Ruuk Village is a cabana resort in Kalpitiya - it's a very outdoorsy holiday place ideal for people who like camping and spending time with nature. It's by the Kalpitiya lagoon, a Rs. 150 tuk ride from the main town, and the folks here can arrange must-do activities when you're up on the west cost, like boat rides, safaris and kite-surfing.
Ruuk Village is a beautiful, very simple expanse of sand, coconut trees, a lawn of plants and thatched-roof cabins, with a lovely view of the lagoon. There are five cabanas, each named Jaffna, Trinco, and so on, and each cabin can hold two people. It's very affordable, at only about Rs. 3000 per person per night.
Ruuk Village premises are pretty huge and very quiet, so it's great for wandering around. The staff is quite small - you might see them only at the kitchen or tending to plants - and there's only five cabanas, so it's not going to get crowded and might feel a bit like a private villa sometimes. We're huge fans of the hammocks all over the premises - they are great for chilling out and watching the lagoon or just reading on a cool morning.
The cabanas themselves are quite simple, with single beds, a table and small cupboard, thatch roofs, and rough wooden paneling. Sunlight streams through the panels early morning and it's pretty refreshing. It's one of those places that you need to be an outdoors-type person to really enjoy. If you're looking for a typical pampered holiday, this isn't the place for you.
There's a lovely open shower out back, with a thatch wall around it and it's open to the sky - but the thing is, there's also a big gaping opening on the side. So if a gardener or somebody else happens to pass by (though there's a considerable distance between cabanas), they are going to get an eyeful of your silly showering self. You can always get a sheet and secure it on the opening and get your friend to stand shower-guard, like we godayas ended up doing. An early morning shower here with the coconut trees, the breeze and the waking sky is perfect.
The washroom is under a separate roof a little distance away - it's clean and works well, but is pretty dodgy to head there at night, and Ruuk Village premises is in serious need of night lights.
The whole place runs on a generator and solar power - lights are put out at around 11PM. So the only issue about the room is that there is no fan (there's a stand-fan you can ask for, only till 10.30PM), so if it's a humid night - it can get very uncomfortable. There are little bugs flying around too, because outdoorsy-experience, and we think the cabana would be perfect if only they had one of those bug-zapper lights and a fan for the hot nights (it's not completely off-the-radar after all, since they've got power during the day, clear phone signals and instant tea).
They're currently building bigger, nicer cabanas that we think will be available at around December this year. These ones seem to have the right idea, with a private bathroom (currently there's only a common outdoor one) and more private shower (still open to the sky) - we hope they install a fan here as well.
The private lagoon space here is gorgeous for watching the sunset. On our visit the people at Ruuk Village set up a wonderful tea & BBQ at the lagoon shore. It was pretty epic, with the staff serving us a healthy evening meal: freshly cooked (on a barrel with a grill on it) fish, mashed potatoes and salad (Rs. 1500).
The sunsets are better from the lagoon shore than the beaches because the water is so peaceful, and you also see the occasional silhouette of a boatman passing by. There's a clear line of mainland on the horizon, and uninterrupted sky to watch the sunset colours go wild. Check out our blog post on Kalpitiya sunsets
Food & Service
It's all pretty basic Sri Lankan food here - bread, eggs, kiribath, katta sambal, rice and curries - for around Rs. 500-800. Nothing worth mentioning though tasty, and just like everything else about the place, quite minimal and simplistic.
The staff is an adorable little crew, who basically seem like a little family. The boatman also doubles as a BBQ cook, and the lady at the kitchen doubles as a gardener - they're an interesting bunch and are pretty forward and friendly, there's none of the robotic politeness of typical resort staff, so it'll either be refreshing (as it was for us) or not ideal if you demand trained hospitality. Mr Gamage the team leader was quite helpful especially about arranging the tour around Kalpitiya.
There's plenty of cool stuff to do in Kalpitiya, like kite-surfing, snorkeling, scuba-diving, dolphin watching
, the Wilpattu safari and boat rides to old churches and mangroves. If you're a local, you can do most of these things for around Rs. 3000-5000 if there's about five of you and you split the amount (except for kite-surfing - that's expensive, at about 35 euros per hour whether you're local or foreign, and it's an extreme sport that takes about 15 hours to be prepared). Foreigners have to pay more though, and that depends on the resort's rates.
Ruuk Village arranged our boat rides, dolphin watching and kite-surfing 101 with trained surfer Susantha - though you need to triple check on these things before going, since when we got there, the kite-surfing instructor was unavailable and it took forever to arrange a substitute.
The train from Fort will take you about six hours or a bit more - there's generally a train to Palavi at about 7.30 AM, and then you need to take a bus from there. We recommend you take the bus instead, unless you want to spend on your own petrol, for a slightly shorter journey.
There is no direct way of getting to Kalpitiya via public transport, but the Pettah bus station has an A/C bus every hour that will get you quite close - to Puttalam (in 3 hours). Get off at the Puttalam bridge and take the bus to Kalpitiya (1.5 hours). You can get the folks at Ruuk Village to pick you up from the town, because the way there is basically down a long winding orange dirt road. The streets have no names on GPS.
You can either get to Ruuk Village from the town by boat or by land. The boat-route is an amazing way to enter the place - the people here arrange it for you, and if you use it at night, it's kind of magical, with just a kerosene lamp lighting the boat's way and the sky and night breeze on the lagoon.
Ruuk Village was a pleasant outdoors experience for us. We loved the lagoon, the boat rides and hammocks, and chilling out in a simple, peaceful, natural environment; the only real criticism would be the humidity at night. If you're into a nice cabin stay with a bunch of friends or a special someone, to catch the Kalpitiya sunset or the beach, this is a good place to do it.
Watch out for really sharp hard thistles in the sand and mobs of puppies.