Sri Lanka is one of those destinations that always felt a little too far off, too exotic. A place backpackers travelled, but not as accessible to your regular holiday-goer. How wrong I was, in fact the journey itself was a lot shorter than I ever expected. I joined G Adventures week long Sri Lanka South Coast Sailing trip at the end of March. Flying with Emirates, I travelled from Dublin to Colombo in Sri Lanka via Dubai, the total trip only taking around 12-13 hours.
The waters off the south of the island are best visited from November to April. For the rest of the year, a brand new East Coast trip has just launched, which runs from June to October and a route on the North Coast too. These are also peak times for whale watching! There are lots of land based itineraries too, if you want to see Sri Lanka but sailing isn’t your thing. This ‘Sri Lanka Encompassed’ 14 day trip ticks off all the major hotspots.
The tour starts in Mirissa, two hours south of the airport by car. G Adventures can arrange your transfers so you can sit back and watch the changing landscape as you get closer to the start point of the trip. All very seamless.
The trip takes place on a beautiful, almost brand new, 53ft catamaran and is manned by four local crew members, all experts in their field. You eat, drink, sleep and sunbathe on board while being ferried to blissful beach after deserted tropical paradise. You have front row seats for both sunsets and blue whale watching. You’ll eat the most amazing authentic Sri Lankan meals, freshly prepared every day by the onboard chef. You’ll have the chance to swim in water so clear you could spot Kim Kardashian’s missing diamond earring a mile off, dine on a private beach and try your hand at surfing in a beach lovers paradise. Sound good? Here’s where I went on the Sri Lanka south coast…
Sri Lanka South Coast Locations
Some of the places to visit down south in Sri Lanka and stops on the G Adventures trip
The week starts in Mirissa, a popular beach town and base for the many whale watching tour boats. If you’ve got a night or two before or after your trip, it’s a nice place to chill out and visit some beach bars and restaurants to either acclimatise or wind down. If you google south Sri Lanka beaches, Mirissa will probably yield most results.
You’ll sail straight out of the marina and anchor down at Snake Island on the first night, a place where Sri Lankans used to abandon many of the main island’s snakes before they realised they could swim back. Don’t worry, there are none there today and you’ll stay on the boat anyway for the welcome dinner. You’re near Weligama Bay here, famous for surfing in Sri Lanka and home to the Marriott hotel, which was our meeting point. Another gorgeous place for some R&R. Beware though, I paid €12 for a bottle of San Pelligrino there – easily my biggest purchase in Sri Lanka!
Sri Lanka South Coast: Mirissa
Mirissa makes the ideal base to get a head start on all the crowded tourist whale watching tour boats, starting out for the deep waters early for your own private viewing. Sri Lanka south coast’s waters play host to our planet’s largest creature, the blue whale. It’s incredible to get this close, without disturbing the whales, watching them come up every fifteen minutes for air, anticipating the next breath and the famous tail flip. Those on our boat wearing polarised glasses had much better visibility without the glare of the water blinding them, so pack a pair if whale watching is your thing. G Adventures two Sri Lankan sailing routes coincide with the best seasons and areas for whale watching, as they migrate around the island. There are plenty of playful dolphins too, check out the Sri Lanka story highlights on my Instagram feed to see them in action.
Sri Lanka South Coast: Galle Fort
In the Bay of Galle, you’ll find a 16th century fort, first built by the Portuguese and later occupied by the Dutch. Galle is the cultural capital of Sri Lanka and looks quite unlike anywhere else on the island. The most populated of all our stops, Galle Fort is a must see on any Southern Sri Lanka itinerary. The UNESCO World Heritage site is mainly intact, but took a battering after the 2004 tsunami, much like many other places along the coast.
A nice spot to browse the jewellery (famous for gem stones) and spice shops and get an iced coffee before returning to the boat.
We accessed Galle via Jungle Beach across the bay and tuk tuks organised by our guide, a great way to see a bit of the town en route.
Sri Lanka South Coast: Kudawella
We cruised along the coast to Kudawella, watching for dolphins on the way. A chilled out day with lots of time to swim to shore, SUP or use the kayak, also on board. All of your meals on G Adventures Sri Lanka South Coast sailing trip are catered for. Shanthan, our cook, was head chef of the Sri Lankan navy for 22 years and it showed! Rice and curry for lunch went down a treat, don’t forget to try eating it the traditional way, with your hands.
Sri Lanka South Coast: Kalametiya
Watch Sri Lankan fishermen work on their traditional boats, visit the beach at Mawella and go bird watching at Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary with a local guide. Again, completely unspoiled beaches, colourful boats, and crystalline waters. Bring some cold Lion beers from the boat, bliss.
Sri Lanka South Coast: Hiriketiya
Maybe my favourite stop, our boat was the only one anchored in this beautiful surfer’s paradise. Rent a board for about €1 for an hour or simply sip ‘vodka nuts’ in the shade.
Cost me €1.30 to rent this board for an hour. Used it for approximately 14 minutes. I didn’t even bother with a lesson this time, my third attempt at surfing ….and the first one not off the west coast of Ireland. I’m just not a surfer girl! At least I got to rock my Ali Express though 😆🤷🏻♀️🏄🏽♀️ If you want to see what this @gadventures sailing trip in Sri Lanka is like, I’ve pinned the highlights on my feed! #gadventures #gwanderers #sp 📸: @coolaid1516
Sri Lanka South Coast: Weligama
Ok, wait, maybe this was the highlight. A sunset BBQ and bonfire on a private beach, no one else around, just our group! The crew sets up the most magical meal under the stars as a farewell meal – simply incredible.
This post was sponsored by G Adventures. All view are, as always, my own.