But keep in mind, if you travel from Dambulla, you have to take one of the buses which are going from Colombo to Malee. No bus service was available originating from Dambulla when I travelled. And most likely, you'll not get a place to sit immediately after boarding the bus. For Solo Women backpackers - I travelled in shorts and it was comfortable in the bus. I didn't face any incident where people teased me or anything.
By the time I reached Malee town, it was 1 pm (I started at 8 from Dambulla and this includes a bus repair on the mid way) and I saw the small harbours with pristine blue water. They were picture perfect. I was almost thinking this is it, nothing can beat this in such a place. I took a public bus from Malee bus station to Upuveli (Neelaveli is further and apparently more expensive). It took me a while to look for the hotels but I found few. It's a cluster of 8-9 shacks/hotels/resorts in Upuveli or may be a bit more. And you'll find all options starting from $7 (for a private room with bathroom No AC) to $$$ in big resorts, along with mid ranged hotels with pool and decorated bar in $40-$50. I chose the $7 one and that place happened to be the best bar at nights! French Hostel is what I remember the name was.
Now you got there, there are plenty of things to do. Long bike rides, in empty roads, drenching in short and quick rains, the mountain temples, feeding the monkeys, trip to Nilaveli, morning breakfasts in near by villages are possible with a rented bike. I paid 250 SL Rupee, I had to keep my passport with the lady as deposit. I did both scuba and snorkelling, rate varies based on time. Dolphin watching and fishing is also possible.
No whale watching in Malee, it happens in Merissa. Food is amazing, in all the restaurants, I chose typical SL food, with fish costing around $1.5 every meal. I also went to Nilaveli, for one evening. It is beautiful but expensive than Upuveli. And somewhere I found Upuveli more serene, calm and less crowded. There are also small beaches here and there in the city. Take your bike and just ride. Dip in the ocean and come back. On the way get into some temple, pose with kids, get fruits as blessings and ride on.