A green guide to the land of miracles
The island of Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, is one of the most beautiful countries in the world both in terms of the scenery and the people. With its amazing beaches, green forests, waterfalls, train rides, mountains, vast national parks, luxurious old towns, rich culture and miles and miles of stunning coastline (with amazing waves for surfers), it is definitely worth a visit if you have the chance. Wellness practices like Ayurveda and yoga are deep-rooted in the culture, accompanied by delicious plant-based foods such as lentil dhal curries and coconuts in every shape or form. It’s hard to imagine that the civil war ended only nine years ago. Since then, the country has gotten back on its feet, while still facing problems that tourists cannot ignore.
We have some great recommendations for you on how to travel sustainably, where to sleep like a baby, where to eat amazing plant based food and what to do to enjoy your time in Sri Lanka.
The largest environmental issues in Sri Lanka
During my stay, we experienced a cyclone. The days after, the scenery completely changed, as the tides, currents, and wind brought the true image of the plastic problems to the shore. Against the locals recommendations, we went surfing the day after, which we soon regretted as I got poisoned by taking in a bit of sea water. We also got to stare the worlds’ insane plastic problem in the eye, as we found ourselves in a pool of plastic bags, straws, plastic razors, bottles and take away boxes.
One of the reasons there exists so much trash in the Sri Lankan nature is the lack of a proper system for collecting and recycling garbage. According to numbers from the World Bank, Sri Lanka generates 5.1kg of waste per person per day. It’s common to see people burning plastic in the streets, and on the beaches, there are miles and miles of disposal from industries, ships, and litter on the white sand. It’s truly a heartbreaking scene. The water get’s so polluted that in many places you cannot (or should not) surf or swim during certain times.
“It’s common to see people burning plastic in the streets, and on the beaches, there are miles and miles of disposal from industries, ships, and litter on the white sand.”
How can you make a positive impact as a traveler?
As a tourist, you can definitely make an impact when it comes to the plastic and littering issues.
- Be aware of this problem. Document it through your social channels, spread the word, and ask the locals for tips.
- Engage fellow travelers by for example suggesting a beach cleanup! Check out this instagram profile for inspiration. You rock Marthe!
- Use your consumer power by supporting places, restaurants, and activities that take this problem seriously. Stay in hotels or camps that take responsibility, by not using air-condition or by banning plastic bottles or straws.
- Bring your own water bottle and cutlery when you travel.
- Try to eat local, in season and plant-based.
“When you have your priorities right, you will find the most amazing places in Sri Lanka, and it is true what they say, it’s the land of miracles”
Our recommendations are all from the south east part of the island.
Amazing places to eat
In a hidden oasis in Galle Fort, you find the restaurant Poonie’s Kitchen. They serve delicious whole food meals, yummy drinks such as turmeric tonic and passion fruit smoothies, and a mouth-watering carrot and banana cake.
- The Shady lane – Smoothie bowls, ice coffee, juices and more
- The Doctors House – Old Ayurvedic hospital turned into a restaurant by some Australian guys aiming to create a place with good vibes. They serve drinks and oven bakes pizza (they have vegan and gluten-free alternatives)
- The Shack Beach Café– Located in Unawatuna they don’t use plastic and serve delicious food
Wonderful places to stay
Incredible things to do & places to visit
Sticks no Bills sell retro style travel prints reflecting the history and culture from Ceylon. The owners opened Sticks no Bills when the war ended, with the intention of “being the change we wanted to see in the world”. They wanted to start a business that reflected Sri Lanka’s beauty, and not something that reminded them of the war, tsunami and human rights issues. Definitely worth a visit!
Other spots worth mentioning:
- Sri Yoga Shala– A beautiful yoga shala with an Instagram worthy view
- Virgin White Tea tour – Very nice tea plantation where you can see how tea is made and taste all the different types
- Camp Poe – In Ahangama, perfect place to do drop in yoga morning and evening
Until next time, I will be dreaming of a stay at Santi where they have an Ayurvedic doctor ready to read your doshas, and a house chef preparing meals to heal your body’s imbalances, while you chill out in between palm trees and the sound of chanting monks before heading down to Ahangama to catch waves. See you soon Sri Lanka <3