Sri Lanka was actually formerly known as Ceylon and is now considered one of the crowning jewels in the Indian Ocean. Poetically referred to as the ‘teardrop of India’, Sri Lanka sits pretty in a sea of blue just south of the subcontinent. The island is made up of sugar and spice and all things nice, with miles of coconut coloured beaches and lush green rainforest along with its seriously good, rich Asian food.
Despite being small if you compare it to its big sister India, Sri Lanka is still a rather large country (yes it is a country and not part of India as many believe) and it’s split into provinces. Popular areas to visit are the Southern and Western Provinces. The Western Province is home to the commercial capital of Sri Lanka and where the main airport is, Colombo. The huge, bustling city is a perfect place to fly into as it’s ideally located just north of some of the most pristine beaches you’ve ever seen.
A short drive south along the Galle Road you will find yourself in the Wadduwa Coast, famed for its many coconut palms, Wadduwa is a fantastic spot for gently swinging in a hammock with one foot stroking the sand whilst you refresh with a cool coconut and acclimatise to life in paradise. Or perhaps even a cup of tea! Sri Lanka is famous for its many tea plantations – so no wonder a visit to the gorgeous Nuwara Eliya tea plantations is so popular amongst British tourists. Its neighbouring beach town is Kalutara which is just on the other side of the Kalu river. Here you will be immersed in a wealth of culture as you won’t be able to miss the brilliantly white Buddhist temple that sits on the river bank or the sacred Bodhi tree, Kalutara Bodhiya, which makes this one of the most important places in the whole of Sri Lanka.
Just that little bit further south and the magic of India’s teardrop really does take hold of you. Bentota beach in the Southern Province will be where the hammock stops swinging and the acclimatisation is complete. Whilst Bentota offers an array of chic hotels for tourists to relax, the beaches are surprisingly quiet. Your footprints to the ocean in the morning will probably be the first so you won’t have to rush for a sunbed or parasol here. In fact, no rushing at all will be the key to an incredible holiday here, as demonstrated by the many sea turtles that are hatched on Bentota beach and make their way slowly but surely to the warm ocean. You can visit the hatchery where these remarkable creatures are protected and nursed back into the wild by the locals. And if you time it right, you can even give them a helping hand yourself.
As one of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots, Sri Lanka is teeming with wildlife. A popular excursion if you’re already in Bentota is to take a river safari. You can take a guided tour through the mangroves and under the overhanging trees of the Bentota Ganga to see the monitor lizards, crocodiles and the many types of colourful birds.
But whichever destination you choose in Sri Lanka, you can easily take day trips to see some of the most amazing things nature has to offer. There are many organised tours like an open-top jeep safari to one of the many national parks to see elephants, water buffalo or even the elusive leopard. Or perhaps take a boat trip not too far from the shores to see the absolute giant of all sightings – the blue whale. Just off the coast of Mirissa in the southern province is one of the best places in the entire world to see these magnificent animals and it would truly be a memorable experience to top off a memorable holiday.