The town of Weligama sits on an idyllic stretch of beach on the Southern tip of Sri Lanka. It is best known for the indigenous stilt fishermen – one of the most remarkable and unique sights, especially against a glorious tropical sunset.
The stilt fishermen erect a single pole in chest-deep water a few metres off the beach, and perching perilously on a cross bar, use bamboo fishing rods to cast their lines out beyond the surf break to catch small fish. This arduous livelihood has been a tradition maintained for centuries with the skills passed down over generations. Their numbers however, are fast declining due to modern, more profitable – and safer methods of fishing preferred by the younger generation. Weligama is a popular – yet far from crowded, tourist destination with several boutique hotels; the most spectacular of which is the privately owned ‘Taprobane Island’ - just a short walk over the water at low tide. Located on the offshore islet known as Taprobane or Count de Mauny Island, the villa – and the island, is named after the Frenchman who formerly owned them. There are also several historical sites in the vicinity, and the locality is well known for ‘beeralu’ lace making too.
Weligama literally means sandy village and is a small fishing town which is fast gaining popularity amongst many travellers from overseas. Home to the amazing method of stilt fishing, a trip to the area is definitely worthwhile to observe this unique method of fishing. Stilt fishing is a traditional method of fishing practiced along the Southern coastal belt by a select group of fisherman. The method entails the catching of fish using only bamboo rods whilst balancing on a single pole which is planted in the sea. Weligama is the ideal location to see these fishermen cast their lines out just beyond the surf break. Heading over to these select locations at either sunrise or sunset will allow for an even more scenic viewing of these amazing fisherman who hold on to the vertical stilt with one hand and their fishing rods with the other. A truly distinctive experience, which no traveller to the island should miss.
Weligama is a relatively small coastal village on the South of the island which is the ideal location for travellers who wish to lay back and relax in a small serene fishing town. However, fishing is not the only pastime on offer. Surfing is fast catching on in Weligama and this is turning out to be an ideal location for it as unlike other locations on the island that experience seasonal swells, Weligama offers great surf all year round. The surf is suitable for both beginner and advanced surfers, with the option of absolute beginners attending surf schools in order to get some professional help. Although it is a somewhat quiet town, surfers will find plenty of accommodation options which are well within budget, thus allowing for the main focus to remain on the beautiful beaches and the wonderful surf.