I’ve been living on the pearl of the Indian ocean known as Sri Lanka for 2 years, and I can truly say it holds a special place in my heart, not only because my son was born here but because of the kind-hearted people, luscious tea plantations, unforgettable safari’s, rich culture and stunning palm lined beaches.
I've lived on both the east coast in Trincomalee and the South West in Bentota and can say each offer their own unique experiences. The south coast has more of a colonial feel, particularly in the Galle area where you’ll find the UNESCO world heritage site Galle Fort. Home to some of the most picturesque beaches in Sri Lanka, it’s tempting to bask in the sun sipping coconuts all day, however the south coast offers more than just good surf and an Instagram post and here's why...
Yala National Park is situated 6 hours south of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, and Sri Lanka’s most famous national park. It is known to have the highest concentration of leopards in the world as well as the biggest leopards weighing in at nearly 100kg. Yala is home to over 44 species of mammals including over 300 elephants.
You will find an abundance of marine life living in the waters close to Mirissa beach including Blue whales, dolphins, orcas, sperm whales, whale sharks, turtles and more.
Close to colonial styled Galle is one of the only southern coastal tea plantations, Handunugoda tea estate. Handunugoda is home to ‘virgin white tea’, believed to be one the healthiest teas in the world and is one of the few estates in Sri Lanka exporting luxury tea globally. Tours of the plantation are free and you can visit between 8am – 4.30pm, Monday through Sunday.
Galle Fort, an UNESCO world heritage site with imprints of the Dutch and British. Galle offers a little get away from the traditional Sri Lankan architecture with cobbled roads and European style restaurants, boutique shops and art galleries. A great day trip whilst staying on one of the close by beaches. You’ll find plenty of Instagram worthy moments too ;)
Speed along Bentota lagoon on a jet-ski, enjoy a windsurfing lesson, or take a river boat tour through the mangroves. Bentota is a great end location to any tour as it’s a quiet coastal town with a gorgeous long beach and only 100km from the airport. Don’t forget to visit Panchakapaduwa island meditation centre, a hidden gem in a small jungle to the far right of the beach.
A biodiverse hotspot, and UNESCO world heritage site. With 2 nature trails starting from Kudawa Conservation Centre you can hike through the dense tropical forest making your way to either peak of Moulawella or the peak of Sinhagala whilst witnessing over 20 endemic birds, waterfalls, monkeys and more.
Did I save the best til last? Maybe! The south coast is best known for it’s good surf and sandy beaches. The most popular spots are Mirissa, Weligama, Unawatuna, and Hikkaduwa. If you’re looking a quiet get away then head to Tangalle, or Bentota. You’ll always find a spot to yourself on these beaches. My favourite? Hiriketiya Beach, a cute horseshoe shaped beach.
Sri Lanka is one of Asia’s best kept secrets, but not for long as we are now number one on many travel lists for best place to visit in 2019… makesure you don’t miss out!