I’m sure not many of you have heard of Negombo.
And if so, it’s probably because you had to arrive at Colombo airport and were looking for overnight stop options or the last night before departure.
Negombo is actually closer to Bandaranaike International Airport, just 10 km away, from Sri Lanka’s largest city, Colombo.
Negombo or Meegamuwa in Sinhalese is the fourth most populated city in Sri Lanka, located on the west coast and at the mouth of the Negombo lagoon in the western province.
The name Negombo derives from the Portuguese, which is a corrupt name of the Tamil word Neerkolombu.
The name Meegamuwa from Sinhalese means “village with honey”.
It is an important commercial hub and has a population of over 140,000.
It is famous for its fishing industry and for its beautiful but not so clean beaches!
Also known as Little Rome for its many churches and the large Catholic population, we will also find the largest Sinhalese community who lived in Italy and returned to their country.
What to do in Negombo
Negombo beach is close to some resorts, hotels (soon to suggest the best), restaurants and the Dutch clock tower. It is worth savoring a meal or relaxing.
Sunset on Negombo beach with its natural and vibrant colors.
It is not the cleanest, there are really better beaches in Sri Lanka, but Negombo beach is ideal for walking on the promenade or spending a few hours watching the fishermen launch their nets.
The fish market
This will have to be the first stop on your itinerary, as it will open at 6 am!
Get ready for an authentic and very ancient local experience!
If you are there very early, you can even see the fishermen’s boats returning from their fishing trip at almost the same time!
Get ready to bargain and get the freshest fish there is!
Or just watch the locals on the go!
The ruins of the Dutch fort
It is actually called Negombo Fort, but people usually refer to it as the Dutch fort.
Built in 1672, it is now mainly ruins of what remains of it and a large part of the site is used as a prison!
The gate and the clock tower are the 2 main visible remains.
The Dutch (mainly) and the British created a network of channels to facilitate trade.
The Hamilton canal connects Negombo with Colombo.
It is mainly used by fishermen and sometimes by boatmen who offer excursions.
Muthurajawela Bird Watching
Muthurajawela is a swampy area of Sri Lanka in the southern Negombo lagoon region.
The Muthurajawela swamp has been declared a wetland sanctuary by the government.
The daily high tide brings sea water from the ocean to the wetland and the continuous mixing of these two waters over thousands of years has led to a brackish and integrated coastal ecosystem that is biologically diverse and teeming with life.
The Muthurajawela shrine is full of mangroves and other types of medicinal plants.
As you travel through the swamps on a boat you will observe many birds and reptiles.
There are birds such as cormorants, ducks, egrets, herons, storks, eagles, terns, swallows, kingfishers and other resident birds.
You will also spot crocodiles, monitor lizards and the largest snake in Sri Lanka, the python.
In addition to the rich birdlife, you may also see Toque Macaque monkeys, shrimp fishermen in the lagoon, sea fishing catamarans returning home after their night out at sea and mangrove vegetation.
The swamp is an important local and tourist attraction, mainly for guided tours and boat trips, and the area also supports local agriculture and forestry.
Visitors to the region are led through the areas of the sanctuary by staff from the Muthurajawela Marsh Center to avoid serious damage to the marsh ecosystem.