Eight most unique experiences of a holiday in Sri Lanka

by | May 10, 2020

Along with the variety of natural landscapes, rich history and culture, beautiful wildlife explorations, exotic beaches, and more adventures in Sri Lanka, let us talk about some unique experiences that make this Paradise Island one of the most sought after holiday destinations in the world.

Lion’s Rock – Sigiriya

Being one of the eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, The Lion’s Rock in Sigiriya is very popular amongst tourists. A visit to the rock involves a climb of about 1200 steps – clearly marked with stairs, not very tough, hence doable by most regularly fit persons. As you walk through the terraced gardens to begin the climb, look ahead for an impressive perspective of the rock. On your way to the top, take a break to see the intricate wall paintings – frescoes, and the lions claws carved out of a rock. At the top of the rock, you will see remnants of the fortress built by an ancient Sri Lankan King, accompanied by a magnificent view of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle.

Watch “The Gathering” at Minneriya National Park

“The Gathering” of elephants is a century-old tradition at the Minneriya National Park. As the dry season sets in, the green land sucks up all the water and gives elephants no option but to go in search of sweet grass and water. The reservoir in Minneriya never dries up, making it the only go-to place for wild elephants. The herd ‘converge’ and up-to 300 elephants can be seen at a time; making it Asia’s biggest annual grouping of elephants. During the drought months of June – September, every late afternoon or evening, these amazing sights can be seen on a game drive at the Minneriya National Park.


The coastline of Sri Lanka curves inwards and outwards at many locations and has a lot of coves and points. For this reason, Sri Lanka is a great place for surfing because somewhere or the other along the north, south, east, or west coast, you are sure to find an ideal surf spot. So if you are up for a beach holiday in Sri Lanka, be sure to include these locations in your itinerary, and of course, don’t forget to carry your surfboard along!

  • Hikkaduwa
    • Main Reef – safe for all levels
    • Bennys – 6ft high waves for experienced surfers
    • North Jetty – long left-handers reef break
    • Beach break – safe shore, ideal for beginners
  • Unawatuna
    • Beach break – great beginner waves
    • Dalawella reef – left breaker with corals, rocks, and urchins
    • Bonavista Bay – swell between 3-5ft; good for learners
    • Kabalana beach break – great for beginners
  • Weligama
    • Beach break – surfing schools, good for beginners and intermediates
    • Midigama – three breakpoints for experienced and advanced surfers
    • Gurubebila – for experienced surfers
  • Mirissa bay
    Left and right-hand breaks for intermediate and advanced surfers
  • Arugam Bay
    • Elephant rock – best for beginners
    • Baby point – for beginners
    • Main point – for advanced riders
    • Pottuvil and Whisky point – for experienced surfers

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

From beautiful coral reefs to interesting shipwrecks, the waters of Sri Lanka are an adventure in itself. Several scuba diving and snorkeling spots are known in Sri Lanka, along with PADI diving schools at those destinations for those who want to master the art. Diving equipment is also available for rent for guests who have already mastered the art and want to venture out at their own risk.

  • Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna
    • About 10 diving spots such as Hikkaduwa Gala and Barracuda Point
    • Green turtles and rare marine species in Unawatuna
    • Shipwrecks – none of which are more than 30 meters deep.
    • Complete PADI training courses also available.
  • Mirissa: Five diving sites  and full PADI training courses
  • Kirinda: Special diving spot for Little and Great Basses wrecks and is only possible in March and April due to rough waters in other months.
  • Trincomalee
    • Nilaveli Beach
    • Pigeon Island: coral reefs, colorful fish, nudibranch, anemone, and more.
    • Irakkandy shipwreck: an 18th-century steamer (close to coast)
  • Passikudah
    • Passikudah reef
    • Boiler wrecks
    • British Sergeant wreck
  • Negombo: clownfish and anemones
  • Kalpitiya: largest coral reef in Sri Lanka

Ayurveda treatments

Ayurveda has been practiced in Sri Lanka for centuries – dating back to the era of cavemen (over 3000 years). Based on this indigenous heritage, Ayurveda is practiced today all over Sri Lanka. Health-conscious travelers would be delighted to know about the exclusive holiday packages in Sri Lanka that include Ayurvedic treatment at luxury hotels amidst the most serene and peaceful surroundings. While some hotels such as the Siddhalepa chain and Santani Wellness Resort focus on the wellbeing of guests with yoga and ayurvedic therapies, other five star chains such as Heritance, Jetwing, Amaya, Shangri La, and other individual luxury boutique hotels offer amazing Ayurveda spa therapies as an added highlight in their resorts.

Whale and Dolphin Watching

When on a family holiday, whale and dolphin watching is an exciting adventure that all members can partake in. Sri Lanka has a few popular spots on alternative coasts that are known for promising sightings of whales and dolphins. Dondra Point is one such location off the southern coast, accessible from Mirissa and other nearby southwestern beach destinations. Kalpitiya on the west coast and Trincomalee on the east coast are other locations for whale and dolphin watching in Sri Lanka. Therefore, at whatever time of the year you wish to travel, either one of these locations will be ideal for this activity.

Train journey through the hill country

Opt for an epic countryside train journey in Sri Lanka to add to your bucket of unforgettable memories. The route from Kandy to Badulla is said to be the best in Sri Lanka and one of the best in the world! This is along the British-era mainline that was built as a channel for transporting tea for export purposes. Hence this train journey takes you through luscious curling, swirling tea plantations, beautiful waterfalls, and green valleys. The final leg, from Ella to Badulla, is the most dramatic. Just north of Ella, the train curves over the Nine Arches Bridge and tackles its way into the Demodara Loop – offering gorgeous photography opportunities at this point.

Sri Lankan Cuisine

Authentic Sri Lankan cuisine produces some incredible dishes with the help of coconut, jackfruit, seafood, and a range of delicious spices. According to CNN, here are some foods you should not miss when in Sri Lanka:

  • Sour fish curry (Ambul thiyal)
  • Kottu Rotti
  • Chicken Curry (kukul mas curry)
  • Dhaal curry (parippu)
  • Lamprais
  • Hoppers (appa)
  • Green jackfruit curry (polos)
  • Brinjal/eggplant curry (wambatu moju)
  • Pennywort salad (gotu kola sambol)
  • Milk rice (kiribath with lunu miris)
  • Coconut relish (pol sambol)
  • Woodapple

And with this list, CNN adds to the list of nicknames of Sri Lanka – “the Island of Rice and Curry”!