Okanda is located at the entrance gate of Kumana National Park, 20 km south of Arugam Bay. Okanda's picturesque coastline is free of hotel buildings and tourism and traffic noise and pollution. But bathing is dangerous because of underater currents. Okanda is a sacred site, too. In July it becomes a station for Sri Lanka's most significant pilgrimage, the Pada Yatra along the East Coast. Okanda is the last sanctuary before the final destination is reached, Kataragama. Devote pilgrims stay three day in Okanda and take ritual bathes in the ocean near the Kovil ("Kovil" is the Tamil name for a Hindu temple.) During the rest of the year the remote Okanda beach is a tranquil sandy beach. One heritage attraction nearby is the scenic Kudumbigala sanctuary, a former forest monastery.
Sinharaja rain forest
Kanneliya small rain forest
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Dry zone south
Yala NP camping-safari
Bundala NP bird watching
Kumana NP birds and wildlife
Okanda village life and beach
Rufus Kulam remote lake
Lahugala NP with heritage site
Gal Oya NP lakeside wildlife
Udawalawe NP wild elephants
Ussangoda serpentine rock
Dry zone north
Minneriya NP elephant gathering
Kaudulla NP elephant gathering
Habarana oxcart excursions
Nelumpure authentic village life
Mihintale ancient sanctuary
Namal Uyana ironwood sanctuary
Rasvehera monastery and wildlife
Tabbowe lake near Wilpattu NP
Horton Plains trekking hotspot
Bambarakanda 240 m waterfall
Adam's Peak pilgrim mountain
Hakgala Botanical Garden
Kitulgala white water and birds
Peradeniya Botanical Garden
Meemure village life and trekking
Knuckles Range trekking highlight
Randenigala NP alternative camp
You can find a similar linklist with images just below:
Who ever comes to Sri Lanka in July or August and, apart from bathing in the ocean, also loves surfing, usually stays at Arugam Bay. After tsunami and civil war, the fishing village of Arugam near Pottuvil has become a very popular tourist resort, which also attracts many locals for a weekend holiday. Because of parties Arugam can sometimes be noisy.
Further south Okanda is not quite as perfect for surfers, but they cover their expenses here, too. Okanda beach is not obstructed, and foreign visitors are rare, although this is one of the most beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka. However, waves and underwater currents should not to be underestimated. There will be no "baywatch" lifeguard at this lonely beach.
There are no hotels or guesthouses in Okanda. The only place to stay for those who do not find private accommodation, are some rooms that are commonly used by pilgrims who take a trip to the Hindu temple of Okanda on their way to Kataragama. This Kovil is located near the beach. And there is a Tamil shop with a small restaurant for Sinhala and Tamil guests close-by. The cuisine is a purely local, of course.
Sightseeinglanka can arrange a stay for you in cooperation with locals, but only if you are ready to live the way your Sri Lankan neigbours live. Okanda is not at all suitable for luxury lovers!
Another alternative to Arugam Bay is Panama, halfway to Okanda. Panama really is the name of that coastal village, but pronounced "Paaneme", not like the nation of the same name. In Panama, the Sri Lankan Navy maintains a guest bungalow, tourists are allowed to use their rooms, too, but reservation is very difficult because of frequent visits of Navy personnel.
Both Okanda and Panama are ideal starting points for safaris in the Kumana National Park. It is very similar to Yala, but much less frequented by tourists. This is why wildlife expeditions here are among the most authentic you can do in Sri Lanka.
A half-day excursion to the rock monastery Kundumbigala situated close to the Kumana / Yala East National Park is highly recommendable. Even outside the national park boundaries you have chances to observe wild bears in this cultural heritage area, sloth bears are spotted at Kudumbigala quite often.
Sightseeinglanka is a tour operator based in Sri Lanka and 100% owned by Sri Lankans, specialized on organizing eco-friendly and extraordinary safari and authentic Sri Lanka village-life experiences - truly no tourism industry fake! Kapila, founder and leader of Team Sightseeinglanka, is a biologist. Please read more...
Enjoy Sri Lanka's charming cultural and natural heritage with Team Sightseeinglanka!
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