Top 9 Adventurous Activities in Sri Lanka

Top 9 Adventurous Activities in Sri Lanka

July 11, 2020

Sri Lanka should be high on your list of countries to visit. It is spectacular! 

There is so much to see and do on this small tropical island.

For those with a spirit for adventure, Sri Lanka is the perfect destination. It has everything from hiking, waterfalls, tuk-tuk adventures, wildlife safaris and more!

Here is a round-up of the 9 top adventurous activities in Sri Lanka.

1. Climb Ella Rock

Ella Rock is located in the beautiful town of Ella, nestled in Sri Lanka’s mountainous jungles and tea plantations. 

The view from the top of Ella Rock is breathtaking. It well worth the difficult and at times, confusing hike up.

To access the beginning of the hike you need to go to the Kital Ella Train station. Walk along the train tracks (which is an adventure in itself!) until you reach the beginning of the hike. 

From there it is a steep climb up through beautiful forests until you reach Ella Rock, which offers sweeping views over Ella.

This hike will only take half a day so it is the perfect day activity when you are visiting Ella. It is best to start this hike as early as possible to avoid crowds and climbing in the heat.

The trail is confusing and not well marked. If you want to brave it alone carefully follow trail advice from other travel bloggers. 

The other option is to hire a guide to take you up. There will be plenty of locals offering their services on the way up if you get lost! You can bargain with the locals to come up with a good price. Don’t pay more than $30USD.

Bonus: If you have some extra time in Ella, do the Little Adams Peak hike. It is short but will also give you beautiful views of Ella Rock and Ella from a different perspective.

2. Hike to Diyaluma Falls

A trip to Diyaluma falls is an amazing day trip from Ella, which is about an hour away. Diyaluma falls are absolutely stunning and are worth every effort to reach.

These epic falls are the second highest falls in Sri Lanka at 720 feet high. You can admire the huge falls from the main road below. 

What's even better is to hike up to the top of the falls. You will be treated to a spectacular view and be able to swim in natural infinity pools.

To get to Diyaluma falls from Ella you can either take 2 public buses, which will drop you at the base of the falls, hire a taxi or tuk-tuk or hire a scooter. 

When you first arrive you take a moment to view the falls from the bridge at the bottom. Then you need to start making your way up to the top of the falls to enjoy the view.

Finding the beginning of the hike and getting on the correct trail can be tricky. You also have to beware of wild elephants. The hike up isn’t very well signed and you can get lost. It is possible to get up there without a guide, but just be sure to follow instructions from other blogs. Use Maps Me to find the correct walking trail offline. 

If you prefer to have some help getting up the top, or you find yourself struggling once you arrive, there will be plenty of locals on hand to take you to the top for a fee.

The hike up to the falls is relatively steep but not too difficult. Once you reach the top you will be treated with a series of smaller waterfalls and pools. There are amazing spots for rock jumping and swimming all the way to the edge of the cliff.

If you keep going you will eventually reach the edge with the big drop off and infinity pools, made famous by Instagram!

Take your time at the lower pools, admiring the view and taking dips. If it is the rainy season the water may be rushing too forcefully for you to swim in the pools.

It is best to head to Diyaluma Falls as early as possible to avoid crowds and ensure you can make your way back to Ella before it gets dark.

3. Visit Pidurangala Rock for the best view of Sigiriya Rock

Sigiriya Rock is an ancient fortress 3 hours north of Kandy, in the centre of the island. It is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya is a huge 660-foot stand-alone rock that dominates the skyline amidst thick green vegetation. It is a truly remarkable sight.

While visiting Sigiriya Rock itself is an amazing experience, you really want to go somewhere to get the best view of this incredible place. Pidurangala hike is just over a kilometre away from Sigiriya Rock. It takes you up to Pidurangala rock which gives you the best views of Sigiriya.

Pidurangala rock is the best place to watch the sunrise. The view of Sigiriya Rock and the landscape basking in the sun's golden glow is an unforgettable experience. Make sure you check the sunrise time and trail opening times and plan your trip accordingly.

The hike itself takes only around 20 minutes. It is short but steep! The trail starts off with stairs and ends with having to scale boulders. Once you reach the top you will be spoiled with sweeping 360 views of Sri Lanka’s most famous landscape.

4. Try Surfing in Hiriketiya

Sri Lanka is starting to become known as one of the top places in the world to surf. If you are up for an adventure you cannot miss surfing on this beautiful tropical island.

There is great surfing at beaches all the way from Hikkaduwa on the West Coast to Arugam Bay on the east coast. But one of the best places to go surfing is in Hiriketiya Bay on the south coast of Sri Lanka.

Hiriketiya is a small horseshoe bay nestled in the Sri Lankan jungle. It is lined with white sand and beautiful coconut trees. It is hidden away in the jungle off the main road. 

Hiriketiya is small but is becoming more popular with travellers so is home to some beautiful guesthouses, restaurants and yoga studios. It is a true oasis! 

Hiriketiya Bay is famous for the beautiful waves that roll in, making it one of the best spots for beginners to advanced surfers.

The best way to reach Hiriketiya is to take a bus to Dikwella and then a short tuk-tuk ride to Hiriketiya. There are plenty of accommodation options on the beach and surrounding areas nearby.

5. Go on an Animal Safari

The secret is out, Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world to go on an animal safari.

If you can’t make it to Africa, don’t worry, you can have a similar safari experience in Sri Lanka (and for a fraction of the price!).

Sri Lanka is abundant with incredible wildlife including elephants, leopards, buffalo, monkeys and all kinds of birds. There are numerous national parks around the country that preserve the habitats of these incredible animals.

The two main safaris you can go on in Sri Lanka are located in Udawalawe National Park and Yala National Park. Udawalawe is home to thousands of elephants, you are almost guaranteed to see them! Yala is famous for being the place to spot wild leopards.

Both are easy to reach from the South Coast of the Island by bus and have plenty of local accommodation. Your accommodation provider can also arrange for your safari tour, which should only set you back around $30USD per person. 

You pay for the safari per jeep not per person, and the more tickets you buy and once the lower the price per ticket. So if you can find a group of people to do it with, the cost gets even lower.

Make sure your driver picks you up as early as possible so you can enjoy the stillness of the sunrise in the national park.

6. Climb to Adam’s Peak for Sunrise

Adam’s Peak, also known as Sri Pada, which means Sacred Footprint is a mountain in the Southwestern Sri Lankan hill country. The mountain is 7,360 feet high and 5,500 steps from the bottom to the top.

Adam’s Peak is a sacred place, with immense spiritual significance. It draws scores of pilgrims each year who make an annual pilgrimage to pay homage to the sacred footprint.

At the top of the peak, there is a platform with a large hollow, which resembles a human footprint. This footprint venerated by Buddhists, Hindus and Christians who regard it as the footprint of Buddha, Siva and Adam.

Scaling the 5,500 steps to reach the top is very challenging so don’t expect this hike to be a walk in the park. The best way to experience Adam’s Peak is to climb to the top for sunrise. This requires an all-night adventure! You need to reach the bottom of the steps by 2.30 am to give yourself 3 hours to reach the top by 5.30 am in time for sunrise.

It is better to do the climb in the dry season. There will be fewer leeches on the path and you’re more likely to have a clear view for sunrise. 

The dry season runs from December to May. While it brings better weather, be aware it also brings huge crowds of pilgrims. The pilgrims will cause queues but they also bring festivity and it is special to experience an ancient living tradition.

Don’t get Adam’s Peak confused with Little Adam’s Peak in Ella, which is a very different hike in a very different place!

7. Take the Ella to Kandy Train

For around $1USD you can take one of the most famous (and beautiful) train rides in the world.

The Ella to Kandy train ride is a must when in Sri Lanka. You are spoiled to the beautiful rolling hills, mountains and tea plantations of Sri Lanka’s hill country. There is a new green landscape around every corner.

This train ride is made an adventure first of all by actually getting a seat. Then by getting the crazy photo opportunities hanging out the windows and doors of the train.

The best way to enjoy this train ride is to catch it from Ella towards Kandy as the most beautiful section of the journey is from Ella to Nuwara Eliya. You can get off at Nuwara Eliya and enjoy the beauty of the old English style town and tea plantations before getting a bus or train to your next destination.

The route is popular among tourists and locals alike so get to the station a little early to buy your tickets and increase your chances of getting a seat. The cabins can get really crowded and you will probably have to line up to hang out of the open door.

You can book second class reserved seats in advance but it isn’t necessary and much more expensive. You can buy unreserved second class or third class tickets at the station.

8. Play on the Famous Coconut Tree Swing in Unawatuna 

Unawatuna is one of the most popular beaches in Sri Lanka. And for good reason, it is a stunning tropical paradise!

Complete with coconut trees, white sand, picturesque rocks and awe-inspiring sunsets. Unawatuna is a must-visit for any beach lover visiting Sri Lanka.

One of the most Instagrammed spots in Sri Lanka is the coconut tree swing on Wijaya beach in Unawatuna. With the help of the locals, you can have a play on the epic swing on the coconut tree which hangs out over the beach.

You can also climb up the iconic big rocks at one end of the beach to watch the sun go down.

9. Hire Your Own Tuk-Tuk

Yes, it is possible to hire your own tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka! You can create your own epic road trip in Sri Lanka but with a twist.

The tuk-tuk is iconic in Sri Lanka. While you are there you will undoubtedly spend a lot of time in one. 

Why not take your adventure to the next level by travelling around the island on your terms in your own tuk-tuk. Travelling in your own tuk-tuk will give you more freedom and allow you to explore areas that you otherwise never would see catching public transport.

You can even spot wild elephants on the way to Tissamaharama on a road called B35, which is famous for elephant crossings. As a bonus, you can stop for fresh coconuts on the side of the road anytime you want!

You can rent a tuk-tuk from a local or from a company like Tuktuk Rental. It will be more pricey to go through a company and you won’t have any bargaining power. But they will be able to cover you with insurance, do the paperwork and give you support if anything goes wrong.

There is no shortage of adventure to be had on this incredible island. Not only is Sri Lanka incredible for adventure seekers it is also rich in culture and history. 

The food is to die for, the locals are beautiful people and extended tourist visas are easy to obtain. Not to mention your money goes a really long way in Sri Lanka!

Head to Sri Lanka before too many people cotton-on to how amazing it really is.



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