squaremeal.co.uk | 159
It's easy to reach the neighbouring beaches
for a wander, but with such excellent on-site
facilities - including three restaurants serving
fresh sh, Japanese and Sri Lankan foods - it's
just as easy to sit back and switch o instead.
Those seeking adventure should visit
Massimo and Antonella, the Italians who
run the local dive and activity centre. They
arrange private boat trips to search for blue
whales. We head out across the waves, and
after an hour our patience is rewarded as we
spy a plume of water shooting into the sky.
We've found two blue whales; we drift behind
them, waiting for them to resurface with a
cavernous whoosh and a playful tail slap.
My nal stop is the old fort town of Galle,
an ideal place for a spot of shopping. This
has been the trip of a lifetime, and one that
deserves to be marked in some way, I decide.
So Dilan takes me around some gem shops
in search of a sapphire.
Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the
world to buy sapphires. We head to Aida
Gems Jewellery, where I'm guided through
the purchasing process. I choose a stone and
a setting; they send it to their workshop to
be made overnight. I pick up my brand new
ring on my way to the airport the next day,
and on the ight home I sit and stare at the
gem as it glints in the light, reminded of the
luminous colours of the exotic country that's
receding into the distance behind me.
British Airways flies
to Colombo via India from
London Heathrow daily
from £730 return. Flight
time is 14 hours 40 minutes.
Cox Kings offers a 13-day
trip to Sri Lanka combining
cultural and natural
highlights. Priced from
£3,545 per person, including
international flights, private
transfers and excursions.
WHEN TO GO
January to April are
the driest months. There
are two monsoon seasons
- the South West from May
to September (wettest MayJun)
and the less severe
North East from November
to March (wettest NovDec).
An unsettled intermonsoonal
October to November
affects the whole country.
WHERE TO STAY
Retreat, doubles from £125
including breakfast and
taxes. Tuscan-style villa
located by Sri Lanka's best
golf course an hour outside
Cape Weligama, junior
family suite from £490 all
Kahanda Kanda, doubles
from £210 including
breakfast and taxes.
Tranquil retreat with
spacious rooms set in
lush gardens an
hour outside Galle.
Leopard Safaris, doubles
from £545 all inclusive.
Tea Trails, doubles
from £390 all inclusive.
Ulagalla Resort, doubles
from £230 including
breakfast and taxes.
FIND OUT MORE
Far left to right: Cape Weligama; the view from Castlereagh bungalow; a leopard at Yala National
Park; Cape Weligama's in nity pool; Dambulla caves; local cuisine; poolside service at Tea Trails.