Explore Sri Lanka
Three reasons to go!

As a family specialist, we usually ‘road-test’ our destinations with our little (and not-so-little!) ones in tow but for this trip it was an opportunity for some ‘mum and daughter time’ – and it was Emily’s lovely Mum who tagged along! This is a trend we can definitely get on board with! Needless to say, they both fell head over heels with Sri Lanka and are keen to return –  this time with Grandad, Dad and the kids maybe! Here’s Emily’s review of Sri Lanka and her top 3 reasons why Sri Lanka should make your family holiday short-list: 

Sri Lanka has always been high on my ‘travel bucket list’ so I couldn’t wait for this trip and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Mum and I completely fell in love with this beautiful island and the warmth of its people – so much so, that it now firmly holds the number 1 spot as my favourite family travel destination! Quite an accolade!

What struck us the most was just how many wonderful and varied experiences this small island (similar in size to Ireland) has to offer; from ancient cities to national parks, tea plantations to tropical beaches. Distances are relatively short and the road network is good so it’s easy to travel around, and with your private car and driver/guide you can travel at your own pace and stop as and when you wish – the kind of travel which is just perfect for families. Our driver taught us so much about the country and daily lives of the Sri Lankan people, introducing us to local delicacies such as King Coconut and curd & treacle (highly recommended – delicious!) and giving us top tips for that all-important souvenir-shopping. 

Culture, wildlife and beach are the 3 magic ingredients often at the top of a family’s ‘holiday wish list’ and Sri Lanka is one of the few destinations that ticks all 3 boxes (and more!):

1. Culture

Plenty! Eight World Heritage Sites no less! And in Sri Lanka the culture comes with an added side of adventure, so this is a cultural holiday which will appeal to the whole family. You can take to two wheels and cycle around Polonnaruwa’s ancient ruins, scale Sigiriya’s rock face to find the remains of the ancient kingdom or explore Dambulla Cave Temple and discover huge Buddha statues and paintings hidden in the rocks. Try and plan your sightseeing for first thing in the morning to avoid the heat of the day and then you have the afternoon to cool off in the pool. 

The food in Sri Lanka really deserves a section all of its own – it’s not an exaggeration to say we were treated to daily feasts wherever we went. It was a great opportunity to try new dishes and who could resist afternoon-tea colonial style, in the Hill Country amidst the tea plantations!

2. Wildlife

In abundance! With 22 National Parks dotted around the island it’s easy to incorporate a safari experience in your holiday. Plus, in Sri Lanka you don’t need to endure a long bumpy road transfer or take extra flights on a light aircraft – the parks are easily accessible. In the south of the island, you could be tracking elephants on an exciting Uda Walawe safari in the morning and enjoying a dip in the pool at your beach hotel by the afternoon! 

The accessibility of the parks mean they do get very busy and you should expect to see lots of other jeeps, but with such high numbers of elephants, sightings are almost guaranteed and the opportunity to see herds of these beautiful creatures up-close is a truly magical experience, and not one to be missed! During the dry season in Minneriya National Park (August-September) you can expect to see over 300 elephants surrounding the park’s large reservoir in what is known as the annual ‘Gathering’. The elusive Leopard on the other hand, is harder to spot and sightings are rare, but outside of Africa, Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park is one of the best places to seek out this big cat!

And when we weren’t “on safari” we were still having plenty of wildlife encounters along the way – playful monkeys, land monitor lizards, giant squirrels, colourful birds and wild peacocks (even a resident turkey!) were just some of the creatures we spotted on our travels.

3. Beach

As a tropical island in the Indian Ocean Sri Lanka certainly doesn’t fall short here! There are miles of coastline with beautiful golden beaches and swaying palm trees. We visited the south coast and stayed at the Anantara Peace Haven in Tangalle. This wonderful hotel enjoys a stunning setting on a headland overlooking the beach with luxurious rooms and pool villas plus plenty of activities to keep the family entertained with tennis, badminton, nature walks, cycling tours and cooking classes, not forgetting the huge pool! During the summer months, April-Oct, the sea on the south coast tends to be more suitable for surfing rather than swimming, but with an on-site surf school at the Anantara why not give it a try?! 

Man walking along beach at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle

and if pools are your thing, how about this…

Add to this stunningly beautiful scenery, wonderful food, tea, fantastic accommodation (with boutique hotels aplenty) and of course the wonderful Sri Lankan hospitality and you have the perfect ingredients for the ultimate family holiday!

About the author

Emily caught the travel bug at an early age so a career in the travel industry was the natural choice. With two girls now in tow, she’s looking forward to new family adventures.

Emily Whitely - Worldwide Travel Consultant

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