Travel in the post-pandemic era has changed indefinitely — trips to far-flung destinations will have to be put off. To avoid the crowds, go on an alternative vacation to Asia’s best kept secret: South Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is the gem of the Indian Ocean and is flanked by mist-shrouded viridian hills, and coastlines fringing idyllic oceans. Sometimes referred to as the teardrop of India, it stands on its own as a trove of colour and culture. When you think of Sri Lanka, you’re likely to picture the main cities of Colombo and Kandy, and iconic train rides with amazing scenic views. These are the island’s quintessential experiences, but we’re proposing the South Coast to experience the island at its most authentic and serene.
Considered the island’s quintessential experiences, many won’t believe how charming the South Coast is.
The South Coast is still not developed as the West Coast, neither is it as densely populated as its capital cities. You’ll never have to jostle with tour groups despite its spiking visitor numbers over the years. For many, Sri Lanka is a utopian paradise.
The southern coast of Sri Lanka is one of the best kept secrets in Asia, though that secret is quickly being revealed as more and more people flock to Ceylon for its tropical beaches, incredible wildlife, rich culture and ancient heritage landmarks.
The South Coast can’t be better experience when staying at the Ani Private Resort Sri Lanka. Here you will experience the best of the area from its sparkling beaches, to its hidden secret: the pleasure gardens of the brilliant Bawa brothers.
Where to stay:
Located along the beautiful coastline of Dickwella, southern Sri Lanka, the beautiful Ani Villa Sri Lanka estate is the handiwork of Reda Amalou and AW2 of Paris.
It’s Ani Villas, a gift that keeps giving. Just like the Princes of Serendip, chance discoveries await at your beachfront estate, with oceanside pools, separate kids pools (each with a water slide), libraries, games rooms, pool bars, private spa, tennis court… the list goes on. Cultural performances at the villa showcase the beauty of the country, while its absolute beachfront location highlights the fabulousness of the planet.
Best time to visit:
December to March and August
- Have it all (literally!) with a private resort, private beach, private team of staff
- Kids pool with water slides vie for attention with a daily children’s activity program
- Like your South Asian food served on the plate? Why not take a lesson from the private chef?
- Stunning contemporary tropical architecture
- The transfer from Colombo International Airport takes at least 2.5 hours
- The estate can be divided into two villas, but the 7- and 8-bedroom configurations are best suited for larger groups
Areas not to miss:
Walk the offbeat path of Galle Fort
Galle Fort is a fortification first built by the Portuguese and later modified by Dutch colonisers. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was a former trading port with some of the world’s biggest nations at the time, including China and Greece.
Start your trail at the Dutch Reformed Church, one of the oldest Protestant churches in Sri Lanka. Its honeycomb floors are studded with stoned carved tombstones from the old cemetery. Outside, a lush garden is dotted with stone tablets.
Further down at Pedlar Street you’ll chance upon a street of colourful boutiques, handicraft stores, and cafes, many of them owned by locals. Stop for lunch and order a kottu roti, a Sri Lankan dish of flatbread chopped with chicken and vegetables. Make the Galle Fort Lighthouse a priority, as it’s perched along the fort’s walls, which offer views of the sparkling blue ocean and Flag Rock Bastion, a prime spot for watching the sun set.
Visit an elephant safari at Udawalawe National Park
Go on an adventure you’ll never forget at Udawalawe National Park. Bordered by the highlands of the northern boundary, the safari takes you on a wildlife quest via open-top jeeps to spot the largest population of gentle giants you’ll ever see. The herds are abundant, and can be easily witnessed by their watering holes, wandering the roads, and feeding on patches of grass. Other wildlife inhabiting the park include wild boars, water buffaloes, sambar deers, and the rarely spotted Sri Lankan spotted bear, and leopards. Hire a private guide for a thorough insight into the animals.
Handunugoda Tea Estate
Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth-largest producer of tea, so there is no way you can skip this. Take a trip back in time at this family-owned tea estate that dubs itself a working, living museum as it still utilises the same types of machinery and processes from centuries ago. Virgin white tea is what it’s most famous for. Legend has it that a Chinese emperor would employ virgins in silky gloves to cut the tea leaves with golden scissors into a golden bowl so that they would remain untainted up to the point it touches his lips. The estate echoes this practice, by having its pickers use white gloves to avoid contamination. Tour its premises to see how all of its tea leaves are plucked, have cake and tea at its in-house cafe, then finish with a thorough tasting before you pick up a box or two of Ceylon tea for home.
The Cinnamon Experience
If you think you’ve been having pure cinnamon all this time, you’ve probably thought wrong. The ones you see in the supermarket are likely to be just cassia cinnamon, which is often heavily processed and can contain a toxic flavouring substance. The Cinnamon Experience will let you experience the real deal as you explore the plantation. You’ll learn how the herb is prepared, and even get hands-on by personally shaving down the cinnamon bark to prepare the strips. If time is on your side, work up an appetite for a big four-course lunch with cinnamon as its star, before winding down for a sunset tea that overlooks the gardens and hills over a cocktail.
Watch the giants of the ocean
Mirissa is located a few miles south of Weligama, and is popular for its laid back vibe. Hop on a boat with Raja & the Whales to see the blue whales, who are the largest existing creatures on Earth. These ethical marine tours are run by a local family with certified guides. A few miles off the coast, you’re able to spot fin whales, sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, turtles, manta rays, and sharks. Once you see these marine giants, head to the ‘gram-famous Coconut Tree Hill in Mirissa. The palm-tree fringed sandhill offers picture-worthy scenery and the perfect spot to watch the sinking sun.
For more information or details contact our expert Sri Lanka and India @ firstname.lastname@example.org