On the western coast, some 130 km from the Bandaranaike International Airport, is Kalpitiya, a peninsula between the Puttalam lagoon and the Indian Ocean. This is a fabulous marine sanctuary with habitats as diverse as bar reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangrove swamps, salt marshes and vast sand dune beaches. What Kalpitiya is most famous for is its dolphin pods. Go there and see this lovely creatures skim across the water.
Travel southwards and close to the bustling town of Matara is Polhena, unanimously voted one of Lanka’s loveliest beaches. Here, you can also swim in calm waters and go snorkeling to explore the coral reefs in the region. Also, take a tranquil boat trip on the Nilwala Ganga, an outing bird-watchers will particularly enjoy.
En route to Dondra Head, Sri Lanka’s southern most point is this beach straight out of the travel brochures. The whitest sand and water is stunning shades of aqua make up a scene you will find it hard to tear yourself away from. Hirikitiya nearby is another such splendid beach, perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
Travel to the east coast and you cannot miss Arugam Bay. It’s backpacker paradise and a must-do for surfers to Sri Lanka. But you don’t have to be a watersport buff to enjoy Arugam Bay. Take a quiet tour of serene Pottuvil Lagoon and visit the Hulannuga Caves that house a statue of a reclining Buddha.
There’s a fetching natural harbor in this town that was out of bounds while Sri Lanka was in the grip of civil war. Uppuveli is one of the most attractive beaches here. Visit Pigeon Island, dip in the hot springs at Kanniya and climb Swamy Rock to worship at an ancient Shiva Temple.
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