Bali and Bora Bora often spring to mind when it comes to bucket-list island destinations, but what about the hidden pearl of the Indian Ocean? Here are 15 reasons why you should add Sri Lanka to your travel wish list.
1. Endless beautiful beaches
The beaches alone explain why Sri Lanka won Lonely Planet's title of Best County to Travel To in 2019. Situated in the south, five kilometers from the city of Galle is Unawatuna, the island's most famous beach. At this beach you can enjoy sunbathing and visiting the wide choice of local restaurants. For the perfect Instagram shot, Wijaya Beach is surrounded by tall palms leaning picturesquely over the ocean and also has a beach swing! If you are feeling adventurous, Jungle Beach is the place to go as it feels like you are travelling through a small tropical forest to get there.
Want to enjoy nature but are worried about pollution and waste caused by crowds of tourists? Sri Lanka is an island that practices ecotourism to ensure that the surreal nature is protected for all to appreciate. Many of the island's activities such as mountain climbing and canoeing ensure tourists get maximum exposure to nature with minimum effect on the environment. The island also has many rules that tourists are expected to follow, including no feeding wild animals and prohibiting vandalism and littering. In terms of local communities, the SLEF (Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation) creates many poverty alleviation programmes and conservation projects.
3. Adam's Peak
Climb Sri Lanka's most sacred mountain! 16 kilometers northeast of the city of Ratnapura, Adam's peak is a 2,243-meter-tall mountain that provides a clear view of both land and sea. At the top of this jaw-dropping mountain, one can find what appears to be a fossilized footprint known as the Sri Pada (sacred footprint). Buddhists believe it to be the footprint of the Buddha whilst Christian and Muslim Sri Lankans believe it to be Adam's. This stunning location not only sees the likes of pilgrims, but also some remarkable Sri Lankan creatures such as the slender loris and purple faced languor. So be sure to take a trip to the peak, not only for an unforgettable view of island but to spot some of the island's unique wildlife.
4. Travelling by train
The train ride of a lifetime: travelling around Sri Lanka by train feels as though you are experiencing another world. Far from your typical train journey, watch in awe as the steep mountains, incredible bridges, streams, and bright green tea plantations go by. The best part about these journeys is seeing some of the island's most interesting monuments. The Nine Arch Bridge in Ella, 30 meters high and 91 meters wide, is a must see piece of architecture for every visitor. Another unique aspect of travelling by train is the open doorways, so you literally feel the world flying by. The most scenic train ride on the island is from Ella town to Kandy, a seven-hour train journey for the very reasonable price of 1.50 USD.
5. Mesmersing waterfalls
Visiting the waterfalls in Sri Lanka is guaranteed to give you that traveller's wanderlust. Bambarakanda falls is the tallest with an impressive height of 263 meters, but there are other waterfall gems waiting to be discovered on the island. Find nature's jacuzzi in the Diyaluma Falls, where there are different levels of natural pools to swim in. This waterfall is not as popular as Bambarakanda so enjoy the views of emerald green in pure zen. Aberdeen Waterfall is another stunning spot, which offers a mesmerising view from the very top and a tranquil turquoise pool. If you wish to see a truly powerful fall, Laxapana helps generate electricity for two twin hydroelectric power stations!