PERCH YOURSELF ON THE CAPE
Splurge out at Resplendent Ceylon's Relais & Châteaux accredited Cape Weligama, which is set on a rocky promontory on Sri Lanka's southern tip. This property belonging to the Dilmah tea family is a maze of villas and suites named after famous explorers, sprawling like a village with restaurants, pools and bars. Set inside walled gardens, two or three terracotta-roofed villas with chic interiors, blue accents, and their own steam room are clustered around a pool. Spend time watching the sunset from the huge crescent-shaped Moon Pool fringed by palm trees, perched on the edge of the rusty red cliffs. Don't be surprised if you see huge monitor lizards slinking past you! Have a meal at the cobalt blue Ocean Terrace Restaurant's outdoor area looking beyond at the bay and the town. Don't miss the high cream teas - complete with cucumber sandwiches, and scones with clotted cream.
GO WHALE WATCHING
Head to Mirissa, a small fishing town on the coast, a short tuk-tuk ride away, whose waters which are unusually rich in microorganisms called plankton, and on the migratory route of whales as they move closer to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The waters are home to the world's largest blue whales, and bottle nose and spinner dolphins. Cape Weligama has its own speedboat - there are also boat tours from Mirissa harbour which take you far into the sea, for the surreal experience of seeing these incredible mammals expel air from their blowholes, and prance around. A trip generally coast `3,000.
GO BACK IN TIME
Spend some time in Old Galle built in a grid of narrow streets, with low roofed homes with ornate gables, old crumbling mansions morphing into their new avatars as hip boutique hotels, art galleries and jewellery shops. Feast on Dutch and Portuguese architectural styles with gables and porches, as well as tiled roofs and courtyards - many walls of houses and the ramparts were built out of coral and clay. Walk into the Dutch Reformed Church from 1754 shaped like a cross, and the Historical Mansion Museum - an Old Dutch mansion which has been converted into a museum, with ancient treasures like antique plates and objects made of turtle shells.
Don't miss a traditional Sri Lankan spa treatment at Cape Weligama's Sanctuary Spa - Choose from Sri Lankan spice scrubs made from clove, nutmeg, and sandalwood that relieve stress and oil massage blends with Ceylon tea. The spa is especially known for its special Ceylon tea therapies which have anti- ageing effects.
Explore the lush hinterland of Weligama with iridescent paddy fields, banana plantations and small villages. Take a boat trip on green Lake Koggala fringed by cinnamon plantations, dotted with small islands. Look out for monitor lizards, crocodiles, macaques and a host of birds from cormorants and egrets, to sea eagles. Alight on Cinnamon Island, to see a third generation family engaged in extracting and selling cinnamon powder and oils.
TAKE TO THE WATERS
The area is known for wreck diving, snorkelling, big-game fishing, and whale and dolphin watching. Weligama is the surfing hotspot on the southern coast and its stretch is littered with surf schools. Take a surfing lesson (usually one session coast around `1,500) or learn to dive at one f the PADI schools.
WATCH THE FISHERMEN
Watch the iconic stilt fishermen of the coast, perched precariously on a vertical pole planted into the reef, holding the stilt with one hand and a fishing rod in the other. They catch small fish like herring with just a crude fishing pole and a hook with no bait. Many say that this originated after the Second World War when the fishermen had to contend with rocky beaches and found this method a good way to fish inside the deep waters.
FEAST ON LANKAN FOOD
Dig into local food from rice and an array of curries with coconut milk and spices, traditional greens, egg hoppers, sambols, Kottu rotis, and thick buffalo curds with treacle. The British hangover still exists with hotels like Cape Weligama offering high teas with Ceylon milk tea, wafer thin cucumber sandwiches, scones and clotted cream and pastries. Also try local grilled fish, calamari, crabs and prawns with local Lion beer.