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Sri Lanka’s Hidden Gems: 11 Amazing, Offbeat and Unusual Things to do

Sri Lanka is often best known for its pristine beaches and beautiful national parks. But there are so many offbeat places and unusual things to do in Sri Lanka awaiting nature lovers and adventure seekers.

If you’re looking for a different experience and want to discover a lesser-known side of this emerald island, keep reading. We have compiled a list of the best lesser-known attractions in Sri Lanka.

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11 Offbeat and Unusual Things to do in Sri Lanka

1. Stick Fishing

Stilt Fishing, sometimes also called stick fishing, is a dying tradition in Sri Lanka. A very unique and interesting fishing method, only found in the Southern coastal towns like Koggala, Kaththaluwa and Ahangama of Sri Lanka, is a beautiful sight. The fishermen are seen perched on top of poles, seemingly comfortable, fishing in the sea. Stilt fishing needs high skill and has a vertical pole attached to a crossbar embedded in the shallow seafloor.

stick fishing Stilt fishing
Stick Fishing or Stilt fishing is one of the most unique things you will find in Sri Lanka

2. Red Banana

Bananas are found in plenty and there is a wide range of colours, shapes, sizes, textures and flavours of it available in Sri Lanka. The most unique of them is the Rath Kehel, a variety commonly cultivated in Kandy, is a banana of colour, its apple green when unripe, turns into yellow and then red with brown-black markings when ripe. It is not too sweet but softer and kind of raspberry-esque in flavour.

rath kehel red banana sri lanka

3. Jungle beach

Sri Lanka, as you might already know, is famous for its beaches all over the world. In fact, before the devastating tsunami of 2004, two of Sri Lanka’s beaches – Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa – were rated among the top 12 beaches in the world by CNN. But there are still a few hidden beaches in Sri Lanka, like the Jungle Beach in Unawatuna.

On the way to the Jungle Beach!

As the name suggests, Jungle Beach is an actual beach in a jungle. To reach this hidden beach, you will need to hike for about 15-20 mins, cross Rumassala Hills and then land on the beach. Actually, the hike and the mini-adventure of reaching the beach makes the experience even more awesome.

4. Elephant Orphanage

Founded with a purpose to care and protect the many orphaned Elephants found in the jungles of Sri Lanka, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is located on the way to Kandy from Colombo.

sri lanka elephant orphanage
Orphaned Elephant calves playing with each other.

5. King Coconut

King Coconut is a native of Sri Lanka and a much sweeter and larger, bright orange coloured variety of coconut. It is called Thembili in the local language and a favourite beverage of the locals and getting popular with tourists too. It is available in plenty on beaches and with roadside vendors.

unusual things to do in Sri lanka
That is huge, isn’t it !!

6. Train-ride through Tea Gardens

As goes the saying – ‘there are train rides, then there are Sri Lankan train rides‘. Sri Lanka may be relatively small, but it packs in some amazingly scenic train journeys. And the best among them is the route through the hills and tea gardens – Colombo to Kandy, and then from Kandy to Nanu Oya, on to Ella and Badulla. Another impressing route is the one from Colombo to Galle, hugging the coastline all the way.

Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka
Isn’t that absolutely scenic!!

7. A 2300-Year-Old Tree

The Sacred Fig or Bo Tree is aged 2300 years old, called Sri Maha Bodhiya, and is considered the oldest tree planted by human beings by natural seeding, it is in the ancient city of Anuradhapura. It is the offshoot of the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha is believed to have achieved enlightenment.

8. Lion Flag

The Lion Flag, the flag of Sri Lanka, is considered the world’s oldest flag dating back to 162 BC. With leaves representing Buddhism, orange standing for Hinduism and green for Islam, it is the only flag in the world to recognise different religious beliefs.

sri lanka flag

9. Serendipity

Sri Lanka is also called The Land of Serendipity, with an abundance of all, like the stunning landscapes, incredible wildlife, timeless ruins and unspoilt beaches. The word was derived from ‘Serendip’, the old name of Sri Lanka as referred by the ancient Arabs and Persians.

10. Gem-Stones

Sri Lanka is a leading global sourcing destination for precious and semi-precious stones. It is home to nearly 75 varieties of coloured and colourless gemstones of the total 200 found around the world and as a country has the highest density of gem deposits. Ratnapura, the city of gems, contains the maximum deposits. Ruby, Sapphire, Chrysoberyl, Beryl, Spinel, Topaz, Zircon, Tourmaline and Garnet are commonly available.

There are rows of exclusive showrooms across Colombo and the fun bit is that most auto drivers give tourists a free ride to just visit a showroom, as they are on commission basis with these shops, the sale is not part of the deal. A must buy for all the lovely ladies visiting Sri Lanka.

sri lanka
Sonakshi, super happy with her Sri Lankan Sapphire!!

11. Tea & Spices

As the fourth largest tea exporter in the world, Sri Lanka is most known for Ceylon Tea – considered as the cleanest Tea certified by the ISO, with the least amount of pesticides. It is one of the main sources of foreign exchange and a major source of employment. High quality of tea is found in the Central highlands, as the humidity, rainfall and cool temperatures of the region prove perfect for tea production.

The land of spices, as Sri Lanka, is fondly referred to, for its love for spicy food and production of all sorts of natural herbs and spices. Ceylon Cinnamon, the much loved and popular spice are actually from Sri Lanka. In fact, 80-90% of the world’s cinnamon is from Sri Lanka. It is much sweeter and has a fresher taste as compared to the other cassia type. Black Pepper, White and Green Cardamom are also natives of Sri Lanka.

Ceylon Cinnamon

Helpful resources for visiting Sri Lanka

We hope that you enjoyed reading about these secret destinations, offbeat attractions and unknown trivia, and we are sure that this would have made you want to book a ticket to Sri Lanka this very moment!

To help you more with planning your Sri Lanka Trip, below are some very handy resources:

Planning your Travel:
13 Unique Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka
12 Things to Know Before Visiting Sri Lanka (coming soon)
How to Plan a family holiday in Sri Lanka (coming soon)
Top places to visit in Sri Lanka (coming soon)
Most Instagrammable spots in Sri Lanka (coming soon)

Don’t forget Negombo:
An Ultimate and Comprehensive Travel Guide for Negombo

Accommodation:
Airbnb: Click here to get $35 off on you Airbnb Bookings!
Hotels: Check out the best hotels in Sri Lanka

Other important utilities:
Flight Booking (coming soon)
Travel Insurance (coming soon)

This blog-post was co-authored by Anuradha Nag. An ex-marketing professional, Anuradha hails from India’s NCR (National Capital Region). She loves to travel and has recently been on a family vacation to Sri Lanka.

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