At the seats of serendipity, Sri Lanka!

My fascination with Sri Lanka stems from the very fact that it is lying in plain sight. This country is like a priceless jewel, quite mysterious with its intriguing culture and is one of Asia’s beautiful tropical destinations. Sri Lanka for us is less than an hour by flight and it has to be one of the shortest International touchdowns we’ve been on. So I was very excited that I didn’t have to spend hours before I got my holiday started. While planning this trip, we realized for a little over 2 week visit we may have to narrow down on the places of our interest to be added into our travel itinerary.

After multiple iteration and discussions; my husband and I had our trip planned to include the South West Coast of Sri Lanka for majority of our trip, we were then moving to the South Western edge of the hill country for a trek and then finishing our trip off with another few days in a major city of Sri Lanka situated on the West Coast and at the mouth of a Lagoon. Our bags were packed, our travel plans readied, we boarded our flight and in little time Sri Lanka welcomed us into her abode. As we walked out of the airport to hail our taxi, we didn’t know that we were walking right into a fantastic adventure.

Getting from the airport to Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

Reached Sri Lanka in an hour but the hotel in three. We were booked with a resort located in Unawatuna; 150 km from the Bandaranayake International Airport. We chose Unawatuna as our primary base for the stay because firstly it happens to be a popular tourist coastal town in the Galle district, secondly it housed the dive school of our choice and also was close to all the points of interest that we wanted to visit through this trip. The roadways from the airport to Unawatuna certainly deserves a mention. Sri Lanka’s highway planning is commendable; it is fringed by palms and pretty houses on both sides, very clean and has a mesmerizing quality to it.

Beach in Sri Lanka named the World’s Best in 2004

Once we got there, our room wasn’t ready so we sat at their beach restaurant looking out at the sea. I’ll be honest here, at first glance we were a little disappointed (actually quite a bit) and let me tell you why. We love the beach and had prepared ourselves to see long idyllic sandy stretches but here there was barely any beach to walk on. The water was less than 10 meters from where the restaurant ends. It is said that the reason for this destruction is the breakwater that was built by the former Government. It had apparently disturbed the natural balance of the eco-system, and is washing away the sand from one half of the beach, and depositing it on the other half.

 

Salvaging Sri Lanka’s popular beach destination

Unawatuna beach once boasted of flawless crescent of sand with turquoise waters; swept along a palm adorned shore which was now receding and was blanketed with jagged rocks. But to our luck, that very day we landed they had begun the beach replenishment project and let me tell you in five days that beach was like a different place. The Belgium Company employed to do the job pumped sand diligently for days to finally restore Unawatuna to its initial exquisite beauty. It was truly an experience for us to see this iconic beach being restored and even though we could only lounge on this beach for a few days after the restoration, we didn’t mind it. Witnessing the transition was a once in a lifetime experience.

Sun, sand and water in the beaches of South West coast of Sri Lanka

The south west coast of Sri Lanka truly has some of the loveliest beaches we’d been to. Crowded yes, because its popularity evidently attract many tourists from around the world. But you will see that it is very pristine, clean, inviting and has an untouched tropical vibe to it. We spent most of time beach hopping between Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa. We also visited Bentota and Mirissa and thought they were really something. Beach bums like us found our piece of palm lined perfection in so many of the beautiful beaches Sri Lanka offers.  You won’t feel time fly as you sit on the beach, swim in the azure water, sip on fresh coconut, watch the surfers and pretty much do nothing.

Scuba diving in Sri Lanka

Diving is Sri Lanka is a memory that we treasure. The warm Indian Ocean plays the perfect host to diving and offers some true dive experiences. We did multiple dives with a PADI school in Unawatuna and these were some of the better dive logs we boast of- Jungle beach, Thalpe beach, Alluthgala and a cave dive near Unawatuna were some of our more favorite ones with gorgeous coral and marine life. It is important though to note that the diving season in Sri Lanka is divided into two seasons for about five months each, one on the West and South Coast and one on the East and North Coast. We dived in the South West Coast and here the best time for diving is between November and April.

Galle in Sri Lanka felt like a trip back in time

A major administrative capital of Southern Province, Galle is a quaint city where time seems to have just paused itself. A historical colonial city that is a perfect day visit to add to your itinerary. We took a tuk-tuk (auto) from Unawatuna and leisurely spent our time soaking in the quiet bliss and time warped energy one feels when at Galle. The Galle clock tower was our first stop and was a pretty sight with a great view. We drove through the colonial streets, stopping to check out the lighthouse, reformed church, the treasure trove museums, gems and handicraft stores and old buildings. The Dutch architecture in Galle has been preserved so well that you are immediately transported back to another era.

 

Sri Lanka’s Little England

After a great time spent in the South West Coast, we moved base to Nuwara Eliya, also known as Sri Lanka’s ‘Little England’ and the city of lights. This city is in the hill country of the Central province of Sri Lanka. As we made our long road drive from the hot beaches in the South West Coast of Sri Lanka to the hills of Nuwara Eliya, we suddenly felt the need to keep warm. The temperature suddenly begins to drop and the beautiful mist covered hills starts to come to sight. Nuwara Eliya was to be our start point to getting to the base of Adam’s Peak and while it’s not very close, getting here gave us an opportunity to experience the spectacular country side with carpets of tea plantations rolled out.

Climbing Sri Lanka’s famous Adam’s Peak

We started for the base from our hotel at 1 a.m. and by 2 30 a.m. began ascend. Adam’s Peak is also known as Sri Pada and is a 2,243m (7,359 feet) mountain. It is very popular with both the locals and the tourists. It is a significant pilgrimage site and has multi-religious relevance. The footprint seen at the peak is what draws people here, while some believe it’s a footprint of Buddha, others think it is of Shiva and still others see it as Adam’s first step after being exiled from the Garden of Eden. The difficulty level is moderate but yes, you climb about 6,000 crumbling stone steps; that with some incline trekking. In 4 – 4.5 hours we had returned to base after having reached the summit in time to see the sunrise.

Finishing off our trip at Sri Lanka’s modest beach town

Situated in the West Coast and close to the International airport, Negombo is a major trade city situated at the shore of the lagoon. This modest beach town is known for its fishing industry. It is comparatively more westernized than the other towns we visited in the country.  But it does have a relaxed laid back energy and made perfect sense as our last stop before we took our flight back home. We spent a wonderfully relaxed couple of days in this Dutch influenced little town and got some great bargains on souvenirs and Ceylon tea. The Negombo beach wasn’t my favorite as there were too many fishing boats around but I must admit the beach is naturally breathtaking.

Sri Lanka and their delicious food

It would be right to say that the Sri Lankan cuisine centrally features seafood, meat or vegetarian curries, lentils, steam rice, fresh produce in the form of vegetables on the sides and a lot of spice. I personally loved everything I ate in Sri Lanka. I loved that the food was always accompanied with fruits and vegetables that were pickled, chutneys and spicy sambals totally made the staple diet of our trip. The beach shacks serve up delicious meals and short eats, I don’t think we were ever disappointed because it always tasted so good. If you love your tea you will have ample choices from milk, to green and even flavored ones that I’d never had heard of before.

There is much we did do this trip but still so much unexplored of this diverse country. Travelling through Sri Lanka is not difficult but it wouldn’t be incorrect to say it is a little bit of chaos, especially in the busier roads. We are most certainly returning again because we can still think for the many places we couldn’t fit into this trip and the many things we’d like to do in Sri Lanka the next time we visit. This country surprised us and is a beauty sitting in the Indian Ocean. The stunning landscape, scrumptious food spread, rich history, abundant wildlife, alluring beaches and friendly locals ensure you a trip you will remember for a long time.  Sri Lanka you were delightful and we cannot wait to return!

Photographs shot by yours truly and the husband.

81 Comment

  1. This is an exceptional post, Sheena! Your posts are a must read and I really enjoy them!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you 🙂 I’m so glad you find them useful!

  2. Wow how absolutely STUNNING. I want to climb into these pictures!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Sri Lanka is gorgeous, truly!

  3. wowwww amazing picturesss love your experience!!!! may i know what camera you are using? seeking for travel photos myself

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Hey, Thanks so much. We use from the Canon range the 5D Mark2 and 7D, Go Pro too for some of our pictures. 🙂

  4. Evie says: Reply

    I’m going in April and will follow a similar route. Was there in 2000 and can’t wait to get back!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      I think that route is ideal to experience Sri Lanka if you got about 2 weeks. Enjoy your trip back:-)

  5. Those beaches are stunning!! Definitely putting this on my list of tropical places to go next.

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thanks Elisabeth, happy travels 🙂

  6. You have me sold to visit here! Your photography is just next level! This is such a fabulously written and informative post. Keep them coming!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thanks Holly 🙂 You totally must visit this gem, it’s worth it!

  7. We spent 10 days in Sri Lanka in 2015 and we loved it! What an incredibly diverse country! We also spent our last night in Negombo. We found some great deals on Buffalo leather bags there! Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      You’re right the bags are pretty awesome. Glad to hear you had a great time, I’d love to return some day.

  8. Thanks for this 🙂 We are heading to Sri Lanka later this year so I loved reading this. Your photos are incredible too!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you very much. I’m certain you will enjoy your trip 🙂

  9. bykiara says: Reply

    The landscapes, the photos, the food just looks so incredible!!! Here’s to hoping I’ll get to Sri Lanka soon cos this post just made me want to book a ticket!

    -Kiara
    http://www.viaisabelle.com

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Hi Kiara, hoping that ticket is booked 😉 If you haven’t you totally must. There’s much about this country that fascinates me and I’m certain you’ll make a memorable trip off it. Much Love!

  10. I must admit Sri Lanka was never on my bucket list. But after reading your fab post and seeing all your amazing photographs, i’m going to have to rethink that. thank you for an informative read! Glad you had a great trip! Even better that the beaches are being restored…. from a fellow beach bum xx

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Hey fellow beach bum 😉 Aren’t we always looking for the next awesome beach to lounge in 🙂 I think Sri Lanka is pretty awesome, it’s got a quiet energy about it. Loved it!

  11. Okay I’m seriously in love with your photos! Sri Lanka is one of the places I want to go soo badly! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you Felicia. Yes you totally should listen to your heart and let it lead you to this magnificent country 🙂

  12. It was a Belgian company doing the restoration of the beach? We’re from Belgium! 😀 To be honest, we never really considered Sri Lanka as a travel destination. We have a friend that went and did some volunteer work in a boys orphanage though, and her pictures were awesome! She loved Sri Lanka and is already talking about going back there. I didn’t know there were some diving opportunities either! Are they pretty easy or is there a lot of current? We have about 30 dives on our belt, but aren’t overly comfortable yet. 😀 Must say the Sri Lankan food looks delicious!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Hi there, I believe it was Belgium, the locals told us so and we also got a fairly good close look at the ship anchored in the ocean helping with the restoration. I think you will love Sri Lanka if simple. honest, raw energy is what you’re after. It is gorgeous really and the food is delicious (thinking about it makes me want to go back ;-)).
      The diving is good, pick a good season to dive and the currents are almost non-existent. We took dive trips for 5 consecutive days and had no issues. Yes on the last day we did feel some current but then it was an afternoon dive (unlike our early mornings for the others). I’d say worth diving there, it is beautiful underwater but good to ask the dive shop on weather conditions for the day, current and temperature so you’re comfortable before getting on the dive boat. With 30 dives, I’m certain you’ll have no challenges. Happy Diving & Safe Holidays!

  13. Penny says: Reply

    I’ve been thinking of Sri Lanka as a short getaway for a long time. Now I’ve used your photographs to convince my husband!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Yipppeee, soo happy 🙂 You and your husband are going to have an amazing time 🙂 Safe Travels!

  14. That luscious green! And the beautiful sunsets! I guess I have to put it on my bucket list, it’s so awesome!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Totally deserves to get into your list 🙂 I almost didn’t go but soooo glad I went with my gut because it was truly something.

  15. Oh yay! We were in SrI Lanka this January and it was superb. It doesn’t look like you hit the same weather we had, lucky you.
    How was the diving? We skipped it but was that a huge mistake?

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Hi Rosie, so glad to know you had an enjoyable trip too. We went in the month of April and it was warm and pleasant 🙂 Sri Lanka does offer some pretty good dive spots, it’s seasonal but if you dive in the right season you won’t be disappointed. To be honest we faced rough current on the 5th dive day but once you jump in, it’s calm underwater and the experience was pretty awesome.

  16. thechrissycollective says: Reply

    Sri Lanka has been on my travel to-go list for a while now and seeing this makes me want to go even more now! x

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Yes, please do 🙂 We had a fabulous time there!

  17. What a thorough, well-written post with beautiful photos to top it off. Amazing job! You’ve made me fall in love with Sri Lanka.

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you 🙂 Let you in to a secret, when the experience is so beautiful- my words just spin it’s own magic to pay tribute. Sri Lanka is gorgeous and there’s something so real about this country.

  18. Incredible!!! Love all your pictures, you manage to transport us to that destination with all your words and pictures:)

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you very much Maria 🙂 Your comment put a smile on my face, it’s so encouraging to hear this.

  19. Great blogpost! As a huge traveller now I have to add this place to my list!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thanks so much 🙂 Glad you liked it and yes please do add this to your list, totally worth it! 😉

  20. John says: Reply

    Your pictures are beautiful!!! Sri Lanka has just moved up my list of places to visit.

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Yayyy!!! I’m sure you’re going love it when you do visit. There is something about Sri Lanka that’s special 🙂

  21. Wow I’m so glad you shared this because I am visiting soon and need all these tips! All your photos look so amazing too and it makes me even more excited to visit!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Katie I am so excited for you. I’m certain you’re going to have an amazing time. Do try their local cuisine, it’s spicy but worth it 😉 Safe Travels!

  22. These sunsets are stunning, the whole place looks beautiful I had no idea Sri Lanka looked like this.

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      It is stunning Stephanie. Best part is that it still is a little less commercial (at least where we went) but truly a gem. Honestly I loved it more than I initially thought I would. Best surprises!!!

  23. Can’t wait to visit Sri Lanka in person! Your pictures are absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you Kyntra, you totally should 🙂 The country is gorgeous!

  24. This looks like such fun! The landscapes look incredible!!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thanks Alice, it was super fun and truly is beautiful 🙂

  25. Wow! Looks like you had a blast! Almost went to Sri Lanka in January, but plans changed… It’s still on my list though 😀

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thanks Jennifer, I did enjoy myself 🙂 You will love Sri Lanka once you get there, it’s peaceful, safe, gorgeous and pretty fun!

  26. Dariel says: Reply

    Beautiful photos! And it looked like you enjoyed yourself tremendously 🙂 I went to Sri Lanka but didn’t go to the beaches but will surely make it there next time!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thanks Dariel, do add beaches to your next visit here- it’s worth it! 🙂

  27. ashlynsargent says: Reply

    Sri Lanka looks beautiful! You look like you did all my favorite things – hike, visit a beautiful beach, and have good food & a tall beer 🙂

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Sri Lanka is STUNNING 🙂 Oh yes, if you love the sun, sand, water, good food and some great beer then you must add this to your bucket list. It is a spectacular and laid back country.

  28. These pictures are so beautiful! Love the post, and wish that I could visit!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Hi Margaret thank you very much. Do visit, it is pretty awesome and much to do 🙂

  29. Hannah says: Reply

    I would love to go to Sri Lanka- especially for diving. It looks incredible!
    That’s also fascinating that you got to see the beach completely restored. What an interesting experience!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      I know Hannah, seeing the beach restored was something special (maybe even a once in a lifetime) 🙂 You’ll love Sri Lanka and the diving. Happy Travels!

  30. nyrdagur says: Reply

    Sri Lanka is such a paradise! Your pictures are very beautiful. I hope I will get to see it all vert soon, every time I read something about the country I just get more and more fascinated!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thanks much 🙂 You’re right it is a paradise in its own simple way. I loved its honest, island vibe and that truly translates into everything you’d want to do in Sri Lanka. Happy Travels!

  31. Your photos are absolutely beautiful! Sri Lanka sounds like an incredible place to visit.

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thanks a ton 🙂 It surely is a beautiful country with so much to offer.

  32. wow beautiful pictures! The food sounds delicious I would love to try it 🙂

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you very much Krista, the food is pretty epic 🙂

  33. I have to finally go to sri Lanka… I was thinking about comgining some sightseeing with some yoga retreats 🙂 And this Sri Lankan food – om nom nom…

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Oh yes, Yoga, food and some sun, I think you’ve got a great travel plan in the making 🙂 I do hope you visit this stunning country and I’d love to hear all about it. Cheers!

  34. Your photography is unreal! Absolutely stunning. And what a beautiful country to capture.

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you Caroline 🙂 Courtesy the husband and his proficient photography skills.

  35. I’m hoping to visit Sri Lanka either later this year or next year, so this post made a great read 🙂

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thanks Kiara. I’m certain you are going to love Sri Lanka 🙂 Happy Travels!

  36. Jovina says: Reply

    Beautiful read

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thanks a lot Jo, you’re really sweet! <3

  37. themrick says: Reply

    Your pictures are f-ing incredible! One of my friends just got back from Sri Lanka and took some gorgeous photos too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Hi there, Thank you very much 🙂 Sri Lanka is so pretty it makes taking good pictures possible 😉 You should totally add this to your bucket list, I’m sure you will love the vibe and energy of the country 🙂 Much Love!

  38. Such beautiful photos! Looks like such a fun trip 🙂

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Hi Thivy, it sure was thank you 🙂

  39. Sri Lanka <3 I've never been but it's definitely a priority when I actually travel across the ocean. It's so cool that you were able to watch them restore the beach. It's absolutely stunning in the photos – I would get there and never want to leave!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you 🙂 Sri Lanka is gorgeous, that being said seeing the restoration actually made our trip that much more special 🙂

  40. Truth. Sri Lanka has never been a place I’d ever considered visiting, however, it looks like that may have to change! First of all, your photos are just breathtaking. Seriously amazing! Between the gorgeous beaches, quaint towns, and delicious food, Sri Lanka seems to be an ideal travel destination. Thanks for sharing, definitely going to be added to my ‘Travel Wish List’!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      I totally get what you’re saying 🙂 I’m not surprised that Sri Lanka is not always everyone’s first choice (it wasn’t mine too honestly) BUT the best thing is that it surprises you. I stood corrected and loved it, would I go back again? ABSOLUTELY 🙂

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