The Pearl of the Indian Ocean is a precious island in the shape of a jewel. The island itself is a treasure trove of beauty, culture and history. There are numerous historical landmarks and lovingly preserved relics everywhere and there is so much to see! Here are a few tips for you so that you too can experience this lovely island without denting your savings.
Eat the local food
Sri Lankan cuisine is delicious! Primarily centred around rice and curries, all the savoury dishes are made using coconut milk and fresh, aromatic spices. A meal would typically cost you less than 5 USD and even if you go to a local restaurant, it is only 15 USD including table service. The fancier, western-style food here is what will cost you a lot but it’s not worth it, especially when the local food is out straight up to God’s food.
If you’re a solo traveller or a backpacker, many hostels and guest houses charge around 6 USD per night; you can’t go wrong with that price as you get a bed, mosquito net, shower, and a fan. Worrying too much about accommodation is not recommended because you can get amazing food and everything else you need for so cheap. However, if you’re travelling with your family or want to treat yourself to a nice vacation, investigate less travelled areas such as Kalutara; resorts are relatively easier to book. There are so many rooms, suites, and villas to choose from at places such as the Avani Kalutara Resort.
Getting around on the island
Conveniently, there is a bus from Colombo Fort Bus Station to the airport leaving every 30mins. It costs less than 10 USD and is the cheapest way to get to and from the airport. Getting from major cities to other destinations is easiest by train. It is cheap and the routes are very scenic. If you want to travel within a city tuk-tuks are your best bet! Seriously, these tiny taxis are a quintessential Sri Lankan experience that you must have.
What’s there to see?
If you have the time, go everywhere! Although the north suffered decades of civil war, they’re rebuilding and re-energizing which is an amazing feat that must be witnessed. The southern parts of the country are serene and beautiful with azure blue beaches, rainforests with magic in the air. The hill country is enchanting on its own with a different vibe and energy from the rest of the island. It truly is a beautiful country with so many diverse experiences all a few hours away from each other.
While there are many attractions in Kalutara, not all are well-known by tourists and here are a few such sites in the district to add to your itinerary.
While the city’s main temple gets all the attention, equally impressive is the Kande Viharaya Buddhist temple in Kalutara; beach resort properties can be found within easy reach of this site that dates to the 18th century. Highlights include various frescoes and Buddha images, a sacred Bo tree and one of the world’s tallest sitting Buddha statues.
Nature lovers can visit the Thudugala Waterfall, easy to reach on excursions from properties like the ‘Safe and Secure’ certified Avani Kalutara Resort. You must walk through a rubber estate and past an abandoned estate building before reaching the cascading waters, an enchanting site where you can have a refreshing dip as well!
Fa Hien Cave
The Kalutara District is also home to one of Asia’s biggest natural rock formations, where a pre-historic human settlement was excavated too. It’s named Fa Hien Cave after a Chinese Buddhist priest who is said to have visited this spot in the 5th century; here, you can see the archaeological dig sites, a Buddhist temple and a reclining statue of Lord Buddha.
Located near the town of Ingiriya, the Nachchimale Stream is another attraction that showcases the natural beauty of Kalutara. At this site, apart from the meandering stream, one will find a picturesque setting with small waterfalls and ponds set amidst lush foliage. It’s a great spot to have a bath and soak up sublime tranquillity.
The Kalutara district, which is just shy of Colombo is a sunny district with many hidden waterfalls, waiting to be explored and uncovered! Read on to find out more about the waterfalls which await you in this district.
Hotels in Kalutara
The beauty of Kalutara is that while you might be based in a Kalutara beach resort such as the Avani Kalutara Resort, you’re never too far from some waterfalls. Especially if you’re visiting during the rainy season, you can expect to explore some gorgeous cascades replete with gushing water.
Makeli Ela Falls
This 10-meter-high waterfall is by far one of the more popular waterfalls in Kalutara. The backdrop of which are some rugged granite boulders. The contrast of the silvery cascade against this rustic backdrop makes this stunning location to photograph as well.
Ahas Boku Ella
This waterfall is at the end of a demanding albeit rewarding trek through the thicket. It’s a 30-meter fall which is named after the illusion of the water gushing in and through the sky, making it a must-see on the waterfall circuit of Kalutara.
Maha and Bala Ella
These falls are referred to as the sibling of waterfalls, due to their difference in size and their proximity to each other. Hike up the riverbank amidst the untamed yet pristine forest cover to reach these two falls. Bathing in the rock pools is safe as well but it’s always best to stay close to the banks.
Kalutara is a quiet coastal town located in the south of Sri Lanka and is one of the best places on the island to partake in a variety of water sports.
Hop on a jet ski and rip through the mesmerizing lagoon waters of Kalutara. This adrenaline pumping sport is a great way to spend the afternoon, especially if you’re staying at AVANI Kalutara Resort.
Surfing is an island wide favourite and if you’re looking for popular things to do in Kalutara– this is it! Grab a surf board and catch some of the biggest and baddest waves around the coastal areas.
With the wind as your friend, parasailing is a great way to enjoy the scenery and partake in a thrilling activity! Feel the adrenaline rush through your bones as you soar above the shimmering ocean waters.
Sri Lankan beaches, lagoons and rivers are the best places to try this water sport as you’re constantly blessed with the gusts of wind. Glide along the waves and let the wind be your guide.
Don your flippers and scuba diving kit and dive into the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean. Only those with a PADI license are permitted to dive.
Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe.
While Sri Lanka’s south coast has many towns and cities along its shoreline that have become quite popular amongst locals and tourists alike, there is a quaint locale that one can tend to overlook while on your travels. The idyllic town of Kalutara with its iconic temple which towers above the townscape as you drive across the main bridge is a super spot for some fun in the sun, lazy days on the sand and frolic in the surf. There are plenty of fun things to do in Kalutara and since it is only around an hour and a half from Colombo, it makes a great place for a day trip as well.
As with most south coast locales, one of the highlights here is the golden, soft sandy stretch of beach. A perfect place for working on that holiday tan which will be the envy of all once you get back, the beach area here is ideal for everything from chilling out on the shore to building sandcastles with the kids. Ideally, look to find accommodation right along the beach itself and options such as AVANI Kalutara Resort are worth considering if you want to spend lots of time by the ocean.
If you are the active type, you can always try kayaking on the local river known as the “Kalu Ganga”. It’s a great way to get a feel of the area and get a workout at the same time! There are more water sports to be enjoyed in the lagoon area too. For more adventure look to head to the historic mansion called Richmond Castle. Constructed during the time of British colonial rule, this fascinating structure retains its old world charm even though it may have lost some of its grandeur over the many decades.
For a change of scenery, plan a visit to Thudugala Ella Falls. You will have to head a bit inland to the Thudugala Estate, located in the village of the same name, in order to get to this waterfall. In the heat that radiates throughout the country during certain months, Thudugala Ella Falls and its natural pool, in particular, is the ideal spot to cool off and enjoy time surrounded by nature.
Auburn Silver is a travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.