The best time to sail in Sri Lanka

North Coast (May to October): The North Coast is awaiting discovery. In the Palk Bay, west of Jaffna, a string of largely uninhabited islands offers the chance to retreat into a bygone age. Lengthy trips allow the opportunity to reach remote and little visited islands on the fringe of Sri Lanka.

Galle Coast and South Coast (October to April): Whale and dolphin watching centres upon the bustling south coast holiday town of Mirissa.

East Coast (May to October): The extensive East coastline offers vast unexplored golden beaches. Trincomalee's deep harbour has been prized since ancient times, Nilaveli offers clear blue water and magnificent reefs ideal for snorkelling and swimming and the coastline is dotted with lightly-visited heritage sites. Arugam Bay, further south, is a surfers' paradise. Lagoons and inlets provide a different type of experience on the water.

West Coast (October to April): Beruwela and Bentota are the best centres for boating on the west coast. Bentota has the additional advantage of a watersports centre where the Bentota River meets the Indian Ocean. On the north-west coast, private cruises are available on Kalpitiya lagoon.

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