Two contrasting Indian Ocean islands; one holiday. Sri Lanka and the Maldives are a match made in heaven, offering a perfect mix of adventure and beach bliss all in one trip. Let’s delve deeper into this dream holiday duo.
Why combine Sri Lanka and the Maldives on one holiday?
Sri Lanka and the Maldives make for a mind-blowing twin-centre. Starting in Sri Lanka, you’ll explore ancient kingdoms, taste spice-laden street food in bustling markets and venture into wild national parks in search of elephants, leopards and sloth bears. After soaking up all these experiences, relaxing under palms on a beautiful, jewel-like Maldivian island feels all the sweeter. Even better, you can get from Sri Lanka to the Maldives with little effort – the flight time from Colombo to Malé is just under two hours.
Sri Lanka: The Emerald Isle of the Indian Ocean
Sri Lanka is as diverse as it is enchanting with its warm-hearted people, mouthwatering cuisine and landscapes that transition from vibrant cityscapes to tea plantations and tranquil shores. Although you could spend all your time here relaxing on the golden beaches (and many do), there is so much more to this teardrop-shaped island. Take in the breathtaking views from regal Lion Rock, immerse yourself in the spiritual vibes of Dambulla Cave Temple and don’t miss a trip to Galle, a city that preserves the past within its Dutch colonial fort and landmark lighthouse.
Paradise personified: The Maldives
The Maldives is often called paradise on Earth. This collection of coral atolls is renowned for its iconic water villas and picture-perfect island resorts, not to mention the superb snorkelling and diving opportunities.
At first glance, you might think all islands are the same, but look a little closer and you’ll see they’re very different. You have small, Robinson Crusoe-style islands you can circle in 20 minutes, such as Makunudu Island, which has just 36 rustic bungalows and only one restaurant and bar. Then there are larger islands like Kuramathi Maldives, spanning over a mile long and being a top choice for both families and couples, thanks to its fabulous array of restaurants and room types. And of course there are the blue-ribbon resorts that have made their name as the best in the world, such as Baros Maldives or Milaidhoo Maldives, where luxury and exclusivity are taken to a whole new level.
“ The Maldives is the perfect family playground. The beaches are what childhood dreams are made of, with soft white sand and clear waters home to colourful fish. Kuramathi Maldives has an excellent range of children’s activities. Bageecha kids’ club has its own splash park and huge treehouse, and teens will love the water sports centre, where they can head out for ocean thrills on kayaks or banana rides. ”
Sharna, Personal Travel Expert, Kuoni Metro Centre
How to plan your luxury Sri Lanka and Maldives holiday
Planning your trip to Sri Lanka and the Maldives is exciting but it can feel overwhelming as you navigate all the options. That’s why we’re here to help. We’ve travelled Sri Lanka from top to tail and have personally visited our handpicked Maldives islands, so we’ll share our ideas and shape a fantastic itinerary.
Discovering Sri Lanka
The best way to see Sri Lanka is in a private car with a seasoned driver/guide. We’ll expertly arrange your route beforehand, teaming up with our overseas partners, who live there and know the country inside out. Your driver/guide will whisk you from place to place, taking the quickest routes, stopping at secret spots only the insiders know and sharing their valuable insights to enrich your journey. We’ve set up some trip suggestions to give you a flavour of what’s possible, and we’ve also mapped out three suggested itineraries that are great for families, honeymooners or those seeking a wellness escape. But ultimately, we’re here to create a tailor-made adventure for you, adding in exceptional stays and memorable experiences.
“ Exploring Sri Lanka with a local guide was a game-changer. Not only did we travel from one incredible place to another with ease, but our driver, full of fascinating facts and anecdotes, turned the journey into a highlight of the trip itself. It wasn't just about getting from A to B; it was uncovering untapped gems and stories that make this teardrop-shaped paradise so enchanting. ”
Karen, Kuoni Partner, Feherty Travel
Our favourite stays in Sri Lanka
We've chosen a special collection of hotels in the country’s most sought-after locales. Firm favourites include Jetwing Vil Uyana, an eco-resort near Sigiriya Rock that’s nestled among paddy fields and lakes with wonderfully rustic pavilions, many with private plunge pools. At tiny Kottukal Beach House by Jetwing – and by tiny, we’re not exaggerating, there are just two rooms and two chalets – expect excellent local seafood and spellbinding sunrises.
Jetwing Vil Uyana
“ Jetwing Vil Uyana is a gem of a stay. Being the first manmade wetland resort in the country, it not only offers a unique experience but also serves as a haven for slender lorises, rare fishing cats and over 120 species of birds. Keep an eye out for the resident crocodile lounging in the lakebed. ”
Bekki, Personal Travel Expert, Kuoni Manchester
Santani Wellness Resort & Spa delivers a synergy of soul-stirring mountain scenery and customised health packages in the spa. And for a stay on the wild side, nothing beats Uga Chena Huts, where untamed wilderness meets the lap of luxury.
Uga Chena Huts
How long should you stay in Sri Lanka and the Maldives?
Ideally, we recommend between seven and ten days in Sri Lanka and five days or more in the Maldives. This will depend on how much ground you want to cover and how much travelling you’d like to do. This is just a guideline – we’ll design a trip to match your preferred pace.
Which island to choose in the Maldives
There are a few things to consider when choosing your ideal Maldives island. Opting for an all-inclusive package means you can feast on delectable dishes, order drinks on tap and dive into ocean activities without worrying about the tab at the end. Dhigali Maldives and Emerald Faarufushi Resort & Spa are great examples of islands with excellent all-inclusive offerings.
While many resorts have amazing spas, if your focus is on well-being, Kagi Maldives Spa Island takes the lead with its nourishing (as well as unbelievably delicious) menus and revitalising treatments. When it comes to diving and snorkelling, some islands are standout stars for their house reefs; Kandolhu Maldives and Constance Moofushi Maldives are two top picks. And if you’re looking for a spacious room for your tribe, both Constance Halaveli Maldives and Kuramathi Maldives have two-level villas with separate bedrooms for the kids. Click here to read more about some of our favourite Maldives island resorts.
What to see and do on your Sri Lanka and Maldives holiday
There’s no shortage of things to enjoy in Sri Lanka. At every stop and along the way we can sprinkle in unforgettable activities, whether you’d love to cook up Sri Lankan cuisine, encounter elephants on a jeep safari or conquer the heights of Sigiriya Rock. You can see our list of experiences here. Some, such as the scenic Blue Train journey, are in high demand (especially during peak season) so booking in advance is a clever call.
Over in the Maldives, many think that a holiday here is all about unwinding on idyllic beaches. And it is, but it’s so much more. First there’s the underwater world to explore, starting with snorkelling in the island’s house reef then diving deeper to discover hidden shipwrecks and encounter larger species like sharks and rays.
Foodies will delight in the dining options, ranging from fresh-off-the-boat seafood to sizzling Teppanyaki prepared right before your eyes. And if you want to blend escapades at sea with relaxing spa sessions, check out Scubaspa Maldives, a luxury liveaboard vessel that sails between desert islands, dive sites and idyllic sandbanks.
“ Scubaspa Maldives is one-of-a-kind. It's not just about diving; there's an amazing spa on board with over 14 treatments to choose from, along with daily yoga and meditation. An exhilarating night dive with nurse sharks, as well as the sunset beach party on a sandbank lit up by tiki torches, were my all-time top moments. ”
Heather, Maldives expert
Ready to explore the perfect pair, Sri Lanka and the Maldives? Browse our Indian Ocean brochure, brimming with resort recommendations, must-try experiences and tailormade itinerary ideas – view online or order a bespoke copy to your door. To start planning, chat with one of our friendly Personal Travel Experts who'll craft a holiday that you’ll talk about for years to come.
This feature was created on 13th November 2023. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge. Feature by Heather Flanagan.