“The wind had just swept clean the whole valley, I saw deep blue and immense, the entire high mountain system of Ceylon… and in its midst the beautiful, ancient and holy pyramid of Adam’s Peak. Beside it at an infinite depth and distance lay the flat blue sea, in between a thousand mountains, broad valleys, narrow ravines, rivers and waterfalls, in countless folds, the whole mountainous island on which the ancient legend placed paradise.”
What do you do when you’re craving an exotic, surf-friendly holiday?
If you’ve paying attention, you’ll know that those after a chill and cultural break are heading to Sri Lanka. This small island off the Indian coast is touted at the ‘Bali of the 80’s’, sealed with uncrowded waves under sizzling sun, delicious food and the obligatory roadside chaos.
The capital city Colombo is crowded, but once you hit the southern province you’re met with pristine, uncrowded beaches and palm trees that are straight out of a postcard.
Sri Lanka regulars – and avid stonemen fans – health journalist Casey Baros and Pilates maven Jenna Kruiskamp, run Papertiger Wellness. Helping busy creatives achieve balance through their innovative and active retreats, the girls travel to Sri Lanka several times a year to source out the best yoga, surfing, dining and relaxation spots.
… and they’re just the kind of crew we want to trail. Here are their top picks for doing Sri Lanka like a local.
Talalla in Tangalle is the place to be: It’s clean, uncrowded and perfect for swimming with turtles, paddle boarding and soft sand runs – there’s a big set of stairs at one end that’s an excellent climb and a pretty awesome sunrise and sunset viewpoint.
Fave break: Hiriketiya or ‘Horseshoe Bay’ is a beginner surfer’s paradise and ace for decent surfers too. Play in the whitewash to find your feet or head out to the point for fun waves and a left hand reef break – providing rides of up to 200m in length on a decent day! Yew!
Fave eat: If we’re heading out nothing beats the view at Cape Welligama, they do a set price all you can eat (and drink) dinner – good times and food comas await! If we’re staying local, Roshan’s Sri Lankan Chicken Curry washed down with the Sago Pudding and a cold beer is the bomb.
Fave afternoon beer spot: Underneath The Mango Tree’s Beach Bar for sure. Cocktails or a cold beer on the sand watching the waves roll in, and just a 10 minute tuk tuk from Talalla. Some of the drivers have discovered Gangsta Rap so if you’re lucky you’ll punch home to Ice Cube.
Fave treatment: You’ll find Ayurveda’s influence in a lot of treatments. Local preparations using papaya, honey, coffee, milk and sandalwood are the best – get a scrub and a massage – perfect for soothing stretched and surfed muscles.
Fave hike: Dondra Head is the tallest lighthouse in Sri Lanka, built by the British in 1889 and located at Sri Lanka’s southern-most point. It’s a fun spot to check out the local area (if you can find it) – a hidden gem that’s well worth the trip.
Want to visit Sri Lanka with the Paper Tiger girls? Check out their website here. And don’t forget to pack your stonemen…
Our Sri Lanka picks:
Images via Lincoln Jubb, booking.com, Papertiger Wellness, panoramio.com & stonemen.