Discover Sri Lanka’s Hidden Locations
The Pearl of the Indian Ocean is a treasure trove of adventure. The small island offers a myriad of activities in different unique regions around the country, making it the ideal destination for a group holiday with your friends because you’ll find an activity/place to please anyone. Whether its a friend’s reunion or a quick getaway, escape the crowded touristy destinations and head towards the hidden locations of Sri Lanka instead. Follow this quick guide on some of the best off-the-beaten path spots on the island.
Situated on the north-west coast of Sri Lanka, Mannar is your one-stop destination for a dose of history, culture and seaside relaxing. Unlike south coast beach towns, this town is more peaceful and quieter and acts as a great stop-over before travelling to the north. The town is located on an offshore island, Mannar Island, connected to the mainland by a causeway. It is also in Mannar that the legendary Adam’s Bridge- also known as Rama Setu- is said to be located. This bridge is also featured in the epic Ramayana, which states that there was a bridge made from limestones connecting India to Sri Lanka.
Things to do in Mannar:
- Visit Thiruketheeswaram Kovil – a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that dates back to 600BC.
- Wander through Mannar Fort – initially built by the Portuguese in 1560 which subsequently fell to the Dutch and finally to the British.
- Relax by Keeri Beach with a refreshing thambili.
The Knuckles Mountain Range is a UNESCO World Heritage Site found in the Central Province and is Sri Lanka’s most pristine area of montane forests. The mountain range got its name from a British surveyor as the range resembles a clenched knuckle, but the Sinhala name for it is Dumbara Kanduvetiya which translates to Mist-Laden Mountain Range. Knuckles is the perfect place to visit if you and your friends enjoy long walks, hikes and camping.
Things to do in Knuckles:
- Hike, hike, and hike some more! – The Knuckles Mountain Range is the country’s #1 destination for hiking and there are different trails so you can choose how tough you want it to be.
- Go on a forest walk – the protected area is home to 34% of endemic species of trees, shrubs and herbs, some found only within this cloud forest. Also, take a dip in one of the many rock pools.
- Visit Aluvihare Rock Temple – a sacred Buddhist temple that dates back to the 3rd century BC.
Kalpitiya is another town found on the north-west coast of the island, but this town offers more quintessential beachside activities. The town is best known for its interesting natural environment since it consists of 14 islands and is a biodiversity hotspot. Kalpitiya has an extremely beautiful beach which is made even better by the lack of tourists!
Things to do in Kalpitiya:
- Go kitesurfing – Kalpitiya is the country’s best kitesurfing destination and the season runs from May to September.
- Snorkel/ Dive through Bar Reef – Bar Reef is an offshore coral reef and has the richest biodiversity in any coral reef in the waters surrounding India and Sri Lanka.
- Go whale & dolphin watching – Kalpitiya is the best location for whale watching on the west coast and the season is from October to March. Read our guide for whale watching in Sri Lanka.