Sri Lanka is a teardrop shaped island steeped in rich Buddhist history, renowned for its breathtaking scenery and beautiful culture. A place that is very close to Sailaway’s heart, this sacred land is a source of inspiration and wisdom for anybody who is lucky enough to visit. We’ve rounded up our favourite places to see and where to go when exploring this evergreen paradise.
Sri Lanka is one huge cultural experience, and the generous and humble people are ultimately what makes it such an inviting place to travel. Expect smiling faces, warm hugs and gently nodding heads to greet you every step of your journey. There is no shortage of low-key restaurants and road side stalls serving up authentic cuisine, so ask around to find some spectacular hidden gems. You haven't experienced true Sri Lanka without trying a roti -- so be sure to find somewhere rustling up the delicious doughy balls packed with spicy vegetables. Sri Lankan's are famous for their curry, and it's hard to escape the smell of rich spices wherever you walk.
If you time your trip right there are celebrations each full moon known as Poya, where shops shut early and locals gather around in masses at the temples with flowers and candles in hand. It is a truly unique and magical event on the monthly calendar not to be missed. If you're hesitant turning up alone, we suggest visiting the temples during day and meeting some of the friendly monks who will make you feel right at home.
Do go and explore the hidden beaches by tuk tuk or scooter. There are endless secret beaches dotted along the coastline waiting to be stumble upon, boasting crystal clear waters and fine, white sand. The more off-the-beaten-track you go, the more gems you will discover. Our favourite beach on the south coast is Coconuts, as it's protected by a large cricket lawn and salt water lagoon. Spent hours jumping into waves, relaxing with a good book in hand and bask under the sweet Sri Lankan sun.
Sri Lanka is also well known for its mellow waves — whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned pro, there are breaks for all abilities here. We recommend Weligama bay, as there is a perfect spot for beginners on one end, and a gentle intermediate break situated on the back reef if you're up for a paddle. Once your arms feel like jelly from all the surfing, there is nothing better than heading to a local spa for an authentic Sri Lankan massage.
A trip to Sri Lanka isn’t complete without experiencing the Hill Country, famous for it’s sprawling rice fields and picturesque tumbling waterfalls. Ella village is a hidden gem, surrounded by tropical plants with unlimited hiking opportunities. Scattered with traditional Sri Lankan tea plantations, be sure to take a guided tour, where you can sample the wide variety of tea on offer. For souvenir shopping and sight seeing of colonial architecture, head to the gorgeous Galle Fort, where traditional cafes, local hand crafted goods and boutique shops are aplenty.
The south coast of Sri Lanka offers a large selection of accommodation options, from budget backpacker home stays to top of the range luxury hotels. If you’re in search of something in between, opt for Ceylon Sliders, a laid-back lifestyle hotel situated on the palm-speckled bay of Weligama. With panoramic ocean views and spacious whitewashed rooms, this surfer’s paradise pays perfect homage to a nomadic lifestyle while keeping Sri Lanka’s rich heritage in mind.