Danielle Wilson Naqvi

The Perfect Family Getaway in Sri Lanka

Heading to Galle? Here’s where to stay and what to do with the whole family.



Looking for a family-friendly place to stay when visiting Galle in Sri Lanka? Then look no further than Arabella on Boossa, a luxury boutique beachfront hotel.

Arabella on Boossa is a stunning eight-room beachfront property, designed with comfort and understated leisure in mind. Its unique and spacious contemporary style evokes the traditional Sri Lankan tropical Bawa style of architecture. We had the pleasure of staying for a week in the largest room in the house, with its four-poster bed frame, lounge area and enough space to neatly fit three extra beds for the kids. Room 8 also has a large balcony with gorgeous views of the hotel pool, garden and the beach. The Australian owner has taken guests’ every need into consideration, maximizing the space to reflect that. Some of the family suites offer bunk beds and loft-style makeshift floors with a ladder utilizing the space to its fullest. The whole hotel is filled with white sofas, modern ornaments and groups of glass vases stacked with large green tropical leaves. Most of the day, the common doors are left open so the sea breeze fills the air and you hear the sounds of the waves crashing. It’s a peaceful and comfortable property, which immediately feels like home. There are also lots of pool and garden entertainment activities, including a daily creative arts table for late afternoon while the parents relax in the garden or pool.

The main eating area is at the side of the hotel – an all-open space where breakfast served with a morning breeze is simply wonderful. The menu offers traditional Sri Lanka cuisine along with the usual Western favorites and a kids’ menu. Young children are catered for with well-thought-out food, including delicious ice-cream options.

Arabella on Boossa is located 10 minutes from Galle, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It’s a truly multi-cultural town, filled with hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and shops. The colonial Galle train station is nearby, or tuk-tuks or private cars can take you anywhere you wish. We enjoyed taking tuk-tuks everywhere, even though five people were a bit of a squeeze in the back! The kids found it highly entertaining and occupied themselves by counting all the multi-colored tuk-tuks we passed along the way.

What to do and see with a family in Galle:

1. Surf Lessons

We signed the kids up to a surf school close to the hotel, with local surfer dudes as the teachers. The staff gave the kids a quick run-through the moves before taking them into the sea, staying by their side the entire time. My son didn’t last too long in the water because when the sea is choppy, it’s pretty exhausting – not to mention you spend a lot of time under the waves! My eldest got to grips with it straight away and considering she has no fear and is always determined to do what she puts her mind too, she stayed in for hours. While the kids had their lesson, we enjoyed freshly squeezed juices on the beach.

Book lessons: Ahikava Surfing School

2. Galle Lighthouse

A nice spot for a walk along the city walls and a perfect place to enjoy an ice cream. It’s quite the Insta-worthy photo stop, too!

3. Galle Town

There’s an alleyway of shops, restaurants and bars inside the town walls. The architecture and interior is a mix of British colonial and Dutch influences, with places of worship for all the main religions remarkably within a few square meters of each other.

Book a tour through a local guide or: Viator 

4. Take a train to Weligama

And hang out the open window and doors. Don’t worry, it’s pretty safe and a cool way to ride the train!

Book your journey through: Rome2Rio

5. Spend a Day at Unawatuna Beach

White sands, surfing and lunch spots on the sand… this is a beach paradise and a magnet for backpackers.

6. Visit the Japanese Peace Pagoda

We hired a tuk-tuk driver for the morning and visited the famous round Buddhist temple that sits upon a hill with views of the coast. Just a hike down to the bottom of the hill lies a secret beach with tree swings and a café, which the kids particularly enjoyed exploring. While the beach is fun, I wouldn’t do it as a daytrip with five people’s beach paraphernalia to carry up and down the stairs!

7. Spot the Stilt Fishermen

Watch out for the fishermen sitting on stilts in the water catching fish – this old method of fishing still holds its charm.

8. Visit the Turtle Sanctuary

This top tourist spot is worth a visit, since the money they receive goes towards supporting local wildlife and rehabilitating turtles.

9. Visit the Fruit Market

I enjoyed visiting the many stalls of fresh fruit, all laid out neatly in an array of bright colors. The naughty side of me wanted to pull out an apple from the bottom of the pile just to watch the entire stack crumble, but instead I picked the ones on the top of the pile just so I didn’t leave a dent in their proud display masterpiece!

How to get there:

  1. Direct flights on Emirates from Dubai to Colombo start from AED 1 500.
  2. Direct flights on Air Arabia from Sharjah to Colombo start from AED 1 100.
  3. Directly flights on FlyDubai from Dubai to Colombo start from AED 1 200.

The flight time is just over four hours and the drive time from Colombo to Galle is approximately two-and-half hours. Arabella on Boossa will arrange airport transfers.

How to book:  

Book directly with www.uniquefamilytravels.com and receive exclusive rates and additional benefits for families. Prices on request.