Our journey took place during March 2016
Since we were passing by the south of the island and the Northern Province on the same trip, it became a themed mission to stand at both the southern (Dondra) and northern (Point Pedro) most points of Sri Lanka.
Colombo Airport – Dondra
Just outside the airport area is the municipality of Kelaniya that we navigated to get to the ‘highway’. Driving through these small, congested towns can be time-consuming, though gives an immediate impression of daily life in Sri Lanka. There is a town called Dalugama, with a well-known Buddhist temple, worth a trip in if you have about 20-30 minutes to spare, otherwise a slow drive past to get a view of the large, white, dagoba-style temple.
Once on the dual-carriageway (highway E01), the sparse traffic flows well, unaffected by 2 and 4 legged creatures liberally utilising the road. This tolled highway has improved the south-bound journey multi-fold. Although the coastal tour (A2) is more scenic, this is considerably faster (by 3+ hours) and has a few different road-side vistas: typical Sri Lankan agriculture such as low country tea plantations near Galle/Ambalangoda, cinnamon plantations, paddy fields (drying of rice on large mats placed conveniently close to roadside for interested passers-by). Following recent rains, the entire landscape was lush and green.
We asked for a pit stop in Dondra, near the coastal town of Matara, as we were passing anyway on our way close to Yala National Park.
Dondra is landmarked by a beautiful lighthouse surrounded by rocky beach and Palm trees. Facing south across the Indian ocean from here, next destination would be Antarctica! Behind the lighthouse is a stunning bay and sandy beach, where waves crash onto the natural reef/rocks before the shore. Lots of people swimming, mostly kids on this Tuesday bank (religious) holiday. Beware: the sea is in fact a huge ocean and most areas have a very strong under-current and becomes deep quickly.
The South coast thrives on the fishing industry – fish was being dried on the rocks by the lighthouse, to be sold as an edible delicacy, eaten with rice and other curries.
We continued our journey along the south coast towards Tissamaharama, near Yala national park.
After decades of civil war isolation and destruction during the 2004 Tsunami, this is not a developed destination compared to the south and central parts of Sri Lanka.
In the past, this was a well renouned landmark as the northern tip, but this time, we had to ask many blank faces for directions even when very close by.
There is a concrete flagpost with denotes the spot, behind which is a gorgeous sea but garbage-ridden beach. We took this as a simple photo opportunity, evidence of being at the top of the island. From the nearby road, we walked over sand, sharp rocks and even sharper, dead coral to reach the point.
Along the coast, the stunning waters and colourful fishing boats can be seen, although the small towns and villages are very rural. I would imagine that it is a matter of a few years until the coastal beauty of this Northern Province is exploited for commercial gain – the waters really are the most stunning I have seen in Sri Lanka.
Located in the Jaffna district, a visit here only makes sense if you are in the province anyway. Point Pedro is about 30km from Jaffna city and most of the route is along the stunning Northern coast.