What happens when you arrive at 11pm in Sri Lanka? You hail a tuk-tuk, and are convinced you might die en route to your hotel. Don’t worry, we adjusted to the driving quickly. Time to check out Palm Village “resort” and catch up some ZZzzs.
Drew and I landed in Sri Lanka the night before NYE, after spending a week in Seattle running around with his parents on an epic Christmas scavenger hunt, filled with a Burlesque Nutcracker and many happy hours. We were eager and nervous to begin our Honeymoon in a country we had both never been to before. We grabbed our bags, took a deep breath, and knew we were to begin on an unforgetable journey.
We arrived late in the evening to the Sri Lankan Airport, a little frazzled from almost 30 hours of flying, and was quickly bombarded with taxi and tuk tuk offers to our hotel. The Visa process to get into Sri Lanka was simple, pay $30 USD for each Visa upon arrival, go through customs and voilà, you are in the thick of things. The Sri Lankan airport is a mix of all cultures, with people selling washing machines, appliances, taxi rides, and tours. During our layover in Dubai we exchanged a small amount of our dollars for Sri Lankan Rupees and were ready to find our ride to our first hotel of our stay.
If we were frazzled in any way, we were back to life via our journey to our hotel. Our taxi weaved in and out of pedestrians, tuktuks, buses, trucks, and stray dogs as Drew and I squealed out of excitement and terror as we were inches from the closest car driving at full speed. We would soon grow accustomed to this style of driving but holy sh*t it was terrifying the first time.
Forty-five minutes later we arrived at Palm Village, a quaint yet hard-working “resort”, located on the beach about 45 minutes from the airport. We were greeted by five different employees, eager to take our bags, and help us check in. The place was decked out for New Year’s Eve, which was mostly still Christmas decorations strewn across staircases. After a quick exchange of passport information, we were handed our keys, and walked to our room on the second floor. Our room was simple, a queen bed, a small sitting area, a bathroom, and a balcony. There was a mini fridge, A/C (definitely put to use), and a TV that had one station. We were exhausted and went straight to bed, agreeing that we’d check out the grounds early tomorrow morning.
Palm Village is like a high-end hostel meets an outdated resort. There is staff operating 24/7, constantly sweeping, cleaning, and cooking. The pool is well maintained, with lounge chairs surrounding the water and hammocks sprinkled throughout the palm trees in the grounds. The breakfast is a massive display of Sri Lankan and Western foods, with tea, coffee, fruit, and basically anything you need short of a bloody mary in the morning. We had a handful of Palm Village employees come by during breakfast to see how we slept and if the food was ok. It was here we realized how much they love to take care of their guests and ensure they’re having a “very good time”.
After breakfast, we found the gate to access the beach. What we found on the other side were crashing waves upon slabs of rocks, and sand full of beautiful seashells, like the kind you find once every two years on Oahu’s North Shore. I felt like a kid in a candy store. However the beach itself is far from any beach we are used to on Oahu, stray (but friendly!) dogs patrol the beach in search of food scraps, broken down boats erode in the sand, and piles of garbage, mostly plastic, is burned no more than 100 yards away from the hotel beach entrance. We would later find beaches to swim and surf in, but this was not where we wanted to hop in, thank god for the Palm Village pool!
The Wifi is only located in the lobby, and we had a lot of research to tackle. We sat down and ordered two Lion Lager beers, it was 10:30AM, so we immediately became the classic honeymoon-ing Americans drinking morning beers (no shame).
After mapping out our route for the next few days, we headed off to the nearest town called Negombo, for lunch and to explore the region. If you aren’t specific with your tuktuk driver what you want to do and how much you want to spend, they might take you on as a day tour guide, which yes…happened to us newbs. So after an unexpected, overpaid 6 hour tour, we returned to Palm Village, tired and ready for a nap. With no plans for NYE we accepted the invite from the front desk staff to join Palm Village for their night of dinner and dancing. To be honest it was a miracle either one of us woke up in time for dinner, let alone stayed up for the very illegal firework show, but I am so happy we did. Something about being in the most foreign country you have ever been in, while listening to 90s classics from America that really throws your perspective for a loop.
Our two night stay was the perfect, quirky, introduction to Sri Lanka. We got a balance of relaxing and awkward dancing around the pool to Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love is” which was just what we needed to motivate us to move south towards Galle and Ahangama.
A big Mahalo to Palm Village for their hospitality and dedicated work, we look forward to return some day! We booked our stay through Booking.com – be sure to share your experience and reviews to help hotels such as Palm Village to extend their audience reach.