Usually I avoid things purely built for tourists’ pictures, but in Sri Lanka the famous palm tree swing has become such an iconic photo that everyone wants to do it. So I “had” to go do it so I can tell everyone else how to go do it. Okay, I will admit it was pretty fun. Sometimes things that are ‘touristy’ are touristy for a reason, and this reason is for the great pictures.
The palm tree swing is located on Dalawella beach, and specifically on the grounds of the Dream Cabana Hotel. If you are not a guest of the hotel you will have to pay to use the swing. If you go in the morning it is 500 rupees for 3 swings, but if there are no other people in line the staff may let you play as much as you want. If you do want the famous sunset picture though, it is 500 rupees for one swing since otherwise the line would go by far to slowly.
If you are a solo traveler the staff will gladly take your picture because after all, the picture for Instagram is 95% of why people come to the palm tree swing in Sri Lanka. Luckily I had Cody to go waist deep in the ocean carrying our Sony A7II to get a great picture of me during sunset. Actually when I went up to do the swing there were no people in line at all. I guess it was because it had rained from 4-5pm and people assumed the pictures would not look nice.
Of course the best time to go would be sunset. This will give you that glowing sky behind you which really does make for the best pictures. You could also go in the morning before the sun gets too high and get some pictures without all the mid-day glare.
I recommend going around 4pm and having a beer or cocktail at the Dream Cabana Hotel bar. This will give you some time to watch the weather and jump on the swing early if it looks like it will rain or be too foggy around sunset. Then again, if you are staying in the area, you could always just come back the next day.
If you are not staying at a property near Dalawella Beach, then your best bet is to get a tuktuk to drop you off right at Dream Cabanas. We were staying in Unawatuna and were able to negotiate a one way drop off for 300 rupees. A tuktuk to get back was extremely easy to find for the same rate. The ride takes about 5-10 minutes depending on traffic.
If you are staying farther, then you can negotiate a ride with a driver near you, or use the PickMe app to hail a driver. I’m a big fan of the PickMe app to get around Sri Lanka, but it does come with difficulties. Just like when I wrote about the ‘taxi mafia’ in Bali, the tuktuk mafia exists in Sri Lanka. So sometimes, depending on your location, the driver will not want to pick you up.
Location: Matara rd., Unawatuna
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