Visiting Barberyn island and the Beruwala Lighthouse
Updated: Mar 22, 2019
Sri Lanka is home to some of the most spectacular tropical lighthouses you could possibly find anywhere - The Beruwala lighthouse is no exception. It sits on a small island a few hundred meters from the mainland coast, and offers a unique experience if you venture out there.
The lighthouse of Barberyn island is one of four international lighthouses that are in operation on the island nation. The little basses, the great basses and the dondra light being the other four.
Visiting the Beruwala lighthouse is a throwback to the heydays of marine travel in colonial times. The lighthouse has a history spanning more than a century, having been built in 1890 and still continues to be a beacon, informing naval vessels of the dangers of the treacherous waters around beruwala to this day.
Getting to beruwala is a straightforward affair, being only about 40 kms away from Colombo, it is easily accessible. Once at beruwala, you can proceed along the road leading upto the Beruwala harbor. You need to pass the harbor and make your way on the narrow road towards maradana (in beruwala) and you will come across another small fishing harbor and the Maradana fish market . At this point, the island and the lighthouse will be in clear view ( you can't miss it)
Getting a Boat ride
Ask around from the vendors or anyone from around the small harbour, and they will direct you to the boats that do the ferry services.
Since the lighthouse is a few hundred meters away from land, you need to hire a boat to get there. The typical rate is about 2000 - 2500 lkr per boat ride, from and to the island. A boat accommodates upto 8 people and has life jackets that can be worn. If you are going I a party less than 3, they won't issue life jackets, but it's best you insist on using them.
Also the rate can be negotiable, we negotiated a price of 1500 lkr for the both of us, so be open to negotiation.
Also keep in mind that there is no jetty /pier here, so the boat will be launched from the shoreline. That means you're probably going to get wet feet while climbing on and off the boat.
Time to visit
The best time to visit is in the morning, as the light will be excellent, and fall directly onto the lighthouse and palm Grove making for some impressive photographs. Also it will save you from the midday sun, which can be harsh.
What to see.
There is a small pier that the boat will moor and from here it's an easy walk up to the lighthouse.
Just before you enter the white sand covered road, there is an old derelict building next to the beach. You can walk through the gutted building and watch the sea from one of what used to be windows.
The road to the lighthouse is very obvious and is quite white. Upon closer inspection you will see that it isn't sea sand but crushed shells and coral that is used to cover the path leading up.
The lighthouse is off limits to anyone who wants to climb up, and the lighthouse keeper is stressed that once we met him while making our way up. He did permit us to walk over to the lighthouse and generally have a free hand in exploring.
The lighthouse sits on the highest point of the island. Between the gate and the lighthouse there is a charming and most immaculately maintained palm tree Grove that add a a quaint tropical feel to the atmosphere. You find a few cows here too, they must have been ferried here and probably help with the gardening and pruning.
The lighthouse is stoic and imposing. Even after more than a century of service it still looks immaculate. There is an unmissable colonial handwriting emanating from the buildings and the lighthouse, and you can almost feel being transported back in time.
There are a a few structures beside the lighthouse : a power room, crew quarters, a duo of fuel talks and an old stone structure that possible is used as a storage facility.
A large open turf is right next to the the buildings ( you need to pass the lighthouse) and there you can get a good view of the entirety of the compound. Also on the edge you would be able to see the rocky shore and the blue sea that surrounds the island, plus a small rocky island (named crow island) in the distance.
We made our way back following the route we took from the pier, rather than take one of the many footpaths that seem to melt into the undergrowth.
The area next to the pier has a small breakwater, and this makes for a perfect place for a dip. The water isn't deep and the bottom is all sand, so it's a good place if you plan on getting wet.
So there you have it, a perfect one f day journey that is a perfect getaway treat. You can cover the entire island in about a one and a half hours, but you can extend depending on your preference. We didn't stay for the sunset, but we're told it looks spectacular from the island.
Tip : the island can be pretty humid and there is no water to be found. Better take along a water bottle or two and some sunscreen.
Hope you enjoyed this trip report! We had an awesome time exploring the island and hope it will be the same for you as well.
Here's wishing you happy trails and intrepid adventures!