Colombo’s greatest asset is the fact that it is absolutely a city by the sea. Wherever you go the sea is just minutes away and for kilometres the city sprawls along the coast.
What this means in practice is endless opportunities for beach side dinner, drinks and dancing. Sadly, however, the city hasn’t yet learned to take advantage of its ample beach real estate. Mt Lavinia, Wellawatte, Dehiwala, Wattala, and the much underrated Crow’s Island beach haven’t become the strips of beach side activity and entertainment they could be.
For now to find even a hint of beach life or nightlife in Colombo you need to head to Mt Lavinia, but even the long stretch of gold coast there can be pretty deserted. That’s not always a bad thing.
Haus Chandra Hotel / Boat Haus Cafe
A whole grilled fish, a pile of garlic drenched prawns, some ice cold bottles of lion larger, the roar of the sea all to yourself on a weekday evening. This is what Haus Chandra/the Boat Haus Cafe offers. It’s one of just a handful of restaurants that really makes use of Colombo’s Seaside setting, but rather than leveraging on its location alone it also offers good food and reasonable prices to go with the sea and sand.
A fridge displays the catch of the day and in true beach side fashion you point to the creatures you’d most like to eat have them weighed and chose how you’d like them prepared. For me its usually a grilled mullet (Rs 1700) with garlic sauce, crabs with chili sauce and fried jumbo prawns (Rs 300 per 100 grams) with garlic and chilli sauce. Add a side order of the excellent kan kun and some fried rice and you have a meal fit for… anybody, which will serve a good six people and costs, with beer, no more than 1800 rupees a head.
I am not going to claim it’s cheap but for a beachside celebration or the beginning of a big night out I can’t think of many better venues in the city.