Tantalizing Talalla beach and a stay at Talalla Retreat ~ Sri Lanka

We live just five minutes by motor scooter from the beaches and the Indian Ocean.

And yes, we go to the beach quite often either for a swim, lunch, or to take in one of Sri Lanka’s glorious sunsets. And yet, we both know that just under two hours away the beaches further South are…  wilder and wider!

And so we head off for a weekend getaway at Talalla beach. Green Global Trek has been invited to stay at Tallala Retreat, and we happily accept the invite. Talalla Retreat is nestled in a corner of the crescent shaped beach, and we are looking forward to discovering it.

 

 

Talalla beach, as you will soon see, is quite simply put, BLISS. Our idea of a good beach is one that has few people, soft creamy sand, clear temperate waters, and good (safe) swimming.

Talalla offers up a great combination of attractive features: Spacious and airy rooms, yoga classes, surfing opportunities and an impressive menu of organic food with many delicious vegetarian options to be had. There is also a full spa with a variety of natural massage, facials and reflexology on site. A large swimming pool is set under palm trees for those who want to chill pool side.

From the beach Talalla Resort is barely visible. It is set back from the ocean front with a large expanse of green lawns and hidden behind beach foliage.

This is the view as we walk from our room towards the beach. A stretch of welcoming green, with a hint of blue on the horizon. Just a few minutes walk, but a really nice one through the well tended lush property.

There are a few attractive, high ceiling, private bamboo cottages. More rustic than the other rooms, yet with a certain charm that only bamboo can bring to a dwelling. The feeling of being surrounded by natural materials is quite unique.

Very pleasant two story buildings nestled amongst the trees, make for attractive accommodation. Our room is open to the elements, which is great for fresh air and air flow all night long.

Blue skies, tall palm trees, green grass and feet up. This is island living at its best. Stay and enjoy the view or go to the beach? Hard choices to be sure…. 🙂

Even though the restaurant area is large and can accommodate large groups it is set back nicely in the lush grounds. The kitchen is supported by Talalla’s own organic vegetable and herb gardens.

A fresh, organic vibrant “Buddha Bowl” of crunchy veggies with red rice. One of many delicious vegetarian dishes made by the competent chefs at Talalla Retreat. I had a special request (allergy to onions) and the kitchen went out of their way to make up a few special dishes sans onions, all of which were delicious. And the effort was appreciated!

Breakfast includes a Sri Lankan classic, definitely a favorite of ours… coconut pancakes (made using rice flour) with coconut treacle. Yum!

There are 3 yoga spaces on the property. Designed this way to accommodate private yoga and surf camp groups as well as the regular yoga classes offered to guests. Talalla Resort has a perfect location for a combination of beach, yoga and upscale accommodation in a great setting.

Ben has been working around the clock and we have not had much down time. I “plotted” this weekend escape, sans computer, to have some chill time.

We have the beach to ourselves. It is “slow season” but as well, these more remote beaches are not huge tourist draws as hotels and restaurants are few, compared with beaches closer to Galle and Marissa where the crowds tend to flock.

Ben, not complaining about being dragged away from his computer and Colombo meetings, to appreciate the experience at Tallala Retreat.

Yes, I am hard at work… 🙂 Ah life is good!

 

A lone fishermen in his brightly colored sarong (hiked up to “mini skirt” version) repairing his fishing net after a morning at sea. A symphony of colors.

Ben jumps out of bed to go and see the fishermen push their boats out at dawn.

Sunrises on Talalla are more dramatic than sunsets. The sky slowly lights up from the sun’s still soft golden rays, amongst the steel gray clouds.

 

Some of us wait for a more civilized hour to hit the beach. Talalla Retreat It is completely hidden from view from the ocean. A former set of buildings was closer to the ocean, but was wiped out during the Tsunami, which hit Sri Lanka very hard in 2004. The rebuilt hotel is set further back on the property, tucked nicely away from the immediate shore.

From the beach walk to the white boat to find the entrance to Talalla Retreat. Considering how large the retreat property is and the fact that they can house over 100 guests at a time, it is impressive how invisible the property is from the beach.

Enjoying a walk, a swim, quiet time on the beach before some exploring…

Part of the fun of a road trip to the beach is all we encounter along the way ~ nearby towns, street life and temples. This gives us a good grounding of our destination’s surrounding.

A typical store front along the way … homemade brooms are propped up for sale and kitchen pots hang mobile like on a string.

How many places in the world are there old fashioned red mailboxes, here charmingly called a      “letter box”.

Rambutan fruit is piled up in red and yellow glory. Yay, it is rambutan season in Sri Lanka! Screech to a halt for a rambutan Epicurian delight.  (We first tasted this lychee-like fruit in Viet Nam and it remains one of our favorites Asian fruits.)

Underneath the hairy exterior which make this fruit look like colorful miniature porcupines, there is a sweet white flesh inside, surrounding a hard pit.

Sri Lanka is not ‘known” for its street food as you drive through the country (unlike say Viet Nam or Thailand). Yet one item that can often be had is sweet bright yellow corn, cooked in huge cauldrons on the side of the road. As the vendor lifts the lid for this tuk tuk driver, the steam bellows out, and with it the heady smell of fresh corn. Delicious!

A small road side stand with a a few more unusual fruits such as the large pomelo on the right ~ a variety of grapefruit with thick white pith and a bright pink sweet fleshy interior. The pomelo is triple the size of a regular grapefruit.

We saw this large temple in Matara,  en route  to Talalla Resort, and made a mental note to come back and visit on our way back to Galle.  So glad we did!  This temple is less than one hour from Talalla and is a must-see in the region.

Devundara Vishnu Davalaya Temple is situated near Matara.  2000 years ago, the Southern- most part of the island was a place of exceeding sanctity.  This magnificent temple to the Indian god Vishnu was built 700 years ago. Some 300 years later, the Portuguese destroyed the temple, stole jewelry, gems and ivory. Nonetheless, it remains a destination for the pious population and a worthwhile stop for visitors.

Sri Lankan temples often lure us in. Usually with the sighting of a large Buddha sculpture. This modern gray stone one, is visible in the distance, through the large yellow ochre arches in the front. This temple, like many  is a complex of multiple buildings, courtyards, sculptures and shrines.

An unusual 3-tiered bright blue wooden temple with painted decorations on the outside.

The white wash of the shrine, wall and temple, stand out against the bright blue sky.

We are just in time to see and hear the drummers as they approach the blue temple building, where people are waiting for the opening of a sacred altar.

Inside this blue temple are intricate brightly painted murals on the walls and the small room is full of devotees.

Floor to ceiling red, white and black portraits provide quite a dramatic setting. The paintings depict half human half animal beings, various deities in Hinduism.  This is a very unusual aspect of this temple ~while the large Buddha sculpture makes clear it is a Buddhist temple at its core, the site is also revered by Hindus.  An unusual “shared space” reminding all that Hinduism predates Buddhism.

In white sarongs, these men are on hand to provide blessings to those that enter into the various shrines that are in a building nearby the temple. The writing above the door is in Sinhalese and Sanskript.

Bright shiny crimson fabric, colored lights, posters, deities…. like being inside a brightly decorated chocolate box.

While we have been exposed to Buddhism for several years now, our knowledge of Hinduism remains in its infancy. We understand that the 3 primary gods are Shiva, Kali, Vishnu, but it is a complex system of deities that we appreciate somewhat superficially at this point. This photo really captures the feel of our experience ~ small rooms each dedicated to a different god. Faded images speak to years of devotion, backlit by the Sri Lankan sun.

Understated is not a word that would be associated with Hindu imagery. The temples we visited both in India and in Northern Sri Lanka are invariably brightly colored, and chockfull of visual attention grabbers!

As we emerge out of the Hindu portion of the complex, the gray Buddha sculpture is visible rising behind the trees..

The size of the Buddha sculpture can be measured against Ben, standing at the feet of the Buddha.

A kind soft spoken young monk approaches us and offers to show us around yet another temple within the complex. He joined the monastery at the tender age of 10 and is now 25. As we speak with him, several Sri Lankan women drop to their knees in front of him, to offer their respect and to kiss his feet as is customary. A Buddhist monk is after all a revered figure.

I (Peta) am entranced by the “sculpted” face of this young monk, and as well, his overall demeanor. He proudly explains the history of this particular hall of paintings, whose walls are covered with images which have quotes underneath with Buddhist lessons.

This one with a babe is Ben’s favorite, (not surprisingly). Paradoxically, the lesson here is not to be lured by carnal desire.

If you are a Buddhist one does not react to blame nor praise. This image nicely depicts the monk walking the middle path unresponsive to either praise or blame. There are literally over 100 such imagery worth contemplating. It is very rare for these Buddhist teachings to have an English translation underneath the SInhalese, which makes it accessible to foreigners.

The outdoor sun is bright, but just a soft light penetrates the hall of paintings ~ just enough light to be able to see the images and read the lessons on all the walls, floor to ceiling.

Peta seizes the opportunity to discuss Buddhism. She assesses how we shape up as Buddhists and out of the 5 precepts necessary, we definitely practice 3 of these, with 2 perhaps being a tad lacking. But then again, that is the point of Buddhism, that you evolve as you go and strive for improvement. One of the principles that we really resonate with is that of kindness to all living beings. The monk tells Peta that he would not even kill a mosquito!

This colorful mural of Buddha and disciples is huge, and fills the area above the temple wall and below the wooden ceiling.

We have written before about a unique feature of Sri Lankan Buddhist temples ~ the combination of 3D sculptures and painted murals behind. Here a row of Buddhas in full lotus pose.

And for those with an appreciation for maps…

Talalla is a two hour drive from our base in Dalawella, Thalpe…,

Thanks to Talalla Retreat for hosting us.  As always, all opinions are our own.  For more information on Talalla Retreat: http://www.talallaretreat.com/.

48 thoughts on “Tantalizing Talalla beach and a stay at Talalla Retreat ~ Sri Lanka

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Exactly! Those adjectives are ones we used when we did a country comparison and attributed those to reasons why we chose to live where we do.

      Pretty perfect, yes. Plus bountiful fresh tropical fruits and fresh sea food.

      Ben

  1. Liesbet

    What a wonderful weekend away! I love rambutan. The visit to the big temple complex on the way home was a nice bonus. Thanks for sharing those experiences. A mosquito is the only animal that I manage to kill. Even flies and spiders, I try to capture and put outside…

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Liesbet. One of the benefits of living in Asia is the abundance of lesser known (to the West) delicious fruit. We have been making our way through enormous jackfruits from a few trees around our house. Another favorite of ours is mangosteen. Have you had those?

      I admit to killing mosquitoes and flies with no remorse. Spiders and the rest, we try to get outside alive.

      Peta

      1. Liesbet

        I never had mangosteen, Peta. Is it related to mangoes? I know “steen” (as in South African, probably) means “stone” or in this case “pit”… What is it like? Lots of fruit trees around – a treat of the tropics. 🙂

        1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

          Ooh you have a good fruit waiting for you to try Liesbet! Mangosteen is nothing like a mango. It has segments like an orange, with opaque shiny white juicy flesh, all inside a dark aubergine hard shell. Hard to describe the taste, but it is sweet and juicy and oh so addictive. Each segment has its own pit inside.

          http://www.benefitsofmangosteen.net/

          If you ever see them, make sure you try. Any Chinese store should carry them.

          Peta

            1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

              You are most welcome! Wait, you have tried lychees right?? One of my most favorite fruits ever that I grew up with in South Africa and we were lucky to have by the bucketful in Chiang Mai, Thailand when they were in season during one of our stays there!

              Peta

              1. Liesbet

                I like lychees (as well as rambutan) and have a feeling the mangosteen comes close to it. Speaking of lychees, I just bought a box of the lychee juice of the brand Ceres. We found these boxes of 100% juice of all flavors in the Caribbean and loved them, so I am excited to find one here and for only $1.50 a box. 🙂 By the way, isn’t that a South African brand? I just checked… it is. Nice treat!

                1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

                  Liesbet, Ceres is a great brand of juices from South African not only because they are 100% fruit juice but because of the exotic flavors they carry. I remember them well from my childhood. My favorite flavors where lychee and granadilla (which is passion fruit).

                  Enjoy!!

                  Peta

  2. Sue Slaght

    Where to start with this wonderful find! Oh my the photos of the beach with the soft sand and not another visitor to be seen? That alone makes the place perfect for a getaway. I would be up at dawn to see the fishermen off and what fun to await their return to see the catch of the day.

    Love that from the ocean you can not see the property. I was sorry to read about the damage from the tsunami. It looks like the rebuilding went very well. A lovely choice of accommodations for those with different tastes as well. Speaking of tastes coconut pancakes for breakfast! I think I would want that every morning.

    Peta as I have mentioned before Sri Lanka was not anywhere on our radar for travel until you started writing about it. I will bookmark this page for future dream lists. We do appreciate the inclusion of the map very much. On the other side of the world it really helps to get a sense of things.

    Sue

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Sue yes, you totally get it!! The dawn wake up does not come naturally to either of us, being night owls, but there are times in life, when it is worth doing it.

      Talalla Retreat certainly did a good architectural job of rebuilding further away from the shore with low visibility structures and as well the grounds are so spacious and lush that they impart a feeling of relaxation.

      So glad that we have brought Sri Lanka to your attention. We are pleased to have brought travelers to Sri Lanka, both from our blog introduction to boutique and green conscious hotels, but as well from Home Exchange where there is definitely a lot of interest. (We are using our house in Sri Lanka to exchange for travel elsewhere, much as we did when we lived in Nicaragua.

      We will try to remember to include maps more often. It definitely helps to get a sense of geography. Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

      Peta & Ben

  3. Lois

    Makes me want to hop on a plane to experience all the healing properties described including monk teachings❤️

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Oh good Lo… We do hope to see you here one day in the not too distant future. You would definitely enjoy all the Buddhist temples and the conversations that can be had with monks in various locations.

      xoxo
      Pete

  4. Caroline Helbig

    BLISS indeed! Every time I open one of your posts I become more enamoured by Sri Lanka. I could use a dose of that exquisite beach. The grey Buddha is beautiful and I have not seen anything like it in my travels. I am a map person…thanks for including! Cheers, Caroline

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Caroline thanks for these lovely comments. We are definitely getting good feedback on the maps, so we will include more of them in the future. Happy to hear you are becoming enamored with Sri Lanka. The first time we came here, for three weeks, en route to India, we knew just ONE person who had been here. But her rave reviews and the fact that I have for a while had a curiosity about Sri Lanka, were enough to entice us here. And after the first trip, well, we just kept coming back whenever we could and the rest is history…..

      Peta

  5. Lexklein

    Great escape! I love everything about your little trip, from the journey to the destination. Although my own surroundings are quite tropical these days, I still yearn for these exotic beach locations when I read about them!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Lex one of the great things about Sri Lanka is that its beaches are not overdeveloped or built up (except for a handful). And it is such a treat to find those that are still on the “wild” side.. it is that very feature of wildness that I think makes them exotic. Plus of course the tall palm trees soaring into the sky. Add a few colorful fisherman boats….

      We have not gone on the whale watching trips, but we did go to Kalpitiya in the North and had an incredible experience watching pods of dolphins swimming and spinning all around us.

      Peta

  6. gabe

    So glad you are thoroughly enjoying your time in Sri Lanka!

    I have to admit, the photo of the row of Buddhas in lotus in front of the murals is so serene and captivating, I was reluctant to scroll down. Thank you for taking us along with you (but now I really need to convince my wife that we will have to add Sri Lanka to our travel destination list).

  7. Laurel

    You two find the most exotic places! What a beautiful and peaceful place for a retreat. I love the photo of Ben by the Buddha statue, and the one of you, Peta, by the colorful boats. We also live by the practice of kindness toward all living beings — but it’s really hard when it comes to mosquitoes. 🙁

  8. Sylvia

    Looks like a very special paradise, Peta. Wonderful photo gallery, Peta. You look so beautiful and very relaxed. Love the magical sunset. 🙂

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Sylvia. So glad you enjoyed the photos so much. Thanks for the lovely compliment. The photo is of a sunrise actually. I slept in but Ben woke up with the sun to see the fishermen set out in their boats before the day began.

      Peta

  9. Kelly

    What a beautiful escape! Really hoping to return to Sri Lanka someday and get to some of the places you’re discovering.

  10. Cheryl

    What a fantastic place to unwind and relax! I’ve always loved the coast and and blue skies. The ‘Buddha Bowl’ reminds me of bibimbap! 🙂 Thanks for taking me to this wonderful retreat. I’d surely love to visit. Sri Lanka has been on our list for ages.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Cheryl, Talalla Retreat is definitely perfect for a chill for days! Ooh we both love bibimbap! The Buddha Bowl definitely has some similarities, although missing the crackly crunchy rice of the hot iron skillet.

      Hope you get to get here and experience the wonders of Sri Lanka first hand! For every traveler we entice to Sri Lanka, we get an extra unit of good karma 🙂

      Ben & Peta

  11. Shari Pratt

    Wow! That was a wonderful experience.

    I like that you publish so many photos of people as well as the physical attributes of the country and the beautiful art and architecture. And the food of course.

    And that you include your personal spiritual inspirations adds to a total immersion in Sri Lanka’s Talalla Retreat.

    Thank you for a lovely visit.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thank you Shari for recognizing the all immersive approach to sharing our life adventure in Sri Lanka. So glad that you are enjoying the portraits of the people that we meet along our journey. It is neither the buildings without the people, nor the people without the history….

      And yes, the food of course!!

      Ben & Peta

  12. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

    As always, another fascinating segment in your Sri Lanka adventure! The more I read about Sri Lanka in your posts, the more I want to visit. The unfamiliar fruits look drool inducing and your photos of the temples beautifully capture the mix of eye-catching colors.

    You seem to find your bliss wherever you go and, when it’s lacking, you do your best to make it. A wonderful approach to living a fulfilling life!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Anita we are so glad that we are building up a compelling Sri Lankan narrative for you. Thank you for your lovely and complimentary comments.

      We do have an approach to sculpting our lives that is akin to what you describe as “making your bliss”. We are pretty clear about the critical ingredients that constitute that bliss for us and just as you can bake many different cakes from a set of ingredients, so can we usually find many variants for the life we choose to lead. Part of having a fulfilling life for us, is knowing that we are consciously making choices that work for us!

      Ben

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