The Europeans have been visiting Sri Lanka for the last ten years enjoying the country’s excellent beaches, archeological sites, and wildlife but North Americans are just beginning to learn about the wonders of this small island nation that hangs like a pearl from India. The warm, welcoming people speak English. After all, Sri Lanka was an English Colony for many years before becoming an independent nation in 1948. It was called Ceylon until 1972. After years of turmoil peace has arrived and so have the tourists.
1. Beaches: The coast is lined with beaches which is the main tourist draw. Negombo with a variety of resorts is the beach closest to the capital city of Colombo and near the airport while Bentota favors the upscale market. Many of the finest beaches are located along the south coast with the beaches in the far north and east being the most pristine.
2. Galle: The Dutch city of Galle is the best preserved colonial city. The quiet streets are lined with Dutch-style villas and buildings with the entire area enclosed by impressive rampart from which there are great views of the Indian Ocean. The beaches of Sri Lanka are the nesting grounds for five species of sea turtle. Visitors to Galle can learn more about the effort to preserve them at one of the turtle hatcheries just minutes from the city.
3. Sigiriya: The ancient rock fortress and palace ruin is one of the icons of Sri Lanka and a World Heritage Site. Surrounded by a moat, the determined can climb to the top of the citadel to explore the palace that dates from AD 477, view the frescos, and explore the water gardens.