10 reasons why you must plan a month long holiday in Sri Lanka

Absolute relaxation amidst the beauty of Mother Nature is what Sri Lanka offers its holiday-ers. If you are looking for a break from every day routine life and want to make the most of Sri Lanka’s natural beauty, a month long vacation is a must!

In Sri Lanka: lush palm trees, bathwater-warm Ocean and laid back locals will capture your heart away.

The rural areas, where most of the tourist attraction lies, have a slow pace and a relaxed lifestyle – which is probably just what you need as a break from your otherwise hectic life.

In other words, Sri Lanka is an island that truly has it all. Here’s why a month long vacation is needed:

1. Beaches

Sri Lanka has got you covered in terms of variety in beaches. Whatever kind of beach you prefer, some corner of the island is sure to satisfy your likings.

  • Deserted stretches of sand
  • Amazingly quiet beaches
  • Beaches with men selling coconuts
  • Lively resorts with bar facilities and sun loungers
  • Beaches ideal for swimming
  • Beaches ideal for surfing

While Galle, Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa in the southern coast are the livelier ones with sun loungers idling around, the quieter – swim safe beaches are found in places like Nilaveli, Trincomalee and Passikuda on the east coast and Jaffna in the North. The west coast beaches such as Chilaw and Negombo are also breathtaking for their golden sands and calm waters.

2. Surfing

The coastlines of Sri Lanka offer surfers ideal breaks for all levels. Weligama in the south is ideal for beginners while the reef break in Midigama is suitable for the advanced rider. Some surf oriented institutes offer video analysis if you take lessons from them and this is really helpful because you can figure out what you do well while you are in the water and which areas you need to improve. Arugam Bay in the east coast is a particularly remarkable surf destination that suits both beginners and experienced surfers. Apart from that, Mirissa, Kalpitiya and Unawatuna are popular surfing destinations in Sri Lanka.

3. Simply breathtaking train journeys

If you have a chance to ride on only one train in Sri Lanka, make sure it is the Ella to Kandy one. This route is very busy more often than not so advanced reservations are recommended. Sit down and relax and indulge in the view while you ride slowly through mountains, tea plantations and local villages. Air conditioned first class carriages offer maximum comfort but you can rough it out in the second or third class seats as well if you want a chance to mingle with the locals or sit at the open door (be careful with the latter though!). Ella to Nanu Oya is also another breathtaking hill country train ride.

If you have a month long vacation in hand, you surely have opportunities for more train rides. A common route in the south is the one that goes from Colombo to Matara, taking you through popular tourist destinations like Galle, Hikkaduwa and Weligama. This rail track runs alongside the coastline and it is a peaceful ride indeed to watch the ocean sail by. This route is much busier than the hill country ones because it is a commuter train. Getting on this train at the Colombo station is quite stressful so maybe you could head on to the station before Colombo, get on from there and grab yourself a good spot.

4. Mouthwatering Sri Lankan Food

Breakfast and Dinner:

  • Paratha roti
  • Coconut roti
  • Hoppers
  • String Hoppers

Each of the above are usually served with dhal curry, coconut sambol and onion sambol.

Lunch:

  • Authentic rice and curry: Rice, served with a colorful array of dishes such as chicken/fish curry, dhal, beetroot curry, brinjal curry, beans curry and a choice of greens such as Gotukola sambol or Mukunuwenna.
  • Lamprais: a delicious blend of samba rice with small portions of chicken curry, dhal, brinjal modju, coconut chutney/onion sambol, chicken/fish cutlet, and devilled potatoes, all packed together in a banana leaf. This lunch packet is baked until warm and until the aroma of the banana leaves reaches the food, giving it a completely different taste altogether.

Dinner:

A dinner specialty in Sri Lanka, apart from the above options served during breakfast too, is Kottu Roti – available in all roadside restaurants as well as fine dining restaurants catering to local cuisine. This specialty is prepared with a collection of paratha rotis finely chopped into inch sized slices and is sautéed together with vegetables, boneless chicken, egg, cheese, spices, chicken curry and a touch of milk for sogginess.

One thing is for sure, Kottu Roti is a “not-to-miss” food item during your holiday in Sri Lanka!

Traditional street food bites:

  • Vegetable roti
  • Samosas
  • Fried dhal balls (Vadai)

If you have tried and tested traditional food and it does not satisfy your taste buds, don’t fret. There are plenty of other international cuisines that you can try in Sri Lanka. From Chinese to Indian to Thai to Japanese to the favorite fast food joints, Sri Lanka has it all.

5. Rich Culture

Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, hence Buddhist temples are many. There’s something about Buddhist temples that presents an air of peace when you enter the premises.

  • Peace Pagoda in Unawatuna is an interesting temple to visit. While the monks’ chants float through the air, you can watch the sun set over the ocean and feel the peaceful atmosphere around you.
  • Visit the Kudumbigala Monastery located on the outskirts of Yala National Park. It is indeed a steep climb to the top but you will be rewarded with a stunning 360 degree view of the surrounding area. If you are surfing in Arugam Bay, this monastery is a close tuk drive away. Be careful though as the roads are a bit sketchy.

Apart from the temples, Sri Lanka offers rich history in ancient cities. Tour Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa to explore historical ruins from centuries ago. It is a good idea to hire a bike/bicycle if you are interested in exploring everything that there is to see.

Kandy is the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is another must-visit cultural heritage where you can learn about Buddhist traditions, prayer rituals and more.

6. The Coconuts!

Did you know?

Sri Lanka is the fifth largest producer of coconuts in the world, and it also has its own native version – the King Coconut!

The King Coconut produces sweeter water than a regular coconut and is freely available at any time of the year on roadsides and in grocery stores. The average price for one of these is 60-70 LKR if purchased from the road but the price goes higher in restaurants, bars and on the beach side. You might want to carry along your own reusable drinking straw to save on those plastic ones that pollute the streets.

7. The hikes

Don’t forget to pack your trainers or walking boots as Sri Lankan holidays entail some unforgettable nature trails.

  • Ella Rock is a 4 hour round hike and is worth for its panoramic mountainous views. Start off about an hour or two before sunrise so that you can be back before the harsh morning sun hits you. A guide is recommended if you plan to hike in the dark as it is possible to lose your way in the mountains.
  • Adam’s Peak is a tougher climb for which you need to be really fit. 5500 steps is what it takes to witness a jaw dropping sunrise and visit the site where Lord Buddha first set foot on earth. Begin your hike shortly after midnight and carry a warm jacket as the summit gets pretty chilly. Don’t make too many plans for the next couple of days as your legs will be hard as rocks.
  • Sigiriya Rock is a very do-able climb by almost everyone as it takes just a couple of hours to reach the top, explore the ruins of the Rock Fortress built by an ancient King and climb back down to base.

 

8. The Wildlife

  • Sinharaja rainforest nature trails with the assistance of a local guide will be an exciting one as you can spot animals such as snakes, monkeys, colorful critters and giant millipedes. Plenty of leeches are waiting to attack you so be sure to wear long socks and appropriate shoes.
  • National Parks such as those in Yala, Udawalawe, Wilpattu and Minneriya for example are the best place to get up-close-and-personal with elephants, leopards, sloth bear, deer, jackal and other such Asian wild animals.

 

9. Adventurous bus rides

Hop onto one of Sri Lanka’s unique collection of skilfully driven buses and experience an adrenaline surge run through your body as the bus drives in and out of traffic trying to take you to your destination at the fastest possible speed. The rides are fun – often accompanied with loud local music and brightly lit Buddha shrines at the front. Luggage space is available for long distance bus journeys, making it the cheapest way to get around in Sri Lanka.

10. Discover the art of tea

Who doesn’t love a cup of tea – and nowhere can it be fresher than in Sri Lanka! Head to a tea factory located amidst one of the many tea estates in the hill country of Sri Lanka and request to let you experience tea plucking first hand. They will provide you with the necessary cane backpack to strap behind your shoulders and also the traditional attire worn by local folks when they go out to pluck tea. Also visit the tea factory and discover the manufacturing process and wind up your tour with a fresh cup of tea overlooking a scenic view of the green mountains.

Fun and Adventure in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Trincomalee is a popular port city located on the east coast of Sri Lanka, about 265kms from Colombo. Once a war torn city, Trinco has now developed into one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka – known for its ideal blend of rest, beach side relaxation and adventure.

For 26 years, civil war raged through north east Sri Lanka, with Trincomalee being close to the front line. In 2004, the great tsunami hit the city, making things worse than it already was. The war reached its conclusion in 2009 and since then, there is plenty of optimism in the air rather than gunfire. It’s a miracle indeed how Trinco is gradually transforming into a fully-fledged tourist resort to cater to tourists interested in exploring the rich history and culture while stretching out on the white sands and engaging in exciting activities such as whale watching.

A day in the sun

At the crack of dawn, guests could enjoy an activity of fishing with the nature team on a fiber glass motor boat. This is an enjoyable eco-friendly activity that is different to the traditional method of fishing and allows guests to cast the line and reel the catch without causing much harm to the fish. The caught fish can be safely unhooked and returned to its natural environment. The activity of fishing is a 2 hour excursion during which all the necessary equipment along with life jackets will be provided.

Discover whales

The waters surrounding Sri Lanka’s coastlines are becoming renowned as perfect whale watching sites. During the whale watching season in Trincomalee, guests can indulge in a unique marine mammal safari. Groups of tourists are mounted onto boats and are taken about 18 to 20 miles into the ocean. Some patience and luck is needed to spot a range of blue whales, sperm whales, common dolphins, spinner dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and several other species such as sea turtles and whale sharks. Killer whales have also been sighted along the coast of Trincomalee on very rare occasions.

Snorkeling

Exploring the marine life via the exciting activity of snorkeling is another popular attraction in Trincomalee. Snorkeling can be arranged via the hotel you are staying at or other water sports centers in the area. The package usually includes a 30 minute boat ride to Pigeon Island National Park. This island is home to an abundance of saltwater fish and corals. Guided snorkeling tours are available to discover the rich biodiversity that lies in this unique underwater park. You will be amazed at the 300 species of marine fish and about a 100 colorful coral species varying in shapes, shades, textures.

City tour

The city of Trincomalee is rich in historical and cultural heritage. The best time to set out for your city tour is in the mornings or late afternoons as the sunshine can be quite strong during mid-day hours. Centuries old hot water springs are a commonly visited spot by tourists. Also included in this list is the Commonwealth War Cemetery – a memorial for naval officers and military officials who lost their lives during World War II. Other key attractions are the harbor mouth, Koneswaram Temple, Fort Frederick and Lover’s Leap.

Try out the perfectly crispy Appam (Hoppers) in Sri Lanka

Hoppers, also known as Appam in Sri Lanka, are a popular authentic food unique to the country’s cuisine. These cup-shaped rice flour pancakes are eaten mostly during breakfast or dinner; they cannot be found anywhere during lunch time. Street food in Sri Lanka is definitely out on big scale but while rice and curry is not much of an on-the-go dish, appam is an exception.

The perfect definition of a hopper or appam is that it should be light and fluffy in the center and crispy at the edges. The batter of this pancake consists of ground rice, coconut milk, sugar, salt and yeast. The ingredients should be mixed and left overnight for fermentation. The batter should be quite thin in order to get the crispy edge. The biggest trick with getting the appam right is the pan that you use. Your pan should be seasoned and oiled properly to result in a perfectly crispy appam. Some say sesame oil is the best to use for making hoppers but since this is quite expensive in Sri Lanka, some use coconut oil and vegetable oil as substitutes.

Soak a cloth rag in oil and wet the pan with it. Once you’ve poured some batter on the pan, turn it around so the batter covers the entire bowl shaped pan. You know you’ve got your appam right when all you need to do is tilt the pan once the hopper is cooked and it just slides out by itself.

Hoppers are made either in plain batter, or with an egg cooked at the center (half or full – just the way you like it), or with some sweetened coconut milk at the center. Plain and egg hoppers usually go for the main meal along with side dishes like dhal curry, chicken curry, onion sambol or coconut sambol. And most people like to wind up their hopper meal with a sweetened milk hopper. Tea time jaggery hoppers are also available at a few places and are a favorite amongst many.

Because hoppers are available so widely around the country, very few families actually make them within their homes. Also because the seasoned pan gives the perfectly crispy hopper, it is better to purchase from a seasoned appam expert than make it at home! Roadside cafes serve appam at very reasonable prices, usually starting from LKR 20 for a plain hopper and LKR 40 for an egg hopper.

For the more adventurous Sri Lanka holiday seekers, you can try out some authentic hoppers available on the streets as you drive across any town in Sri Lanka. For those who want to sit comfortably and enjoy the hot hot hoppers off the pan, these restaurants in Colombo serve some of the best hoppers:

  • Palmyrah Restaurant (Renuka Hotel)
  • Café on the 5th (5th Lane, Col 03)
  • Upali’s Restaurant (Townhall, Col 07)
  • Green Cabin (Galle Rd, Col 03)
  • Yacht Cabin (Marine Drive, Wellawatte)

An ideal itinerary to discover Sri Lanka in 5 days

Got limited time in your hands and yet craving to discover the jewel of the Indian Ocean? Here’s a rough guide of how you can discover Sri Lanka in just 5 days.

Upon touch down at the Bandaranaike International Airport, you will enter the immigration area, pass through the duty free and move on to your luggage belts. While you are at it, observe the charming and homely feel of the single terminal airport. The staff are very friendly and keep smiling at you wherever you have to present your passport. Walk out of the airport and an intoxicating fusion of sunlight, heat and the fragrance of incense will welcome you.

Colombo

Spend a day in Colombo, exploring the capital city and ticking off as much as possible on your shopping list. Pettah market, Majestic City and Liberty Plaza are some of the places that will help you with your shopping while the Gangaramaya Temple will give you a glimpse of Buddhism.

Kandy

Next morning, travel inland to the city of Kandy – also known as the cultural capital. This ancient city revolves around a large manmade lake, set amidst a high plateau and is surrounded with a beautiful view of lush mountain ranges.

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is where you can explore Buddhist culture in great detail. The Royal Palace Complex is where this monument sits and houses a relic of Lord Buddha’s tooth. Buddhists not only from around the island but also from around the globe come here to pay their respects.

After your tour of the Temple, walk over to one of the many roadside restaurants and try a traditional Lankan meal that includes rice and curry, along with optional vegetables and meat. If you are not fond of the spice, make sure you tell them to make your dish mildly spiced. The Empire Café is a popular place for this kind of a meal and while you are there, don’t forget to finish your meal with a delectable passion fruit ice cream.

Nuwara Eliya

While Kandy offers a lot more activities, since you have limited time in your hands, we would suggest to drive further inland for a couple of hours and stop for the night in Nuwara Eliya. Rest at one of the many cozy hotels or guesthouses and wake up the next morning to explore the hills, lush mountains and world renowned tea plantations. Opt for a trek to indulge in the view and then a tour to a tea estate to discover the process of tea making and sample its delicious infusions.

Southern Coast

If you are loving the chilly weather and cozy atmosphere, stay in the hills for another night and head to the southern coast early next morning for your final stop. In the south, you could choose to halt at Galle, Ahungalla, Unawatuna or even Mirissa, where you can enjoy stunning views of the Indian Ocean, take part in some fun water sports and pamper yourself at an exclusive holiday resort. This stretch of the coastline offers legendary views of the sunset so make sure you are relaxing on the beach at around that time of the evening.

That brings about an end to a quick, yet efficient Sri Lanka tour itinerary to discover the true beauty that lies within this island nation. If however, you do have more time on your holiday, here are ten things you must do in Sri Lanka:

  1. Visit the Ratnapura Gem Museum for a breathtaking display of Ceylon stones.
  2. Stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya (Kandy) and explore some of the finest flora in Asia.
  3. Climb the Sigiriya rock, observe the ancient ruins at the top and enjoy the view.
  4. Discover the temples and ruins in Polonnaruwa – most ancient city in the island.
  5. Visit Udawalawe National Park and watch the elephants in their natural habitat.
  6. Head on to Yala National Park for a sight of the secretive leopard.
  7. Enjoy a river safari on the Madu Ganga River and explore several indigenous plants and animals.
  8. Explore the Dutch atmosphere in Galle: shops, restaurants and boutique hotels.
  9. Whale and Dolphin watching in Mirissa is a fantastic activity not to be missed.
  10. While on the southern coast, try out the unusual method of fishing unique to Sri Lanka – stilt fishing.

Public Holidays in Sri Lanka for the upcoming year 2018

Here’s a detailed look at all the public holidays in Sri Lanka for 2018 followed by a small description regarding the popular holidays.

Date Day Holiday
1 Jan Mon Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day
14 Jan Sun Tamil Thai Pongal Day
31 Jan Wed Navam Full Moon Poya Day
4 Feb Sun National Day
13 Feb Tue Mahasivarathri Day
1 Mar Thu Madin Full Moon Poya Day
30 Mar Fri Good Friday
31 Mar Sat Bak Full Moon Poya Day
13 Apr Fri Day prior to Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day
14 Apr Sat Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day
29 Apr Sun Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
30 Apr Mon Day following Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
1 May Tue May Day
29 May Tue Adhi Poson Full Moon Poya Day
15 Jun Fri Id Ul-Fitr
27 Jun Wed Poson Full Moon Poya Day
27 Jul Fri Esala Full Moon Poya Day
22 Aug Wed Id Ul-Alha
25 Aug Sat Nikini Full Moon Poya Day
24 Sep Mon Binara Full Moon Poya Day
24 Oct Wed Vap Full Moon Poya Day
6 Nov Tue Deepavali
20 Nov Tue Milad un-Nabi
22 Nov Thu Ill Full Moon Poya Day
22 Dec Sat Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day
25 Dec Tue Christmas Day

Poya Holidays

Sri Lanka celebrates 12 Poya Holidays in a year. Every time you see a full moon in the sky (usually one every month), you know that Sri Lanka is celebrating a Poya Holiday on that day. Most shops, all banks and all schools are closed on Poya days.

Each of these full moon days has its own name and significance according to the Buddhist religion. Since Sri Lanka is a Budhist country, all full moon days are declared as holidays.

  1. Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day: to mark the first time Buddha visited Sri Lanka after His enlightenment.
  2. Navam Full Moon Poya Day: celebrates the appointing of Buddha’s two main disciples.
  3. Madin Full Moon Poya Day: to mark Buddha’s first visit to his hometown – Kapilavastu.
  4. Bak Full Moon Poya Day: to mark Buddha’s second visit which was to make peace between two warring Kings.
  5. Vesak Full Moon Poya Day: marks Buddha’s birthday, enlightenment and achievement of Nirvana.
  6. Adhi Poson Full Moon Poya Day: to commemorate the introduction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
  7. Poson Full Moon Poya Day: to commemorate the introduction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
  8. Esala Full Moon Poya Day: celebrating the arrival of the Tooth Relic and Buddha’s first sermon.
  9. Nikini Full Moon Poya Day: marking the retreat of Bhikkus after Buddha’s death.
  10. Binara Full Moon Poya Day: to mark the establishment of Buddhist Bikkhuni Order.
  11. Vap Full Moon Poya Day: to mark Buddha’s preaching to the Gods.
  12. Ill Full Moon Poya Day: to commemorate the ordination of 60 disciples.
  13. Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day: celebrating the arrival of the Bo Tree in Anuradhapura.

Other religious festivals

Tamil Thai Pongal

A popular Hindu festival marking the beginning of spring, the end of the farming season and the collection of the first food from the harvest.

Mahasivarathri Day

A famous Hindu festival that celebrates the reverence of Lord Shiva. Shivarathri is the night when Shiva performed the dance of prehistoric creation, preservation and destruction. This festival also marks the re-marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

Good Friday

The Friday before Easter commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. A day of mourning when the Christians meditate on the suffering and death of Lord Jesus.

Sinhala & Tamil New Year

Marks the start of the new agricultural season. As per tradition, elders give gifts of money to the young, as a mark of the first financial transaction of the year and is said to bring about good luck.

Vesak

Vesak is the most important festival celebrated by Buddhists. The full moon on this day has special significance because this is the day when Buddhists believe he was born, attained enlightenment, and when he died.

Id-ul-Fitr

A popular Muslim festival that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. It is a well anticipated holiday that calls for feasting, rejoicing and thankfulness in the Muslim community.

Id-ul-Adha

Another important Muslim holiday that is known as the “Feast of Sacrifice”. Charity is done in abundance during this festival, along with the sacrificing of animals.

Deepavali

Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights to mark the return of Lord Rama, from a 14 year exile. Hindus celebrate the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and purity over impurity.

Milad-un-Nabi

A religious festival for Muslims celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammad.

Christmas Day

The most popular and most celebrated Christian festival is the birth of Christ – also known as Christmas. Exchanging gifts, decorating homes and singing carols are some of the traditions of Christmas around the world.

National holidays

National Day

The 4th of February marks Sri Lanka’s independence from British rule and is celebrated in grand style throughout the country.

May Day

A holiday celebrated in many countries around the world to commemorate the achievements of the labor movement.

Exciting Christmas activities around hotels in Sri Lanka

Happen to be in Sri Lanka this Christmas? Don’t miss out on the well-organized festivities at many hotels around the country. Read through this article and plan your Sri Lanka holiday itinerary according to which hotel attracts you the most with its festive offerings.

Colombo

Hilton Hotel

25th to 29th December

  • Get ready to meet Santa Claus from the North Pole at Hilton Colombo! Step into the lobby and you will be surrounded with live music and Santa Claus with gifts for everyone.
    Kids can meet Santa, take photos with him and he will also listen to their letters. In fact encourage your kids to write to Santa and drop off their letters at Santa’s Toy Shop at Hilton and the most creative letter will be awarded.
  • Live entertainment daily throughout the festive season at the Lounge and Bar – Hilton.
  • Visit the retail store “Merry Display” for Christmas treats. Pick your own Chrismas goodies or create a customized hamper from a selection of gourmet food items.
  • Dine at Graze Kitchen, Curry Leaf or IIl Ponte and stand a chance to win a family trip to Legoland in Malaysia (offer applicable from 25th to 30th December).
  • Indulge in a delicious high tea at the Lounge and Bar, including a range of sweets and savories with a festive twist.

Nuwara Eliya

The Grand Hotel

  • 24th December: A gala Christmas Eve dinner buffet spread themed – “A Night in Rome”.
  • 25th December: “Champagne Breakfast and Christmas Lunch” – A majestic breakfast and a grand luncheon with an international buffet.
  • 26th to 30th December: Fun-filled theme nights at the Barnes Hall
    • Cricketers Night
    • Surf & Turf Night
    • Sri Lankan Night
    • Tex Mex Night
  • 31st December: Head on to “The Garage” of The Grand Hotel for an exciting New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance.

Governor’s Mansion

This luxury mansion inspired by the Colonial roots of Nuwara Eliya is an ideal place for a relaxing holiday this Christmas. It is best to make advance reservations at The Governor’s Mansion Boutique to embrace the cool climate and celebrate Christmas in a homely atmosphere.

Each room at this mansion has a built in fire place and the hotel management arranges a tumbler with milk and cookies next to the fireplace of each room. Enjoy live music and mouthwatering dishes until the dawn of the New Year 2018. The friendly staff are proud to be dressed in Christmas hats while serving turkey trimmings and other Christmas goodies to its guests. The hotel offers a mix of everything you would want in the western world while residing in truly colonial surroundings.

Galle

Amari Galle

Enjoy a beach escape this Christmas at Amari Hotel in Galle.

  • 24th December: unwrap an unforgettable Christmas by indulging in a scrumptious traditional seasonal spread including a wide range of “willy wonka” themed delights.
  • 25th December: a gala international buffet for guests to enjoy festive delicacies from all parts of the world.
  • 31st December: an exciting night of fun, food and games – “Carnival De Galle”. You will find a collection of international market style live cooking stations and special music performances. Fun filled activities for kids is also on the plate at Amari Galle this New Year’s Eve.

Kandy

The Grand Kandyan Hotel

Haul in the festive season this year whilst enjoying a 360 degree view of the beautiful mountain ranges in the hill capital of Kandy.

  • 24th December: “Christmas Eve” dinner at the Royal Peacock Ballroom featuring a live band, Santa, prizes and more surprises.
  • 25th December: Tamarind Restaurant will host the “Traditional Christmas Lunch” and a “Christmas Dinner” filled with delicious festive delicacies.

Ozo Hotel Kandy

  • 24th December: welcoming guests to enjoy delightful dishes such as lobsters, prawn dumplings, smoked turkey leg, raspberry salsa, traditional roast turkey (with stuffing and cranberry gravy), yule log, and many more Christmas delights.
  • 25th December: an additional range of fusion dishes to account for a memorable Christmas. Dishes include saffron infused seafood chowder, smoked duck leg with peach and berry, coconut crumbled reef fish, batter fried crab, mango white chocolate bavarois and much more.
  • 31st December: the chefs at Ozo Kandy will whip up another ambitious spread of international delicacies for the last night of 2017. Highlights will be the dessert range that includes linzer tort, chocolate brownie, cherry clafouti and hazel nut & milk chocolate mousse.

Spice up your holiday in Mirissa – Sri Lanka

Mirissa is gradually gaining popularity amongst tourists for its spectacular seascape. What you see on the coast of Mirissa is a stunning bay of golden sand and bright blue sea. A couple of years ago is how recently tourism began in Mirissa and local communities developed by learning to live off the natural beauty of the sea, but they had very little knowledge on how to cater to the needs of travelers.

There is a saying that goes…

“Where there is demand, there will be supply”.

Just how Mirissa tourism in terms of eateries and amenities developed recently, Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna also started out slowly with little restaurants appearing on the beachside – offering shade, cool drinks and a ridiculous range of beach grub.

Today though there is much buzz about the opening of new hotels and hangout zones – offering tourists a good range of budget and luxury accommodation and meal options to enjoy a lovely stay in Mirissa. The accommodation options are carefully planned in Mirissa, not making it a very commercialized area. Also, it is important to take the monsoons into consideration when planning a trip here. There is a 5 month window (Nov/Dec – Mar/April) during which the beach is swim safe and we would advice picking that time frame for a stop in Mirissa.

Here are a few interesting things that you should do to spice up your holiday in Mirissa, Sri Lanka.

Whale watching

Whale watching is most definitely a ‘not-to-miss’ activity in Mirissa. We at Blue Lanka Tours recommend choosing responsible and reputable tour operators for this venture. There have been many incidents where boats have driven too close to the whales; scaring them away. Also, since this is an activity that takes you deep into the sea, regulation and caution should be taken.

Surfing

Mirissa offers surfing options for beginners as well as experts. The west side of the beach, known as point break, is where the waves break as they hit a point of land extending from the coastline. The waves here are easy for beginners to practice surfing techniques and hence this is the spot where most surfing schools in Mirissa take out their lessons.

The experienced surfers will enjoy further down on the more secluded stretch of the beach, just past the Giragala Rock. This hill protrudes from the sea and acts as a windbreak but as a result, the sea develops more intermediate levels of waves.

Unobstructed views and clear waters make Mirissa an amazingly beautiful surf destination in Sri Lanka. The best time to catch the waves is either early morning or late afternoon.

Fishing

Fishing is one of the oldest industries in Mirissa, as is the case with most coastal cities in Sri Lanka. For several decades it has been the norm to see fishermen in dozens of fishing boats departing the Mirissa Fisheries Harbour at approximately 3.30pm, spending the entire night out at sea, returning at the crack of dawn the next morning with their catch.

We found some interesting news from some of the local fishermen. Apparently many of them do not use fishing nets for the catch. Instead, they use the bare fishing line, also known as stilt fishing. Bigger fishermen in the Harbour are those who use fishing nets and they spend about a month and a half at sea! The boats used by these fishermen contain a hull that is loaded with ice so that they can store their catch and keep it fresh.

Most families that are into the fishing industry have been in the trade for many decades. According to one particular family, the income from fishing was excellent about 30-40 years ago and is still very profitable today. These fishermen believe that they do not harm the ocean environment with their fishing spree. Instead they are proud to be responsible in keeping the traditional method of stilt fishing still alive.

Stilt fishing is an activity that many tourists are amazed by. The art of balancing oneself, for hours together, on a wooden plank connected to a stick and anchored into the ocean. In fact many visitors have taken up stilt fishing as a must try activity when in Mirissa and other cities such as Unawatuna and Weligama in the southern coast of Sri Lanka.

You could also walk up to the Mirissa Fisheries Harbour one morning and observe the fishermen striving hard to sell their catch to a number of retailers and staff from neighboring hotels and restaurants coming to purchase their stock of fish. The array of fish that you find here includes some of the oceans finest: tuna, mahi mahi, seer, tiger prawns and garupa.

Sailing

You have got to try this out – sailing off the coast of Mirissa to witness the sun drop slowly over the horizon – it is indeed a majestic and unforgettable experience.

Sailing associations have formed in Mirissa offering tourists with sailboat opportunities to create a boating and sailing culture in Sri Lanka. With this new eco-friendly activity concept, the associations are providing training and employment opportunities to the youth in the neighboring region.

A typical sailboat ride would offer a two hour, high speed adrenaline pumping ride cruising you through many of Sri Lanka’s breathtaking golden beaches. The sailboat also stops for fishing, swimming and snorkeling activities if requested, thereby making it an absolutely adventurous experience for sports enthusiasts. Departure timings for these boats are at 9.00 a.m. and 3.00p.m. everyday and your package will include life jackets, insurance and mineral water bottles.

Giragala Rock

One of the best hotspots in Mirissa is a view of the stunning sunset from the top of Giragala Mountain. Don’t worry, you don’t need to schedule an entire afternoon geared up in trekking shoes for this climb!

The strategic location of Giragala Rock is in between the two bays of Mirissa. At the point where these bays meet, there is a sandy pathway that leads toward the Rock. Within just a minute, you can climb up to an elevated position that opens up to an unobstructed view that goes beyond the edge of the west end of the bay. This is the perfect spot to catch a spectacular view of the sunset, as the sky transforms into a medley of lovely shades of pinks, purples and reds.

Roti Shop

While in Mirissa, don’t forget to enjoy a meal at Dewmini Roti Shop. The charming owner – Gayani first opened up the shop in 2009 and it instantly became very popular, particularly due to the convenient location on the main road in Mirissa. Soon she was forced to relocate her business and now operates from her family home which is located a bit more inland. The new beginning did give her some struggles but with word of mouth advertising, she was soon able to attract the crowd to her new location.

According to Gayani, her roti menu is created from suggestions that people give her, and hence she is greatly blessed to have met so many good people to help her succeed in her roti shop. She initially started out with the usual egg, chicken, cheese, onion, chocolate and choco banana roti flavors. One day, a German Chef taught her how to use avocado and guacamole in her roti mix and this became a huge hit with people coming back for more. From then onwards more suggestions kept coming in such as the Banoffee Roti and she kept upgrading the menu accordingly.

Dewmini Roti Shop holds a strong ‘no take-away’ policy for the sole reason that no one can copy their creations. The quaint location and the charming garden setting makes it a relaxing, yet vibrant atmosphere and the open kitchen concept is a hit as people love to see Gayani doing what she does best!

Gayani has also started up a rice and curry cooking class that goes on from 3.30pm to 6.30pm every day. Because her rotis are so delicious, it is quite certain that attending one of these classes would be very well worth it.

Mirissa has it all!

As you can see… from whale watching to surfing to mouthwatering Rotis, Mirissa has it all. You have got to include a few days in Mirissa when planning your Sri Lanka holiday itinerary to try out all these one-of-a-kind activities and make your holiday a memorable one.

Pastry: Sri Lankan JUNK FOOD

Pastry is indeed the real junk food of Sri Lanka.

Let’s get straight to the point and talk about where you can find the best pastry in town. When we talk about pastry, we are only focusing on actual PASTRY such as puff, choux, short crust and filo. We are not focusing on buns, biscuits and desserts in this article. You are going to be surprised at how much pastry that Colombo has to offer and it is quite a difficult task to choose the best ones. Hence don’t be disheartened if you have a place in mind that is not on our list here. But if it is your first visit to Sri Lanka, be sure to schedule at least a couple of days in Colombo, skip a meal or two and try out these pastries instead as they are not found in many other parts of the world.

Top 6 pastry offerings in Colombo

1. Sponge Pastry Shop

Located in a very accessible spot in Colombo 03 (Galle Road), Sponge Pastry Shop is a master baker owning a competitive edge over other players in the industry. Making a good pastry seems possible by a lot of people in Sri Lanka. But what Sponge excels at is their fillings. They have a wide range of pastry fillings such as chicken & broccoli and cauliflower and cheese. While the pastry filling variety is huge, every one of them is tasty and the amount of filling used for each pastry is plenty. This is why Sponge pastries rank amongst the top. The fish patty for example is not overly spicy and is packed with fishy meaty filling. The cute swan boat pastry is another one you must try. These unique flavors and abundant filling makes Sponge pastries worth the extra buck.

2. Dolce Italia

Dolce Italia is this nice looking pastry shop you must have seen while driving down Havelock Road. That’s where they initially opened up and let their brand mature for a few years. Recently the bakery moved to Skelton Road – Colombo 05. Although their pastry specials don’t have a big variety, the food is simply delicious. The custard filled croissants, crème puff and canoli are some of the favorites that you should not miss out on. Their exclusive style, difference in flavors and affordable menu is what is appreciated by many.

3. Baked – at Ramada

Situated inside the doors of Ramada Hotel, Baked has an unusual pastry variety and is known for serving the most buttery pastry in town. While the filling is light on the stomach, the flavors speak for themselves and the pastry literally melts in the mouth!

4. Café on the 5th

If you are looking for some neat Choux pastry in Sri Lanka, Café on the 5th is the place to be. They are a popular pastry vendor in Colombo and certainly have a wide range to choose from. Favorite items from the menu are the éclair and crème bun which are satisfactory in terms of filling and mouth-melting in terms of pastry. The filo, seafood puff and patties are also good items that you might like to try.

5. Green Cabin

With so much competition in the field of pastries, Green Cabin (Colombo 03) is one bakery that manages to reach the top few. The pastry fillings are commendable at Green Cabin: bacon & egg, chicken pie, beef & liver, all of which have intense flavor. The pastry encasing for these items is abundant but the flavorful filling compensates for that – so no complaints there.

6. Family Baker

Moving slightly out of Colombo to its suburbs – Mount Lavinia is where Family Baker is located and is arguably the best bakery in the vicinity. Their selection of sweet and savory pastries is great and they have maintained consistency in their standards for many years. The chicken and mushroom pie, country chicken pie and mutton pies are delicious in terms of filling and pastry both. Their éclairs are another melt in the mouth item which you must try. With extremely affordable prices, Family Baker is one of the best bakery options for the kind of crowd that cannot afford the other high end bakeries such as Sponge.

The Spotted Deer: most common wild mammal seen in Sri Lanka

Also known as the Chital and Axis Deer, the Spotted Deer is a very commonly seen wild mammal that you will see during your wildlife experiences in Sri Lanka. This species live in lowland dry forests, savannas as well as shrub lands and can be seen in big groups when you visit national parks in the dry zone of the country. However, as you move towards higher altitude areas in Sri Lanka, the sightings of these deer will remain rare.

About the Spotted Deer

Spotted Deer have a pinkish brown coat marked with white spots and the under parts of this animal remain white in color. Unlike females, the male species grow antlers, which are shed once a year. Usually, the antlers have three prongs and are curved in a lyre shape. When male spotted deer are at their prime during breeding, these antlers can extend to a whopping two and a half feet in length. These deer are also known for their delicate balancing act – standing on their hind legs to reach out for leaves and fruits on trees.

It is not an uncommon sight to see young male deer deeply engrossed in brawls with each other. In most cases, the elder matured ones resort to horning, pawing and marking. The Chital species has a very extended breeding season, particularly because of the tropical climate in Sri Lanka. Births can occur at any time throughout the year. This is the reason why antler shedding cycles of males are not synchronized and some females are fertile at all times of the year. Irrespective of size and other factors, male Chital that have hard antlers are more dominant than those that don’t have antlers and those that have soft velvet-like antlers.

The Spotted Deer are true herbivores, living only on grass, leaves and fruits. These harmless animals are seen living together in groups of about 10-16 animals. When the habitat conditions are exceptional: availability of plenty of water, grassland and vegetation, herds of more than 100 animals have been seen.

Preys and Predators

In Sri Lanka, these Axis Deer are a primary prey for Mugger Crocodiles and Sri Lankan Leopards. The Jackal often looks out for young fawns as prey. In terms of a reciprocal relationship, you will often see herds of Spotted Deer feeding near groups of Grey Langurs. This is because the Deer scan the surrounding jungle for predators on land level and the Langurs have an aerial view for scanning. Also, the Spotted Deer benefit from the Langurs again because they can easily feed on leaves and fruits that are dropped from the trees by the Langurs. The loud alarm of a Spotted Deer is most definitely a sign that a leopard is hanging around the area, waiting to prey on them.

After learning about Leopards being prime predators and Spotted Deer being their prey, you will better understand that the main reasons for higher probability of spotting Leopards at national parks such as Yala and Wilpattu is because of the direct correlation to the high number of Spotted Deer and other prey species. In other words, the longer the Chital is around, the longer the Leopards will be around. The survival of the Spotted Deer also plays a big role in the natural balancing of healthy ecosystems.

If you are an animal lover, keen on studying the Chital and many other wild animals of Sri Lanka, schedule at least a couple of weeks in the country and make sure to visit places like Yala, Wilpattu, Sinharaja, Udawalawe and Minneriya. We, at Blue Lanka Tours can help you plan and organize a holiday in Sri Lanka with more focus on exploring wildlife while also covering most of the other popular tourist attractions in the country.

7 secret beach escapades in Sri Lanka

With the boost in Sri Lanka tourism, travelers are coming in plenty to visit the island. Sri Lanka offers several tourist attractions around the island, but if you are coming only for a secret escape to explore the soft sands, calm waters and delicious sea food, here are some exotic hideaways that you should include in your itinerary.

  • Pigeon Island
  • Nilaveli Beach
  • Arugam Bay
  • Mirissa Beach
  • Unawatuna Beach
  • Rekawa Beach
  • Tangalle Beach

 

When planning your beach holiday in Sri Lanka, keep in mind that the country experiences two monsoons every year. From June to October we have the southwest monsoon and November to February is the northeast monsoon. Hence the best time to visit Sri Lanka for beach escapades would be between March to April, which is when the monsoons are usually not around and you can explore all coastal corners of the island. During May and June, rain is mild and showers last a short period so those months are also not a bad idea for visiting Sri Lanka. Apart from that, if you do happen to travel during the monsoons, you can still explore some coastal areas. For example, the northeast monsoon does not affect the popular southern coast and the southwest monsoon does not affect the up and coming eastern coastal areas. So all in all, Sri Lanka is definitely a year round holiday friendly destination.

Now let us look at each of these secret beach escapades in detail…

Pigeon Island

Trincomalee is a popular city located on the east coast of Sri Lanka. Slightly off the coast of Trincomalee is Pigeon Island – a protected and secluded national park that presents visitors with exclusive examples of local marine life. You have to get to this island by boat and enjoy the splendid view of soft yellow sands and charming blue waters. A snorkeling experience at Pigeon Island will expose you to one of the best surviving coral reefs in Sri Lanka. To see this marine beauty, you have to wade into the water until your feet don’t touch the ground. You’ll be amazed with a view of more than a hundred different kinds of coral fish and hundred different species of corals.

Nilaveli beach

Just 15 kms away from Pigeon Island is a very peaceful and secretive stretch of soft sand where one can enjoy a quiet day on the beach. Along the shore there are a few food shacks lined up along with some fishing boat companies. Popular food specialties you should try out here is the Jaffna crab curry with some cheap cocktails on the side. Nilaveli beach is a well hidden secret beach in Sri Lanka, a peaceful paradise that can surprise those looking for a reclusive holiday.

Arugam Bay

Also located on the east coast, Arugam Bay is a blessing for surfers and committed beach lovers. If you are in the mood for an unbelievably exciting vacation, away from the mad urban rush, Arugam Bay is the place to be. Spend all day in your beach shack sipping away cocktails while watching surfers attempt killer waves. You could also try surfing yourself. Look around and you’ll surely find someone who rents out surfboards and also gives you a beginner’s lesson on surfing. Crocodile Point is where beginners should head to for gentler waves. While you are in Arugam Bay, The Seahorse Inn is a must try for some mouthwatering pizzas.

Unawatuna beach

Unawatuna is indeed a popular beach location amongst tourists and is not much of a secluded location but is definitely worth a visit because of the many attractions it offers. Located a little further from the famous town of Galle, Unawatuna is prominent for its biodiversity, particularly in bird species such as herons and egrets, the rare black bittern and the Loten’s sunbird. Off the coast of Unawatuna lies beautiful coral reefs as well as shipwrecks for those who are interested in exploring. Another ‘not-to-miss’ in Unawatuna is a spectacular sunset. The image as the light descends over the sands to present a haunting yet mystical view is just breathtaking and unforgettable.

Mirissa beach

Heading down to the southern coast of Sri Lanka, the coast of Mirissa is a sandy, tropical, crescent shaped exotic beach location. If you have got your HD camera along with you, don’t forget to capture stunning views of the sunsets and sunrises from here. Mirissa beach is usually empty for the most part so you can enjoy a peaceful sun tan or snooze away in a comfortable hammock. Stroll around along the fishing harbor for a sight of fishermen bringing in their boats after a good catch. The beach is lined up with many shacks where you can enjoy some fresh seafood.  Mirissa is an ideal location for solitude holiday seekers in Sri Lanka.

Tangalle Bay beach

Also located along the southern coast of Sri Lanka is a small, laid back resort town known as Tangalle. In describing the Tangalle Bay beach, imagine wide stretches of lovely golden sand, a freshwater lagoon, a harbor for fishing and a small town center: all of which make a perfect picture for a lazy beach holiday. While in Tangalle, you might want to explore the town where you will see a few touches of colonial influences such as The Rest House – which the Dutch built in 1774. Tangalle is not yet very popular amongst tourist but is still one of the best beaches in the island.

Rekawa beach

About 10kms east of Tangalle is the Rekawa beach. Here you will enjoy a truly different beach experience. Between April and September is a good time to go to Rekawa where you can see hawksbill and leatherback turtles swim ashore at night time and lay their eggs here. There are many volunteers from the turtle conservation project here in Rekawa who also run tours to assist you in seeing the turtles nest at night. Before you make the trip to Rekawa for this purpose, it is advisable to make a call to check whether or not there is a possibility of turtles being sighted.