asked. You’re close enough to the tourist supermarket if you need soda, chips, or cookies, but you’re also near a daily local morning market and a huge Sunday market. You can have all your meals cooked for you or eat in town. Or go to one of the restaurants in Galle, half an hour away.
Chandana - a local man who owns a cinnamon farm– will get you anything you might want. Belinda will take you exactly where you need to go for whatever you may need. She attracts good people.
I stayed and fell in love with where I was – vibrant jungle, beach paradise, and unadulterated spirit- grown-up style. Private. Intimate. Communal. Warm. No judgment. No pretense. Beauty everywhere.
A Chilean family—Pau, a yogi, and Nico, an architect, with a surfer son, Mati—currently live in one of the houses on the property. Paula prepares amazing raw feasts. Nico does freelance work for the burgeoning expat green land developers in Bali. Paula and Nico plan on settling in Sri Lanka and opening an eco-chic bed & breakfast.
Rent a motorcycle or a bicycle for $5 to $10 a day. Buy a local SIM card for your cellphone. It costs less than $20 and makes jungle beach life much safer. Wear clothes in town, please. The random tourist in string Lycra is a nuisance at best- and sends a disrespectful message, which affects all travelers.
Other options:
The local people who have houses with homestay rentals are reaching out to Belinda to set up their places in her trademark expat lux style.  

April 2013