This Holi weekend jet set to the Emerald Isle for a few days of sun, sand and sea
The unique culture, rich history, pristine beaches and brimming biodiversity are only a few of the things that make up the siren song of Sri Lanka. Surrounded by the vast Indian Ocean with balmy weather and soft breezes, this small island nation is a paradise for beach lovers. Home to beautiful coral reefs to stunning sunsets, you should pack your bags for Sri Lanka for the long Holi Weekend. You might want to stay on forever!
Day 1 Negombo
From the Bandaranaike International Colombo Airport, take a cab to Negombo, a 20-minute drive via Chilaw. Once you’ve checked in, step out to explore this beautiful beach town. Negombo dates back to the 13th century and it was, at one point, a Portuguese base on the trans-oceanic spice trade. Today, it is known as the ‘Little Rome’ of Sri Lanka because of its largely Catholic population and beautiful churches. The Dutch Fort in Negombo, which was built in 1672, is famous for its colonial architecture and is now a part of the local prison. Another historic place to visit is Angurukaramulla Temple dedicated to the Buddha which is known for its 300-year-old ruin of a library. Also, go on a private boat tour through the Dutch Canal to explore the city and on your way halt at the Waikkala jungle restaurant to get a taste of the local cuisine.
Day 2 Kalpitiya/ Negombo
Keeping Negombo as your base, spend the day whale-watching and exploring the largest coral reefs in Sri Lanka, situated off the Kalpitiya Dutch Bay, a two-hour drive from Negombo via Puttalam. Kalpitiya has a beautiful marine sanctuary that’s home to a variety of habitats ranging from the Bar Reef system that runs parallel to the coastline, saltpans, salt marshes, mangrove swamps, flat coastal plains and vast sandy beaches. Boat safaris are the best way to see large pods of dolphins and sperm whales that are quite common here. If you get lucky, you can even spot a blue whale. The Kalpitiya Beach has quite a few boat safari operators, including Divyaa (divyaa.com/whale-watching)
Day 3 Colombo
Drive down to Colombo, and indulge yourself in some serious shopping. The capital is famous for its handicrafts, jewels and spices, which gives it a deserved reputation as a shopper’s paradise. Once you’re well-laden with souvenirs, head over to the National Museum. It was established in 1877, making it one of the oldest in South Asia. Home to some priceless Sinhalese artefacts, including palm leaf manuscripts, statues and . Colombo’sa great place to try out the island’s signature cuisine, especially street food like the Kothu Rotti, a classic Sri Lankan snack made from your choice of chicken, egg, beef, onions, tomatoes and green chillies. Colombo has a pretty good nightlife, so check out Qbaa, a tiny brick-walled place in De Fonseka Road. You’ll find the best bands from the city playing regular gigs here.
Where To Stay
Colombo has many hotels to choose from, depending on your budget. You could try the Galle Face Hotel (from Rs 10,127; gallefacehotel.com),or the Ceylon City Hotel (from Rs 3,354; ceyloncityhotel.com)
Day 4 Colombo/ Hikkaduwa Beach
Head to Hikkaduwa which is an hour and a half’s drive from Colombo and spend a relaxed day exploring the beach. You can rent out bicycles to explore the area, or take a short scuba diving class to explore the bustling marine life. There are a variety of diving spots at Hikkaduwa that you can choose from. The Diyamba Gala or Deep rock, a 20-minute boat ride away, is a rock complex which has underwater caves. Swim through the beautiful coral valley from Off Coral Gardens diving point (a 10-minute boat ride) which is home to moray eels, puffer fish and blow fish. Seenigamagala Rock is a habitat of the barracudas. If you are interested in exploring ship wrecks, then the Wreck of Ship Earl of Shaftesbury (a15-minute boat ride) and The Conch-One (a 20-minute boat ride) are some of the best places for dives. A more pristine part of Hikkaduwa is the marine park, along the northern end of the beach.
Day 5- Fly out from Colombo.