Off the beaten track and tranquil—those adjectives describe just part of the allure of Sri Lanka’s southeastern corner. This is a quiet, laid-back, rural region of sleepy villages, farms and seemingly endless golden-sand beaches fringed by coconut palms and fronting the Indian Ocean's cerulean waters. Beyond Hambantota's new world-class port, colorful fishing boats cluster in its small harbor; their bounty can be seen in the daily fish market.
Much of this part of Sri Lanka was off-limits during the country's civil war; then, it was hit hard by the 2004 tsunami. Fortunately the region has mostly recovered and is now open to tourists, who are discovering its natural beauty and a Sri Lankan way of life that is fast disappearing.