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Updated by Hiru Piumwardena on Sep 04, 2019
Headline for Top 10 Experiences to Not Miss Out On When Travelling Down South
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Top 10 Experiences to Not Miss Out On When Travelling Down South

One of the main reasons flock to Sri Lanka is for the incredible coastal belt that runs around the southern part of the island and facilitates leisurely activities like swimming and sun tanning as well as adventurous activities like snorkelling and surfing! Dive into this list to find out 10 experiences you absolutely should not miss when you visit down south.

1

Snorkelling and Glass Bottom Boat Ride

Snorkelling and Glass Bottom Boat Ride

Hikkaduwa in particular is an amazing location to go snorkelling. The fascinating life under water in that part of the country is one of Sri Lanka’s 3 marine national parks. It’s great for first timers as it is close to the shore, with shallow waters, and is one of traveller’s favourite things to do down south. There are plenty of colourful fish that weave their way through the undergrowth, providing snorkelers with an unforgettable experience. It’s best to visit Hikkaduwa in the months between November and April. If possible invest in a waterproof camera or a phone case that will allow you to take your phone underwater, because the pictures will be epic! You can also opt for a glass bottom boat ride that will take you over the coral and fish, and you may even spot a turtle or two.
(Image credits: freepik.com)

2

Exploring Shipwrecks

Exploring Shipwrecks

A little known fact about Sri Lanka is that because of its past as a harbour that was the hub of trading activities, there are a ton of sunken ships all around the island. These wrecks not only signify historical importance, but have grown to be habitats for marine life. Dozens of the wrecks are classified as archaeological, and some diving places offer tours of these interesting specimens of the past. There are a few wrecks you can score a dive at down south, so if you’re staying in one of the Wadduwa hotels then check this out. The SS Conch lying on the southern coast on Sri Lanka is a popular dive for beginners, and dates back 10 years.
(Image credits: Unsplash.com)

3

Glide down the Madhu River

The Madhu River passes through a couple dozen of small islands, weaving its way around marshlands that are absolutely covered in mangroves. There is a wealth of nature to explore here, from the delightful river itself to the mangroves that create delicate shade as you drift under them, and a variety of animals. It’s a particularly good spot for birdwatching, as there are over 100 bird species to watch out for. There are also ethereal butterflies and reptiles to look out for.

4

Surfing

Surfing

Sri Lanka is world renowned as an upcoming surfing destination, and for good reason! Though the beaches don’t boast the height that foreign waves do, the waves are consistently great for surfing at all levels, whether you are a total beginner or a total expert. One of the island’s best features is that you can surf all year round – the two monsoons affect different parts of the island at different times so you are free to head to whichever beach is not experiencing the monsoon at the moment – meaning you can surf all year round. The best spots for stellar waves are Hikkaduwa, Mirissa and Unawatuna.
(Image credits: the_surfer_srilanka | Instagram)

5

Rent a Bike

Rent a Bike

A fun and affordable way to see the island is by renting a motor bike or bicycle and cruising around the island. You can rent daily or weekly, for low amounts. You can explore the entire region of the island by bike, but it might be better to travel to certain areas by train or bus and then hire a bike in the area and go see the sights on your own time! This is especially lovely to do in the Galle Fort as you cycle lazily down the cobblestone streets, seeing everything that it has to offer. There are also routes by lagoons and other attractions that you can follow. Watch out for the condition of the road and drive safe, and as the country doesn’t have bike lanes it’ll be best to wear high visibility clothing and helmets. Overall, enjoy yourself!
(Image credits: Unsplash.com)

6

Enjoy the Nightlife

Enjoy the Nightlife

Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna have earned quite the international reputation as part towns, as the heady mix of the crashing waves and golden sands mixes with hippie philosophy to make them areas where people feel they can let loose. There are many bars and restaurants that play great music that makes your feet want to dance, and with a beer in your hand you won’t be able to resist the urge. With a great, fun atmosphere, you’ll be sure to have a good time.
(Image credits: Unsplash.com)

7

Shop Handicrafts

Shop Handicrafts

There are plenty of places to buy handicrafts from down south, as there are dedicated shops that cater to those who want pottery, leather products or wooden sculptures, as well as government run shops that sell good quality handmade souvenirs. The best hub for incredibly well made and unique crafts is Galle Fort. There you will find beautiful bags made from Sri Lankan fabrics, some of them recycled, as well as trendy, fashionable clothing items. The blasé, carefree, vintage hippie movement characterises most of the fashion, and brands there are usually eco conscious in some way. You can also find vintage post cards and home décor that is eye catching.
(Image credits: Unsplash.com)

8

Indulge in Delicious Seafood

Indulge in Delicious Seafood

Of course, the southern part of the country is known for incredible seafood! Feast on your favourite dishes from some of the best restaurants Hikkaduwa. The seafood is delectable because of its freshness and the spice, as you will encounter familiar foods but with a Sri Lankan twist. Have some shrimp in a wrap or spread out on toast for breakfast, slice into seared tuna spiced just right for lunch and dig into a hearty crab curry for dinner. The restaurants here range from trendy hipster cafés to fine dining establishments that are a fusion of Western and Eastern cuisine. Make sure to try crab kotthu!
(Image credits: Unsplash.com)

9

See The Turtles

See The Turtles

There’s two ways to see the turtles – you can look at them from a respectful distance right on the beach or head down to a hatchery and enjoy seeing baby turtles up close. Sea turtles are under threat from certain human activities, so hatcheries take them in so that they won’t be stolen. Most are released back into the sea unless they are injured in some way, or are kept for research purposes. If you opt to catch one on the beach, then it’s best to head down at sunrise before tourists come. If you spot one, don’t sit on them – instead you can get up close and enjoy the view, perhaps even feeding it seaweed. Don’t sit on one though, but if you happen to spot one when snorkeling or diving then feel free to swim alongside it!
(Image credits: Unsplash.com)

10

Udawalawe Safari

Udawalawe Safari

Udawalawe National Park is one of the best places to spot elephants on your trip! You can book safaris for early morning or the afternoon or the entire day. Coming across a majestic elephant is an exciting experience, and the park hosts fishing cats, leopards and plenty of beautiful birds.
(Image credits: Unsplash.com)