West Coast

The coastal towns just north of Colombo including Negombo, Kalpitiya, and Mannar have attracted traders from the world over for centuries. In more recent history, the Portuguese and Dutch settled in this region and their cultural, religious and architectural influences still remain. The remote coastal towns to the far north, Kalpitiya and Mannar, remain untouched by mass tourism. As a result of the close proximity to the international airport‐Negombo, with its long stretches of sandy beaches, has become a popular beach resort. Stretching along the North West coast and inland up to Kurunagala, Aanamaduwa and Wilpattu, this region has a varied and enchanting landscape ‐ tranquil lagoons that meet the turquoise seas; scattered little islands off the coast; dry arid wilderness to lush green paddy fields; Palmyrah trees and Coconut plantations. The seas off the coast of Kalpitiya are home to dolphins and whales while Mannar is a haven for exotic migrant birds during the season from October to March.

 

Highlights:

Kalpitiya

In Sri Lanka, just two hours from the airport and three hours north of Colombo, is an unspoilt peninsula of golden sand. Experience the thrill of sea safaris to the nearby Bar Reef for the best Sri Lanka has to offer in snorkelling and be entertained by the dolphins and whales on your way. April to November offers one of the best places in the world for kite surfing. Enjoy the tranquil ocean with the most beautiful coral gardens of Sri Lanka.

Negombo

Negombo is a modest beach town located close to the Bandaranaike International Airport. You can find many decent hotels and restaurants to suit all pockets. Also, this is a much easier place to get your Sri Lankan feet than Colombo. This is mainly a fishing town and shows its interesting colonial heritage through its many historic buildings reminiscent mainly of the Dutch and British. Although it was the Portuguese who had brought the dominating influence of the Catholic Church, giving rise to the nickname ‘Little Rome’. The Dutch legacy is seen in the remains of the grand Dutch Fort and the Dutch canal, now called Hamilton Canal. A visit to the Negombo fish market is highly recommended.

Colombo

Being the commercial capital of Sri Lanka‐Colombo can be mildly chaotic at times, but it is always manageable and never overpowering, and many quickly learn to view it fondly. You need only spend a couple of days here to discover its charms. Its best hotels and restaurants can offer spectacular value for a capital city. This relaxed coastal city has a colourful history that dates back to the 5th century when Colombo’s small port was an important point of the east‐west sea trade. It is now a mixture of ancient, colonial and modern influences. Old ancestral mansions stand side‐by‐side with the ritzy condominiums that are springing up into the skyline. Street bazaars buzz right next to a few modest shopping malls. While some roads are clogged with vehicles, there remain many sleepy tree‐lined boulevards. Unlike many south Asian cities, Colombo has at its heart a relaxed and genial air.

Bentota

Bentota is a well‐established, planned tourist resort with mid to upper class resort hotels. It is best known for its long stretches of sandy, palm‐fringed beach. The sea is generally calm between December and April‐the most popular tourist season. There are water sports facilities on the Bentota Ganga (river) with water‐skiing, jet‐skiing, surfing, windsurfing, sailing, deep‐sea fishing and wreck or reef diving. Boat trips on the river are increasingly popular; take a raft to enjoy the silence of the mangrove swamps. The village is a sleepy and relaxed mix of houses, villas and resort hotels set in lush tropical surroundings, with some shops, local restaurants and a handicraft centre on the roadside. Neighbouring Aluthgama across the river has more shops and a thriving marketplace.