This Christmas was a weird one for me, I didn’t spend it with my family and I celebrated the day in 30-degree heat -both firsts for me! Christmas week was spent in Sri Lanka this year with my boyfriend and his family and it was incredible. Apart from Tokyo with work, I have never been to Asia and it’s a continent I’ve always wanted to explore. It was a last minute decision but I’m so glad we made it and I’m so happy to have all the lovely memories. There’s so much to see and do and we’re going to have to go back to explore more. Here are a few highlights from the trip:
WHERE TO STAY:
We stayed in Lake Koggala in a villa called Sea Heart House, named after the heart-shaped seeds you can find scattered around the garden. There were eight of us staying and Sea Heart had the perfect amount of rooms and The villa was built on Lake Koggala and has the most amazing views from every window. This particular house comes with a live-in chef called Ranga who makes the most incredible Sri Lankan fusion food for you. We ate so well that week, I’m drooling just thinking about it.
WHAT TO DO:
Our trip was about pure relaxation, I feel like everyone one of us had burnt out before Christmas and really needed this time to chill and prepare for the new year. We spent a lot of the time in the villa reading, playing games and swimming. We were also so fortunate to have yoga classes with Emilio’s mum (best yoga teacher I’ve ever practised with) on the pavilion. My favourite activity was surfing, we headed to Weligama Beach and had a surf lesson. After that lesson, we felt comfortable to go at it alone and just rent surfboards to use in the less choppy waves.
We also spent a day whale watching with Raja and the Whales. This is a family run business and after doing some research, seemed to be the most environmentally and whale friendly whale watching company in the area. We ended up seeing a Blue Whale, Sperm Whale, Bryde Wale, some dolphins and some green turtles mating in the middle of the sea. It was a long day but also so interesting! As you can imagine, we had to be up at the crack of dawn but they provided a lovely breakfast and lunch, as well as an afternoon snack. I would definitely recommend.
We did the local Tea Plantation Tour which was really good and to my surprise, free! You do a walking tour of the plantation and also get given tea and cake. I really enjoyed this, the cake definitely helped!
On Christmas day we organised a boat ride on the lake which took us to Cinnamon Island. I didn’t know that 90% of the world’s cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka, the island gives a tour explaining how cinnamon grows and how it’s turned into sticks. You get a lovely cup of cinnamon tea and there’s also an opportunity to have a full cinnamon meal!
Lastly, we had the opportunity to swim with massive sea turtles at Dalawella Beach. If you get to the beach after 2pm they are just there swimming around. It was so exciting and they are truly beautiful, we rented some snorkels from a man on the beach and dived straight in.
WHERE TO EAT:
Most nights we ate at the villa as the food was incredible, but we did head out for a few meals. My favourite was at the neighbouring hotel, Trilanka. We had the six-course dinner menu which changes nightly, all the ingredients are local to Koggala be it from the lake or from Tri’s garden. I couldn’t recommend Tri more highly, the food was absolutely delicious, local and traditional but with a modern twist. I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate desserts but the chocolate dessert was one of the best sweets I’ve ever had.
Emilio and I stayed for a shorter period than the rest of the family so weren’t able to travel which in hindsight was such a mistake. We had a fantastic time in Lake Koggala but I would definitely recommend booking no less than ten days in Sri Lanka and travelling around the country as much as you can!