Seeing Sri Lanka
& the Maldives together

These Indian Ocean nations are a mere 75-minute flight from each other, yet most people don’t think to combine the two into an island holiday extravaganza. They should, however, because with a couple of weeks to spare it’s possible to delve into Sri Lanka’s cultural heartland and explore its national parks, as well as get acquainted with under and over-water life in the magnificent Maldives. What’s more, there are itineraries to suit, whatever your interests. Whether you go for a small group tour, a tailor made adventure or a laid-back, honeymoon, seeing Sri Lanka and the Maldives together will open up a treasure trove of tropical treats.

Adventurous activities

The Maldives offers some of the best underwater experiences on the planet and you’ll be able to dive and snorkel rich coral gardens, as well as take part in water sports ranging from windsurfing to surfing to kayaking, right from the comfort of your island resort. Snorkelling, diving and surfing is pretty good in Sri Lanka, too, and in both countries, there’s a chance to spot dolphins, whales, or whale sharks, if you’re here during the right season (November to March for whales and dolphins, January to April for whale sharks).

Above ground, there’s plenty to occupy you, too. Safaris in Sri Lanka’s Wilpattu and Yala National Parks offer the chance to spot leopard, elephant and sambar deer; and there are plentiful hiking and biking opportunities, with the early morning climb to the top of Sigiriya Rock and a walk through the wild grasslands of Horton Plains particular favourites. In the Maldives, sleeping on board a dhoni, visiting dreamy sandbars and tiny local islands and stargazing from the deck, is pretty much an adventure in itself.

Cultural highlights

With a rich history stretching back thousands of years, Sri Lanka packs a mighty cultural punch. First on the agenda for many is the Cultural Triangle – an area of UNESCO World Heritage listed historical and spiritual treasures and a great introduction to the country’s Buddhist inheritance. Sitting at the country’s heart, it includes the ruined cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the rock fortress at Sigiriya and the cave temple at Dambulla. Those interested in colonial history should check out the southwestern coastal city of Galle, whose streets tell the tale of the country’s occupied past, or Hill Country, where former plantation houses are now elegant heritage hotels.
While the Maldives may scream honeymooners’ haven, there’s a rich culture here too – you just have to escape your resort to find it. Some tours will take you to explore local islands, where you’ll still find pristine sands, clear seas and brochure worthy vistas, but you’ll get to interact with local people too – perhaps sharing a typical Maldivian meal or learning the secrets of local fisherman. You should also make time to visit the capital, Male, a frenetic and fascinating place, which for many offers the best chance of a genuine Maldivian experience away from the resort pool.

Our top Sri Lanka Holiday

Sri Lanka holidays, tailor made

Sri Lanka holidays, tailor made

Independent tailor made holidays to Sri Lanka

From £1995 14 days ex flights
Tailor made:
Our tailor made Sri Lanka holidays can be arranged at any time to suit you, and adapted to your requirements as necessary although we do not offer trips for under 10 days.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Sri Lanka or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Family holidays

A two centre Maldives/Sri Lanka trip is a fantastic holiday for families, particularly if you opt for a tailor made option, organised by our expert operators who can provide experienced in-country guides to make sure your trip goes without a hitch. You’ll be able to adjust your holiday to suit your family’s interests and age ranges and our tour operators have thorough knowledge of the family travel landscape. They know which hotels will suit tiny tots, how long to spend on board a dhoni and which ancient site provides the coolest history lesson; and can also provide tips on everything from the most kid friendly eats to how to keep your family safe and healthy while away.

What’s a typical itinerary?

All our Sri Lanka and Maldives tours start in Sri Lanka and finish in the Maldives and involve a flight between the two countries in the middle of your trip. In general, the Sri Lankan half of your journey will see a little more action, and you’ll move on to a new destination every day or two, exploring top cultural and historic sights, national parks, jungles and tea plantations as well as some of the county’s top beaches. Once you get to the Maldives, it’s time to relax and recover from all that action. On some itineraries you’ll spend your time relaxing at a private island resort, which will have perks such as a pool, spa and plenty of water sports on offer. On others you’ll take to the waters on a dhoni – a traditional Maldivian sailing boat. You’ll live on board, cruising remote atolls, snorkelling and swimming from the boat and stopping at local islands.

On most two-week itineraries you’ll spend the bulk of your time in Sri Lanka, with four or five days in the Maldives at the end, and on three-week trips you’ll spend two weeks in Sri Lanka and a week in the Maldives. On small group tours, you’ll share your journey with other likeminded travellers, with a less flexible itinerary. On tailor made trips, it’s just you and your friends or family, so you can tweak your route to your heart’s content. Whichever way you choose, your holiday company will organise all transfers between trains, planes, boats and automobiles to make your trip run as smoothly as possible.
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: chuvipro] [Elephants: Archie Fenton] [Tea plantation: Asantha Abeysooriya] [Whale sharks: Michael Liao]