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Stefan Tobias

United Kingdom


Sun, fun and tranquility on an enchanting tropical island

Winning this competition means so much to me as I got to experience the best of Sri Lankan beaches which I was really looking forward to and even visit a very interesting fishing village. In the coastal part of my Sri Lankan travel experience, one of my favorite activities was the water sports. Surfing and diving in Sri Lanka is an amazing experience with the perfect waves you can enjoy all day and the beautiful treasures you find deep in the ocean. Other than the variety of adventure sports, I also got to appreciate the beauty of the Sri Lankan oceans with the whale watching and dolphin watching trips.

When I went away from the coast and into the island I enjoyed seeing a completely different side of the country. Sri Lanka’s ancient cities are magnificent and beautiful. Full of historical sites, ruined cities that hold the country’s history at every turn with majestic palaces, temples, and ruins of ancient kingdoms that used to rule the island. The heritage tours I went on taught me so much about the rich history that has made Sri Lanka from thousands of years ago.

Heritage & Culture

I experienced the spiritual side of Sri Lanka’s heritage and culture when I visited the KathiresanKovil and the Kelaniya Raja MahaViharaya. The KathiresanKovil is a Hindu Temple which is over a hundred years old and the Kelaniya Raja MahaViharaya is a huge Buddhist temple dating back to over 2,500 years.

There were huge stone-carved statues of the lord Buddha and I noticed a very large ‘Bo Tree’ which I’m told, has strong relevance to the Buddha himself.

The scent of flowers, oil and incense filled the air and I felt peace and spirituality all around me.

Lellama (Negombo Fish Market)

I had a most unusual experience during my stay in Negombo. I was taken on a tour of the local seafood market called the ‘Lellama’. It was like walking a seafood treasure trove. The absolute variety and freshness of the fish, shrimp, prawns and crabs was fantastic.

I actually got to select my dinner and then received a lesson in cooking from the chef as I helped him prepare it.

Then came the best part. I got to enjoy what we cooked, right there on the beach, with nothing but the wind and the sea for company.

Dutch Hospital Colombo

Another place that truly fascinated me was the Dutch Hospital in Colombo. Once an actual hospital during the Dutch colonization of Sri Lanka, the building is supposedly the oldest in thearea. I was surprised at how nicely it had been restored to serve as a heritage site with exclusive shops and a variety of restaurants.

After my tour, I was hosted to a nice dinner at Semondu, a restaurant owned and run by SriLankan Airlines Catering. It was great to just relax and unwind.

Semondu serves up really super fusion cuisine which meant it took me a while to decide what to eat, but my choice was perfect!

Water Thrills

Sri Lanka is an island with the most gorgeous beaches and clear blue seas and lagoons which means it’s the perfect place for those who love watersports.

You can go water skiing, banana boating, diving, snorkeling, whale and dolphin watching and jet skiing, which is what I love to do.

When I wasn’t eating, or sightseeing, I had tons of fun jet skiing out on the lagoon.


While in Negombo I was taken on a boat tour of the famous Hamilton Canal which was apparently built by the British to connect Negombo to the capital city, Colombo. Today it has been restored and cleaned up and is still pretty busy with fishing boats going in and out to sea and tour boats taking visitors (like me) on pleasant joyrides.

From then on we sailed into the swamplands and mangroves – a different environment altogether. Unspoiled, lush and rather wild, the Muthurajawela Mangroves and Wetlands is a maze of waterways that’s home to small mammals and my favourite – birds!

I saw some marvelous varieties including kingfishers, herons, cormorants and Eagles. I would certainly recommend this place to any bird lover.

SriLankan Aircraft Hangar

Not many people can say they’ve had the rare privilege of being taken on a guided tour of an aircraft hangar. Turned out, I’m one of those few.

The experience was truly fantastic to say the least. Thank you SriLankan Airlines, for making my trip truly amazing and memorable.


Toby’s adventure began in Negombo, a 30 minute drive from the Airport.
Here are some ideas for your own coastal adventure, including a night out in Colombo.

Beach, boats and the best sea food | Space and Spirituality | Tantalizing Seafood treats on the West Coast | Shake and shimmy or just listen and unwind

Situated between a historic lagoon and the wide blue sea, Negombo on the west cost of Sri Lanka combines some of the best golden beach for sun
and adventure in the island. Staying just a day or spending an entire vacation, the predominantly coastal town offers an eclectic mix of relaxation,
history, cuisine and adventure.

The wide golden beaches front everything from fishing villages, historic churches, restaurants and pubs and a range of accommodation, including award winning luxury hotels.

For the explorer, check out the Old Dutch Fort gate built in 1672 now a part of the prison and 100 kilometre long Dutch Canal which was then a supply route to the Dutch administration. Of course, the old churches and fishing villagers are musts as well if you are staying for longer.

For more of an adrenalin rush, Negombo offers pristine beaches and an assortment of water sports. The coast is popular for wind and kite surfing, sea canoeing and jet skiing in the lagoon. Fishing is an option too, and for a little more excitement you can join the local fishing community in hauling in the fishing nets with the day’s catch.

Nature enthusiast can take a leisurely boat tour through the mangroves or head to the marshlands to discover endemic and migratory birds, reptiles and other wildlife that have made the marsh their home.

The mark of the 17th century Dutch colonizers and their predecessors are unmistakably evident with the myriad of churches spread all throughout the Negombo region. A more recent and colourful addition is the monuments dedicated to the patron saint of their respective church and hoisting flags in honouring the saint. Even if you are not into religion, history and architecture, the 17th century churches are awe inspiring. Some of them have ornate painting on the ceiling and others elaborate stories about their origins.

Despite the strong catholic influence earning its name ‘Little Rome’, Negombo is a multi-religious city, with many historic Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim places of worship.

Agurukaramulla Raja Maha Viharaya is probably the most famous Buddhist temple. It is unmistakable with its daemon month entrance and remnants of a 300 year old library.

South of Negombo and probably 45 minutes’ drive is the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, which is believed to have been hallowed during the third and final visit of the Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka, setting its origins back to 500 BCE. It is definitely worth a visit, especially in the late afternoon if you want to catch a glimpse of the daily perehera procession that circles the temple grounds lead by drummers and flower bearers.

The ‘Maha Lelama’ is the centre of the fresh fish auction and sales in Negombo and is an experience on its own. Some of Sri Lanka’s best seafood lands here, including lobster and lagoon prawns and crab and are noted for their succulent flavour and delicious texture.

This abundance of seafood only means one thing – exception seafood feasts along the costs. A lot of the local bars and restraints have crafted their own versions of popular international seafood preparations and come from mind and flavoursome to burn a hole in your stomach spicy. The freshness however is unmistakable and is definitely a treat for any seafood lover.

For the less adventurous, the stretch of luxury hotels lining the costs include a generous spread of seafood in their elaborate lunch and dinner buffets and offer a long à la carte menu of seafood delicacies to choose from.

Negombo has a few DJ’s spinning their tunes to the town’s visitors on a daily basis, with the occasional beach party organised by the hotels. Head to Colombo, which is an hour’s drive for more variety in the music and ambiance. Each nightclub in Colombo tries to bring its own vibe and is a great attraction for club hoppers and younger party goers. Colombo also houses a wide assortment of pubs and restaurants that host live bands and are popular among a more mature audience. Most venues serve a wide selection of liquor and cocktails. The locals have separate picks for reasonably priced drinks and venues for the music and are generous with their advice on where to go for each.

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