The Sunday Leader

Alankuda: A Hidden Paradise

by Travelling Twosome (travellingtwosome.com)

Watching the dolphins in Kalpitiya was on our list of “things to do” even before T came down on holiday. So, you CAN say we planned this trip for months! The inquiry was made online and communication with the owner of Alankuda was carried out via email.  Yes, it wasn’t the most trustworthy way of getting around to booking the place, but we had no other option. We were told that 50% of the price was to be paid beforehand and we did that when T came down, which came up to USD 110. (During the peak season)

So, on the 10th of December we left to Kalpitiya early morning and got to Alankuda in 3 hours. (Around 2 hours from the airport) Kalpitiya is located in the West coast of the island on a spit of land in between a large lagoon and the ocean. The roads leading to Kalpitiya are amazing until you take a turn to Alankuda beach. However, you don’t get great places to have good food from until you reach your destination, so we advice you to have your meals from Negombo (unless you are not fussy about food and can settle for anything).

When you reach Kalpitiya, it feels very rural and remote (apart from the newly built roads) since there isn’t much tourism development which is visible in the area, yet (unlike in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka). However, when you get to Alankuda Beach, it’s a totally different story.

The hotel has a spacious parking area and our baggage was attended to as soon as we opened our car doors. We were also greeted by one of the owner’s three Labradors who was so adorable. We were soon escorted to the “Begonia House” which we booked online simply because its colour combination was attractive to the both of us (Yes, we were being silly) and because it was adjacent to the Alankuda beach, but, we were not at all disappointed with our selection. The house had two rooms separated by a sitting/dining area and since we were the only people occupying the house, we took the the room that was on the seaside.

As usual, I scanned the entire room for its facilities which is the first thing I do when I get to a room. Although the room didn’t have an air conditioner and only had a fan, it was quite spacious and included the following: utensils to make tea and coffee, a king-sized bed with a mosquito net, a sitting area with books and magazines and a lounging area made of cement with large cushions on them. The wash room was relatively small with the basic bath products and a power shower. Also, right outside the Begonia House is a wooden, two-story beach hut which faces the beach. It’s excellent for viewing the sunrise/set and just to relax on a lazy day.

After a few photographs here and there within the room, we headed out to meet the staff of Alankuda Beach. We met him at the “Ambalama, which is the common relaxing/dining area of the hotel where we were treated with a dish of devilled chicken and unlimited drinks ranging from fizzy soft drinks, to beers. That’s the best part of the deal here– you get unlimited food (snacks) and drinks to satisfy that hidden glutton in you.  As soon as we finished our snack, we asked the staff member if he could take us around Alankuda beach – somewhat like a tour. We visited the open sided, thatched, cabanas that Alankuda has to offer (apart from the houses), which bring out a sense of rustic luxury with its rural architecture and open shower areas where visitors can shower under the moonlight. He showed us every nook and corner of the hotel, including its facilities, which excited me the most!

After our “tour” of the hotel, we went  back to the “Ambalama” to have lunch. Lunch was Sri Lankan cuisine – rice and curry. Not too spicy to suit both locals and foreigners and was a standard meal. It isn’t anything five-star, but quite appetizing nevertheless.

After lunch, it was time to head to the beach. If you are in need of an unspoilt, clean and very private beach area, then Alankuda beach is the place for you. Alankuda, with soft golden sands and waves with shades of blue that puts a colour palette to shame, is the home to creatures from dolphins, whales and various species of seagulls to crabs and shellfish.

We took some amazing pictures of the sunset which can literally take someone’s breath away and spent the entire evening lying on the soft sands holding hands till the stars came out and it was time to go back to our room.

Soon afterwards, we decided to take a dip in the large infinity pool Alankuda has to offer its guests. The pool is lit up at night by tiny LED lights which look like the reflection of the starry skies above. This will definitely be one of the highlights of your stay especially if you’re in for a romantic getaway. Not only the pool, but the lighting of the hotel as a whole can seduce you in an instant. So much attention is given to detail (such as the trail of kerosene oil lamps to light up the pathways leading to your rooms/cabanas), that you just can’t help but fall in love with the place.

Next up was dinner. Dinner was of Indian cuisine and as I said earlier food at Alankuda isn’t anything out of this world, but it’s definitely worth the price. After dinner, T took more photos and we called it an early night as we had to wake up early the next day to see the dolphins which was one of the main priorities of the trip.

It was surprising that a nocturnal creature, such as myself, was so excited to wake up at 5am in the morning to prepare for the dolphin watching event. We hurried out to the beach, only to receive the most dreadful news ever. There had been a slight weather change and the sea was too rough to head out to see the dolphins. Both of us were gutted. The staff member told us that we should give it some time and hope that the weather changes back, but even after an hour the atmosphere was gloomy and windy.  Although the hotel offers you a free boat ride and other sports including sailing, wind surfing, kayaking, canoeing, and snorkelling, in case of weather changes, you don’t really get any compensation. And all you can do in such a case is either lounge around reading or go swimming in the pool.

Disappointed, we lay on the beach all morning taking pictures until we were called for breakfast. By around noon, we checked out and headed back to Colombo. Despite the unprecedented circumstances related to the weather, we had an amazing time at Alankuda. The place is a perfect romantic get-away and is also eco-friendly with minimal damages to the environment. What we both loved about it the most (apart from the attention to detail) is that although it’s listed as a hotel in your average guidebook, once you stay at Alankuda, you become a part of its daily life and you inevitably feel like you are already at home.

Summary of our Stay:

PROS:

Alankuda has a very private and clean beach area which is breathtaking.
The hotel is very spacious, eco-friendly and is clean and well-maintained.
So much attention is given to detail, making it trendy and eye-catching.
The atmosphere of the hotel is peaceful and tranquil (at least when it’s not crowded).
Food includes unlimited snacks and drinks.
The staff is very friendly and efficient.

CONS:

No choice or limited choice in meals especially when you are spending around USD200-300.
No compensation in case of weather changes regarding the boat trip included in the price and any other water sports.
No Air Conditioning in the room.
Very basic bathroom which is also relatively small compared to the room.
Method of reservation is primitive and does not include online payment options.

More details: travellingtwosome.com

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