What are someUnique experiences in Sri Lanka?
A guide to the ‘must not miss’ experiences when touring Sri Lanka!
Sri Lanka offers plenty of distinctive experiences that are ideal for any type of traveller. Whether you are looking to explore wildlife, dive into the depths of the ocean, immerse yourself in a wellness experience, or bask in the warm tropical sun along our coast, there’s something for everyone in our Paradise Isle.
1. Wildlife Safari
Sri Lanka has become a preferred wildlife destination in the South Asian region, thanks to the tropical island’s abundance of diverse natural ecosystems and wildlife species. The ecosystems in these parks often range from tropical cloud forests to rainforests to montane forests. These ecosystems are home to approximately 123 species of mammals, 180 species of reptiles, 122 species of amphibians, 227 species of birds, and 93 species of fish, many of which are endemic to Sri Lanka.
The Eastern and Southeastern coasts of the island are possibly the best regions for safaris. Several national parks with diverse flora and fauna dot the region.
Yala National Park – A six-hour drive southeast of Colombo, this national park is considered to be the country’s premier national park, sitting along a beautiful stretch of coastline. The park is home to more than 200 species of birds, 44 species of mammals, 47 species of reptiles, 18 species of amphibians, along with several other fish species and invertebrates.
Minneriya National Park – A short drive from the Sigiriya rock fortress, this park is over 8,800ha (21,745 acres) and is home to hundreds of Sri Lankan elephants. The months of August and September are special for the Minneriya National Park, as it plays host to the annual ‘Elephant Gathering’. During this season, more than 200-300 Asian elephants gather around the Minneriya reservoir to feed off the grass that grows on its banks. This is one of the few places in Asia where such a phenomenon is recorded, and is certainly a unique experience, allowing you to see elephants feeding and bathing as they socialize with the rest of the herd.
Udawalawe National Park – Elephant sightings are almost guaranteed here, but keep an eye out for other endangered species that may make a surprise appearance. Rare and endemic species of mammals such as the Sri Lankan sambar deer and the Sri Lankan sloth bear have been known to wander in the wilderness here. Some of the endemic bird species that dwell in the park are the Sri Lankan spurfowl, Sri Lankan jungle fowl, and the Sri Lankan grey hornbill. If you visit during the dry season that runs from May to October, you just might spot them during your safari.
Discover more details about Wildlife Safaris in Sri Lanka here.
Surfing is an activity that is increasing in popularity in Sri Lanka, and the island is now rather well known as a tropical surf paradise. Sri Lanka is surrounded by warm water, palm-fringed sandy beaches and awesome breaks that are suitable for beginners and advanced surfers.
The ideal season for surfing varies according to destination, due to the changes in tide. The Southwestern and Southern coastal beaches are ideal for surfing between November and April. The East coast season for surfing runs from May to October.
Here are some of the best surf spots in Sri Lanka:
Arugam Bay – This surf point is primarily known as one of the best surfing destinations not only in Sri Lanka, but in the whole of Asia. Several international surfing competitions are hosted here which means it is more suited for advanced surfers. May to October is considered to be the ‘peak’ season, and it is when the coastal town comes alive with surf enthusiasts from around the world.
The areas that are popular among the surfing community here are the Main Point, Pottuvil Point, and Crocodile Rock.
Mirissa – Mirissa is a small town located along Sri Lanka’s southern coast, about a 100 miles from the bustling city of Colombo. The sand-bottomed wave breaks are safe for the beginner, and allow intermediate surfers to hone their skills. The ideal times to experience the waves are in the early morning and the late afternoon. The coast is also lined with restaurants and cafés, and is home to a bustling nightlife.
The best surf spots here are the Point Reef Break and the Main Beach Break.
Ahangama – Ahangama with its long stretch of beautiful tropical shoreline, offers all sorts of surf breaks. Uncrowded waves for every level of surfer can be found here, from beginners to experts, with ideal conditions for both long and shortboarding. Kabalana “The Rock” with its perfect A-frame breaks, is one of its most famous swells. Not to mention, the beach is not as crowded as other parts of the south, and has a fantastic selection of surf camps.
Snorkelling in Sri Lanka provides you with a uniquely relaxing experience, completely different from the beauty of life on land. Snorkelling does not require any sort of qualification, however, it is recommended that you hire a guide for safety reasons. You could either rent snorkelling gear from one of the dive centres, or you could purchase them in any of the surf shops.
Some must visit places for Snorkeling in Sri Lanka are:
Hikkaduwa – Hikkaduwa is known for its impressive coral reefs and marine life within, and so is naturally known to be one of the best places to snorkel. The shallow waters, not more than 200m from the shore make it a perfect snorkel spot for beginners.
Pigeon Island – Located towards the North East of the island, a few meters off the coast of Trincomalee lies Pigeon Island, surrounded by an abundance of marine biodiversity. Not only will you witness the beauty of the coast and coral reefs, but if you are lucky, you will also get to see a variety of sea creatures including sharks and turtles.
Bentota – Bentota offers wide areas of colourful corals, tropical fish and shipwrecks. Small angelfish, large parrotfish, groupers and jackfish are some of the marine species you’ll come across during your snorkel session.
See our article on Diving and snorkeling in Sri Lanka for more information.
4. Ayurveda Wellness
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term that means “the Science of Life.” True to its name, this medical practice advocates for a true balance of mind, body, and spirit. Sri Lanka has its own indigenous knowledge base of medicine and health, and it is the combination of Ayurveda with Sri Lanka’s indigenous roots in medicine that forms today’s famous Sri Lankan Ayurveda experience.
If you want to get away from the stressful daily grind, an Ayurveda retreat in Sri Lanka is the ideal option. An Ayurveda retreat is a peaceful vacation where you may retreat, rest, and rejuvenate at your own pace from the stress and strain of daily life.
Ayurveda retreats strive to foster a healthy lifestyle via a combination of clean eating, exercise, and mindfulness, and they help you maintain your wellbeing by exposing you to the many different therapies that Ayurveda medicine is famous for. Herbal oil treatments mixed with massages, acupuncture, and spa therapies are examples of these.
Ayurveda retreats aren’t a temporary break from your busy life but a holistic reset of your mind, body and spirit. Sri Lanka is often known for its beaches and surfing but the country’s commitment to Ayurveda and wellness is just as impressive.
Coupled with the island’s signature tropical temperament and magnificent natural beauty, a Sri Lankan Ayurveda retreat is the perfect way for you to rest, relax, rejuvenate and reset from your busy life.
Read our article on Ayurveda in Sri Lanka to learn more.