April 8, 2024

The best independent restaurants and bars in Weligama, Sri Lanka

by Zinara Rathnayake

Once a sleepy village, Weligama is now south Sri Lanka’s buzziest surf town. It’s vibrant, laidback, and magical, with the sunny southern coast’s palm-fringed shores and inland paddies. It draws in both thrill seekers and those who love something a bit more sedate—breezy sundowners by the ocean, after-dinner nightcaps under star-studded skies, and lazy, jazzy brunches with good coffee under the tropical sun. More recently, Weligama has also become one of Sri Lanka’s culinary-forward beach spots, with a new sleeve of cafes, pizzerias, al fresco dining venues and sushi bars championing native, locally grown produce and once overlooked spirits. There’s something for everyone here, from al fresco lunches in stunning settings to vegan-focused menus, and craft cocktails curated by homegrown mixologists. This is our edit of some of the best places to eat and drink in Weligama, within a short drive from the resort—in no particular order. 

KAIYO Sushi Bar

KAIYO only opened in 2022, but this sushi bar, only an eight-minute drive south of Cape Weligama, is already making waves for the restaurant’s innovative culinary approach. Run by chef bartender Alexandra Kharitonkina, KAIYO’s seasonal cocktail list blends Japanese liqueurs and spirits with native Sri Lankan ingredients, with bitters and perfumes made with local herbs and roots. Reserve well in advance for dinner and drinks, and order Yoaki—meaning “demon”—a refined take on the classic Mexican El Diablo that blends Japanese ingredients like yuzu and ginger, and berries harvested in Sri Lanka’s central hills with Mexican tequila reposado.

311 Weligama By Pass Rd


+94 76 983 8973



A contemporary Pan Asian gastro bar that’s well suited for weekend drinks and dinner with friends, Locale overlooks the bay of Weligama, South Sri Lanka’s darling surf spot. Their cocktails—like the Ceylon Sour that mixes local arrack with passionfruit, basil, pomegranate and kithul (fishtail palm) treacle or the Island Dodam Iced Tea made with chai arrack and native sweet oranges—are the obvious winner. But go all in, and dig into the restaurant’s Asian fusion mains, like the Tuna Sashimi Tortilla or Singaporean Hawker Style Fried Noodles. Check their Instagram for updates on live music sessions by local artists.

Weligama By Pass Rd


+94 76 278 8962


NOMAD Weligama

The southern Sri Lankan coastline is abuzz with cafes and cool hangouts, but NOMAD is the kind of place you’ll come to again and again. It’s homely and cozy with rattan chairs and tropical plants that dot the tranquil space. Meals at this all-day brunch spot start with hummus toasts and tropical smoothie bowls made from the freshest island ingredients, with tuna poke bowls and fish tacos on offer for lunch. You might also, quite truly, fall in love with their bakery that serves Portuguese pastel de nata, almond buns and fresh-off-the-oven banana cakes.

640 Matara Rd


+94 412 261 077


Layback Weligama

Layback is a locally-owned surf retreat, perhaps Weligama’s most loved one, and they’ve also got a lovely little rooftop cafe that you shouldn’t miss, both for good coffee and good vibes. For years now, visitors have been frequenting this modern, oh-so-chic, tropical hangout for post-surf coffee, brunches and sundowners with ocean views. The menu is vegan-friendly, and mashes together trendy, Instagrammable dishes with local island produce—think of sourdough French toast topped with village buffalo curd, kithul syrup and arrack caramelized pineapples. Grab their brunch bowl that comes with crispy lotus root and coconut sambol.  

247 Main Street, Weligama


+9476 630 012


Cruising Smoothly

Originally opened in 2019 as Nice Cream, this permanently placed food truck Cruising Smoothly occupies a seaside spot in Weligama. It’s perhaps the nicest place to grab refreshing desserts and drinks in the area. For one, it’s an independent, family-run business, with an inviting, pastel yellow truck. And they serve vegan “Nicecreams”—creamy, blended frozen fruit topped with fresh fruits, caramelized lentils and coconut flakes, all served in a coconut bowl, like the Island Breeze made with banana, mango, passionfruit and pineapple. There are also smoothie bowls and iced frappes, ideal to beat the midday tropical heat. 

Weligama By Pass Rd


+9476 416 5412



This incredible Galle Fort restaurant that serves tropical-inspired poke bowls has a second outlet in Weligama—find them at Kurumba Bay, a hangout spot with boutiques, cafes and bars. They serve fresh, feel-good, fusion fare at its finest—from tuna poke bowls spiced up with nai miris (a red hot local chilly) to prawn ceviche mixed with avocado and mango chunks and deep-fried nori tacos. Everything here is creative, innovative and full of great flavours. Quick bites include homemade prawn gyoza served with chilli garlic oil and deep-fried cauliflower karaage.

496 Matara Rd, Weligama


+94417 294 347


Rise Weligama

Pizza chef Simone, who’s previously worked in Italy, co-owns one of South Coast’s finest pizzerias and Italian restaurants. Rise imports most of its ingredients from Italy to maintain original flavours and offer an authentic experience (it’s almost the same as you are dining in Italy), while sourcing creamy burrata and buffalo mozzarella from north of the island; veggies arrive frequently from the lush, rainy hill country. Lean into their homemade pizzas, starting with mozzarella and bacon, and fior di latte topped tomato and basil calzoni. The menu has vegan options and includes cheese and salami platters, great for sharing. 

Matara Rd, Weligama 


+94412 260 337


Sunset Bar

This charming, just-opened seaside bar part of the boutique hotel Eraeliya Villas & Gardens is only a stone’s throw away from Cape Weligama, and it sums up the vibe of Sri Lanka’s south coast: Their tapas menu serves feel-good, island-inspired bites (like roasted cashew nuts with fresh curry leaves), there’s good jazz to lull ino at sunset, and refreshing drinks to grab on a surf-heavy holiday. We recommend the bar’s polos croquettes, which are essentially crunchy baby jackfruit stuffed, deep-fried, breadcrumbed rolls—a vegan take on a popular Sri Lankan snack typically stuffed with fish. Also go for their tropical sangria with passionfruit, pineapple, narang (a local mandarin) and starfruit.  

299 Walliwalla, Kaparathota , Weligama


9476 275 0841 


Soul Temple

Not many people know this, but Sri Lanka was once a leading coffee producer in the world, and the island was known for its great coffee. Of course, tea is more popular now for its exceptional quality, but recent years saw homegrown entrepreneurs and farmers reviving Sri Lanka’s old, forgotten coffee traditions. Soul Temple, which primarily began as a surf school, is part of the many cafes and coffee shops across Sri Lanka embracing the island’s coffee. It’s homely, and hearty, with good music, good desserts and good coffee made with locally grown roasted Arabica. It’s a buzzy spot to grab your post-surf drink, and perhaps the best coffee in and around Weligama.

636 A2, Weligama


+9477 423 6708 


Zephyr Weligama

Zephyr’s main branch is in small town Kamburugamuwa, but there’s a second spot now, and it’s part of Kurumba Bay, which makes it a great place for a fun, beachside cocktail crawl in Weligama. Everyone’s go-to classics aside, the bartenders here have a list of innovative concoctions. Zephyr Sour—the bar’s take on Whiskey Sour—blends cinnamon-infused coconut arrack, local bitters, homemade mango syrup and egg whites. Stay over for their signature Lankan Love (a gin and hibiscus drink) or Belly Rum, made with dark rum, pineapple, and bael fruit syrup.

496 Matara Rd, Weligama


+9477 772 3223


Although our main spotlight is on the restaurants and bars in Weligama, I couldn’t overlook mentioning a standout dining experience in the vicinity of Mirissa.

Petti Petti Mirissa 

Opened in 2019, Petti Petti Mirissa invites guests to enjoy a casual beachfront dining experience featuring eclectic cuisine and zesty cocktails. With its elevated infinity pool, comfortable beanbags and uplifting tunes Petti Petti truly is a mix of contemporary luxury and casual relaxation. As they dine al fresco, guests can indulge in locally inspired cocktails and dishes while soaking in the stunning ocean panoramas.

17 Bandaramulla, Mirissa


+94 76 140 7881

Written by Zinara Rathnayake