Like a little droplet dripping off the tip of India, Sri Lanka sits in the azure ocean, luring you to her sandy shores. Home to ancient legends and a modern mix of cultures thanks to the various religions of her people and the remaining influence of the colonizing Portuguese, Dutch, and British, Sri Lanka is a land of fascination – but it is her beautiful beaches that will ultimately enchant and captivate you. Soak up the coastal wonders that await, with every point of the compass telling a different story and offering different delights.
Go west, my friend, they say, and it’s in Colombo you will acclimatized; this is the gateway to Sri Lanka and most flights will set you down here. Before you head onwards for sandy shores, it’s worth spending a day or two discovering exploring the capital, where gorgeous colonial architecture lines the winding streets interspersed with beautiful Hindu temples. Explore bustling markets where you can sample local produce and pick up some handmade souvenirs. Visit Gangaramaya Temple and tiny Seema Malakaya Temple on the lake. Get a feel for the local history at the National Museum and stay at the elegant Uga Residence on centrally-located, leafy Park Street. When you’ve had your fill of city life and you’re ready to hit the surf, a short journey down the west coast brings you to the golden beaches of beautiful Bentota: peaceful, quiet and not overdeveloped, it is the perfect retreat after a city break. Relax and unwind on the sand under shady palms, enjoying delicious and fresh Sri Lankan seafood, or get active with the myriad watersports on offer. Try your hand at water skiing, jetskiing or windsurfing, paddle away on a canoe or explore the depths with a little snorkelling or diving. If you are interested in sea life, pay a visit to the innovative Kosgoda Turtle Conservation Project, where the dedicated staff work tirelessly to preserve marine turtles. Get inspired by the sedate pace of these endangered creatures and embark on a relaxing cruise up the Maadu River and through the mangroves to immerse yourself in the local flora and fauna.
The south: history and mystery
Set a course for the south and explore the port town of Galle, where the colonial influence of its successive conquerors collide with ancient sites in the surrounding region. Stay at gorgeous Amangalla, set in the center of the historic Dutch fort, and enjoy the view from your luxurious room out onto the courtyard garden or the ramparts. Stroll around town to take in the museums, galleries and the port. Head out into the surrounding area to discover outstanding natural beauty, including the Hiyare rainforest and its vast lake; just 20 minutes inland, climb 120 steps to seek out the Yatagala Temple, carved directly into the rock of a hillside. A short drive east along the coast, you’ll stumble upon the gorgeous Tangalle, home to some of the island’s most beautiful stretches of sand and surrounded by yet more natural and spiritual sites of interest. Atop a rock that rises more than 213 meters above the jungle canopy sits the historic monastery of Mulkirigala, and nearby in Dikwella, the Wewurukannala Buddhist Temple features an 18th-century seated Buddha, attended by the resident monks. In addition, the natural wonders of Yala National Park are nearby, inviting you to plunge into the exotic jungle on the pursuit of rare leopards. Stay at the luxurious Amanwella, a tranquil beach retreat in the middle of a coconut grove, set on a secluded bay. From here you can follow jungle trails to the local villages, or simply lounge on the sand, sipping refreshing cocktails and enjoying sumptuous seafood barbecues.
The east: a whale of a time
Follow the rising sun and explore the east coast of Sri Lanka, with its pretty towns and perfect surf. Make a journey of your coastal exploration, starting from Passekudah and Kalkudah where the sand is white, the water is clear and you can stroll around charming fishing villages for a sense of the simple life and some of the freshest seafood in the country. Continue south to Arugam Bay, one of the top 10 spots for surfing on the planet; try out your skills with an expert instructor, or simply enjoy the view. In the surrounding areas, visit ancient ruins and the elephants at Lahugala National Park. Alternatively, a little further north on the east coast, you will find the pretty harbor town of Trincomalee, home to a fascinating mix of cultures. A stroll down the street reveals mosques and churches, a Tamil temple on the cliff and a Portuguese fort. But most important are its stunning beaches, famous as jumping-off points for fantastic whale- and dolphin-watching opportunities. Explore this fascinating area to uncover a little of Sri Lanka’s natural beauty and cultural diversity.
As the compass needle points upwards, venture off the beaten track and stray away from the tourist trail in Sri Lanka’s rugged north, a territory that has experienced turmoil and yet is home to countless cultural treasures, not to mention gorgeous beaches. Explore secluded Mannar island, and commune with the local community of Christian Tamils. Sample some freshly-caught fish and find utter peace as you walk, swim or relax on completely deserted beaches. Continue upwards to Sri Lanka’s northernmost city, Jaffna – the site of numerous battles during the country’s civil war, it features an imposing fort. Wander through the town to see more buildings influenced by Portuguese architecture, including the Governor’s residence and the Queen’s House. Visit Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, an important and sacred site for Sri Lankan Hindus and Kadurugoda Temple, supposed to have been visited by Lord Buddha. Besides its rich heritage, the Jaffna Peninsula also boasts soft white sands, shady trees and turquoise waters at Casuarina Beach, as well as a number of outlying tropical islands you can hop across to.
If you are feeling the allure of Sri Lanka’s coastal delights, we don’t blame you. Get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us design the perfect beach getaway for you.