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North-West Coast

The north-west coast begins with the popular beach resort of Negombo – only a few miles from the international airport – but venture further north for whale and dolphin spotting, game parks and lagoons. Negombo apart, the remote coastal towns to the far north, Kalpitiya and Mannar, remain untouched by mass tourism. Wilpattu is arguably Sri Lanka’s most scenic national park, the seas off the coast of Kalpitiya are home to dolphins and whales while Mannar is a haven for exotic migrant birds from October to March. A largely unchanged region awaiting discovery.


Negombo follows the weather patterns of Colombo, only 20 miles to the south, and has its best weather between December and April, also being affected by the south-west monsoon which brings rain from May to July. By the time you travel up the north-west coast as Mannar, however, the picture is much more different: a dryer landscape for much of the year with the bulk of the rain falling from October to December – a weather pattern typical of the north-east monsoon. There is also an inter-monsoonal period of unsettled weather in October.


Getting There
The north-west coast, beginning from Negombo, is easily reached from the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake. Negombo is only 15 minutes from the airport and less than hour from the capital. Heading north up the A3, you can either head up a narrow land strip to Kalpitiya, or reach Wilpattu game park and Mannar by remaining on the main A3.


Kitesurfing in Sri Lanka

Kalpitiya is not just the finest kite surfing destination in Sri Lanka, it is also one of the best in the world. This laid-back spot is not Sri Lanka’s only kite surfing destination – you can also take to the water on Sri Lanka’s north-west coast in the popular beach resort of Negombo and at Mannar Island, where relatively few tourists venture. But it is Kalpitiya which has attracted most recognition in a fast-growing water-sport.

Duration: 3 hours
Best time: May to October, December to  March


Anawilundawa Wetlands

Anawilundawa, meaning ‘seven wetlands or tanks’ in Tamil, is the second largest Ramsar wetland in Sri Lanka. This is a very important wetland for many resident and migratory birds and its proximity to Colombo and Negombo makes this excellent day’s visit for birdwatchers stay in or close to Sri Lanka’s capital. Anawilundawa was declared a sanctuary in 1997 – though not protected by legislation, the cluster of irrigation tanks within the sanctuary are recognized as some of the most important habitats for both resident and migratory birds. The best time to visit Anawilundawa is during the months from October to April.

Duration: 3 hours
Best Time: October to April


Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park is a contender as the most beautiful national park in Sri Lanka – and that’s quite a claim. Such is the beauty of the trees that at times you might imagine yourself in a landscaped garden. The biggest attraction, though, is the chance to see a Sri Lankan leopard because sightings are more common here than in any other Sri Lankan game park.

Duration: 3 hours
Best Time: February to October


Muthurajawela Wetlands

Boat safaris in the Muthurajawela wetlands are a major attraction for holiday makers in Negombo. Numerous bird species can be observed. Crocodiles occur and large water monitors are seen quite frequently.

The Muthurajawela Marshes cover an area of approximately 6,000 hectares, inclusive of the Negombo lagoon. The daily high tide brings in seawater from the ocean into the wetland, and the continuous mixing of these two waters over thousands of years has led to a brackish, integrated coastal ecosystem that is biologically diverse and teeming with life.

Duration: 2 hours
Best Time: September to April


Windsurfing in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s surrounding Indian Ocean waters are ideal for windsurfing, and the monsoon weather patterns are such that one half of the island’s coastal waters are always in season for water-sports. The west coast town of Bentota is popular for windsurfing with water and wind conditions best during the season from November to April. Negombo in the north-west is also great for windsurfing in Sri Lanka, as it has inland lagoons and lakes. Windsurfers can also head to Trincomalee on the east coast if they are in Sri Lanka between July and August. On the East coast the best winds are from July to August when windsurfers head to Trincomalee. Windsurfing in Sri Lanka is also possible inland on lagoons and lakes in Negombo, Bolgoda and Bentota.

Duration: 3 hours
Best Time: December to October