When we told friends we were headed to Sri Lanka with our family of three kids in their 20s for the holidays we were met with a lot of “Really? Sri Lanka?!”, “How did you choose Sri Lanka?” “Is it safe to travel there?”  “What does one do in Sri Lanka?” “Where is Sri Lanka?” and general blank questioning stares.  

In response to the above:

-We chose it because our family has traveled to many parts of Asia (we used to live there when younger) and we love that part of the world. Our family enjoys travel to places that have activities, are a bit off the well-beaten travel path, and haven’t yet been overtrodden with development. It was an amazing trip and we highly recommend it!

– Yes it’s safe. The government is currently stable and they are trying to beef up tourism after Covid shut the country for two years.

– Sri Lanka offers beautiful beaches (it’s a backpacker surfers paradise), amazing green countryside, activities such as rafting, canyoning, surfing, and birding, is affordable, and has safari options and historical relics/temples to visit.

– Sri Lanka is an island nation just off the southern tip of India.

Our trip was booked via Inspire World Travel who then used the local tour company Hummingbird Travel. They helped plan the itinerary and booked all the hotels, the driver, and the activities. There is a wide range of price options in Sri Lanka – from backpacker cheap to very high-end. So pick whichever route works for you! But having a driver for the trip makes it easy – we didn’t see a lot of people renting cars and the driver seems the way to go while here.


Getting There: 

It’s a long way from California. About 30 hours of travel. 17 hours to Singapore, a couple of hours layover, and 4 more hours to Colombo, Sri Lanka. We arrived at midnight and were picked up by our driver (who we had for the entirety of the trip) and driven for three hours with a transfer to a pickup truck for the last half hour up a dirt road to our hotel, with a 4am arrival to Palmstone Retreat!   

One child and I went two days ahead of the rest of the family so he could do some birding, of which Sri Lanka has TONS. So the Palmstone Retreat was our landing spot to get over jetlag and to do some birding. The rest of the family joined two days later and we met them in our second destination of Kandy.

Day 1-  Palmstone Retreat, Kitulgala

Summary: Hike/swim, relax to get over jetlag


The Palmstone Retreat is located by the town of Kitulgala, where there are lots of birds as well as outdoor activities like rafting and canyoning. The hotel was really nice, located remotely 30 minutes outside of town up a dirt track in the beautiful lush forest. It had a pool, villa rooms set in the forest overlooking the river and trees like treehouses. 

After a great breakfast we hiked with a hotel guide through some local small ‘villages’ (more just individual huts/homes’ and tea growth areas to a beautiful waterfall with an AMAZING swim in a waterhole above the falls. Beautiful! Birds en route. There were some leeches in the forest that got us (they don’t hurt or make you stick…just sort of yucky and then you bleed due to their anti-coagulant). 

Lots of birds in the hotel area. 

Lunch at hotel and quiet rainy afternoon with bed at 4pm- skipped dinner and slept to get over jetlag.

Day 2- Palmstone Retreat, Kitulgala

Summary: Birdwatching


The rest of the family arrived at midnight and went straight to Kandy with a driver.

Day 3:  Kandy, Ru Boutique Hotel

Summary: Drive to Kandy, explore Kandy


Dinner at the hotel – not good- where Xmas carols played over and over!

Day 4 – Kandy, Ru Boutique 

Summary: Visit Sigiriya Rock, Spice Tour, Kandy


Day 5 – Train to Ella, 98 Acres Resort

Summary: Train to Ella


Day 6 – Ella

Summary: 9 arches bridge, downtown Ella, massages

Day 7 – Yala, Wild Culture Hotel

Summary: Drive to Yala, Safari


Day 8 Galle visit, KK Hotel

Summary: Galle, to beach hotel


We cancelled our morning safari was due to the fact that the close park entrance was closed and we didn’t want to do a 5am pick up and have to drive an hour each way to get to the other entrance.

Day  9 – Beach

Summary: Surfing, beach time


Day 10 Beach/Unawatuna/Head Home

Summary: Beach, Unawatuna Visit, To Airport


A fantastic trip!!!!

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