Choosing where to go in Sri Lanka with kids is the only difficult thing you’ll find about planning a family vacation to this amazing island everything else – travel, food and accommodation – is easy to organise with plenty of choice. Of course there are normal activities you could with kids as well as without them, like going on a safari to see wild elephants, taking a tour to see whales out in the wild, travelling to a nearby city to see beautiful historical sites (children will especially love Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa), or taking a train to see Hill Country. There are also beaches and pools and hotels with play facilities. Depending on age, you can drag your kids around the cultural sites, ancient cities and UNESCO highlights. Here is a list of some of the activities to do with kids in Sri Lanka:
Release baby turtles into the ocean on the south coast. Five species of sea turtle call Sri Lanka home, the Olive Ridley Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Leatherhead Turtle. Their major nesting habitats are located along the southern coast in the Galle District and a number of turtle hatcheries can be found along the southern coastal road, from Bentota onwards. Established to help protect these wonderful creatures, it’s definitely worth stopping by a turtle hatchery at least once. Learn about the dangers turtles face, the conservation efforts in place and meet the turtles! Bentota itself is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka with family if you’re looking for a beach break. It’s very family-friendly with some lovely hotels, lovely beaches and enough activities to keep kids happy for a few days.
Watch turtles lay their eggs by moonlight. The coast around Tangalle is one of the most beautiful in Sri Lanka, attracting weekenders from Colombo and sun-worshipping tourists – and hundreds of nesting sea turtles. Turtle-watching tours are run on Rekawa Beach, where you’re likely to see a green turtle laying a clutch of shiny white eggs in the moonlight before (very) slowly returning to the sea.
Fish like a local. If you want to fish in Sri Lanka, you’re going to have to practice your balancing skills as local fisherman traditionally perch on stilts to snare their catch of the day. The stilt poles, known as riti panna, can be seen along the southern coast stuck a few metres offshore in the water. A small bench is attached to the poles and this is where the fishermen balance above the water. This method is used only for catching small reef fish called ‘Bollu’ and ‘Koramburuwo’, tiny fish not dissimilar in size to a sardine. The origins surrounding stilt fishing are unclear, although traditionally the skill was handed down from generation to generation. Sadly there are fewer and fewer fishermen practicing the skill today but you’ll still spot some along the southern coast in towns such as Koggala, Kaththaluwa and Ahangama. You can even have a go yourself – it’s definitely one of the most unique family friendly activities in Sri Lanka!
Catch a game of cricket. Cricket was first introduced to Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) when the island became a British colony in 1802. It didn’t take long for the game to take off and today it’s the most popular sport in the country. Despite its tiny size, the island has eight grounds that have been used to host international cricket matches including stadiums in Colombo, Kandy and Galle. The Galle International Stadium was originally opened in 1829 as a horse racing course but was soon taken over by stumps and wickets. Today it’s one of the most picturesque Test grounds in the world with views of the Dutch Fort from the stadium. If you’re lucky, your family holiday might coincide with a test match and even if you can’t get tickets, you can watch with the locals from the fort ramparts.
Jump in for a hot air balloon ride. Travel to Kandalama and hop in for an adrenaline filled hot air balloon ride with your family. Fly up in the sky and peep down to see the spectacular beauty under your feet. Hot air ballooning will open up to the surreal beauty of the clouds and unending panoramic views. While you are enjoying the amazing scenery around, you can also capture great clicks as this ride will bless you a wonderful scope for photography and also with an experience of a lifetime. So don’t forget to add this to your list of top things to do with your family while you journey across Sri Lanka.
Follow the tea trails. Visit the tea trails of Ceylon and get transported to the colonial era. Sri Lanka’s tea estate will be one among the best places to visit with family. Nothing will be more delightful than taking a stroll across the lush green tea plantation with your family. Not only will you have an option to walk across the tea estate but will also get a golden chance to discover the entire tea making process. Right from the tea plucking process to its conversion at the factory, you will get to learn of things you haven’t known before.