Negombo Beach

Negombo Beach the best sandy beaches head for the main hotel drag, where it is possible to hire all sorts of watersports equipment and enroll on reasonably priced diving courses. An excellent diving spot where you can see stunning corals, groupers and all sorts of colourful fish, Kudapaduwa is a 40-year-old shipwreck about 75m (246ft) in length.

In town there are remnants of the Dutch fort built in 1642, as well as some stunning old Dutch houses and fascinating Portuguese churches. Dawn bird-watching trips on the canals built by the Dutch are increasingly popular, or take an early morning tour of the country's second-largest fish market, the llelama in Pitipana, at the north end of the town's lagoon. There are daily fish auctions, a chance to meet the area's colourful fisherman and even organise a fishing trip on one of the wooden oruwas. Other treasures include Muthurajawela, a 6,000-hectare (14,826-acre) protected marshland, which is home to 192 species of wildlife, including the adorable but endangered slender loris.

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