Sri Lanka was on my “my gut says visit this place” – list for a very long time. Actually already twice I was in the booking process when always something came in between. Last month I made it. And my gut was right. Again. Because Sri Lanka, the Southern part we got to know in detail, stole my heart. Endless beaches, timeless ruins and temples, welcoming people, rolling surf, cheap prices, famous tea, coconuts all over and flavourful food make this country simply irresistible.
Our home for ten days was called Hiriketiya. End of last year an article in the Condé Nast Traveller caught my eye, telling about a place where thick jungle meets the sea and time becomes totally irrelevant. Palm-fringed golden sands, surfers carving up, cool cafes serving up incredibly fresh brunch. This was a place so beautiful, so peaceful, and so perfect that I knew I wanted to go there immediately.
Hiriketiya was once a sleepy hidden gem on Sri Lanka’s south coast with little more than a few wooden huts and is now fast becoming the ‘it’ place for (digital) nomads and their acai bowls, bronzed surfers riding waves all day long, and salty-haired wanderers chilling into a new level of zen.
Here’s a list of our favorite places:
We stayed in one of the Corner‘s two large, airy rooms that can be joined via courtyards only a couple of minutes from the beach and our fave restaurants.
DOTS BAY HOUSE:
Our day started with an energizing vinyasa flow yoga class at one of the most beautiful yoga shalas I have ever been to. There is nothing more beautiful and blissful than practicing yoga overlooking the ocean on one side and palm trees on the other. The class was followed by a delicious breakfast, all dishes not only perfectly “instagramable” but also yummy, yummy, yummy. Dots Bay House offers rooms, a cafe, beach bar and surf shop. Don’t miss the life music evenings.
After a full beach day we liked to eat dinner at the Salt House, which is a boutique beach house offering private rooms, also a yoga shala and public restaurant. The food was simply incredible.
Another food destination worth mentioning. All dishes are prepared with lots of love and with only fresh ingredients.
Sri Lanka’s first co-working space. Of course not only that but also a cafe, a hostel and a surf shop.
The idea behind this travel trip was mainly to relax. My travel partner in crime and I decided to this time take it easy and not to climb on high mountains (see travel report Nepal and the Himalaya) and sleep in tents while it’s minus seven degrees outside (see travel report Georgia). While we spend the majority of our time on the beach learning to surf and read books we of course conquered Sri Lanka’s south with a bike. Here’s a list of our activities:
Galle is a coastal city 130 kilometres south of Colombo and an approximately 2 hours drive from Hiriketiya. No visit to the south is complete without seeing this little, picturesque village. A perfect combination of beach and culture, Galle has it all.
Galle is a walled city surrounded by thick ramparts. These were built by the Dutch merchants that controlled the city in the 17th century. The ramparts are so thick that you can walk along them – start at one end and finish at the other. Look towards the ocean, see the old prison between the ramparts and the waves, check out the lighthouse and the clock tower and watch the schoolboys and girls during cricket practice.
Inside the Galle Fort is where you can walk along the little streets and do excellent shopping. In between the beautiful boutique hotels (such as MANGO HOUSE and century-old houses, there are plenty of little shops (I felt in love with TALLENTIRE HOUSE – fabrics for life) and boutiques where you can buy plenty of local souvenirs and goods.
There are so many beaches stretching from Galle direction south. Ahangama, one of the cleanest and most natural beaches in this area, is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are into unique and fancy boutique hotels. If you are lucky and get a room, spend some days in The Kip, a boho luxe hideaway embracing all things slow, sustainable and creative located in the green area of Ahangama off the main road and the hustle and bustle.
BUDDHA ROCK TEMPLE
If you want a change from the busy main coastal road, take the 40 minutes bike ride from Hiriketiya through quiet jungle streets to the breathtaking Mulkirigala Raja Maja Vihara temple. It’s an ancient Buddhist temple built on a 205 m high natural rock, surrounded with another four rocks known as Benagala, Kondagala, Bisogala and Seelawathiegala constructed in the 3rd century (!).