With its glorious white sand beaches and sparkling turquoise waters, it’s easy to see why Sri Lanka is known as the ‘Jewel of the Indian Ocean’.
But there’s so much more to know about this beautiful island nation than just its pristine coastline. Here are just a handful of the other reasons the island is well deserving of its nickname…
1. Breathtaking landscapes and lush countryside
You may think of bright blue waters and white sand beaches when you picture Sri Lanka, but it’s actually much greener than you imagine. There’s an abundance of flora and fauna on the island,
along with misty mountains and dramatic waterfalls, hillside paddy fields and sprawling tea estates.
If you want to really immerse yourself in nature, a hiking adventure in Sri Lanka is a thrilling way to do it.
2. Rare and magnificent wildlife
Across Sri Lanka’s 25+ national parks and marine parks, there’s a dazzling variety of animal species, including some very rare creatures indeed. In fact, in Yala National Park alone, there’s the highest density of leopards you’ll find anywhere else in the world. Plus, over 200 bird and reptile species. In the waters surrounding Pigeon Island, there over 300 reef fish species.
From elephants to sloth bears, nesting sea turtles to rare hawk eagles – Sri Lanka’s wildlife is a sight to behold.
3. A rich Buddhist and cultural heritage
Sri Lanka is an island with thousands of years of Buddhist heritage, evident from the many beautiful ancient temples dotted around the island. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth is arguably the most famous, said to contain a tooth from the Buddha.
The best place to drink in Sri Lanka’s rich cultural and religious history is in an area known as the Cultural Triangle, in between the cities of Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. Impressive sights here include the Sigiriya rock fortress, Dambulla cave temples and Yapahuwa medieval citadel.
4. Simply delicious food
Sri Lankan cuisines is world famous, and a good enough reason on its own to visit the island. You won’t be able to resist the vibrant, fresh flavours of Sri Lanka’s curries, seafood dishes and street food snacks. Being a tropical nation, fish and coconut are island specialities, but spice and chilli heat are also a big part of the cuisine here.
If you’re visiting Sri Lanka for the first time, you absolutely must try a devilled sweet and sour fish curry, young jackfruit curry or traditional Sri Lankan dhal, along with hoppers (rice flour pancakes) and string hoppers (rice noodles). Vegetable kottu is a mega popular street food dish, consisting of shredded godamba roti stir-fried with spices and vegetables. Another must-try is Lamprais, a combination of meat, rice and sambal chili sauce steamed in a banana leaf.
5. And of course, those beaches…
We couldn’t shower Sri Lanka with praise without talking some more about its crowning glory – those heavenly powder-soft white sands. The island offers a choice of peaceful, unspoilt beaches, including the tranquil Mirissa.
But along with the palm-fringed sands and clear blue waters, Sri Lanka is also a brilliant spot for water sports. Head to Bentota for kitesurfing and paracycling, or Unawatuna for fabulous beach parties.