The Hamilton Canal is a 14.5-kilometre waterway that extends from Puttalam to Colombo and passes through the city of Negombo. Primarily intended for spice trading during colonial times, today, the canals are mainly used by fishermen.


History buffs looking for things to do in Negombo will find Hamilton Canal to be very interesting. Originally constructed by the Dutch to drain salt water away from paddy fields, the canals were renovated by the British in 1803 and were overlooked by Gavin Hamilton. Completed in 1804, the canal was named after Hamilton who passed away prior to the completion of his project.


Modern Day Use

After independence, fishermen who were settled along the banks of the canal began using it as their primary channel for transporting the catch of the day. Today, the canal is lively and active, always buzzing with fishermen and tour boats going to and fro. The marshlands and the greenery provide a haven for many birds and aquatic animals.

Boat Ride Tours

Negombo Lagoon
Image via Wikimedia Commons (Deshan Ruhunage, Negambo Lagoon, Sri Lanka. Where boats come to rest, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The best way to explore the canal is to tour it by boat. Many nearby hotels such as Heritance Negombo offer more information on how best to plan your boat tour.

Exploring Fish Markets

The animated and bustling fish markets along the canal are a must-visit! Apart from the freshest catches of the day, the markets are great locations to experience local culture.