The best cinnamon in the world originated from Sri Lanka and the most prized variety in the island came from the coastal stretch along Negombo. The Portuguese grabbed the coastal area with the aromatic spice groves and built a fort around them.
The northernmost resort on the west coast, and a large fishing town, Negombo has an old world atmosphere of 17th century churches and forts, and is also often called 'little Rome'.
The little island of 'Duwa' - attached to Negombo by the lagoon bridge - is famed for the country's only Passion Play. This involves the entire village and is staged throughout the Christian Holy Week. The ruins of the old Dutch fort, and a Dutch cemetery and green are near the mouth of the lagoon.
The beach here is quiet and peaceful, and the sight of the fisher folk out as sea on their oruwas (outrigger canoes) is a particularly charming sight. It is not always safe to swim here, but diving enthusiasts can explore the wreck of a World War II British cargo plane in nearby Marawila.
The Munneswaram Hindu temple is 20kms away, and can be combined with a tour of the famous fish market in the seaside town of Chilaw. The larger hotels in the area also have equipment and facilities for water sports such as windsurfing, sailing and skiing.