Just off the southern tip of India lie two of the most beautiful tropical paradises on the planet. Situated in the Indian Ocean, on one-side rests the magnificent Maldives islands and on the other Sri Lanka – an island that the great traveller Marco Polo described as ‘undoubtedly the finest of its size in the world’.
Despite being a tropical island of the coast of India, with the majority of people not Hindu but Buddhist, Sri Lanka is totally different from its neighbouring country. Once visited it is hard not to agree with Marco Polo – it’s a delightful mixtures of British colonial heritage, tropical landscapes, extremely friendly locals, delicious cuisine (especially the seafood!), amazing waves (head to Mirissa and Weligama if you’re chasing the swell) and fascinating historic sites (the ruins of Sigiriya, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are a trip within themselves – and let’s not forget the Dambulla Cave Temples). If beaches take your fancy, the coastal stretch south of Colombo offers palm-lined sandy havens as far as the eye can see – and lots of opportunities for spotting baby turtles hatching. Otherwise, escape to the hills where you’ll find gorgeous rolling hills usually coated with tea plantations. Ella is particularly a tourist favourite with its bohemian vibe and stunning waterfalls. The island is also home to a diversity of exotic bird life and animals, with safaris and tours to sight elephants and leopards particularly popular. Yala National Park, Udawalawe National Park, Kaudulla National Park and Horton Plains National Park particular highlights.