Fine sandy beaches of Negombo has been mostly unexplored but less crowded as most tourists use the town for the first or the last night of their stay in Sri Lanka. That is where the advantage where you have the beach mostly to your self. Nevertheless those who have identified it's secrets have been visiting the town year after year. Fine beach stretches are superbly maintained by the hotels while some are always busy with fisherman and their equipment. Equipment for water sports such as diving, wind surfing are available at most hotels and private vendors. There are few schools offering reasonable diving courses.
Negombo Lagoon is fed by a number of small rivers and a canal. It is linked to the sea by a narrow channel to the north, near Negombo city. It is surrounded by a densely populated region containing rice paddies, coconut plantations and grassland. The land is used for fishing and agriculture. The lagoon has extensive mangrove swamps and attracts a wide variety of water birds including cormorants, herons, egrets, gulls, terns and other shorebirds.
Dutch Fort in Negombo
Close to the seafront near the lagoon are the ruins of the old Dutch fort, which has a fine gateway inscribed with the date 1678. Also here is a green, called the Esplanade , where cricket matches are a big attraction. As the fort grounds are now occupied by the town’s prison, the only way you’ll get a peek inside is by stealing something; though you’d need to be very interested in old Dutch forts to go this far.
Negombo known as “Little Rome” is a Catholic stronghold in Sri Lanka. Over 90 per cent of the population of Negombo are Catholics. There are over 50 churches and shrines within the Negombo municipality. The majority of Catholic Bishops and the only Cardinal in Sri Lanka have hailed from this Catholic fortress.
Although there are comparatively few Buddhists in Negombo – less than ten percent – their religious fervor is remarkable. The renowned Buddhist leader and patriot Brahmachari Walisingha Harischandra was born in Thimbirigaskatuwa, Negombo. A leading school in Negombo, Harischandra Vidyalaya is named after him.
Bodhirajarama Maha Viharaya (Angurukaramulla Temple), the well-known Buddhist temple in Negombo is a popular religious center.
The beautiful Budu Ge there contains fine sculptural works and paintings on the life of Buddha and Jathaka stories. Its Pilima Ge contains important Buddhist events in Sri Lanka as well as the life size images of all the Sinhala kings from Vijaya to Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe.
Bhodhirajarama Viharaya attracts devotees from all over the country. Popularly known as “Angurukaramulla Temple” it is a must for all the Buddhist pilgrims who pass through Negombo.
St. Marys Church in Negombo
Negombo is heavily influenced by the Christian faith. In fact Negombo has been given the name ‘Little Rome’ due to the highly ornate Portuguese-era Roman Catholic churches such as St. Mary’s Church, which is one of the most important structures in Negombo. St. Mary’s Church is the biggest cathedral in Negombo and has a painted ceiling as well as alabaster statues of various saints. The church’s construction was started in 1874 and was completed after almost 50 years in 1922. It is also one of the larger cathedrals in Sri Lanka. Over 90% of the population of Negombo is Roman Catholic and as a result the church is quite an important building in the city. The architecture is majestic and the church has some nice paintings. It is known as Mahaweediya Palliya in the Sinhala language and is quite easy to find. The church consists of three main levels which are immediately apparent when approaching the structure from the front.
The Dutch Canal in Negombo was built by the Dutch to transport spices and now used by local fisherman to get to the sea.
It was at one time an important link in the transportation route which supplied the Dutch colonial administration. It runs for more than 60 miles.
Today it is an attraction for tourists and one of the more interesting ways to see the town and the surrounding area.
The canal starts from Hendala and runs up to Pamunugama. It was constructed by the Portuguese in the 17th century.
The Dutch Canal is also known in sections as the Negombo Canal or the Puttalam Canal. It was commenced by the Portuguese but completed by the Dutch and links the Kelani river north of Colombo and the Puttalam lagoon.