If you prefer a sandy white Christmas to a snowy one, Dubai’s beaches need not be your only option this December. And if you’re weighing up the cost of your guilt-ridden last-minute shopping and a Dhs750 bubbly brunch on Christmas Day, it might just be worth throwing a getaway into the conversation – especially when you can get a return flight to Sri Lanka for less than Dhs1,500. This could be the year to swap the carvery station for a curry.
There’s no shortage of great, budget destinations on the island – ever more so following the end of the civil war and the opening up of the east coast to tourists. Most of the best secluded beach stays are found a few hours’ drive from Colombo’s airport, and most hotels and guesthouses offer a driver service to ferry you down.
A little past the better-known likes of Unawatuna, around four hours down the coast, you’ll find the quiet bay of Mirissa.
Very much undeveloped, save for a smattering of small guesthouses and the larger and (relatively) grander concrete structure of Paradise Beach Club (www.paradisebeachmirissa.com), the town’s largest accommodation, the bay boasts roaring waves and a handful of shacks and cafés. By day, travellers and sunbathers lounge and body-board on the beach, and by night, you’ll find the small number of visitors perusing each eatery’s fresh fish displays, ordering the large bottles of local hops and tucking into saucy, spicy meals packed with the flavours of fresh coconut and curry leaves on tables in the sand.
Just four days of Sri Lankan sun, surf and seafood can feel like two weeks of therapy. Does that sound like Christmas Eve at the mall to you? Didn’t think so.
Air Arabia flies direct from Sharjah to Colombo, with returns from Dhs1,779 per person. Alternatively, Oman Air flies from Dubai, with one stop in Muscat, from Dhs1,212. www.skyscanner.com.