When we get stuck Sri Lanka is always there to help us

Sri Lanka seems to be our fail safe destination. When we get stuck, Sri Lanka is where we end up.

The first time Sri Lanka helped us out when we completely messed up our Indian visa application. 10 years ago we were setting off on our round the world trip and we couldn’t get our visas in time (totally our own fault). Our flight to Delhi was booked and if we didn’t take it we would forfeit our entire round-the-world ticket. Eek! 

So we booked an onward flight to Colombo from Delhi and managed to transit through the airport in India without a visa. Phew! We sent our bags to Sri Lanka separately as we didn’t know of we’d be able to collect them in Delhi and check them in again for the onward flight. We had a lovely chilled 2 weeks in southern Sri Lanka before heading to India at the beginning of nearly a year of travelling. 

A last minute decision to visit Sri Lanka

We were in Thailand for half term with the kids at the very beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. The girls school asked us not to return for 14 days after leaving Thailand (even if we were showing no symptoms). As always, we like to turn a problem into an opportunity. There was no way I wanted to sit at home for 2 weeks with the kids in forced isolation while home schooling. So we left Thailand a few days earlier than planned and headed to Sri Lanka. We actually quite fancied the Andaman Islands but they required an Indian visa (visas are a pain!!) and we couldn’t arrange one fast enough.

Arranging this trip so last minute wasn’t too tricky. We lost our flight home from Bangkok. EVA would have changed the dates for us but they only fly through Bangkok or Taiwan. Neither of which would help our situation. We booked fairly cheap flights with Thai Lion Air to Sri Lanka and then found one way flights from Colombo to Heathrow with Qatar via Doha (you can fly direct but the cost would have quadrupled!) Qatar is very flexible so we could change our flight home once we knew when they kids would be allowed back to school.

We used booking.com to find our Sri Lankan accommodation at the last minute. Thank goodness for great WiFi in Thailand!

Our Sri Lankan Itinerary


The first time we visited Sri Lanka we did the usual tourist route of Colombo > Kandy then heading south to Galle > Unawatuna > Bentota. We loved it but decided to do something different this time.

Rich found a little place in the North West of Sri Lanka called Kalpitya. He read that it was fantastic for kite surfing and well known for dolphins. It’s a slow 3 hour drive from the airport up to the peninsula but we decided to go for it. The kids slept for half the journey which made it a bit more bearable. Our accommodation Hiru Resort and Kitesurfing provided an airport transfer which made everything more simple. 

We arrived in time to play in the dunes as the sun went down and we knew we’d made the right decision to divert here. The West coast of Sri Lanka is stunning. 

It took some adjusting to get into the rhythm of home schooling and working in the heat of Sri Lanka. It was hotter there than Thailand, especially compared to Koh Samui which was 10°c cooler than than the north of Sri Lanka. Kalpitya is very remote and off the regular tourist trail. We had 2 local shops within walking distance. They sold everything from bread to school pencils. But no touristy niknaks or souvenirs. It was quite nice but strange after being in busy Bangkok and touristy BoPhut. The electricity would regularly cut out and WiFi was rare. 

Mosquitos are everywhere in Kalpitya. All the lagoons and wetlands are a breeding ground for them so take plenty of repellant; especially for the mornings and evenings. 

Eating in Kalpitya, Sri Lanka

We had ‘Curry Rice’ for most meals. You pick the protein (prawns, cuttlefish, barracuda and tuna feature heavily) and then you get rice, curry and usually at least 2-3 veg side dishes with your meal too. It’s all cooked to order everywhere you go so always allow for long wait times at restaurants. We were grateful to be advised to go early to restaurants and take entertainment for the kids. Don’t go hungry! 


Feeding the kids in Kalpitya was probably the most challenging of all the places we’ve visited

Very few places served anything other than Curry Rice. And EVERYTHING is spicy! Thankfully they both like rice and they’ll eat plain grilled fish and prawns. Tuna and barracuda is in abundance in Kalpitya.

Despite being remote we found a CrossFit gym and healthy cafe just down the beach from us called the BNKR (pronounced Bunker). Great for Rich as he’s a Crossfitter! The food was lovely, lots of healthy salad options and one of the few places you could order something other than Sri Lankan Curry Rice.

Where to eat in Kalpitya


The BNKR – Crossfit gym and healthy cafe. It’s Western style food with a Sri Lankan twist. Expect yummy Buddha bowls, pizzas and tacos. I found some gorgeous homemade vegan chocolate here too!

Mom’s Kitchen – this place is tiny! It’s just 3 tables in the front garden of a small house. The food was fabulous. Very typical Sri Lankan options and they offered pancakes on pancake day.

Coco Breeze – a relatively new restaurant that only uses organic vegetables and well-reared meat. The owner is also the chef and he takes a lot of pride in his food. He was great with the children too. This was the first place we managed to get a bowl of simple steamed (not spiced) veg that the children would eat.

Things to do in Kalpitya with kids

Our plan was to have some quiet time after the craziness of rushing around Koh Samui and Bangkok but when we arrived in Kalpitya we found there was quite a lot to do! The area is famous for dolphins and we went on a truly awesome dolphin watching tour. Sadly we didn’t spot any whales but they are in the Indian Ocean and sometimes spotted on the tours. We did see a whale skeleton displayed by the research centre on the beach between Hiru and the BNKR. Definitely worth taking a look at! 
We also went on a safari to Wilpattu National Park. This was our first experience of going on safari as a family and we weren’t sure how the girls would do. We spent 3 hours touring the national park in a jeep, there was a lot to see and they loved the trip. Yay! They’re keen to head to Africa now and so they can see giraffes. 

Heading home and a quick stop in Negombo

We travelled back to Negombo the day before our flight and had an evening on Negombo beach. We found a fab restaurant called The Container, run by a French family which served more Western style food. We watched the sun go down and had a final paddle in the Indian Ocean before heading back to our room for the night 

The morning of our flight we made a very quick pit stop in a tiny Indian cafe to order Dhosa and Roti for breakfast. We can’t resist an Indian Dhosa!

We’re leaving Sri Lanka tired. As much as I love this tropical island it’s noisy at night. The dogs bark a lot through the night, in Negombo motorboats ran along the canals most of the night and it’s considered perfectly acceptable for loud music to be played from every church early in the morning. Sundays we were woken at 5:30am and on Ash Wednesday we got woken up by mass at 6am. There was no chance of us keeping any closer to the time zone in the UK with late nights and late starts. We were all up early every day!

We may be sleep deprived but we are all so happy we made this last minute diversion. As parents we spend so much time watching our kids experience new things, most of which are pretty mundane for us as adults. To explore a country and have all these incredible experiences where the grown ups are as enthralled and excited as the kids is magical. It’s why I love to travel with my family. The shared experiences will stay with us forever. 

Sri Lanka Highlights

Dolphin watching in Kalpitya, Sri Lanka

Dolphin watching in Kalpitya, Sri Lanka

The north western province of Sri Lanka is known for being home to hundreds of spinner dolphins, sperm whales and even the odd Blue Whale! Boat trips to go whale and dolphin watching are really popular.  We booked our trip through our hotel, Hiru Resort and...