Sri Lanka has long been known for its outstanding surfing beaches and is one of the premiere destinations for surfing in South and South East Asia owing to its dreamy tropical climes and tourist-friendly locales.
But Sri Lanka also has some of the best beginner friendly surfing beaches around the world. So check this list of beginner-friendly surf spots for a handy guide. Surfs up!
Way Down South is Weligama, the oft skipped over quieter cousin to Hikkaduwa. With a myriad of surfing schools dotted around the beach and some cheap surf rental places to boot, Weligama is known for a calm surf that is as easy for beginners as it is relaxing for a more experienced surfer. Weligama is a medium to low wave beach any way you look at it and the perfect place to get your surf legs on before diving into a deeper challenge.
Once a fishing town but now a main hotspot for beach-happy tourists and locals, Hikkaduwa is a prime surf spot. Because of its popularity, where to stay in Hikkaduwa is rarely a tough question to find an answer for.
Hikkaduwa is known for quite a few famous local wave breaks, among which Beach Break is a sandy break often favored by beginners and learners for its low waves.
A crescent-shaped beach surrounded by palm trees, Mirissa Beach is right next to Weligama and boasts equally beginner-friendly breaks and waves. With steady wave heights not exceeding 6ft, this is an ideal spot to build your confidence on a reef so that you’re raring to go when you’re in choppier waters. Mirissa is a charming beach town with beautiful waves, a friendly locale and the best sun and surf. There’s a number of surf schools and shops around, as is common around Sri Lanka’s surfing towns so there’s no excuses to skimp out on the waves.
Arugam Bay is Sri Lanka’s East Coast surfing beach to beat. It’s the beach that originally put Sri Lanka on the surfing map and still holds up as a haven for surfers of all levels to gather and try their luck on. Lighthouse and Whiskey Point are the main attractions here for beginner surfers, with chest- or shoulder-height breakers to cut your teeth on for some practice. Arugam Bay can get crowded, what with its popularity, with both visitors and local surfers alike but the upshot is that there’s any number of pros around to ask for a helpful pointer or two if you’re a beginner.
Near Arugam Bay is Elephant Rock, an oft-overlooked and isolated little beach. Few decide to make the trip owing to the 15-20 minute walk from the vehicle drop-off to the shore but it’s definitely worth it because Elephant Rock boasts one of the best kept beaches on the island. It’s clean, off-the-beaten path and chock-full of easy breakers for a delightful surf. And when you want a break from the waves, clamber up onto the sea-facing rock for a view-tiful break!
Colombo is a dizzying hub of streets on streets on streets. Sometimes it can be just as difficult trying to find your way around Colombo as it is finding where to stay in Colombo. But just as there are some great and convenient options for stays in Colombo, such as the centrally located Colombo City Hotel, there’s also a method to the madness in the city. Once you read this quick primer, you’ll realize that navigating around is quite easy.
To begin with, the Colombo metropolitan area is divided into 15 different areas or neighborhoods and numbered accordingly, from Colombo 1 thru Colombo 15. Of them the four below tend to be the main tourist attractions:
Colombo 7, also known as Cinnamon Gardens, is Colombo’s most high-end neighborhood filled with a plethora of boutique hotels and fashionable eateries. It’s also where Colombo’s Independence Arcade and Square are found.
Colombo 2, encompassing Park Street and Slave Island is home to an increasingly popular nightlife scene with new after-hours bars and clubs opening up shop constantly. It’s also where the famous Park Street Mews is located.
Colombo 5, enveloping Thimbirgasyaya and Havelock, has recently burgeoned into a well-developed residential and commercial district with a solid variety of cafes, shops and long-term stay hotels where many expats choose to settle down in.
Finally is Colombo 4, also known as Bambalapitiya, spanning much of Galle Road and Marine Drive and home to the famed Barefoot Cafe. It also is home to quite a number of bars and pubs dotted as they are along the Galle Road and thus is quite the popular district.
For a completely different yet no less vital side of Colombo, Pettah, or Colombo 11, is a must-visit. Pettah is Colombo’s bustling, crowded street bazaar with quite a number of cross streets and named streets dedicated to very specific goods. Even if you’re not aiming to buy anything from the local vendors here, a visit alone is necessary to get a wonderful look at the bustling heart of the city.
Let’s go down with a quick breakdown of the different streets in Pettah market and what you’ll find on there:
1st Cross Street: an eclectic mix of bags, electronics and electronic spare parts with the odd shoe vendor in the mix.
2nd Cross Street: Clothes and Cloth, from material for your own sari to a classic Sri Lankan cheeththa cloth. Also present are various cosmetics hawkers.
3rd Cross Street: More textiles on this, the shortest cross street in Pettah.
4th and 5th Cross Streets: a variety of wholesale merchants dealing in very inexpensive yet good quality produce with odd fruit and fruit juice vendors.
The named streets that cut across the above cross streets also have their specialties:
Maliban Street is famed for being wedding card central, along with all kinds of craft paper and craft supplies. China Street is filled with home decor, ornaments and decorative glassware while Bankshall street is home to a smorgasbord of artificial flowers and chemicals. Main street is where the bigger clothing showrooms are at along with accessory shops as well as shops selling sequins and the like.
Pettah is as noisy a market as you can imagine but surrounded as it is by centuries old building and a faithful community of tradesmen, vendors and buyers, it is a space and community unlike any other in Colombo or even the whole of Sri Lanka and thus, absolutely deserving of a walkabout, if only to absorb the colors, the noise and the frenzy of the locals going about their day. There’s no better place in Colombo to experience the local flavour.
All around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a hold on many of the daily activities and everyday things we took for granted. With it has come a slowdown of international tourist travel and leisure travel as many would-be travellers responsibly choose to forgo their vacation and instead opt for a staycation.
But what if you could get away to a tropical island where there’s amazing deals on hotels and accomodation, stringent health and safety measures to protect you and the locals, reduced tourist crowds and the promise of a relaxing time for you to stretch, unwind and forget about the crazy year you’ve had?
Sri Lanka has all those things and more and, as of January 2021, is welcoming you with open arms to visit the beaches and the resorts you couldn’t get away to last year.
It goes without saying that in the past year, there’s been a sudden drop in international travel and tourism. Because of this, almost all Sri Lanka hotels are offering staggering deals on stays and tour experiences now that Sri Lanka has opened up for visitors again. And there’s no catch! You can book yourself a stay or a tour package for a fraction of what you would have spent last year with the same level of service and luxury as you’ve come to expect in Sri Lanka.
International travel and tourism in a pandemic is scary but when the safety and health measures are strict, up-to-par with international standards as set out by the WHO and assiduously overseen by both the Sri Lankan Tourist Development Authority (SLTDA) and the Health Ministry to ensure that you and your loved ones can safely experience Sri Lanka there’s no cause for worry. With a safe tourist bio-bubble set up by the SLTDA and all cooperating and safety certified hotels and tour operators, there’s no reason a pandemic should stop you from booking a trip to Sri Lanka. For comprehensive information on the safety guidelines and health measures in place for your safety and comfort during your stay in Sri Lanka, you can visit www.srilanka.travel/helloagain/
Since being named Best for Travel in 2019 by Lonely Planet and even before the award, Sri Lanka has always pulled in high numbers of tourists meaning that there’s often large swathes of other tourists and even local vacationers around on your visit. But with vacations taking a backseat for everyone in the midst of a global pandemic and Sri Lanka having just opened its doors, right now is the best moment for you to visit. There’s no crowds clogging up queues, beaches,rooms or pools anywhere and what’s more, there’s even safety guidelines recommending more than enough personal space for everyone once you get here.
It’s also worth mentioning that as a top tourist destination, Sri Lanka took a severe stumble in 2020 when the pandemic hit. Though Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 numbers stayed low, the sudden drop in tourism meant that one of Sri Lanka’s main economic revenue sources halted. With thousands of local tourist industry employees left without an income, Sri Lanka opening up again in January 2021 has been much-awaited. Your vacation here is thus not just a leisure activity for yourself; you’re also helping to uplift Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.
2020 has been a stressful year for everyone in the world. The pandemic has shuttled a lot of people indoors and forced a lot of us to stay glued to our screens at home for work. So what better way to deal with all the stress and anxiety than with a trip to Sri Lanka? There’s a variety of nature retreats, meditation centers and wellness resorts all around Sri Lanka that will help you destress and relieve your anxiety with Ayurveda, spa and wellness treatments around the clock.
Like a visit to south Asia is incomplete without a visit to scenic and serene Sri Lanka, a visit to our beautiful island paradise is incomplete without visiting Kalutara, a happening and commercial town situated 43km from the island’s capital. If you’re traveling straight to Kalutara from the airport, we suggest either taking a train or hiring a private vehicle, as the journey will take you roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes; depending on traffic.
Like most parts of the island, Kalutara has it’s own few landmarks and tourist attractions that make the area standout with the tourists. You could either stay at accommodations in Kalutara town itself, or opt for the more famous beach side Waskaduwa hotels near Kalutara. Regardless to where you stay, here are a few places you shouldn’t miss when visiting Kalutara.
The Kalutara Bodhiya is one of the most famous temples of the island, drawing thousands of islanders to it every year. The large temple is located in the southern part of the town, and is known by any local driver. It is a serene place ideal for centering and bringing balance to one’s mind; and a good start for any journey. Worshippers and those who visit the temple are advised to wear clothing that cover their knees and shoulders, and behave in a quiet and calm manner.
If you’re one of adventure, and love visiting old caves, then the history of this cave alone will make this trip worth your while. Fondly known as “pahiyangala” by the locals, this cave gets its name due to an ancient Chinese monk who’s said to have used the cave as his rest stop, centuries ago. This cave is also archeologically rich, and is the largest cave in the island. Additionally, it’s also one of the largest found natural rock formation found in Asia. A trip to this cave is known to be quite adventurous, so wearing sensible shoes and leaving behind young children is advisable.
Sri Lanka is an island that houses people of many religions; Christianity a prominent religion among them. The Holy cross church situated in the Galle road is a serene and beautiful building, and attracts many visitors to it¾irrespective of their religion. This popular church is not only beguiling from within; it also has spectacular views as it stands on an elevated area facing the ocean¾making it very popular for weddings nowadays. Merely a kilometer from town, you can easily access this church by road.
Sri Lanka is known for its beautiful carvings and batik creations; from traditional wooden facemasks to the contemporary wearable batiks. A visit to Sri Lanka can be made more memorable by purchasing items made by local artists, giving yourself a tangible token to remind yourself of your time in our paradise island. However, if you’re travelling light and are unable to purchase these items at the moment, do the next best thing, by visiting a craft museum to have a closer look at these items. Ranjith’s carving and batik museum is one such famous museum in the Kalutara district, where you’d be able to witness some of the finest creations of the island.
Just like the Kalutara Bodhiya, the Asokaramaya temple is another prominent temple situated in Kalutara; though less crowded by the tourists. This temple is situated in the northern part of the town, and boasts of colorful statues and paintings that will surely mesmerize you. Though it has been expanded considerably since it’s original construction, the temple is still considered to be smaller by local standards, and makes the perfect spot for a quick visit.
You cannot visit Sri Lanka and avoid the waterfalls; you’ll be missing out on so much! Start your waterfall adventure right here at Kalutara by visiting the areas famed Thudugala Ella. The waterfall is not one of the largest or widest found on the island, but is certainly charming. For the best experience, try to visit the falls in the early hours of the day, when it’s less populated. Don’t forget to try to get to the top of the waterfall, where you’ll find a shallow pool perfect for a dip…!
If you’re looking for a truly serene experience, and you feel visiting the popular temples may not be the right thing for you, we suggest you visit the Bodhinagala Forest hermitage. Located in Ingiriya, just 37km from Kalutara town, you can easily get there via hired vehicles. A serene surrounding as well as fresh air is promised to you here, provided you remember this is a sacred area, and behave respectfully…
Sri Lanka is a land of multi religions, and if you’re looking to experience tranquility and devotion at its best, then a visit to one of the numerous churches, temples or mosques scattered around the island is a must. If you’ve decided on visiting the Kande Viharaya temple located in Bentota, with it’s world’s tallest sitting Buddha statue, then here are a few things that you need to know.
If you’re staying at the capital Colombo city, then the distance you’ll need to travel to visit the temple would be 99km, which would take you roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes by road. If you’d rather travel by train, then all you have to do is catch a train from Fort railway station, to the Bentota Railway station. From there, it’s a 10-minute drive to the Kande Viharaya temple. You could easily hire a road-side tuk for the journey, or pre-book a vehicle to meet you at the station.
If you want to continue staying at Colombo for a few more days in order to enjoy the city life for a bit longer, staying at Colombo and making a day trip to the Kande Viharaya temple is definitely possible. However, if you want to avoid wasting the time spent traveling, we suggest staying at one of the nearby beach towns. You can easily find comfortable Hotels in Hikkaduwa, Bentota as well as Kalutara to suit your expectation, or even opt for other accommodations such as hostels; all depending on your budget. Remember that apart from reducing the time and energy it takes to travel to the temple, you’re also saving up on your precious holiday time¾time you could use to explore and enjoy the island further.
As we’ve mentioned before, Sri Lanka is a multi religious country, and all visitors to the island are welcomed with open arms to any of the places of worship found at the island. However, most temples expect visitors to dress and behave appropriately. In general, avoid “loud” clothing, as the space is meant to be serene and calming. Choose clothes that cover your shoulders and knees, or you’ll be asked to use a shawl or sarong over your clothing. As most temples require that you enter it bare feet, choose foot wear that is easy to remove.
An impressive temple with a mixture of architectural designs, the first sight that will greet you as you approach the temple is the sight of the 160ft tall Buddha statue. Once you’ve got your fill of this awe inspiring sight, head inside the temple to explore it further. You’ll be able to see the stupa, the relic chamber, the image chamber, as well as the Bodhi tree which is believed to be over 300 years old. The image chamber is filled with paintings and carvings depicting important Buddhist historical incidents, mostly relevant to the island.
In order to make your visit to Bentota more productive, consider squeezing in a few more activities into your schedule for the day. Here are some options we’d suggest;
Galle Dutch fort – Sri Lanka is situated in a very unique position, making it an attraction to those following the silk route in the ancient times. This also meant the island was always attracting invaders, who left behind signs of their arrival, even decades after their departure. One such sign is the Galle Dutch fort, built in 1588. Visitors to this ancient building not only get to enjoy its spectacular architecture, but also the view from it. You’ll also be able to enjoy the unique atmosphere within the