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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for Galle's Hidden Gems: Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations to Explore - Top Unique Highlights to Discover on a Trip to Galle
Joanna James Joanna James
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Galle's Hidden Gems: Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations to Explore - Top Unique Highlights to Discover on a Trip to Galle

Although the Galle Dutch Fort and the water sports activities are the main reasons most tourists head Down South, there's more to this historic city than its best-known landmarks. Here are some hidden attractions every visitor should explore during a stay in the southern capital.


Mahamodara Sea Turtle Hatchery Centre Galle

There are many sea turtle sanctuaries and rescue centres on Sri Lanka's south coast, and out of those, Mahamodara Sea Turtle Hatchery is a lesser-known conservation hub in Galle. This hatchery is run by volunteers, and the main objective of this organisation is safeguarding sea turtle hatchlings from human and animal predators. Collecting the eggs laid on the beaches of Galle overnight, the hatchery serves as a safe haven for hatchlings until they reach an age when they can make the journey back to the ocean. Tourists will find that they can also take part in these conservation efforts by signing up to volunteer for egg-collecting duties or for hatchling-releasing assignments.


Jungle Beach

This off-the-main-road beach is a secret recreational hotspot known only to some locals as it is not indicated by road signs and is not bordered by resorts or hotels. Located near the Japanese Peace Pagoda, it is by far one of the least congested beaches in Galle where one can enjoy a swim at any hour of the day. Only a small snack kiosk is available on the shore so one must bring refreshments and other necessities to this beach, which is also known for its excellent snorkelling conditions. Its waters are clear and the large number of tropical fish occupying the sea bed also makes it a great place to snorkel.


The National Museum of Galle

While the National Museum of Galle is largely ignored by the travelling masses, culture buffs based at The Fortress Resort & Spa or any similar rest in the area should visit this illustrious institution.  Documenting the rich legacy of Galle as a colonial city, the museum delves into the history of the city from the 4th century onwards with engaging photographic displays and other maritime showcases. While it might be one of the least popular things to do in Galle, Sri Lanka, touring the museum can be a rewarding experience for all. Open from 9 am to 6 pm, the museum is located down Church Street.


Historical Mansion Museum

Situated on Leyn Baan Street, Historical Mansion Museum is another obscure point of interest that is well worth one's time. This museum is ideal for those with a passion for times gone by and Galle's Dutch era, and the large number of centuries-old objects on display is the main draw for frequent visitors. Some of the valuables that deck the shelves of the Historical Mansion Museum include exquisite pieces of jewellery, old cameras, typewriters from the Dutch period and household items commonly used by colonialists who lived in Galle during the occupation.  Don't forget to drop by the adjoining Gem House where you can watch artisans cut sapphires and create embroidered household items.


Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya

This charming Buddhist temple is another lesser-known spiritual highlight in Galle. This ancient Buddhist temple features a sacred cave that is believed to have been used by monks for meditation and spiritual retreats for over 2,000 years.