This summer we took the kids back to Sri Lanka for 10 days on a south coast road trip. We stayed at 4 wonderful properties all offering something unique and I’m happy to say they are all partners with Unique Family Travels which means we receive discounted rates for our members.
One of the main reasons why we wanted to visit Sri Lanka was to support the tourism economy since the awful bombings earlier this year. This was our fourth time to Sri Lanka, and after arriving at Colombo airport the lack of tourism was evident. The airport used to be bustling with life but now it’s heavily secured and rather quiet. However, during our stay we never once felt threatened or intimated by security, in fact we felt really comfortable but sad that everywhere was really quiet and the hustle and bustle of the island wasn’t there. I am confident Sri Lanka will bounce back – it has too much to offer and being a beautiful place it wont be held back for long.
Because we were touring the coast, I decided to start at the southern tip of the island in Tangalle pronounced "Tan-GAH-leh" and then head slowly back up the coast to Colombo. If you wish to cut out the drive time you can take a seaplane from Colombo to Tangalle where you you’ll land at what might be the world’s most picturesque airport in Dickwella, just a shack near a dock on Mawella Lagoon, about 15 minutes from Tangalle. The 40-minute plane ride will spare you the 3.5-hour drive and provides a mesmerizing bird’s eye view of Sri Lanka.
Our first stop was the stunning Anantara Peace Haven in Tangalle; once you walk into the property the view is spectacular as the hotel sits on a rocky outcrop of the south coast offering panoramic views of the grounds, beach and ocean.
Read our full review of the property here:
Tangalle is a 3-hour drive down the main highway from Colombo and is a large town in the Hambantota District. Two years ago when we visited Hambantota we flew from Dubai into Hambantota airport, but sadly since the deal with China is run into problems the airport is temporarily closed for international flights.
If you want to venture out in Tangalle you can discover the charm of rural fishing villages and fields of rice paddies, interspersed with Buddhist temples. It’s also a suitable base for combining a beach holiday with a visit to Udawalewe National Park and Yala National Park. We visited Udawalewe Park two years ago which was amazing as we witnessed so many elephants in there natural habitat.
Read our review here:
After a couple of days we then headed towards Yala National Park. We were at the luxurious Relais and Chateaux property Wild Coast Tented Lodge which is situated on the boundaries of Yala and is completely open to wildlife - so be warned you may just find an unexpected guest within the lodge or strolling around your room.
Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. The park consists of five blocks, two of which are open to the public, and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names such as, Ruhuna National Park (block 1) and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometers (378 sq mi). Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is also important for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan leopards and aquatic birds. https://www.yalasrilanka.lk/
Staying at Wild Coast Tented Lodge your safaris are organized with their resident rangers.
Wild Coast Tented Lodge is an unforgettable experience. The combination of jungle wildlife and raw beaches will impress even the most jaded of travelers while the luxury-tented accommodations truly elevate the concept of luxury eco-tourism.
Read our review here:
From Yala we headed to Cape Weligama, a sister property of Wild Coast, as both are located in the south while their third property Ceylon Tea Trails is located in the Ceylon tea region. This was our longest drive approx. a 4-hour drive from Yala as we had to take the coastal route.
Weligama is a town on the south coast of Sri Lanka, located in Matara District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka. The name Weligama, literally means "sandy village" which refers to the area's sandy sweep bay. You can also visit Mirissa, which is a very popular option for tourists. It has a very beautiful picturesque beach. Weligama is known for its surf and leading into Cape Weligama you will see many shacks offering surf lessons. My eldest learnt to surf here two years ago when she was 5 and totally loved it. The surf schools are ran by locals who are really considerate and great teachers.
In Weligama you will also witness many of the stilt fisherman perched on branched poles in the sea as they fish skillfully during dawn, noon and dusk. This is also a great spot to go whale and dolphin watching.
The Cape Weligama resort is located perched high on a palm-dominated headland with magnificent Indian Ocean and coastal views. The resort encompasses the entire 12-acre headland with freestanding villas clustered in twos or threes in meticulously landscaped gardens, some with their own 15-metre swimming pools.
Read our full review here: http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2019/07/20/cape-weligama/
From here we headed toward Colombo airport with a 2-day stop over at Anantara Kalutara. This hotel is only a 1.5-hour drive from Weligama, which means only a further 1.5-hour to the airport. The Anantara was a great last stop for the kids as they got to zip line, rock climb and abseil. Our private 2-bed pool villa offered a large comfortable space but unfortunately this room didn’t come with any views although a large number of their 1-2 bedrooms face the ocean. The hotel has so much to offer for kids with a kids club, giant chess sets, tree house and the above adventure games.
Near the hotel is Kalutara - a small village and the famous Richmond Castle. Spread across a 42-acre estate, the castle features intricate carvings, 34 windows embellished with stained glass of exquisite designs, an immense dance hall and a staircase of teak.
We had the most perfect and relaxed 10 days and would like to thank all four properties for hosting us and making us feel so welcome.
Reasons to visit Sri Lanka:
1 it’s safe - you don’t have to worry as Sri Lanka is safer now with tightened security
2 we need to support the Sri Lankan economy so tourism can flourish and the locals can be supported.
3 It’s a haven for nature and wild life lovers from whale and dolphin watching to nature parks where you can enjoy a safari drive spotting leopards, elephants, bears and monkeys.
4 you can learn to surf on one of Sri Lanka’s tropical beaches
5 take a train ride from Kandy to Ella it’s a beautiful and unforgettable experience
6 famous for their tea plantations, take a trek past lush green tea plantations up to Ella Rock for amazing views
7 so many wonderful views from cliff top hotels to jungle retreats
8 warm hospitality and excellent service
9 affordable luxury
10 Enjoy being up close and personal with an elephant by volunteering at an elephant sanctuary
12, 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites to visit
13, relax and enjoy Ayurveda treatments which are part of the island’s DNA.
14 Stay in beautiful accommodation such as converted colonial homes, tea and rubber plantation buildings, jungle cabins, tree-houses and eco-lodges, cliff top luxury.
15, great news - you can enjoy a sea plane to cross the island as seaplane routes provide flights from Colombo to the country's lush interior and the ocean-fringed jungles on the south of the island
Emirates (www.emirates.com) Fly Dubai (www.flydubai.com) fly direct from Dubai to Colombo.
Cinnamon Air seaplane from Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport flies to multiple landing strips on the island www.cinnamonair.com