The island's superb beaches lie along its coastline to the south and southwest, with sandy coves and estuaries, and long palm-fringed stretches. Beaches vary in character and facilities and thus allowing to have a wider choice. Negombo, Mount Lavinia and Hikkaduwa are some of the famous (and often crowded with tourists) beaches. There are upmarket resorts on the southwest coast of the island around Bentota and Ahungalla, which offer water-sports in a sheltered lagoon. Moreover, Unawatuna, Weligama, Mirissa and Tangalle are quieter beaches. Nilaveli, near Trincomalee, a white sandy beach offers clear waters on the quieter and less developed east coast. Below, you will find short descriptions about some of the most visited and famous beaches in Sri Lanka, including the Arugam Bay.
The name of Mount Lavinia is built up around the original residence of Sir. Thomas Maitland who was the Governor General of, then Ceylon from 1805 to 1811. Mount Lavinia is a residential suburb and famous for its 'Golden Mile" of beaches. It has been a great place for tourism and lovely night-life.
A tropical lagoon, facing the Indian ocean, Bentota offers some of the very exciting water sport facilities, which could be found nowhere else. From simple swimming to diving in the sea and jet skiing to wind surf, body surfing and para-sailing to romantic river safaris on the river and lagoon can be enjoyed here.
Hikkaduwa is a beautiful small town situated on the way from Colombo to Galle on the famous Galle road. Hikkaduwa is very famous for its sandy beaches and superb waves for surfing. You may have a fantastic relaxation at the beach. Moreover, We, at Rejoice Holidays may provide you with the options of coral viewing by a glass bottom boat, surfing, snorkeling or scuba diving.
Unawatuna is the most famous tourist destination in the West coast of Sri Lanka. Particularly, Unawatuna is famous for breeding ground of turtles. It is a very beautiful and a calm place to relax your mind and an excellent location to enjoy the tropical beauty. Off the coast of Unawatuna, beneath the Indian Ocean lies a number of coral reefs, shipwrecks and a great variety of fish and turtles. The turtles wade onto the shore to lay their nests and eggs at times.
Negombo first flourished as a center for cinnamon production in Sri Lanka, pioneered by Portuguese and subsequently attended to, by the Moors (Muslims). Negombo is a quickly accessible town from the international airport in Katunayake and the beach here is an excellent one. Negombo offers some of the better beaches on the west coast of Sri Lanka. Water-sports and diving are also popular among visitors, with a few well-preserved coral reefs and a 50-year-old shipwreck (Kudapaduwa) that serves as an artificial reef for many varieties of fish. There are also local handicraft sales on the beaches and the shops near the town.
Arugam Bay (aru - gam - beh) is a lovely and the most traveler friendly location in the east coast of Sri Lanka. Arugam bay is world famous for water surfing with the name "Arugam SurfPoint". From April to October, it has some of the world's best waves for surfing. It is also famous for unwind and delicious sea food.
Nilaveli (as its meaning, Open-land of the moon-shine) is in Trincomalee - a port city on the east coast of Sri Lanka, about 110 miles northeast of Kandy. The city is situated in a peninsula and is one of the main centers of Tamil speaking culture in the island. Trincomalee is one of the world's finest rated natural harbors. The beaches are used for surfing, scuba diving, fishing and whale watching. The city also has the largest Dutch fort in Sri Lanka and is well known for the sacred hill of three ancient temples.
Sri Lanka may be one of the world’s best locations (amongst the top two, if not, three) for watching Blue Whales and Sperm Whales. Mirissa Water Sports is based in Mirissa harbour, a beautiful and quiet fishing village in the South of Sri Lanka. Mirissa is reported to have the prettiest beach on the South coast, with clean sand, calm water and safe swimming. Kalpitiya is situated approximately 150 kilometres North of Colombo is skirted by sea on one side and lagoon on the other. There are several small and relatively large sized islands formed within, both the sea and the lagoon. These islands are a treat to see, as most of these, especially the ones by the lagoon, are covered with green mangroves. Kalpitiya is one of best places to see and enjoy ever smiling and singing chirpy dolphins. Rejoice Holidays is capable to bring you at the right time, to the right place, where you can watch the spinner dolphins give a show in their hundreds or perhaps even in their thousands. If you would like to have a trip around here, we advice you to visit November to April season. So that you may enjoy watching whales and dolphins with Rejoice Holidays.
For tourists who would like an action-packed adventure on the water, White water rafting is the ideal sport for them. The sport is full of great fun for first timers as well as experts alike, with a wide range and grading of rapids on some of the island’s more turbulent waters such as the Kelani River. You may also visit Kitulgala, up in the hill country. The small Kitulgala river made its mark on the map, when it became the site of filming for the famous 1957 Oscar-winning film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’.
Pinnawala is a beautiful village on par with nature, situated about 90 km from the capital city of Colombo. Pinnawala is famous for its Elephant orphanage. You can enjoy watching the baby jumbos wondering around their cramped foster home or bottle fed and bathed by their human foster fathers at the orphanage. The elephant orphanage is a place you will really enjoy and remember forever in your life time. Most orphans are accustomed to the visitors and are harmless.
Horton plains is the first and the only mountain National Park in Sri Lanka with a height of more than 2000 meters. Moreover, this is the only park in which visitors are permitted to tour on foot. Sri Lanka's second and third highest mountains namely "Kirigalpotta" and "Thotupola" respectively, are found within the borders of this park. Sri Lankan Sambar Deer, wild boar and leopard are the most common large mammals found in Horton Plains. Fishing cats, Endemic Bear Monkey, Otter, Giant Squirrel and Black napped hare are among other mammals. Many species of endemic & threatened rats & shrews are also could be found within the park. The Horton Plains is spectacularly beautiful park to enjoy and relax.
Yala National Park is the most visited and the second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Basically it consists of five blocks, two of which are widely visited; and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names such as the Ruhuna National Park for the block 1 (which is the best known) and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries within the Yala national park. Rain is received mainly during the north-east monsoon. Yala hosts a variety of eco-systems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. It is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBA's) in the island. Yala harbours 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world.
Wilpattu is located in the North-west coast lowland, dry zone of Sri Lanka. Willu-pattu (Land of Lakes) is the name of the park and its unique feature is the existence of "Willus" (Natural lakes) - Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. This is one of the oldest national parks in the island. There are many types of vegetation to be found in Wilpattu. i.e: Littoral vegetation, including Salt grass and low scrub monsoon forests with tall emergents, such as Palu (Manilkara hexandra), and Satin (Chloroxylon swietenia), Milla (Vitex altissima), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Ebony (Disopyros ebenum) and Wewarna (Alseodaphne semecapriflolia). Fauna side includes some 31 species of mammals in Wilpattu, such as, elephant, Sloth bear, leopard and water Buffalo. Sambhur, spotted deer, mongoose, mouse and shrew are more of Wilpattu's residents. There are different kinds of birds and reptiles could also be found here.
Wasgamuwa, which was originally designated as a nature reserve in 1938; later in the 1984, it was declared as a "Natural park" and as a "Protected area" to make a refuge for the displaced wild animals. Currently, Wasgamuwa National Park exhibits one of the highest biodiversity among the protected areas in Sri Lanka. More than 150 floral species have recorded from the park. Moreover, the park is home to 23 species of mammals and there are around 150 Sri Lankan elephants within the park. The number of bird species recorded from the park is 143, including 8 endemic species. This is a very nice place to visit for all the tourists, specially for whom with wild life interest.
Singharaja (Lion King) forest reserve is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot of the island. It is of international significance and has been designated as a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. This is the major undisturbed area of rain-forest in Sri Lanka and it occupies a broad ridge at the heart of the island’s wet zone. The forest play a major part in conjuring rain-clouds (and therefore rainfall) to the south-western side of the island. The forest comprises of 18,899 hectares of natural and modified forest, measuring about 21km (13 Mi) east to west and 7km (4.3Mi) north to south. It was once a royal reserve, and some colonial records refer to it as "Rajasinghe Forest". It may have been the last redoubt of the Sri Lankan lion. This is a treasure trove of endemic species, including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Uda-Walawe lies South of the central hills of Sri Lanka, and it surrounds the man made reservoir of Uda-Walawe, which is part of the park. The habitat surrounding, the reservoir includes marshes, the Walawe river & its tributaries, forests and grasslands. There is a teak plantation also within the national park. The dry season is the most suitable time to visit the park as visitors can watch the many herds of elephants that roam the park, which is usually between May and September of the year. Uda-Walawe is an excellent bird watching site too, with rare birds.
Royal Botanical Gardens, falling into the "must see" category, is located in close proximity to the city of Kandy, in Peradeniya in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. The garden is a finest of its kind in Asia and the largest of the botanical gardens in Sri Lanka. The Garden was made more independent and expanded under Mr George Gardner, as its superintendent in 1844. It has been also used during the Second World War by Lord Louis Mountbatten, the supreme commander of the allied forces in the South Asia as the headquarters of the South East Asia Command. The gardens came under the administration of the Department of Agriculture when it was established in 1912. The Royal Botanical Gardens is renowned for the collection of variety of Orchids with more than 300 varieties of Orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees and they make the National Herbarium. Moreover, The Classical Avenue of Palms is located in this Garden. One tree with a significant history is the Cannon ball Tree planted by the King George V of the United Kingdom and Queen Mary in 1901. The tree is bent with its fruits which look like Cannon Ball, which is how it came to be named.
The Royal city of Kandy lies in the midst of the hills of the island. Known as the "Hill capital of Sri Lanka", the city is situated about 500 meters above the sea level. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka. It is both an administrative as well as a religious city. Kandy is the home of The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Dalada Maligawa), considered as one of the most sacred places for the Buddhist community in Sri Lanka and all over the world. It was declared by the UNESCO as a world heritage city in 1988. The Esala Perahara, a cultural pageant venerating the tooth relic of Buddha, is a spectacular parade which goes on for ten nights in the months of July /August.
Bandarawela is the second largest town in Badulla District, which is 28 km away from the Badulla city. Due to a higher altitude, Bandarawela has a cooler climate throughout the year. Bandarawela town, tinted with a colonial past resting among lush forestation has a remarkable rating among tourists all around the world. The main heritage sites in and around Bandarawela are, the ancient Dhowa Buddhist rock temple, the Roman Catholic Church - St. Anthony's Church and Methodist Church. It is said that, the Ancient dhowa rock temple was founded by the King Walagamba in the first century BC which is located about approx. 6 km away from the city if Bandarawela. It has a 38 ft Buddha image sculptured from a rock and some paintings belonging to the Kandyan era, depicting various Jataka (Budhist ancient) stories. Bandarawela was once hailed as possessing one of the healthiest climates in the world, and nothing much has happened here to change that. Therein this was the most favorable climate in the island. Geographically, the Bandarawela area is hilly and surrounded by a large number of mountains.
Nuwara Eliya (The city on the plain table land ) or the "City of Light", is a town in the central highlands of Sri Lanka with a picturesque landscape and a temperate climate. The city is absolutely fantastic with salubrious climate, breathtaking views of valleys, meadows, mountains and full of greenery surrounding. The town is overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka. The city was founded by Samuel Baker, the discoverer of Lake Albert and the explorer of the Nile in 1846. Nuwara Eliya, called "Little England" then, was also a hill country retreat where the British colonialists could immerse in their pastimes such as fox hunting, deer hunting, elephant hunting, polo, golf and cricket. The town really comes alive in April for the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year, where numerous motor racing and horse racing events are conducted. The town's attractions include the golf course, trout streams, Victoria Park, and boating or fishing on Lake Gregory. Victoria Park is an attractive and well-used oasis. It is popular with birdwatchers at quieter times because of the good opportunities it gives to watch various species, notably the Indian Blue Robin, Pied Thrush or Scaly Thrush lurking in the denser undergrowth. The slow-growing tea bushes of this highland region produce some of the world's finest Orange Pekoe tea. We, at Rejoice Holidays, will be guiding you to have the opportunity to sample or purchase such finest products.
Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization. For over 1000 years, Sinhalese kings as well as occasional South Indian interlopers ruled from various places of Anuradhapura. The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the capital city, Colombo. This is the most extensive and important of the Sri Lankan ancient royal capitals, buy its size and the length of its history as well as the length of the time since its downfall. With the introduction of Buddhism, the city gained more prominence and the great building era began. A lots of then - high tech buildings, lakes, hospitals and similar things were built in Anuradhapura, by the kings who ruled the island, time to time. The city had some of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world; situated in the dry zone of the country, the administration built many tanks to irrigate the land. There are a lots of ancient remaining in the city for the tourists to see. According to carbon dating, the ruins excavated were from the 10th century B.C.
Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991, the city of Dambulla is situated 148 km north-east of Colombo. Major attractions of the city include the largest and the best preserved cave temple complex of Sri Lanka, and the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, famous for being built in just 167 days. The city also boasts to have the largest rose quartz mountain range in South Asia, and the Iron wood forest, known as the "Namal Uyana". The cave temple complex is the spectacular place to visit in Dambulla. The rock towers 160 m over the surrounding plains.There are more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding. Major attractions are spread over 5 caves, which contain statues and paintings. This paintings and statues are related to Buddha and his life. There are a total of 153 Buddha statues and 3 statues of the Sri Lankan kings.
Dalada Maligawa or the "Temple of the Tooth Relic" is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. Kandy was the last capital of the Sinhalese kings and is a UNESCO world heritage site, partly due to this temple. It is located in the royal palace complex which houses the Relic of the tooth of Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it was believed that whoever holds the relic, would hold the governance of the country. The architecture and the structure of the buildings such as of the Royal Palace, are of superior quality and famous among the visitors. The grand "Kandy Esala Perahara" - a Buddhist religious festival is held based on the "Tooth Relic" of this temple here. The Perahara consists with lovely fire-dances, whip-dances, Kandian dances and various other cultural dances. The elephants used for the Perahara are usually adorned with lavish garments. This event has gained a great popularity among the tourists and is, of course a "must see" event, if you are visiting here in July or August - the season the festival is held.
Keleniya Temple, known as the "Keleniya Raja Maha Vihara" is situated in the city of Keleniya, close proximity to the capital city of Colombo. The history of the temple goes back to before 500 BCE. The temple is famous for its image of the reclining Buddha and paintings which depict important events in the life of the Buddha, in the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, also incidents from the Jataka tales. It is the venue for the Duruthu Maha Perehera (a buddhist festival) procession each January. An 18-foot stone statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara has been erected at the temple. Kelani Raja Maha Viharaya was one of the largest and one of the most beautiful temples in Sri Lanka.
Polonnaruwa is the second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, which lies 216 km north-east of Colombo. This is the island's medieval capital (11th - 12th Century AD) and a well-preserved city of ancient dagobas, moonstones, beautiful parks, massive buildings and stunningly beautiful statues. Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains as one of the best planned archeological relic sites in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom's first rulers. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa has been declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Known as one of the cleaner and most beautiful cities in the country, Polonnaruwa has an splendid green environment, amazing ancient constructions, Parakrama Samudraya (a huge lake built in 1200 A.D.), attractive tourist hotels and most importantly, nice people with hospitality, always attract local and foreign tourists.
Sigiriya (the Lion's rock) is an ancient rock fortress and palace ruin situated in the island, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. Being a popular tourist destination, Sigiriya is also renowned for its ancient paintings (frescos). Sri Lankan architectural tradition is well portrayed at Sigiriya, the best preserved city center in Asia from the first millennium, with its combination of buildings and gardens with their trees, pathways, water gardens, the fusion of symmetrical and asymmetrical elements, use of varying levels and of axial and radial planning. The Complex consists of the central rock, rising approximately 200 meters above the surrounding plain, and the two rectangular precincts on the east - 90 hectares, and the west - 40 hectares, surrounded by two moats and three ramparts. Climbing the Sigiriya rock and watching the remains of the palace of King Kashyapa, who built the rock as his palace, has become a "must do" activity for tourists visiting the island. It is such a wonderful experience and you would never forget this in your life time.
Sri Lanka is the secret garden of surf holiday making and is one of the most reliable surf destination in the Indian Ocean. The island encompasses beautiful tropical beaches, verdant vegetation, ancient monuments and a thousand delights clubbed with ample opportunities to undertake a spine tingling water sport activity. Sri Lanka is the finest island of its size in all the world and you are likely to agree to the fact, Sri Lanka is the ultimate paradise for all water sport adventures. May to September is the best period for surfing, as the winds are strongest during this period. Arugam bay on the east coast is the best beach for surfing. Other renowned beaches for surfing are Hikkaduwa on the south-western coast and Bentota on the western coast. Surfing gears such as surfboards, boogie boards and wet-suites could be hired in the shops beside the beaches. There are several dive sites along island's coastline where you can have the opportunity to see some of the greatest marine lives such as corals, ship wrecks, myriad tropical fish, coral fish, angle fish and puffer fish. Hikkaduwa and Tangalla on the west coast, Unawatuna on the south coast and Nilaveli on the east coast are some of the excellent and renowned locations for scuba diving and snorkeling. The best time for diving and snorkeling on the west coast is from November to April and on the east coast is from April to September as the sea is calmest during this period. Sri Lanka has dozens of rivers and small streams that originate from hills, which offer fantastic water sport facilities. Some of the rivers such as Kelani River in Kitulgala, in the south-west of Kandy, are very popular among tourists for rafting purposes. Popular sites for canoeing are the Kalu Ganga (i.e: Black River) and the Kelani Ganga.
Ballooning trips are so much popular among the tourists visiting here and Rejoice Holidays can arrange you to have this magical experience, floating with the wind over Sri Lanka’s fascinating cultural heritage. Fascinating ballooning trips can now be enjoyed daily throughout the season from November to April.
An elephant back safari is not just a ride on the back of the largest animal in the island, but, it is a wonderful experience which you would never forget in your life time. Moreover, you also get the opportunity to interact with the elephants as well as enjoy the ride through wilderness areas and beautiful riverine scenery. These safaris not only just make it possible for you to view wildlife from the back of an elephant, but also, provide you with the unique opportunity to share a day in the life of the elephant. No matter if it is a game viewing from their backs, picnicking with them in the bush, feeding or swimming with them, or experiencing the pleasure of being close to such a magnificent animal, the encounter is truly unforgettable.
The fabulous country of Sri Lanka offers some of the most awesome hiking & trekking opportunities anywhere. All across, from north to south and from east to west, are a series of breathtaking trekking trails, ranging from even-kiddies-can-manage to the hardcore professional. If you are looking for adventure, you could make tracks through the several valleys, discovering cascading waterfalls and the countryside for easier treks which will take you through stunning landscapes and beautiful villages. You may go hiking through North western Province of the island to the clearest of lakes and the up country greenery area. Or may trek further south, where lie rolling hills, craggy peaks and cool valleys, just waiting to be explored. There are plenty of other treks to try and to enjoy, the hills around Nuwara Eliya and Bandarawela. The Valley of the famous Ella gap, and so much more. There's actually no end to the paths you can find, the trails you can follow or blaze. For trekking, try walking across the strange silent plateau of the Horton Plains near Nuwara Eliya to see the 700m (2296ft) drop at the World's End. For the keen hiker, there is a plethora of opportunities awaiting in the island's diverse and luscious hill country. The beautiful area of Belihuloya, located in the hill country of Sri Lanka, provides a superb base from which to try out a wide variety of hiking and trekking tours through jungle, across paddy fields and up mountains.
Adam's Peak also known as Adam's Mount and 'Butterfly Mountain') is a 2,243 metres (7,359 ft) tall conical mountain located in the central part of Sri Lanka. This offers a wonderful opportunity for trekking & hiking lovers. It is well-known for the point, "Sri Pada (Translation: Sacred Footprint)" - a 1.8 m rock formation near the summit, which is in Buddhist tradition held to be the footprint of the Buddha, in Hindu tradition that of Shiva and in Muslim and Christian tradition that of Adam. Irrespective of its religious significance, this famous landmark offers some breathtaking views of the hill country. Most majority of climbers begin their ascent at night, in order to arrive at the top in time for a magical view of the sunrise, when the mystical shadow of the peak is perfectly cast across clouds. This would be a nice experience for you. The path from Dalhousie (a town situated en-route to Adam's Peak) to Adam's Peak contains around 4800 steps in its 1000-meter or so ascent, which is a great gift for adventure lovers, although aged pilgrims too still manage to climb the mountain. There are plenty of teahouses on the way up for refreshments as well. The surrounding region is largely forested hills, with no mountain of comparable size nearby. The region along the mountain is a wildlife reserve housing many species varying from elephants to leopards, and including many endemic species.
Sri Lanka is world renowned for ayurveda, yoga and for natural medicine. Sri Lanka has a unique system which has been practiced for many centuries in the island nation. The Sri Lankan Ayurvedic tradition is a mixture of the Sinhala traditional medicine, Ayurveda and Siddha systems of India, Unani medicine of Greece through the Arabs, and most importantly, the indigenous medicine of Sri Lanka, known as the "Desheeya Chikitsa". With a 3000 year history, The ancient kings, who were also prominent physicians, sustained its survival and longevity. King Buddhadasa (398 AD), the most influential of these physicians, wrote the Sarartha Sangrahaya, a comprehensive manuscript of ayurvedic medicine, which Sri Lankan ayuvedic physicians still use today for reference. Yoga is also now widely practiced here for healing not only the body, but also the mind and soul.
Almost everywhere in the island, from mountains to coasts, city to village, you can find various types of spices. Sri Lanka is famous for spice gardens. During the ancient times, the Greeks, Romans and the Arabs maintained their links with Sri Lanka through the spice trade. The spice Garden in Matale, 25 km away from the hill capital, Kandy, and the Hingula Lucky-land Spice Garden in Mawanella are two of the most visited spice gardens in the island.
Village life in the country side is always a fascinating and sociable experience in Sri Lanka. The houses are provincial and each village tends to be inhabited by the entire family generations. One can pass some relaxing days in the island's countryside to have some time off your hectic schedule. The time you pass there would be highly productive for you. In this time you can recollect your abilities, re-energize yourself and return to your work routine completely rejuvenated. Village folks are always curious about foreign visitors. Countryside families would be so keen to chat with tourists. It is rare to walk for 10-20 minutes time, without an invitation for a tea or dinner. If you so wish, you may have your breakfast, lunch or dinner with any village household. Eating simple village food in rustic surrounds has its own taste and you would surely enjoy it. During your countryside trips, you may enjoy various aspects of village life. You can see their lifestyle in close quarters. You can feel their joy. You can feel their sorrow. You would see several works associated with day-to-day works of village life such as fishing, wood carving, bakery, farming, coconut tree climbing etc.
Sri Lanka’s gem industry has a very long and colorful history. Sri Lanka was affectionately known as the "Ratna-Dweepa" which means "Gem Island". Marco Polo wrote that the island had the best sapphires, topazes, amethysts, and other gems in the world. A visit to a gem mine would be a memorable experience in your life.