By: Islay Lord
Why Sri Lanka?
The last time we went to Sri Lanka we headed into the Hill Country and took in all sorts of historical and cultural sights, but didn’t manage more than a day or so on the beach north of Colombo. We felt as if we’d missed out on the reportedly sublime beaches of southern Sri Lanka but to tell the truth we’d also been put off going further south by the 5-6 hour car journey that would have come straight after a flight with already cranky toddlers. Emboldened by the news that a highway had been built between Colombo and Galle, we returned to Sri Lanka and made our way to Thalpe, just 15 minutes outside Galle, in no more that 3 hours from the airport.
Our hotel, Why House, was a short tuk-tuk ride from Wijaya beach which has a coral reef about 25 metres out from the shore thus breaking the waves and allowing a shallow pool to form. The kids loved the freedom of running in and out the water without the waves and strong undertow that are common on this stretch of coast line.
We enjoyed walking round the ramparts of the nearby fortress town of Galle and wandering through the quiet cobbled streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The kids weren’t as interested in exploring some of the lovely shops but were happy to be distracted by ice-cream and fresh mango juice.
A visit to the nearby turtle sanctuary and hatchery was a big hit with our children where they saw some older turtles that had been injured and rescued as well as recently hatched baby turtles which we released back into the ocean.
Life seems pretty good when you’re surrounded by coconut palms, banana trees and pineapple plants, and the kids are easily (and safely) entertained splashing in and out of the sea or pool. We had a great family holiday which struck the right balance between enjoying the beautiful coast line of southern Sri Lanka and exploring the surrounding area.
The best part
Seeing both our kids grow more confident swimming in the sea and our son’s fascination with the sea urchins and coral on the reef off Wijaya beach. We’ll take some snorkelling kit next time.
Three things you should definitely do
1. Swim in the calm shallow waters of Wijaya beach and enjoy fresh seafood or pizzas straight from the wood-fired oven at the Wijaya beach restaurant.
2. Wander the streets and ramparts of Galle Fort.
3. For short journeys, travel by tuk tuk!