There’s no doubt that the secret of beautiful Sri Lanka is getting out. Once a fairly unknown tourist destination, all of a sudden, my social media feed seemed full of amazing pictures from this spectacular island. It didn’t take long until I was convinced – and after ten days in stunning Sri Lanka, I can certainly see the huge appeal of the amazing country.
Like most visitors, I flew into Colombo, the country’s well-connected capital. I soon found the transfer I’d booked, and was warmly greeted and welcomed to Sri Lanka.
As we drove to our accommodation, I peered excitedly out of the window. Colombo was a fascinating mix of ultra-modern high-rise buildings, modest structures and leafy green parks. I spotted many cricket clubs and pitches, and our driver, Upul, agreed that it was most of Sri Lanka’s favourite game.
Later that afternoon, I headed out for a whirlwind city tour which took in many of the most famous sights of Colombo, including the lighthouse and “York Street” with its British colonial architecture. My favourite sight was the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, which houses a lock of the Buddha’s hair and has many interesting objects from vintage cars to gemstones on display.
That evening, I got my first taste of Sri Lankan cuisine – and oh boy, was it delicious! I had a tasting platter of many different dishes, and each was as mouthwatering as the last! One of my favourites of all was the traditional Kottu dish, especially with a little bit of lunu miris (chili paste). That said, I learnt the hard way not to go overboard with the lunu miris – my watery eyes gave away that I’d perhaps overdone the chili!
The following day I ventured to Kandy, considered the cultural heart of Sri Lanka. It was a beautiful, riverside town with views of the mountains. In Kandy, I saw a cultural show in the evening in a beautiful old cinema. There were many spectacular dance numbers, including a very acrobatic one and even some fire-walking! All in all, it was a colourful and exciting performance.
The next day we slowly drove out of Kandy, stopping in at a tea factory to see how famous Sri Lankan tea is grown and processed – thinking it was the perfect souvenir for my grandparents, I picked up a huge bag which was extremely affordable. We also had to stop once more as we neared the town of Dambulla, as an elephant crossed the road slowly in front of us. I made sure to get plenty of pictures!
That afternoon I spent lazily relaxing in Dambulla, and indulging in even more delicious Sri Lankan food. I also enjoyed chatting with the restaurant staff about Sri Lanka – everyone I met on the trip was so kind, and genuinely excited to share Sri Lanka’s many charms. As much as I’d have liked to stay up later, I headed off to bed early to get an early start the next morning.
The early start was so that I could get to the landmark of Sigiriya nice and early. I’d read about the amazing mountain temple on a blog, and was very excited to see it for myself. Even though it was hundreds of steps to the top, it was so worth it. The 1500-year-old former palace is absolutely spectacular and the view from the top is mesmerising. It definitely managed to exceed my (already high) expectations!
After a busy three days seeing some of Sri Lanka’s mainland hotspots, I was excited to make it to our final, and longest, stop: Kalpitiya in Sri Lanka’s west. I’d heard great things about Sri Lanka’s beaches, and Kalpitiya in particularly sounded like a beautiful unspoiled paradise.
For my stay, I’d booked into the Kalpitiya Kite School in Margarita Village. To be honest, I was a little nervous pulling up, as I’d only tried kitesurfing a couple of times and I was worried that I’d be too much of a beginner! As soon as I arrived, however, my mind was put at ease and I immediately knew I’d made the right choice.
It had such a friendly and laidback atmosphere, and the staff assured me that their lessons were great for people of all abilities, including beginners. Everyone seemed to absolutely love kitesurfing (and Sri Lanka) and was just happy to share in the good vibes, especially over tasty communal barbecues. I met some lovely fellow travellers and also had a wonderful time chatting to the owner, Ruben, who loved Sri Lanka long before it was cool to do so!
I also loved the rustic chalets nestled amongst the beautiful natural environment. There was even a tropically-inspired outdoor shower! It was the perfect relaxing retreat, peppered with some amazing kitesurfing as well.
Within the week, I really noticed that I improved quickly as the quality of teaching was fantastic – the instructors were so experienced and patient. It didn’t take long before I was confidently riding over the water of Kalpatiya Lagoon. It definitely made me love kitesurfing even more, and I was so proud to get my IKO card which means I can kitesurf all over the world!
Even though I just loved the atmosphere at Margarita Village and would have happily spent the whole week there, I did also manage to go out on a few daytrips to see the sights nearby. I especially loved exploring the old Dutch Fort, and going out to Vella Island. One of my favourite parts of these daytrips was simply touring around the area, getting a look into everyday village life.
As my time in beautiful Sri Lanka came to an end, I found myself wondering if I could rearrange my plans to stay even longer. Even though it is a relatively small island (at least compared to Australia!), there is just so much to do. Plus, even though Sri Lanka’s popularity is rising, it didn’t feel overcrowded or inauthentic – quite the opposite, in fact.
Unfortunately, I had to return home – but I did so with amazing memories from a beautiful week and a half, and itching to one day return to kitesurf and explore more of this varied and intriguing country. For more information visit the best kitesurfing school in sri lanka.