Indian Ocean - Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is opening up to the nautical industry. As of just a few weeks ago, a first cruising catamaran is actually being offered for charter, with a crew. Let’s head for the former Ceylon and its perfect beaches...
Sri Lanka is a tropical island situated just thirty or so kilometers to the south-east of India, with a population of 21 million, the majority of whom are Buddhist. It is a rather large island, with an area of 65,000km² - the size of Ireland – which will allow you to spend a perfect holiday on its palm-fronded beaches, as well as discovering some remarkable archaeological treasures and trekking on some exceptional footpaths...
The former Ceylon gained independent from the United Kingdom in 1948, and is now a country where peace has reigned since 2009, after more than 20 years of murderous civil war. The stable political situation over the last five years, the election of a new moderate president at the beginning of 2015, and ideal climate and cruising conditions on the west (November – April) and east (April – October) coasts – 1,340km of coastline – make Sri Lanka a magic destination for charter lovers.
The number of tourists has increased by 20% per year since the end of the civil war. There should be around 2.5 million in 2016, as against just 500,000 in 2009. Sri Lanka is well served by the airlines, with direct flights from Paris (11h) or, with a stopover, via Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi...at attractive prices from Europe, which undeniably appeal to tourists looking for a change of scene and tropical sunshine.
Sri Lanka has two distinct seasons, offering excellent cruising conditions - on the west and south coasts from October to March and on the east and north coasts from April to September.
The temperature is hot and tropical all the year round on the coasts, varying between 28° and 35°C, whilst the annual average water temperature is 28°C.
From October through March, the prevailing north-easterly winds make the north and east coasts un-navigable. On the other hand, the south and west coasts, protected by the mountains in the center of the country, benefit from a light offshore breeze (N-E, 10 – 15 knots) and a calm, flat sea. At the end of the day, the sea breeze sometimes provides stronger conditions, with south-westerly winds which can reach 20 knots.
Between April and September, the trend is reversed, with prevailing south-westerlies giving rough conditions on the south and west coasts. On the other hand, the north and east coasts, protected by the mountains in the center of the country, benefit from a light offshore breeze (S-W, 10 – 15 knots) and a calm, flat sea. At the end of the day, the sea breeze sometimes provides stronger conditions, with winds which can reach 20-25 knots.
The island’s east coast was severely affected by the long civil war which shook Sri Lanka for almost 30 years, up until May 2009. Today it is completely safe, and offers deserted beaches which have been totally protected from tourism. From June through September here Sail Lanka Charter offers a 100% nature cruise to discover this wild coastline. Expanses of white sand, bays with turquoise water, lagoons with multicolored corals and very rich underwater life – this is what awaits you.
Day 1: Dutch Bay, Trincomalee
Embarkation aboard Jade (a 50-foot Lerouge-designed catamaran, built in Sri Lanka) at Trincomalee, the country’s largest natural port. The town of Trincomalee and its fort are built on the peninsula.
A short, 4-mile sail is planned, from Dutch Bay to Back Bay, observing the wonderful Koneswaramperché Hindu temple perched on the summit of the hill which dominates the little town of Trincomalee. At 5pm, the eagles hunt in the rocks above your head. An aperitif and an evening seafood meal are served aboard, under the stars. Night in the anchorage at Back Bay.
Day 2: Back Bay to Norway Point
The crew weigh anchor before dawn, to take the passengers as close as possible to the whales. A sail of around 7 miles. At 7am, wake up to observe the mammals, while enjoying breakfast, prepared by our chef. Then a 10-mile sail towards Norway Point, to the south of Trincomalee bay, where you can explore on paddleboards and in canoes. Evening meal and night in the anchorage at Norway Point.
Day 3: Norway Point to Lankapatuna
Wake up and breakfast in the anchorage, then 10-mile cruise to emblematic Lankapatuna. Lunch aboard, then you will be taken ashore in the dinghy to visit the famous Buddhist place of worship. During the afternoon, an outing on the lagoon is planned, in a local fishing boat. Evening meal and night in the sheltered anchorage at Lankapatuna, adjacent to the huge Gulf of Bengal.
Day 4: Lankapatuna to Challitivu (Sallituvu)
Heading south, a 15-mile sail brings us to a wonderful, completely uninhabited peninsula, with turquoise waters. Free afternoon, to enjoy the beach, discover the underwater life with masks and snorkels, or enjoy the paddleboards or canoes... Evening meal under the stars, and a night in the anchorage at Challitivu.
Day 5: Challitivu to Passikudah
10 miles to Elephant Rock/Point, where lunch is served aboard after a snorkeling session on the abundant coral reef. In the afternoon, a short sail before dropping anchor in the wonderful Passikudah bay. Evening meal served aboard, or in one of the 5-star hotels for those who love their food!
Day 6: Passikudah to Punnaikkula Point
Wake-up swim in the turquoise water in Passikudah bay. There are just ten miles to cover to reach Punnaikkula Point, but we will of course be sailing... Free afternoon ashore, to enjoy the superb deserted white sand beach, or explore the surroundings in the dinghy. Anchorage at Punnaikkula Point.
A six-mile sail south to Batticaloa, its lagoon and its tropical coast covered with coconut trees, where the crew will take you ashore before lunch.
All that remains is for you to enjoy all the wonders the interior of the island still has to offer you...
Valid passport (valid 6 months after the return date) and return or continuation ticket. Compulsory 1-month tourist visa, which can be obtained on the internet in 24 or 48 hours (30US$), and can be extended locally.
From Europe, there are direct, approximately 11-hour flights, solely via Sri Lankan Airlines, from Paris, London, Rome and Frankfurt, and flights with a stopover via Dubai, Abu Dhabi...
The climate is equatorial: hot and wet. In the mountainous areas, it is more temperate. Two monsoons reign over the territory: a little monsoon in the north-east from October through January and a big monsoon in the south and west from May through August.
Sri Lankan rupee (1€ = +/- 154 LKR). Credit cards accepted in the big hotels and restaurants. ATMs widely available.
Local charter companies:
For the moment, only Sail Lanka Charter (www.sail-lanka-charter.com)