To whet your appetite for a Sri Lanka getaway, we look at some of the island’s great hotels and hear about some ideal itineraries. And scroll down for a roundup of the country’s best beaches!
For a tropical summer vacation
Close to the historic port of Galle, The Fortress blends the colonial architecture of the Dutch and Portuguese eras. Its 53 rooms include two residential suites and come with private courtyards or balconies, and with sea or garden views. There are three restaurants: Salty Snapper overlooking the ocean and serving the country’s famed seafood dishes; White Restaurant offering everything from local cuisine to wood-fired pizzas, and Duo for fine dining. There’s also the T Lounge, dedicated to serving Sri Lanka’s famous tea.
The on-site Spa Naturel offers a range of international and Ayurvedic therapies and beauty treatments, while other leisure facilities include a free-flowing pool, fully equipped gymnasium and yoga pavilion.
For a family adventure
Holidays with teenagers need a little twist – something really exciting to engage their imaginations – and the team from luxury travel operator Scott Dunn is sure that Sri Lanka has it all. Tropical beaches, waterfalls, incredible wildlife, tea plantations and fabulous food make it a perfect destination that the whole family can enjoy.
Each Scott Dunn itinerary is completely tailor-made. It acknowledges that teens might not be great fans of endless ancient sites and temples! Instead, the “Sri Lanka for Teenagers” itinerary is more about seeing local life and uncovering hidden gems. There are lots of activities to keep them occupied – plus beach time too! Spend your days on the lookout for elusive leopards in Wilpattu National Park or learning the art of haggling in the local markets with your private driver guide, before retreating to a luxury boutique hotel for some chill-out time.
For a stay in a stylish suite
Reef Villa & Spa is a luxury seven-suite boutique hotel located just 40 minutes south of Colombo. Set on three acres of lush landscaped gardens with extensive lily ponds and beside a palm-fringed beach, the hotel has an intimate vibe with superb attention to detail and service. The seven exclusive and palatial suites echo Indo-Colonial décor and feature 150-year-old, four-poster beds and luxurious private verandas.
Facilities within the hotel include an azure swimming pool and an all-weather tennis court. Beachfront restaurant Summer Breeze serves fresh lobster, crab and prawns, while further indulgence can be found at the Reefresh Spa. The latter offers a wide range of luxury treatments. Reef Villa also has an app that acts as a mobile pocket concierge. Guests can view facilities, make table reservations, book spa treatments or yoga, and book accommodation.
How well do you know Sri Lanka’s beaches?
Sri Lanka is surrounded entirely by the Indian Ocean, so it’s no great surprise that every compass point around the island boasts a beautiful beach or two. The best time to visit for surfing or sunbathing is August to October, before the start of the monsoon season. Here’s our compass-point guide to where to go!
Situated in the middle of the island’s northeast coast, Trincomalee offers beautiful sandy beaches with palm trees and blue waters. You can visit Nilaveli Beach and try your hand at fishing, book a whale-watching tour, or take a short boat ride to Pigeon Island, a popular snorkelling spot. Also nearby is Coral Island, boasting a gorgeous reef with tropical fish and marine life. Windsurfing aficionados will want to head a little further south to Uppuveli Beach for some board-and-sail action.
Located close to the historic city of Galle along the southwest coast, Hikkaduwa Beach is firmly on the tourist trail and for good reason. Beat the heat with a leisurely snorkel or a full-blown dive at Hikkaduwa Coral Reef, or stay dry and enjoy the view from a glass-bottomed boat. There’s a vibrant nightlife scene in town, with rows of restaurants and bars lining the shore. Further south is Mirissa Beach, a laid-back coastal community, where you can surf, jet ski or kite surf by day, and admire the stunning sunsets by night, with a few drinks and some fresh seafood cooked up in the restaurants along the beach.
If you’re keen to catch some waves, Arugam Bay is the place to go. Located on the southeast corner of the island, this is arguably Sri Lanka’s best break. Or, if boards aren’t your thing, you can just enjoy the sun and relax at one of the many bars along the beach. End the day with a barbecue seafood feast beneath the palms.
Dropping by the beach town of Negombo on the west coast is a breeze, as it’s located less than 30 minutes from Sri Lanka’s international airport – maybe one final seaside stop before heading back home? Resorts line the beach, so there are plenty of rooms with a view. The sea can be a little rough, so, if you’re keen on water sports, you can travel south to Negombo Lagoon for banana-boating, water skiing, kayaking and jet-skiing.
Find out more about trips to Sri Lanka and elsewhere in our Travel section.