As some of you may know, we are lucky enough to currently be undertaking the Tuk Tuk Tournament in Sri Lanka! This is an epic two-week, “Amazing Race”- style adventure across the island. Our chariot is the humble tuk tuk, the wheels of Sri Lanka’s poor and in general underprivileged people. 18 teams are taking part from all over the world. The event begins in Hikkaduwa on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast, with a mid-party in the central mountains, and finishing in the capital of Colombo.
We have been chosen to represent Good Travel Program, a sustainability initiative which aims to connect sustainable businesses across Sri Lanka. Besides trying to win the rally, we also have our main mission which is to promote “good traveling” and introduce the world to many of the folks working hard on sustainable projects and helping the local communities. We will be savage in our efforts to educate the masses on the harms of plastic waste and hope to lead by good example to create a better future for us all.
We have just finished the tournament! Thank you to everyone who supported us along the way! Stay tuned for more videos, the sharing has just begun!
Want to get into Tuk Tuk Tournament 2019? Sign up before the end of November to get 30% off!MAKE SURE YOU TELL THEM THAT WE SENT YOU OR YOU WON’T GET THE DISCOUNT!!! That’s a great tukin’ deal if you ask us!
Want to get into Tuk Tuk Tournament 2019? Sign up before the end of November to get 30% off!MAKE SURE YOU TELL THEM THAT WE SENT YOU OR YOU WON’T GET THE DISCOUNT!!! That’s a great tukin’ deal if you ask us!
Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara near Tangalle, in south Sri Lanka is a unique Buddhist temple built ascending a 205 meter (673 foot) natural rock formation. The temple consists of many caves containing reclining Buddhas and painted ceilings, along with a Stupa at the summit. From the top you can hike around the back to a gigantic rock cliff with fantastic views of the lush surrounding area.
We rode a tuk tuk from Hiriketiya for about 40 min to reach the Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara rock temple. The entrance fee is 500 rupees for foreigners. There are many monkeys to greet you and encourage you, hooting and hollering at you as you are sweating your way up the long staircases.
The temple was constructed in the 3rd century and contains a tree germinated from the Bodhi tree in which Buddha supposedly gain enlightenment under. We didn’t see the tree, unfortunately, because we only read about it after. So take a picture for us when you go! 😉 We did make a video though. The video shows our journey starting in Hiriketiya and ending at this temple. Check it out!
On the way up to Mulkirigala’s highest stupa there are four or five caves, each containing a reclining Buddha statue and beautifully painted ceilings. Don’t forget to buy some flowers at the bottom to leave as an offering for Buddha in one of the caves!
Along the way there are several guys who will give you a blessing and put a bracelet on you. You can recognize which people go to temple because of the string around their wrists. They give the blessing mostly in Sinhalese but do their best to translate a bit to English. We know it means something like “Buddha and the monks bless you. Have a long and happy life!”
The highlight of Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara rock temple for us is the overlook at the top. Sitting on top of a giant rock, it feels like you can see all of Sri Lanka. It’s a great place to meditate for a minute or two.
When in Sri Lanka don’t miss Mulkirigala Rock Temple. It was our favorite temple in Sri Lanka and one of the most unique we’ve been to anywhere.
The south of Sri Lanka is a perfect tourism destination, especially if you like surfing and yoga. Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats are a great option, especially if you enjoy all-inclusive, no-worries travel. With many different surf and yoga retreat options, it can be hard to decide which retreat to book. Here is our guide comparing the 5 best Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats!
Offering all-inclusive week-long surf and yoga retreats based in Weligama, these retreats are held at an amazing colonial villa in the jungle near the town. Included are four surf lessons, eight yoga practices, breathwork meditation sessions, two daily meals with private chefs, a cooking class, and charity give-back days. They also take you on a safari through Udawalawe National Park which is packed full of wild elephants and other beautiful creatures. A great value for seeing a lot without needing to plan anything. We also like how everyone starts and finishes the experience together, allowing you to make deep, lasting friendships.
Weeklong packages include six surf sessions, six yoga classes, one massage, and daily breakfast. A bonus is the friendly local owners and delicious Ahimsa Vegan Cafe (extra cost but worth it) located on the property. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, quietly nestled away from the main road. Other packages and longer stays are available on their website. Less all-inclusive but better for more independent travelers.
For a more luxury option, enjoy Soul & Surf’s new and modern rooms and beautiful swimming pool. Included in a one-week stay are three meals per day, seven yoga sessions, ten surf outings, two meditation sessions, a guided SUP adventure and more. Great if you want to spend your time relaxing in one place; the downside is that it’s a little off the main drag. Oh, and the swimming pool is a nice bonus.
Weeklong price: ~ $1,500 USD for a shared room – $2,500 for a luxury private room. Check their website for options and availability. Prices lower in off season (May-November).
Made for the more serious surfer crowd, Sunshine Stories retreats include many different types of training to take your surf to another level. Included in their packages are seven breakfasts, five lunches and dinners, ten yoga sessions, five surf lessons, a variety of surf classes and video feedback, a temple visit, and your own surf video.
Weeklong package price: $899 USD for a shared room in their villa.
Located in Ahangama, Camp Poe is a boutique oasis which offers luxury safari tents or bungalows for accommodation. They also have a swimming pool and honestly some of the best yoga teachers on the island. Their packages include seven breakfasts, five dinners, five surf lessons, surf theory, five yoga classes, and included tea and unlimited water.
Weeklong package price: from $699 USD for private tent. Cheaper shared tents also available. More action-packed deals are also available with twice the surfing, more yoga, and included photo & videos. Check their website for other price options.
All of the best Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats include transport to the surf spots and surfboard rentals. Check their website for more exact itineraries and lists of optional add-ons. Keep in mind that the weather is best in the south of Sri Lanka between November and April, and prices are higher during this season. If you are looking for the best budget Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats, consider coming in the off season to save and enjoy less crowds.
If you know us, you know we love dogs! Sri Lanka, like many developing nations, is covered in street dogs. While spending the last three months in Sri Lanka, we kept looking for ways to help the street dogs. Those little mutts were always nice to us, following along on hikes and keeping us safe late at night. After being in Sri Lanka for a while, we kind of became immune to the site of the mangy friends. Then, while researching charities for our September Sri Lanka Surf & Yoga Retreat we stumbled across WECare Worldwide. WECare provides veterinary care for less fortunate animals across Sri Lanka, providing free care for street dogs, and inexpensive care for household pets.
We visited WECare’s facility outside of Talalla, Sri Lanka to find out more about the amazing things they are up to! WECare’s main focus is on reducing the number of street dogs in Sri Lanka, by neutering and spaying as many as possible. This way, with veterinary medicines limited, more care can be given to the already enormous numbers of dogs that exist on the island.
Another of the main goals of WECare Worldwide is educating the local people about street dogs and how to better love them. WECare goes into school and shows young children that street dogs are cute and loving creatures, breaking the stereotypes that many Sri Lankans have against dogs.
One other stereotype that WECare likes to break is that of the veterinarian. Traditionally in Sri Lanka, vets are people who have not succeeded in medical school. Not wanting to be seen in a career connoting “failure” discourages Sri Lankan youth from pursuing schooling in veterinary medicine. But WECare’s super-smart and passionate veterinarians are changing the image of the veterinary career in Sri Lanka. It’s also awesome that many of the vets in WECare are women, providing a great example of female education and empowerment!
Recently WECare was featured on the BBC which helped them to secure a lot of new funding. Check out their segment by clicking here!
We cannot wait to raise money for WECare Worldwide though our 10% Giveback Program on our Bigger Life Adventures yoga and surf retreat! Every dollar helps, and even if you don’t make it to our Sri Lanka Surf & Yoga Retreat, please consider donating a small amount to their cause. Not only are the helping the street dogs, but they are employing many local people and educating young children on the proper way to interact with animals. Please check out their website www.WECareWorldwide.org.uk for more information about the organization and details on how to donate to the cause!
Traveling to Sri Lanka? Landing in Colombo can be overwhelming but doesn’t have to be. Travel in Sri Lanka can be stress free if you know how to get around. Whether you are headed for your next big surf trip or just to soak up the beach sun, study our ultimate Sri Lanka transportation guide to best enjoy this Indian Ocean island paradise.
Sri Lanka transportation – a guide to how to travel the island
The Sri Lanka train system is old-school and can range from dreamy rides through the mountains with a whole car to yourself, to being packed in like sweaty sardines, unable to sit for hours. The most iconic ride is between Ella and Kandy, which takes you through incredible mountain and tea plantations views and Horton Plains National Park. It is perhaps the most beautiful train ride in the world. You can start east of Ella if you want to ride over the Nine Arch Bridge, or just hike there from Ella town to get your picture. Trains are separated into first, second, and third classes. First class tickets can be bought online and you get a guaranteed seat. Second and third class are similar and you can purchase them at the ticket office no more than 15 minutes before the train arrives. You might get a seat, you might not. Once on a packed train we sat in the doorway with our legs out the side of the train the whole journey. Despite sore butts from sitting on the floor the whole way, it was a great way to enjoy the scenery!
Local buses go everywhere in Sri Lanka. If you are traveling for a long time and/or on a budget, this is your best bet. Find the blue signs along the road which signify stopping points; they are every few hundred meters. Be prepared to jump on while the bus is still moving! The ticket sellers will sometimes try to over-charge you. Once inside hold on for dear life, as the drivers are notoriously psychotic and get paid by the trip, not by the hour. Bus fare in Sri Lanka are around 20 LKR (Sri Lankan Rupees) for a short trip or near 200 LKR from Colombo to the south coast (~5hrs). For busing to/from Colombo, check out the special section in the bottom of the page. Throw your backpacks in front by the driver or in the storage space in the rear, depending on how helpful/hurried the ticket guys are at the moment. Buses are by far the most popular form of Sri Lanka transportation with the locals, so ride them at least once for the experience.
These three-wheeled motorized rickshaws are a Sri Lankan transportation staple and you will find them all over the island. They are fun to zoom around in, but the drivers are pushy and you always have to ask the price up front and negotiate; just please don’t be a dick because the price is 50 LKR higher than you’d like. A good tourist’s tuk tuk fare is 75 LKR per kilometer, but expect to pay more late at night. They have room for three people but will sometimes let you take more (for a tip) and generally have room for your luggage. Check out the Tuk Tuk Safari that we did, which featured the nicest tuk tuk we’ve ever seen! In Colombo there is a great app called Pick Me that you can use to summon your tuk tuk rides.
Buses and tuk tuks get old fast, and sometimes you just want t stop and get a coconut (or an ice cream). Renting a motorbike is a nice change of pace and lets you explore more remote and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Prices range from 800-1200 LKR per day. In our opinion, this is the most fun type of Sri Lanka transportation. Technically you need an international drivers license, along with your home country’s ID, and a special permit only obtainable in Colombo. Most tourists who rent motorbikes do not have all or any of these documents, so just expect to pay a fine if you are stopped by the police. Watch out for police roadblocks in every town. We generally see them coming and hide behind the car in front of us. The police aren’t trying to work too hard, and won’t chase you.
Taxis are useful in Colombo, or if you are on a quick trip/higher budget. A trip from Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport to the south can cost between 7,000 and 12,000 LKR so be sure to do some negotiating. If you have a hotel reserved, have them arrange a taxi for you, as they will get a better price and your ride will be waiting on your arrival. If you need a ride to/from specific places, post sometime on one of the Sri Lanka traveler Facebook groups and many taxis will message you with deals. Uber is a good option, but only works in Colombo. Taxis don’t normally have signs in Sri Lanka, because they are usually are just some dude with a Prius.
Getting to/from Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport:
Keep in mind that Sri Lanka only has one international airport, located in Colombo. Most travelers choose to skip Colombo or leave it until the end of their trip, after getting more comfortable with the country. Leaving the airport is one of the most expensive parts of travel in Sri Lanka. There are several options to get you where you need to be:
Bus – When walking out the main exit during daytime hours, you will see a blue bus directly in front of the exit. This takes you to the main bus station (150 LKR – 1hr) near the Colombo Fort and train station. This main bus station is for local buses which depart to all parts of the island for a very cheap price. However, if you’re headed to the south we’d recommend taking the highway bus to Matara (500 LKR – 2hrs) which is air conditioned and gets you there in half the time of the local bus. These nicer buses leave from a different bus station called Maharagama in south Colombo. They depart every 15 min or so when full. There are also highway buses directly to Galle, although they leave less often than the Matara buses. To get to Maharagama either take a bus from the local bus station, or taxi/Uber straight from the airport (45 min, recommended).
Taxi – If you are only in Sri Lanka for a short time and your first stop is outside Colombo, we recommend just taking a taxi straight from the airport to your destination. Set it up with your hotel in advance to save money and have someone waiting for you. Keep in mind that if you are arriving late at night or early in the morning, taxi or Uber might be your only option for getting anywhere.
Tuk tuk – if you are spending the night in nearby Negombo, you can take a tuk tuk to your destination. The tuk tuks are not allowed into the airport pickup area but you just need to walk across the street to flag one down.
Sri Lanka transportation is easy, however sometimes it can be crowded and hot. We call it “character building” as my favorite athlete Alex Honnold would say. Just keep your cool and everything will be fine! What’s to worry, if all else fails while traveling Sri Lanka, you’ve still got your Chevrolegs and your thumb!
Enjoy this post about Sri Lanka transportation options? Check out our archives for other guides and helpful advice for travelers all over the world! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our Youtube Channel!
What happened to Mirissa, Sri Lanka? The party is over. After the infamous assault of Dutch tourists on Mirissa Beach in April, 13 locals were arrested and parties and party places were closed across the south coast of Sri Lanka. Several bars tried to organize events but were shut down by the police. However, travelers were still coming and expected something to do, being surprised at the lack of party scene and moving on quickly once they realized it was not what they had read about. Soon the situation escalated even more, as most of the Mirissa beach bars have been destroyed by government bulldozers.
***Don’t forget to read to the bottom for a more recent update***
The newest development happened quickly. On May 11th, 2018 government bulldozers rolled into Mirissa town, along with more than 100 police officers, heavily armed soldiers, and a water cannon to fight back riots. The government proceeded to knock down 21 structures deemed “illegal”. This included nearly all the bars and restaurants leaving a big mess of mental, concrete, and other industrial waste along the beach. Check out this article to read more from a local news report.
This might be another case of a story which goes a little deeper. Only a few bars in Mirissa actually had a license to sell alcohol. These places are still standing after the bulldozing. Most beach bars in Sri Lanka choose to operate illegally, paying bribes over the obnoxiously priced and hard to get liquor licenses. These licenses have a price tag of near one million Sri Lankan Rupees and take years of dedication through the proper channels to obtain.
There is also the factor that several large hotel chains have recently been “banging on the doors” of Mirissa. It will be interesting to see if these large corporate companies are awarded the licensing that the local people were so long denied.
The government’s official reasons for the deconstruction was that A) the structures are illegal, and B) they are causing an environmental impact along the coast. After the buildings were knocked down, there was no plan in place to clean up the destroyed structures. These are still lining the beach, slowly getting picked though by the locals, hazardous asbestos roofing sheets thrown about in the sand. Was this really the most environmentally safe solution, or did the authorities start a plan without a real finish in mind?
With the beach party scene being the reason most people came to Mirissa, Sri Lanka, we suspect it will take years for the town to recover. Many honest and hardworking locals will be without work, not to mention the tremendous economic loss to the hundreds of local hotels and tourism businesses.
We still recommend people go to Mirissa for the surf and awesome beachfront. And don’t forget the sunsets! Whatever ends up happening with all of this, hopefully in a few years Mirissa Beach will be in a better place because of the changes, however drastic that they were. What do you think? Did the government make the right decision? Will you help us to have a clean up day, making the beach beautiful again? Comment below!
Check out our archives for other guides and helpful advice for travelers all over the world! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our Youtube Channel!
UPDATE October 2018:
We recently went to Mirissa to see if anything has changed. The season is starting and tourists are beginning to flood to the area. The beach is still a mess, lots of the debris has never been cleaned up. Also, several of the bars/restaurants have reopened in the structures that were not eliminated. All the rubble just makes the beach not seem as nice as it used to be. The parties are apparently up and running again and we are curious to see if any of this destruction will change anything in the long run.
In Sri Lanka, every full moon is an official holiday! We really love the connection between nature and spirituality that every celebrates here. A couple weeks ago the full moon was extra special, because it was also Vesak Day, a holiday celebrating major milestones in the life of Buddha – basically his birth, enlightenment, and death are all celebrated on Vesak Day.
We also got to have a special experience for Vesak and the Full Moon, by going out to on the water with SUP Yoga Sri Lanka at Duwa Villas! They had organized a special full moon ceremony experience including meditation, pranayama, some gentle yin SUP yoga, and a letting-go ceremony out on the water. We captured a little bit of video before it got too dark to share the experience!
It started to rain a little bit while we were out on the water meditating, but the rain felt cool and nice, like the baptism of a new moon cycle! It was so peaceful to just lie on our backs on the boards, feeling the gentle motion of the water and the refreshing touch of the raindrops. What an amazing experience! We can’t wait to try more SUP Yoga in Sri Lanka!