The beautiful island of Sri Lanka is rightly nicknamed, ‘the teardrop of the Indian Ocean.’ It is a country which is rich in history and culture, dating back more than 2000 years. Thanks to preservation by ancient kingdoms, temples, and local traditions, we are still able to witness much of this to this day. It’s hard not to fall in love with the nature that surrounds the island. Its large mountains, serene beaches, and rainforests allow a vibrant ecosystem for animals (like elephants, blue whales, monkeys and leopards) to call it home.
1. It’s tropical all year round
Tourists most often think of visiting a given destination during its tropical season. When the weather and climate is typically at its best and driest. But in Sri Lanka, it’s that season all year long! If you are looking to come during the hustle and bustle of the peak season, then you will want to visit the South/West coast between November and March, and the North/East coast from April through October. However, if you are looking to find some quiet time for rest and relaxation, you can still find that on the island by visiting during the off season (the opposite times from what is listed above).
2. It’s a land before time
Ancient cities like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya are filled with ruins of palaces and monasteries which date back as early as the 4th Century. These cities and their landmarks showcase the architectural wonders of the island. The Temple of Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha for example can be found in the sacred city of Kandy. This spot is frequented each August by locals and tourists alike for the Kandy Perahara, an annual week long procession filled with elephants and traditional dancers which dates back to the 3rd century, and pays homage to the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. It is definitely a sight to see, and worth the price of your flight!
3. The smiles are always free
The people in Sri Lanka are some of the kindest, most hospitable folks you will ever meet. Many of the locals do indeed speak English, which makes conversing quite easy. Additionally, they are always willing to lend a helping hand so never be afraid to ask for tips, or recommendations. During your stay on the island, you will more than likely be invited over for a home-cooked meal by one of the locals. Be sure to show up hungry, and don’t be afraid to try eating with your hands!
4. You’ll stay salty
Coast to coast, the beaches of Sri Lanka are breathtaking; each with their own charm! From surfing to snorkeling, diving to whale watching, there is so much to do on (and in) the water. Beach towns in the south coast (like Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, and Mirissa) are filled with small hotels, restaurants, and cafes. Primarily run by locals, they offer good vibes and atmosphere. Surfers from around the world are increasingly flocking to Sri Lanka. They come to check out the great breaks in Midigama and Ahangama in the south coast, and ride the waves in Arugam Bay in the East coast. Beginners don’t worry, Weligama Bay offers much friendlier waves (we can say from experience - pictured above is Dana catching a wave there). Smaller beach towns (like Talalla and Hiriketiya) are also on the rise as travellers move further east of the south coast.
5. Catch the jungle vibes
The island is home to eight different forest types; including two UNESCO world heritage sites - the Sinharaja rainforest and Central highlands. Within the Central highlands is Adam’s Peak - one of Sri Lanka’s toughest climbs at 2,243 metres high. Adam’s Peak is frequented by tens of thousands of visitors on religious pilgrimages to see the rock formation that is believed to be the footprint of Lord Buddha or Adam (hence the name). Travellers typically start the climb at midnight in order to catch the sunrise from the top (worth the lack of sleep and intense climb). If visiting between August and September, be sure to visit Minneriya national park to spot the world’s largest Asian elephant migration, also known as “the gathering.” The safaris in Sri Lanka are great for elephant watching. Yala national park is also known for its leopard sightings. Of course, monkey's are just about everywhere in the island, so much so that Disney's Monkey Kingdom was filmed in Sri Lanka. If you’re an animal lover, be sure to come to the island and hopefully luck will be on your side!
6. It’s always tea time
Some of the best teas in the world come from this little island. Tea is grown in the cool climate of hill country, including towns like Nuwara Eliya, Hatton and Ella. Driving through the countryside you will pass the lush rolling hills of tea plantations. To get the whole experience take a scenic train ride through the hills, take a tour of a tea factory, or even stay in a tea bungalow and explore the nearby waterfalls.
7. It’s a foodie haven
The food in Sri Lanka is unique in flavour; which can be attributed to not only the spices and abundance of vegetation grown on the island, but also the various cultures found in the country (including Sinhala, Tamil, Dutch, Portuguese, English, Malays, Moors and Indians). Rice and curry is of course the most traditional dish. Opt to try it in a local village setting, and they may even serve the meal in a banana leaf. As the island is a Buddhist dominant country, it is most certainly vegetarian/vegan friendly. Some of the most nutrient rich vegetables can be found in Sri Lanka; like gotu kola (centella), bitter gourd, moringa and jackfruit. Beautiful colorful fruit also grows on the island - passion fruit, papaya, pineapple, mangoes, june plum, rambutan, mangosteen, guava – the worlds best exotic produce can be found here!
Ready to visit Sri Lanka?
Join us for our first co-hosted retreat on the island March 1st-7th 2018. For all the details click here.