Negombo is a quaint beach town on the west coast of Sri Lanka, only a stone’s throw from Bandaranaike International Airport. If you are looking for a hotel, Negombo has a handful of beachside properties along Porutota Road that works its way north from the town centre and runs parallel to the beach. Along the same stretch of road you will find a smattering of charming restaurants, many of which are family run businesses set up by foreigners who have settled in the area. You will also find several shops and boutiques selling clothing and local handicrafts. Club Hotel Dolphin in nearby Waikkal, is an ideal location for someone looking for a fabulous destination wedding venue.
The name Negombo is the Portuguese colonists’ variation of the Sinhala name Meegamuwa, which translates to ‘Village of Honey’. Legend dictates that many years ago the army of King Kavantissa followed a swarm of bees that led them to a boat near the sea shore. In the boat they found honey for Queen Viharamahadevi, who was pregnant with Prince Dutugamunu at the time. The price would one day go on to be one of the country’s most prominent kings.
The first mentions of Negombo’s trade activities are related to spices, mainly cinnamon, that grew in abundance in the surrounding jungles. The first traders were Moors who lived in the area. The Portuguese realised the lucrativeness of the spice trade and quickly took it over for themselves during their colonisation in the late sixteenth century. They even built a fort to safeguard the trade. A struggle for control with the Dutch ensued until the Dutch took over trade in 1644. They went on to create cinnamon plantations in each of the coastal provinces they conquered. Today, Ceylon cinnamon is in high demand all over the world and finest samples come from Negombo’s ‘Silver Sand Belt’. Subsequently, the fishing industry in Negombo was also established and today it is one of the island’s key fishing ports.
Catalina Forbes is a travel writer who bases her content on many thrilling escapades experienced across the world.