Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka, a land like no other, is known for its panoramic scenery, breathtaking beaches, exclusive wildlife, and not to mention, friendly population! Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Galle, Passikudah, Yala and Negombo are a few popular places to visit in Sri Lanka. Whether you are looking for a relaxed, romantic holiday, or an exciting, adventurous one, Sri Lanka has it all. When planning your trip, make sure to have at least two weeks in hand if you want to cover all major Sri Lanka tourist attractions. Hill country, beaches, wildlife and Lankan history is what a detailed tour of Sri Lanka will entail.
Hot Air Ballooning
A great way to experience the exhilaration of flight with a bird’s eye view of the area below, a silent ride through the sky, an excursion that has caught on fast with locals and tourist alike is hot air ballooning, drifting gently over the cultural triangle, or a wildlife park in a hot air balloon will be unforgettable, actually nothing beats a hot air balloon excursion across the central plains in our opinion. Hot air ballooning tours are available from the north central plains of the island and be carried away under blue skies and over the landscape dotted with many little man-made lakes, one might even spot an elephant near these tanks, ancient monuments, propose to your fiancée in a hot air balloon, celebrate your birthday in a hot air balloon, exchange vows and get married in the air in a hot air balloon! Functioning from Dambulla, the service is available From December to March.
Startled by the noise of a sudden burst of gas keeping the balloon aloft, a couple of peacocks take flight directly below the balloon’s basket, their outrageously long iridescent blue and emerald tail feathers streaming behind like a psychedelic jet stream. Several deer dart nervously across a clearing below, but the small herd of elephants continues feeding, utterly unfazed by this aerial intruder.
Beaches are not just for sunbathing on, as any surfer will tell you. Especially in Sri Lanka, one of the most reliable surf destinations in the Indian Ocean. Since the early 60’s Sri Lanka attracts surfers from all over the world. The main attraction is Arugam Bay on the remote East Coast, one of the world’s 10 best surf points. The Arugam Bay surfing season runs from July / August and dedicated surfers, who know these waves well, return each year to experience the thrilling waves and the relatively secluded beaches. Arugam Bay was devastated by the 2004 Tsunami but it has responded resiliently and several characterful beach side guesthouses provide comfortable accommodation here.
The south and west coast is best between December and March. During the monsoon period from April/May to October the surf is uninviting. Hikkaduwa, less than half an hour north of Galle, is the most famous surf destination on the west coast and has lots of cheap guesthouses, beach restaurants and fun nightlife. Lesser-known bays to the south, such as Ahangama, have a sprinkling of uplifting guesthouses and uncrowded beaches.
Southwest Coast: Hikkaduwa is the most popular. The best surfing spots in Hikkaduwa are in Wewala. Narigama is good for body surfing. Surf boards, gear, and even clothing can be sourced from Hikkaduwa.
South Coast: Starting from the historic city of Galle upto Tangalle. Kabalana, Midigama, Weligama, Mirissa, Matara , Dickwella and Tangalle.
Southeast Coast: Listed as one of ten top surf spots in the world, Arugam Bay also known as a bay.
Snorkeling & Diving
Often referred to as the ‘pearl in the Indian Ocean’, Sri Lanka offers world-class Scuba-Diving and Snorkeling tours. A multitude of tropical fish, magnificently colorful coral reefs and fascinating ship wrecks can be explored at several locations off the south coast of Sri Lanka.
HIKKADUWA , WELIGAMA and KIRINDA provide breathtaking snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. In the west of Sri Lanka, head to ‘Bar Reef’ (Sri Lanka’s largest reef, easily accessible from the Puttalam district town of KALPITIYA, spanning an impressive 3 nautical miles in length and 1 nautical mile in breadth). But for the country’s ‘pièce de resistance’, Pigeon Island, off Nilaveli (just north of TRINCOMALEE ) is a paradise of turquoise-coloured waters and abundant fish and coral life make it the ultimate underwater experience. All underwater activities are conducted by well-trained and experienced UDI and PADI instructors to ensure your absolute safety and enjoyment.
N.B. Due to the monsoon seasons, west coast diving and snorkeling is generally best from November to April whilst the east coast waters are at their calmest April – September.
Cycling and Mountain biking in Sri Lanka is an excellent way to enjoy the lovely sceneries of Sri Lanka. The network of main roads and innumerable country roads, gravel paths, foot paths, cart tracks, dirt tracks and estate tracks make the all corners of the small island accessible to the cycling enthusiasts. The terrain throughout the country offers challenges for beginners and experts; though cycling in the plains aren’t tiresome, the Central Highlands could be demanding. However cycling in the Central Highlands is rewarding too in view of the landscape studded with tea plantations running seamlessly over the ranges of hills, terraced rice cultivation and farmlands.
Sri Lanka’s varied landscapes also bring about the perceptions on cultural heritage and experiences in rural village life to the tourists cycling in Sri Lanka. Cycling through rice fields and rural villages; through tea covered hill country, taking the coastal roads of the South Western and southern coastal belt, riding over the cultural triangle studded with monuments, renovated monuments and ruins of ancient Sri Lanka reward all the cycling enthusiasts in invaluable scale and scope.Though cycling is enjoyed in exploring the island, cyclists should be extra careful in the main roads. The hurtling buses, zig-zagging three wheelers and other motorists could push to the cyclists into tight corners.
Trekking and Hiking
Sri Lanka’s diversity of terrain provide the opportunity for amazing treks and hikes, especially in the Central Highlands. Trekking and hiking through the paddy fields, tea plantations, spice gardens, waterfalls, streams, dense forests, hills and mountains of the tropical island of Sri Lanka brings about a unique experience that cannot be obtained any other way.
Hill Country : The beautiful area of BELIHULOYA, located in the hill country of Sri Lanka, provides a superb base from which to try out a wide variety of hiking and trekking tours through jungle, across paddy fields and up mountains. The river and numerous waterfalls in Sri Lanka are another key attraction that allows hikers and trekkers to enjoy a refreshing dip en-route.
Horton Plains National Park : Park offers some excellent hikes in an unusual environment, characterized by forest patches, grasslands and some high-altitude vegetation. Highlights include the dramatic 880 meter drop at World’s End and the beautiful Baker’s Falls. When climbing the infamous Adam’s Peak Wilderness Sanctuary (Sri Pada), its best to begin your ascent at night in order to arrive at the top in time for a magical sunrise when the mystical shadow of the peak is perfectly cast across the clouds.
Yoga in Sri Lanka
Yoga is a simple process of reversing the ordinary outward flow of energy and consciousness so that the mind becomes a dynamic center of direct perception no longer dependent upon the fallible senses but capable of actually experiencing Truth. By practicing the step-by-step methods of Yoga taking nothing for granted on emotional grounds or through blind faith we come to know our oneness with the Infinite Intelligence, Power, and Joy which gives life to all and which is the essence of our own Self. Yoga
In past centuries many of the higher techniques of Yoga were little understood or practiced, owing to mankind’s limited knowledge of the forces that run the universe. But today scientific investigation is rapidly changing the way we view ourselves and the world. The traditional materialistic conception of life has vanished with the discovery that matter and energy are essentially one: every existing substance can be reduced to a pattern or form of energy, which interacts and interconnects with other forms. Some of today’s most celebrated physicists go a step further, identifying consciousness as the fundamental ground of all being. Thus modern science is confirming the ancient principles of Yoga, which proclaim that unity pervades the universe.
Whale and Dolphin Watching
Sri Lanka is increasingly known as a whale and dolphin watching destination with the potential, if managed correctly, to compete with the world’s best locations. To date, a remarkable 27 species have been recorded in these waters, including blue whales, sperm whales, Bryde’s whales and Cuvier’s beaked whales, plus numerous dolphin species including spinner, spotted, common, Risso’s and Fraser’s dolphins. Whilst mariners have reported the presence of whales in Sri Lankan waters for centuries, it is only relatively recently that commercial whale watching has become viable, beginning in Mirissa at the southern tip of the island. Two further locations, Kalpitiya in the north-west and Trincomalee to the north-east, have also developed whale and dolphin watching industries.
Mirissa : The scenic fishing village of Mirissa is currently the most popular whale watch destination in Sri Lanka. The presence of a continental shelf and associated nutrient upwelling only a few miles off nearby Dondra Head attracts many species of whales and dolphins. Whale watching from Mirissa starts in late October, but the peak viewing period is from December to April. Blue whales are the main attraction for whale buffs and this confidence is well-placed as, in peak season, the likelihood of seeing blue whales on a single sailing may be as high as 90%. Spinner dolphins are also seen on a high percentage of trips, followed by sperm whales, whilst whale watch vessels are sometimes accompanied by bow-riding bottlenose, Pantropical spotted or striped dolphins. A variety of boat trips are on offer: be prepared for an early start and for a trip lasting around 4 hours. The most boats at Mirrissa offers refreshments and offer good onboard facilities.
Kalpitiya : The Kalpitiya peninsular in the north-west is a marine sanctuary with a diversity of habitats ranging from Bar Reef, the largest coral reef in Sri Lanka, to mangrove swamps and salt marshes. Unlike Mirissa, whale watching has not yet been highly developed and the region as a whole is relatively untouched by tourism. However, Kalpitiya is rapidly gaining a reputation for sperm whales, which are often present in large numbers and these waters are also home to huge schools of spinner dolphins. Bryde’s whales, minke whales, orca, short-finned pilot whales, Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins and Risso’s dolphins are also seen in this region. As with Mirissa to the south, whale watching starts once the seas have calmed after the south-west monsoon and December to March/April are the peak months for viewing.
Trincomalee : The port of Trincomalee lies to the north-east of the island. Steeped in history, this region was once the central base for sea traders from China and East Asia. A deep natural harbour allows blue whales and sperm whales to swim close to shore and in fact, nearby Swami Rock is regarded as the best land-based location in the world for watching blue whales and sometimes sperm whales. The whale watch season begins in March, when seas are calm and migratory blue whales are still around; this window of opportunity offers a high chance of sightings in March and April, and recently it has been suggested that there are sufficient resident whales present to enable viewing to continue until around August. There are excellent opportunities too, to view ‘super pods’ of sperm whales (again, peaking in March/April) and various other whale and dolphin species.