The wide sandy beaches and the safe sea are the major tourist attractions of Negombo, while many tourists use the town for the first or the last night of their stay in Sri Lanka. Negombo offers some of the better beaches on the west coast of Sri Lanka, and draws tourists who stop over for a day on their way to or from the airport. Some quiet stretches of the beach are maintained by the tourist hotels, while others are always busy with fisherman and their equipment. Water-sports and diving are also extremely popular among visitors, with a few well preserved coral reefs and a 50 year old shipwreck that serves as an artificial reef for many varieties of fish. There are also local handicraft sales on the beaches and the shops near the town. Hundreds of Catemarans can be seen on the sea and beach doing their daily fishing activities
One day tours
Dutch fort of Negombo is an interesting site to a military historian. Only a small section of the ramparts are remaining. The year 1678 is engraved on top of what would have been a heavily fortified main entrance. An imposing tower still stands tall on a high mound which appear to have housed a bell or a gong. he ramparts appear to have been built extending from the beach to an estuary thus establishing a triangular perimeter securing the fort. A canal extends up to about 100 meters from the main entrance from the estuary, which would have been used to ferry supplies and troops to the fort. Nothing much is left inside except for more contemporary buildings housing the current Negombo Prison.
The canal was at one time an important link in the transportation route which supplied the Dutch colonial administration. It runs for more than 60 miles, with part of the route running through Negombo. Today it’s an attraction for tourists and one of the more interesting ways to see the town and the surrounding area. Now it is used by the local fishermen to approach sea. It is a good way to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of a passing by villages by boat.
It’s best known for its epic statue of the Buddha, and its dragon-entrance – inside you find detailed murals that date back centuries. There is also a 300+ year old ruin of a historic library here, covered in moss. The Buddha statue out front is six meters tall. You walk through the dragon’s mouth to enter the temple – the dragon is supposed to ward off evil spirits.
The premises are a wide open space with plenty of trees by the edge and a pond in the middle (with turtles in it).Inside the temple are amazing murals, sculptures and paintings on the ceiling, depicting the Buddha’s journey to enlightenment and stories of Sri Lanka’s former rulers from the Mahavamsa. Right next to the temple is the stupa, whose staircases are guarded by bronze lions.
The inside of the stupa is pretty epic, because there’s a stupa in the stupa (stupaception), and amazing carvings in the walls and windows. There are also more murals here and sculptures behind mesh, and it’s usually dimly lit like it’s not oft-visited, so better visit in broad daylight
The town has a majority of Roman Catholics along with Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims while it has been given the name “Little Rome” due to the highly ornate Portuguese-era Roman Catholic churches found within the township. The town has several buildings that date back to the Dutch and Portuguese colonial era. The Katuwapitiya Church and the Grand Street Church are the two biggest parishes in Negombo These are rich with many interesting figures inside. A nice cool and quiet place to get away from the heat and general traffic of outside.
Excursions from Negombo
Anuradhapura – 3 and half hours drive
Galle – one hour and 45 minutes drive
Kalpitiya – two and half hours drive