Baththalangunduwa Island is a small island off the coast of Kalpitiya in the Puttalam District of the North Western Province of Sri Lanka. Out of 14 islands, Baththalangunduwa is the second largest island after Uchchimune and Mohontuwara. The island covers an area of 145.53 hectares (ha).
The island has grown in popularity as a camping spot and over the past five or six years, numerous travel packages in Kalpitiya have included a visit to the island as a main attraction.
Sharing his experience with Brunch, Nadun Tennakoon of Travel with Nadun who visited the island together with a group of students from the Uva Wellassa University, said that having been to the island back in 2016 before it became a travel hotspot, he noticed that since then, the island has been subject to so much pollution, absolutely destroying its natural beauty.
Nadun noted that the island originally had an abundance of shade and the beaches were pristine and almost untouched, however now, six years later, trip goers have scattered glass, plastic, and various other debris all over the island. People have been tearing off tree branches to set up camp fires, and the fires have thus affected the trees.
While Nadun and the university students attempted to clean up some of the garbage that had been left on the beach, he shared that the damage was simply too much and that there is a real need for cleanup and maintenance on the island.
Baththalangunduwa Island is located about 25 nautical miles (30.3 km) from Kalpitiya and it takes about three-and-a-half hours to travel from the Kalpitiya mainland to the island. There is a two ply passenger ferry which you can get from the Kalpitiya jetty, and this regular passenger ferry service, which the locals refer to as the “Baththalangunduwa bus” starts daily at 8.30 a.m. The fare per person is about Rs. 1000 for a round trip during weekdays, while during weekends it is around Rs. 1500. There are private boats available as well, whose prices will vary and may require reservation.
The island is a large landmass that is primarily a fishing village, where the people of Kalpitiya have set up fishing posts malu wadi along the coast of the island, where the famous Kalpitiya dried fish comes from.
Nadun shared that the salt concentration is extremely high in these parts and if you were to bathe in the ocean, due to the high temperatures, the salt will start to solidify on your skin. There is also no running water on the island. Therefore, it is imperative that you take drinking water with you if you go for a visit.
There is a small Navy camp at the island and a Police post with two or three officers stationed. However, besides that, there is no real governance on the island and the locals manage themselves, where, after they complete fishing trips, they would head back to the mainland every few days or weeks.
Baththalangunduwa is an ideal camping spot for travel enthusiasts, with the views of the stunning expanse of the ocean, especially when facing the Wilpattu Sanctuary. However, if you are to visit the island, the locals have made a request that you take care to clean up after yourself and to kindly leave the place as you found it, if not better.