Table of Contents
- Sports and Outdoor activities in Sri Lanka
- Watching a game
- Surfing in Sri Lanka
- Activities on the water, such as whitewater rafting
- Diving and snorkelling
- Trekking and hiking
- Yoga and introspection
- Other activities
Sports and Outdoor activities in Sri Lanka
There are many options for outdoor and activity-based vacations in Sri Lanka because of the country’s pure environment and varied landscapes. While there are many other methods to keep active, such as yoga, ballooning, and mountain biking, water-based activities like surfing and diving are well covered. If you’re lucky enough to plan your Sri Lanka trip around a match, watching Sri Lanka’s cricket team play is a must when it comes to spectator sports. There’s always a lot of national excitement around this.
Of all the relics from the British colonial past, cricket is certainly the one that the average Sri Lankan cherishes the most. Similar to India and Pakistan, cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka. Kids play this game in every available space, creating balls, bats, and wickets out of rolled-up pieces of cloth and discarded twigs. Meanwhile, during international matches, the country comes to a near full stop, with fervent fans gathered around every available radio or TV set.
Although the national team is very new to international cricket, having just been awarded full Test status in 1982, they have more than held their own since then. But when it comes to one-day cricket, Sri Lanka has really grabbed the globe by storm. Their batting lineup, which included the dynamic Sanath Jayasuriya and the graceful Aravinda da Silva, was the highlight of their 1996 World Cup campaign and helped them win. When they reached the final of the World Cups in 2007 and 2011, they came very close to accomplishing this again.
It should come as no surprise that the achievements of the Sri Lankan team have served as a huge source of national pride and solidarity. Although historically Sinhalese players have dominated the team, Muttiah Muralitharan, also known as “Murali,” is a Tamil player and may be the best Sri Lanka has ever had. The other outstanding players are Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, two excellent batters who now average above fifty in test matches.
Watching a game
If you get the chance, go to a cricket match; the vibrant atmosphere and rowdy crowd make for a totally different experience from the generally solemn mood of English cricket grounds. One-day or Twenty20 matches are especially highly recommended. The primary venues for Test matches on the island are the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy, the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo, and the cricket ground in Galle. The main locations for Twenty20 and One-Day international cricket matches are the newly built cricket stadiums at Dambulla and Hambantota, as well as Kandy, Galle, and Colombo‘s Premadasa Stadium. Tickets for the matches are available through the relevant venues. Be aware that Seerendipity Tours and travels offers cricket vacations to Sri Lanka. To find out more about cricket in Sri Lanka, go to the Sri Lanka Cricket website.
Surfing in Sri Lanka
Given that many of the waves that break on the shore of Sri Lanka originate in Antarctica, it makes sense that the Sri Lanka has a number of excellent surfing spots. The most notable location is on Sri Lanka’s east coast at Arugam Bay, the only place in the nation with a worldwide reputation among surfers. Hikkaduwa, Medawatta (close by, on the outskirts of Matara), and the south coast settlement of Midigama are other well-liked surfing spots. Boards are rented out at each of these sites. Numerous locations in Arugam Bay and Hikkaduwa offer surfing tours throughout the coast; often, these activities are combined with excursions to other locations. The surfing season runs from April to October between Arugam Bay and Midigama and Hikkaduwa, and from November to April between those two locations.
Activities on the water, such as whitewater rafting
The best site on the island for whitewater rafting is Kitulgala, where the Kelani Ganga river roars out of the hill country into boulder-strewn grade 3-5 rapids. You can either schedule local trips or make advance preparations.
Bentota is the heart of water sports in Sri Lanka, with its lagoon providing perfect conditions for a range of activities like windsurfing, jet skiing, speed boating, inner tubing, and banana boating. In Negombo, watersports can also be scheduled with many beach hotels and other independent suppliers. The Kalpitiya Peninsula and Negombo are popular destinations for kitesurfers due to their superior wind conditions and combination of sea and more protected lagoons. The popularity of wakeboarding is beginning to rise as well. Two of the main hubs are Negombo and Hikkaduwa.
Diving and snorkelling
There are enough underwater attractions in Sri Lanka to make a few days of diving a nice addition to a trip, even if you would probably not come for the purpose of diving. Dive Sri Lanka offers a useful summary of what’s on offer. Not many people consider Sri Lanka to be one of Asia’s top diving locations. In Sri Lanka, Bentota, Beruwala, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Weligama, and Uppuvel all have first-rate diving schools that are competitively priced. Diving packages and instruction are relatively inexpensive when compared to most other parts of the world.
The west coast of Sri Lanka has a vast network of dive spots and schools. In addition to a number of wrecks, spectacular (albeit challenging) underwater caverns, and rock formations, there is a profusion of marine life. Dive sites on the east coast remain relatively unexplored, despite the abundance of new and outstanding wrecks to discover. One such ruin is the Hermes, an aircraft carrier of 270 metres in length that sank during World War II and is now submerged at a depth of 60 metres.
The diving season on the west coast typically lasts from November to April, which is also considered the best time to visit Sri Lanka, but the east coast’s season lasts from May to October. You may be able to locate someone who will take you out if you’re extremely determined and don’t mind diving in stormy conditions with little visibility, as almost all of the diving schools on the island close during this period.
Because there isn’t much coral close to the coast, there isn’t a lot of great snorkelling in Sri Lanka. But the abundance of tropical fish that visit the coast makes up for this. Some of the greatest spots to snorkel on the island are Pigeon Island, the beach at Polhena, and the Coral Sanctuary at Hikkaduwa, if you don’t mind boats flying by.
Trekking and hiking
Most of Sri Lanka’s huge trekking potential remains unexplored. The hill country of Sri Lanka in particular offers perfect trekking conditions with its spectacular landscape, panoramas, and temperate climate. Trekking through the incredibly diverse lowland rainforests, such as the Sinharaja rainforest, on the other hand, may also be a highly rewarding experience. A few of the tour operators in Sri Lanka offer trekking and hiking tours. Shorter guided walks are also often organised by environmentally aware hotels and lodges, some of which employ guides to lead guests on walks.
As long as you avoid the hazardous main highways, cycling in Sri Lanka can be an absolute pleasure. The island is perfect for touring due to its tiny size and natural diversity, especially in the hill country with its exhilarating switchback roads, cooler climate, and almost complete lack of traffic. First and foremost, be careful. Because bus and truck drivers see bikers as a waste of valuable asphalt and don’t actually give them the right to be on the road at all, cyclists are especially vulnerable to accidents. As such, you should always be prepared to shift out of the way immediately (in fact, it’s generally safer to ride totally off the pavement and along the dirt shoulder). Not only are you at risk from approaching traffic coming from behind, but you also run the risk of being pushed into the ditch by automobiles that are legally on your side of the road but are overtaking you.
Bike rentals are available in most tourist cities (or inquire at your guesthouse; they will probably know someone who has spare bikes lying about or who will lend you theirs for a little price). High-quality mountain bikes are also available for rent in a number of locations. Prices are normally much less than a few dollars each day, though they might vary widely.
Yoga and introspection
Yoga isn’t quite as popular in Sri Lanka as it is in India, despite the fact that many of the island’s many Ayurvedic institutes now include yoga classes in their treatment regimens, and it is sometimes possible to join in them without first taking an Ayurvedic course. You won’t have many options if not.
Most meditation courses are available in and around Kandy.
Many companies provide balloon rides that offer an incredible aerial view of the island. Most flights are to and from the Cultural Triangle (the region around Dambulla and Sigiriya), though there are also sometimes flights to other places, such as the south coast.
Sri Lanka has three beautiful golf courses: Colombo, Kandy, and Nuwara Eliya. Numerous businesses provide personalised golf outings.