Negombo is a charismatic fishing town north of Colombo
The Sinhalese refer to Negombo as Meegamuwa "The village of honey" (or bees) due a story about a swarm of bees that had settled in a boat pulled ashore here. However, it was not honey or bees that made this town known but cinnamon. Discovered by the Moors (a term first used during the Portuguese period to refer to Muslims) who settled on the west coast cinnamon soon became the source of conflict between nations vying for a stake in its lucrative trade.
The Portuguese ousted the Moors from Negombo towards the end of the 16th century and took over the cinnamon trade, even building a fort to protect their interests. Under the rigid control of the western coastal areas, Negombo became a busy commercial port and since the soils of Negombo are so fine and sandy, the cinnamon produced in the area was considered the sweetest and therefore most prized.
Today, however, Negombo is renowned for its fishing. Negombo's fish market is quite possibly the island's best. Large catches of fish – tuna, seer, marlin, shark, barracuda and swordfish – nestle beside lagoon prawns, crabs and lobster, for which Negombo is prized.
Due to its significant Catholic population, Negombo is dominated by shrines and picturesque churches. The biggest is the impressive, candy-coloured church of St Mary's, which exhibits some amazing ceiling paintings.
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 (Kudapaduwa) 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.
Things you can do
- Whale and Dolphins watching
- Safari at wilpattu national park
- Dive to bar reef
- Water sports
- Lagoon tour
- Munneswaram temple
- St. Ann's church
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