On Sri Lanka’s sun-drenched south coast, a winding track through lush jungle finally reveals Amanwella and its incomparable seaside setting in Tangalle. Designed for blissful seclusion and natural exploration, this contemporary beach resort claims a vast swathe of golden sand fringed with coconut palms and lies close to revered temples, rolling tea plantations and Sri Lanka’s finest National Parks. 

Undiluted Indian Ocean views from Sri Lanka’s sun-baked south coast.

The distinct contemporary design of Amanwella is inspired by Geoffrey Bawa’s neat angles of the last century. The Tropical Modernist movement visible across southeast Asia resonates worldwide thanks to the Sri Lankan architect’s trademark blend of Corbusian minimalism and indigenous materials. Amanwella’s linear design is a triumph of tropical minimalism.

Conceived by Kerry Hill Architects, it takes its inspiration from the work of the late modernist architect Geoffrey Bawa, and even in the gardens, the prominent positioning of aromatic white frangipani is an ode to his favourite tree. Working with the natural elevation of the land, the resort remains faithful to Aman’s philosophy of barefoot luxury and simplicity; the swivel-windowed restaurant and bar gaze directly at the ocean and across a trio of bays, and sit above a capacious 45-metre pool, while the freestanding suites, crafted from locally sourced stone and timber, peep out discreetly beneath a profusion of coconut palms from the hillside opposite.

Sri Lanka is renowned for its cuisine, and Amanwella celebrates its variety with a full menu of authentic dishes complemented by Asian and Mediterranean classics. Three restaurants are open to both guests and non-residents, and unique culinary experiences can be enjoyed in the surrounding villages and countryside near Tangalle.

Overlooking a deserted crescent of ivory sands, the 150-foot-long swimming pool is one of the world’s most talked-about. Best for relaxed beach retreats, and cultural and wildlife encounters. All Suites open on two sides to private plunge pools and large terraces facing out to sea. 

Amanwella’s golden-sand beach is ideal for activities ranging from surfing and snorkelling to whale watching and fishing in the Indian Ocean. Nearby, the jungled coast is home to the cultural riches of southern Sri Lanka and infinite natural treasures such as those at the Yala and Udawalawe national parks, where leopards and elephants can be seen, as well as the Bundala Bird Sanctuary.

The melody of the waves and the gentle breath of the coconut palms soothe all who come to Amanwella. Treatments incorporate ingredients from Sri Lanka’s cornucopia of herbs, plants and flowers, and experienced therapists draw on Ayurvedic traditions to ensure that every massage, facial, body polish and wrap is tailored to individual needs.

Just 90 minutes from Amanwella, a brace of national parks promise wildlife sightings to rival the most celebrated African game reserves. Herds of wild elephant roam the grasslands of Udawalawe National Park; kingfishers and hornbills perch in the trees, and water buffalo cautiously eye the mugger crocodiles as they glide lazily along the river. Leopard spotters head to Yala, the island’s biggest park and home to the world’s largest concentration of the elusive big cat. The patient and the lucky are often rewarded with a glimpse. A visit to an elephant sanctuary never fails to stir the heart, offering up the sight of orphaned young residents as they make their stumbling stepsto collect their leafy meals, legs unsteady and trunks a-twirling.

The coastal route between Amangalla and Amanwella is dotted with spiritual sites, ancient and modern. The rock temples of Mulkirigala Raja Maha Viharaare among the most mesmerising and dramatic. Situated on a natural monolith more than 200m high, the Buddhist complex is believed to have been constructed in the third century. Those with the stamina to face its near-vertical ancient steps will discover five staggered levels of seven caves where enormous Buddha statues in bold colours recline, stand and sit. The drama of the wall paintings and sculpturesis as breath-stealing as the ascent. 

Amanwella’s setting is a country standout, arranged on the palm-shaded hillside of a secluded crescent-shaped bay, partially shared with the local fishing community.

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