Since the end of the civil war in 2009, tourist arrival numbers have nearly tripled from 2010 to 2015, and this trend is bound to continue to soar over the next few years, and for good reason too.

While Sri Lanka has been "up-and-coming” for a few years, this beautiful island has been thrust into the spotlight and recently made it onto tons of Top Travel Destinations in 2016 lists. This trend hasn’t gone unnoticed by the hotel industry, with a plethora of luxury properties due to open this year.

 
 

Sri Lanka has something to offer for every type of traveler: Love the great outdoors? Sri Lanka has beautiful hiking trails with sweeping views of tea plantations and waterfalls. More of a “chill by the pool” kind of traveler? Sri Lanka has world-class luxury and boutique hotels across the country with beautiful spas and pools. Are you an avid surfer? Perfect – there are beautiful, uncrowded surf breaks up and down the coast.

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My own love affair with Sri Lanka began in February of last year when I decided, spur-of-the-moment, that I was going to fulfill my lifelong dream to learn how to surf, and no one and nothing was going to get in my way.

 
10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Sri Lanka Now - Breathe Travel

Here are 10 reasons why Sri Lanka needs to be on your list of travel destinations in 2016

1. Surf and Yoga Paradise

The Sri Lankan coast is home to dreamy surf breaks for beginners, and pumping waves and reef breaks for advanced surfers. The best part? The lineup is still relatively uncrowded so you can catch wave…after wave…after wave. Not to mention, the water is delightfully warm for the majority of the year so you can leave your wet suit at home.

Over the past year, I’ve spent about five weeks in total learning how to paddle, catch green waves, turn and attempt to carve from some of the best surf coaches in the world at Talalla Surf. If you’re looking to learn, this is the place to be to learn how to be more confident on a surfboard and have boatloads of fun.

Not into surfing? Sri Lanka is also a hot spot for kite-surfing, water skiing and SUP-ing.

 
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Yoga lovers rejoice! Sri Lanka is a wonderful destination to deepen your practice, with a plethora of yoga retreats available for any budget, or head to a drop-in class at one of the dozens of yoga studios around Sri Lanka.

10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Sri Lanka Now - Breathe Travel

Yes, that’s me!
Photo credit: Talalla Surf

 
10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Sri Lanka Now - Breathe Travel

2. Beautiful produce and food

Sri Lanka cuisine is typically wholesome, relatively healthy, and features a wealth of spices and flavours. Like its neighbour, India, quintessential Sri Lankan meals consist of colourful curries (in general, milder than Indian curries), rice and roti, string hoppers (steamed rice noodles), kottu (a carb-heavy diced roti dish, often served with veggies, eggs or chicken), tons of fresh seafood from the Indian Ocean and an abundance of wonderful tropical fruit.

 

3. Wildlife biodiversity

Sri Lanka possesses a very high degree of biodiversity and is considered one of the top biodiversity hotspots in the world. You can’t visit Sri Lanka without visiting one of the many national parks to try to catch a glimpse of an elusive spotted leopard or see elephants, bears, deer, monkeys, mongoose, wild boar, water buffalo, peacocks and many other beautiful species in their natural habitat.

Check out Ajith Safari Tours if you’re planning to visit Yala or Udawalawe!

 
10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Sri Lanka Now - Breathe Travel
10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Sri Lanka Now - Breathe Travel

4. Incredible sights and cultural heritage

Sri Lanka boasts a vibrant and unique cultural heritage with eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered around the country and many colourful religious festivals hosted throughout the year.

Sri Lanka has a diverse and rich cultural history and was a Dutch, Portuguese and British colony from the early 1800s to 1900s, so expect splashes of European influence to be reflected in the architecture, food and drink and their passion for cricket.

Spend some time strolling through Galle Fort in southern Sri Lanka and admire the beautiful architecture, and talk a walk along the fort wall for panoramic coastal views.

 
 
 
10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Sri Lanka Now - Breathe Travel
10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Sri Lanka Now - Breathe Travel

5. Travel convenience

Sri Lanka’s international airport, Bandaranaike International Airport, is approximately 40 minutes away from Colombo by car. While there aren’t many direct flights to Colombo from Europe, Australia or the U.S., the good news is that most of the U.A.E airlines fly to Sri Lanka via Doha or Abu Dhabi, and there are direct flights from major layover hub airports including Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. The airport is pretty much at max capacity, but a second terminal is being constructed as we speak.

Most visitors will need to apply for a visa (except for nationals of Singapore, Maldives and Seychelles) but this is easily done online for a fee.

Once you’re in Sri Lanka, there are a multitude of transportation options – train, bus, private cars, domestic flights. The most scenic way to travel is by train, but bear in mind that trains can often be delayed or cancelled. If you’re short on time, the most efficient way to get around is by hiring a private car/van and driver for long-distance drives. Fares are reasonable but do not expect them to be dirt cheap: expect to pay approximately US$120 for a 3-hour-long car ride.

Fine more info here and here on getting around in Sri Lanka.

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6. Climate

Sri Lanka is a tropical country so expect lots of blissful sunshine and blue skies practically year-round, except for monsoon season (summer months) when it can get a little more humid and rainy.

That being said, the weather is fairly consistent if you plan ahead, and the country offers some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. The central part of the southern half of the island (tea country!) tends to be cooler than the coastal regions, so pack accordingly if this is where you’re headed.

 
 
10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Sri Lanka Now - Breathe Travel

7. Language and ease of communication

Sinhalese and Tamil are the two primary languages spoken in Sri Lanka, but I’ve personally found that many people also speak or understand basic English. Most people who work in, or live around, major tourist destination cities like Galle, Mirissa, Weligama, Unawatuna, Colombo and Kandy will be able to communicate in conversational English.

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8. Assortment of accommodation options

There are rooms for every type of traveler and for every type of budget – Sri Lanka has it sorted.

There are not only beautiful five-star hotels like the Anantara Tangalle Peace Haven Hotel (pictured below), but also boutique hotels, converted colonial houses, eco-lodges and luxury tents for “glamping”. Basically, any accommodation your heart desires is available here.

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10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Sri Lanka Now - Breathe Travel

Anantara Tangalle - Sri Lanka

9. Pristine beaches

Every beach I’ve been to in Sri Lanka looks like it has jumped straight out of a postcard. Take it from someone who once swam into a diaper (used) – it’s wonderful to not have to worry about finding tons of litter along the shoreline and swimming into all sorts of gross rubbish.

The water is crystal clear, and I once surfed alongside a sea turtle! The sand is extremely fine and powdery, because who likes pebbly and rocky beaches, am I right?

 
10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Sri Lanka Now - Breathe Travel

10. Uncrowded…for now

Unlike other popular tropical destinations, Sri Lanka remains relatively pure, untouched and unspoiled. Yes, there are massive tourist destinations and slightly shady beach parties, but you won’t find anywhere like Kuta, Patpong or Patong in Sri Lanka.

With tourism rates projected to explode over the next few years, now is the perfect time to visit!

 
10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Sri Lanka Now - Breathe Travel



Still unconvinced? Check out this video filmed and produced by my friends at Fresh Start Media. If this doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, I don’t know what will!

 

 


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10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Sri Lanka Now -- Breathe Travel


Have you visited Sri Lanka? Comment below and share your experience!

 

This post originally appeared on Yoga Wine Travel and has been republished with permission.