For a city that unfurls along a rather attractive curve of coastline, there are surprisingly few beachfront drinkeries in Colombo. You get the longstanding succession of restaurants lining Mount Lavinia’s ‘Golden Mile’ and a couple of shack-like establishments down the Dehiwala beach (Lanmi’s, The Station), but that’s really about it. But then I suppose there’s a reason for this – the only other central stretch of beach we have is Marine Drive. And that’s a road.
Buba is one of Colombo’s classic bites and beer hang out spots, and a canonical city-beach drinking venue for locals. If you’re not knocking back the Mendises at Mambo’s, Buba’s beachfront bar is probably the next best thing. One of the greatest things about this city? No matter where you are, you’re rarely more than half an hour away from watching the sun sink down over the Indian Ocean and sipping a chilled lager by the beach – despite these spots being confined to about five liquor license wielding locations.
An elusive, foliage abundant nook that only hardwired citydwellers seem able to locate, Buba is such a a place – a tumbledown arcadia located on a secluded patch of sand, winding past the Mount Lavinia Hotel and beyond a crosshatch of rusty train tracks. What used to be just a cluster of plastic chairs and tables strewn around a hut is now a more elaborate two-storey wooden structure – you can either sit right on the sandy Mount beach clutching your arrack, or above it by the stars. Buba has taken shape and expanded – upwards – to accomodate it’s influx of new customers.
Lately, however, the island’s growning penchant for indiscriminate electro has filtered into all mainstream speakers, meaning that if you’re anywhere near a beach, you’re almost guaranteed to be subject to the likes of pounding bass or wailing dubstep. And it’s the same with Buba, so beware – hair of the dog Sunday Lions can be negated by the loud, frenetic EDM that’s prone to be pouring out of their speakers. Quite headache inducing if you don’t like that sort of thing.
But in spite of the unpredictable onslaughts of loud music, Buba is generally a great place for drinks – if purely for their location. The curiously misspelt menu (camp fried lamb cuttles, anyone?), however, is unreasonably expensive – a simple nasi goreng, despite being well-padded with seafood and meat, is a rather unreasonable Rs. 580 and a ‘special’ rice (not as special as in Una) is Rs. 680 – neither are that great. While the fries are good, I’ve had better rices for much, much cheaper elsewhere (compare to Copper Chimney’s 130 rupee stir fried grains). You’re basically paying for a liquor license on the beach – not for the gourmet seafood dining.
But still, Buba’s a good place, be it for evening drinks, day drinks, afternoon drinks or general seaside frolic. In a city where you’re always near a beach but not necessarily drinking on it, Buba offers just that great kind of sandy island nook.