Carly and Christine originally booked their honeymoon for October 2021 but as the time drew closer it became clear that restrictions for entry into Sri Lanka were going to be problematic.
We duly moved it to February 2022 and despite at least five changes in flight schedules since the original booking, and having successfully worked out the complex entry requirements for Sri Lanka, they finally managed to travel. I couldn’t wait to hear how their special trip went...
It had been a long wait, and one we felt would be worth it, so we were thrilled to finally be able to embark on our honeymoon adventure to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
Before flying, we had to complete a 'fit to fly test' which was straightforward, self-explanatory and the go-ahead results came back within 24 hours.
We flew from Manchester to Colombo via Dubai and our amazing private guide Tushara picked us up from the airport.
It was our first time visiting Sri Lanka and after a long journey we were concerned about the impending four-hour transfer to our first hotel, but Tushara made this feel easy - chatting and getting to know us well. We made a stop along the way for coconut water refreshments and were thrilled to be surrounded by monkeys.
The Heritance Kandalama in Dambulla was our first stay for four nights and it spoiled us, being unquestionably the best of the three during our week in Sri Lanka. The hotel was amazing, the room idyllic, the staff couldn't do enough for us, and the food was sensational.
The Golden Crown in Kandy was also a beautiful hotel - very grand - and the room was gorgeous but being in a bigger city, it was much busier nearby and the views were nowhere near as spectacular.
We also noticed a huge difference in the staff in Kandy - they were not as hands-on and several of them were on their phones during dining times which on occasions made it difficult to ask questions.
We only stayed at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo overnight before embarking on the next stage of our adventure. This hotel was much busier than the others and felt a little dated though still quite grand in appearance. Our room was adequate with everything we needed but it wasn’t to our taste, and with no outside space, it felt very small.
The staff were polite but again not as communicative or as friendly as in Dambulla.
However the great thing about staying in Colombo is not needing a guide and being able to venture out shopping.
Tushara, our guide, was a delight, and with his help, we had packed our week in Sri Lanka full of excursions and incredible experiences. Having a private guide meant most of our travel was by car which was cool and comfortable.
We drove to several national parks; climbed the ancient rock fortress Sigiriya - which was exhausting but beautiful; visited temples and tea factories, picking our own tea, and watching the fascinating process.
As animal lovers, this country was mind-blowing for us and in addition to lots of wildlife, seeing elephants up close is something we will never forget.
We saw traditional local dances and fire walkers, went fishing on a relaxing private island, and one of our favourite things was a village tour where the incredibly hard-working hosts invited us to join in with picking vegetables, cooking and making roofs for their houses with banana leaves before taking us for a boat trip on the lake. They were so kind and welcoming, and are by far the warmest, friendliest people we have ever met.
The weather was gorgeous every day except for one showery afternoon that lasted only a couple of hours, but we did get to see the giant bats in the rain at the botanical gardens, which was awesome.
All our outings were made even better by 'Tush', who never left our side and talked us through everything. He is so passionate about his country, and we cannot praise him enough. He has become a friend and we will certainly stay in touch.
Everything we wanted to do within a week was covered so we have no regrets, but when we return, travelling south to the beaches is on the list. This country is just stunning. It has so much to offer and exceeded all expectations. We hope so much that it overcomes its current problems quickly; its people are very special and Dambulla will always be in our hearts.
After a busy week in Sri Lanka, exploring, our second week was all about relaxation and indulgence and we could not have been in a more perfect place.
Adaaran Hudhaaranfushi was our Maldivian paradise and WOW! This island is the most beautiful place we have ever seen - just stunning.
The speedboat transfer to the island was so exciting and the all-inclusive resort blew us away from the moment we arrived.
We stayed four nights in a Beach Bungalow and three in a Sunrise Ocean Villa - both were magnificent. It’s surreal, to open the front door and just walk onto the beach or be able to dip your toes into and gaze out at the beautiful ocean - we felt so privileged.
Our last three nights in the water bungalow also came with a personal butler, Praveen, who was very nice and couldn’t do enough to make sure we had everything we needed.
The staff throughout were so lovely, often stopping for a chat, especially the housekeeping ones, who delighted in telling us about the island and their culture. Guests are treated like family and made to feel so special, which is priceless.
The food is amazing with lots of variety and a choice of bars to suit everyone. As a non-beer or wine drinker, it would have been nice to have the option of spirits in the villa mini bars but that was a minor inconvenience.
We snorkelled with the tropical fish and swam with the baby sharks daily and didn’t ever want to leave. This was as relaxing as you could wish for.
Sadly, all good things come to an end, and it was soon time to return to the real world, but this was undoubtedly the best holiday we have ever had. Our honeymoon will stay with us for a lifetime, and we can't thank Jo enough for taking good care of everything.
She was always easy to contact, replied quickly, put us at ease with any worries we had, and kept in touch with us throughout to make sure all was going well. Thank you, Jo.
Carly & Christine❤️