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Updated by Mike Smith on Jan 07, 2016
Mike Smith Mike Smith
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Top South Coast Attractions in Sri Lanka - Must-See Sites on The Southern Shoreline

As one of the most popular tourist hubs in the island, the southern coastline is home to some of Sri Lanka's most iconic attractions. Here are some of the area's top tourist highlights.


The Dutch Galle Fort

Tipped to be the most iconic cultural landmark in Sri Lanka's southern reaches, the Dutch Galle Fort is no ordinary fortification in the island. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site the venue which is believed to have been built during the period from 1584 - 1684 is a must-visit highlight for all visitors touring the coastal belt. As a mammoth remnant of the country's colonial past, the structure was constructed by the Portuguese and then Dutch colonizers to serve as a defence mechanism for one of the island's major ports and colonial strongholds. Having transformed in to a city within a city, the Galle Fort is home to countless restaurants, cafes and art galleries nowadays while the site also houses ancient institutions such as the Dutch Reformed Church and the Meera Mosque.


Hikkaduwa Coral Reefs

As a coastal town that is revered among the vacationing multitudes as one of the most vibrant beach hotspots in Sri Lanka, no exploration of the southern shoreline would be complete without a stopover at breathtaking Hikkaduwa. Home to some of the most colourful coral reefs in the southern fringes of the island, visitors exploring the seaside hamlet must not forget to experience the underwater landscapes off the coast of Hikkaduwa on a glass bottomed boat ride. Visitors based in Hikkaduwa hotels such as Citrus Hikkaduwa can also book diving tours in the area to get a closer look at the corals and marine life occupying the waters.


Kanneliya Forest Reserve

Nature lovers touring Sri Lanka's south coast should take the time to explore the Kanneliya Forest Reserve, one of the few lowland rainforest hubs in the island. Easily accessible from Galle, the sprawling park occupies an area of 5300ha in all and contains some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in Galle. Some of the chief attributes of the Kanneliya Forest Reserve are its countless waterfalls, streams and rivers while the vibrant flora found in the landscape include 301 species of plants. A whopping 59 bird varieties also call the parkland home while 133 types of fauna are known to roam the park's verdant confines. Butterfly fanatics can also spot more than 31 species of winged beauties in Kanneliya which is also home to 14 types of amphibians.


The Bundala Bird Sanctuary

Birding enthusiasts touring the south coast must stop by the famed Bundala Bird Sanctuary. Home to idyllic landscapes littered with stunning bird species such as flamingos and other migratory birds, the venue is inhabited by over one thousand birds that include species that are endemic to the island as well as those who are stopping by the sanctuary to avoid the harsh winter months of Europe.


The Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery

Conservationists and other tourists who wish to make a difference while exploring one of the island's most valiant conservation efforts should stop by the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery in Bentota. Open from 6am to 6pm daily, the hatchery serves as a line of defence for dwindling sea turtle figures in the island's shorelines. Visitors can not only observe the daily functions and inhabitants of the hatchery but also take part in releasing aged hatchlings back in to the ocean.