Discover the South of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka overall is quite hard to research online. But I imagine this will change very soon judging by the amount of people on my Facebook feed who have recently been or are planning to go. The next new holiday destination and I sincerely hope this will not change this little teardrop of India. One thing you need in Sri Lanka is time. Things are much slower here, not only service and trains, but also the roads. Places aren’t connected as well and even on the roads you won’t be moving much faster. I’d have loved to have travelled the east coast as well but there just wasn’t time during our 2 weeks trip. But we did the south and very much enjoyed it! That’s the thing about Sri Lanka – you have this incredible countryside with tea fields and then the most stunning whitewashed sand and turquoise Indian Ocean. Paradise in a teardrop.
The south is very different. It caters much more to the needs of mass tourism and Sri Lanka has worked out very quickly that it has something unique to offer – great surfing spots and the Indian Ocean. We wanted a mix of both – a chilled beach experience and some surfing. So we split our last week between 2 places: Matara and Hikkaduwa. Matara isn’t that well known and when the south is mentioned, it’s mainly Mirissa or Galle that gets all the reviews. We chose Matara purely BECAUSE it wasn’t mentioned that much and because we found an amazing little spot by the beach : 7th wave beach house. Run by a French / Sri Lankan couple and their 1 year old toddler, this is a proper surfing shack with its own restaurant. We stayed for 4 nights, right by the edge of the beach where you fall asleep to the sound of the waves and you wake up to them. All you need to do is step out of your room and jump on a surf board for an early morning session before indulging on the restaurants terrace with a surfers breakfast – omelette, banana pancakes, coffee and porridge. After having travelled a lot the previous week, it was great to just relax for a few days in a hammock, with fresh seafood and glorious sunsets on a daily basis. A super chilled place with very cool people, it’s basic, it’s simple, it doesn’t have hot water but it’s a little piece of paradise. Having spoke to a few people during out stay, we are glad we didn’t chose Mirissa as it seems to have turned into a bit of a red light district with quite a heavy drug culture.
The last leg of our journey was Hikkaduwa – a town up the west coast towards Colombo. Hikkaduwa is famous for its surf, you don’t got here with your kids for a sand castle beach trip, I myself wasn’t brave enough to go into the water. It’s the Indian Ocean at its wildest, with the caveat that I haven’t seen the east coast which is meant to be even better for surfing. The rawness and strength of the Indian Ocean is scarily beautiful and breathtaking at the same time.
We treated ourselves a little bit for our last 3 nights and booked the beautiful Banana Leaf Apartment – an AirBnB right in the middle of the jungle. The English / Sri Lankan couple Hannah and Amila build a beautiful little oasis of 3 apartments tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Hikkaduwa in the jungle but still close enough to walk to the town through rice fields. With an outdoor kitchen and outdoor sofa area you couldn’t ask for more, watching monkeys in the morning and exotic birds throughout the day. We had some very relaxing days here with a mix of surfing, drinks by the beach and long mornings on the terrace with some home-cooked lunches. There is a well stocked supermarket and daily market in town and I immensely enjoyed the outdoor cooking. We struggled a little bit with restaurants as it is very tourist heavy so it was nice to have the ability to cook at home. But the beach front is perfect for a light seafood lunch to take a break from the sun and beach.