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Favourite Family Beaches on Sri Lanka’s South Coast

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Sri Lanka beach

Sri Lanka has a LOT of beaches. Almost its entire 1,300-kilometre coastline is sandy and palm-fringed, but not all beaches are swimmable.

Sri Lanka’s popularity as a surfing destination says a lot about the character of the sea. For the most part, gentle rollers wash its beaches, but there are offshore currents and some stretches of coastline are just plain wild, with foaming waves crashing onto the seashore. The Galle coast offers some of Sri Lanka’s best beaches and is a great destination for a family holiday. Read on to learn more about the most suitable (and safest) beaches in Galle for kids and families.  

Best for toddlers

If you’re travelling with a baby or toddler, you’ll be after the calmest sea. A favourite beach with local expat families is Dalawella, around nine kilometres east of Galle. The sea here filters into a shallow lagoon, protected by offshore rocks, and washes onto a sandy beach.

Wijaya Beach Restaurant is a well-known spot for great food and drinks, though it’s neighbour, Beaches, which opened in late 2016, is a better option for families. Set in spacious grounds, there are a lawn and volleyball court, a selection of inflatables for using in the sea and a paddling pool for the tiniest family members.

They also have big daybeds for hire at a very competitive daily rate, which make the perfect rest-stop for exhausted babies and toddlers. Their café-style menu is kid friendly (as well as delicious Asian tapas, expect freshly made burgers, wraps and fish and chips), and from the sunbathing deck, you have a clear view of the beach and sea. There’s also a fun vintage truck converted to a bar.

Fun for kids

If learning to surf is on your kids’ holiday wish list, Dewata Beach, close to Galle, is a convenient spot. The surfing vibe here has really taken off in the last couple of years, and this narrow strip of sand is dotted with surfers’ haunts. At the unassuming Shack café, you’ll find great food and you can organise surf lessons.

Weligama Bay – a 40-minute drive from Galle – is the south coast’s most well-known place for beginner surfers. Just before you reach Weligama beaches, the sleepy beachfront of Midigama is a hidden gem for beginner and intermediate surfers who want maximum exclusivity.

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Bali with Kids

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Not many work–weary mums and dads would dispute the attractions of spending a holiday in a luxury Bali villa where they can indulge in the pleasures afforded by a personal chef, private pool, in-villa massages or yoga sessions, sunset cocktails and stunning tropical surroundings.

But what about the rest of the family?  Keeping the kids as happily entertained as their parents is key to every holiday’s success. Ondy Sweeting finds that Bali is an epic destination for families, with a great choice of exciting attractions and fun surprises to engage kids of all ages.

Mud, mud, glorious mud!

Mepantigan is a martial art that has a strong spiritual and emotional component and is performed in the luscious Bali mud.

Mud play is a time-honoured tradition where a person becomes one with the mud of the rice paddy and its eternal companion, the duck! Kids can join these amazing Mepantigan sessions that focus on fitness, agility and stress release while developing camaraderie and sportsmanship.

After a sip of some holy water from a bamboo cup, it’s off for warm-ups under the coconut trees then into the mud for training in balance and playing traditional mud games such a frog catching, eel trapping, body painting and having an all-around blast while rolling in the mud.

When you’re done, all the grime is washed away in the river or under a Balinese shower with a banana-leaf roof. The fun and games are followed by an organic lunch to the sounds of the gamelan.  Parents can join in too, or opt for some peaceful mud yoga followed by a massage in the river.

More information here.

Monkey around in Ubud

Ubud’s famous Monkey Forest is the perfect spot for some monkey madness. More than 600 Balinese long-tailed macaques star in this tropical forest that comes complete with ancient mossy temples dedicated to the revered monkey god, Hanuman.

These well-fed rascals have no fear and can be more than a little cheeky, so some safety tips are in order:

  • Don’t dangle anything! Little hands are quick to snatch sunglasses, spectacles, cameras, or anything else they can grab, and swing straight up into a tree with it.
  • If you buy monkey food from a local vendor – or have a snack in your bag – hand it over quickly as they will sniff it out and make demands that can be a little scary.

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The Bali Culinary Collective

in Dining by

Bali’s is Southeast Asia’s enfant terrible of the culinary scene, with destination dining luring fabulous chefs from across the globe to cook up a monsoon on the island.

Top chefs such as New York’s dessert genius Will Goldfarb, Melbourne’s Frank Camorra and Geoff Lindsay, Caribbean-born London-raised Miles Belfield and Singapore-based-UK-born Ryan Clift are flocking to Bali. They join long-time giants of the culinary scene; Franco-American Chris Salans and Englishman James Efraim of Mozaic, Australian Will Meyrick and French dining trailblazers Nicholas ‘Dou Dou’ Tourneville and Said Alem who created Warisan and then Metis.

A visit to Bali demands that dwellers of exquisite villas drag themselves away from the delights of a private chef for a night or two of culinary exploration.

Prepare to be impressed.

Foremost in the savoury fray is the internationally renowned team at Ku De Ta, lead by executive chef Ben Cross. KDT’s fine dining restaurant, Mejekawi, is the host venue for The Culinary Collective Supper Club, a high cuisine extravaganza where imported talent collaborates with Chef Ben and KDT’s head chef Stephen Moore to create rare delights.

Recently, the award-winning chef Blaine Wetzel of The Willows Inn in Seattle – which is widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in the USA – produced a series of outstanding dishes that merged American traditions and style with Balinese ingredients to great success. Five hours of fine food and matched wine was a singular sensation. Think lushly juicy whole barramundi and crispy suckling pig cooked over coffee wood and paired with an Italian Marchesi de Frescobaldi Niozzano Riserva.

Serious foodie travellers and expat gourmands are the staple supporters of this supper club where networks are grown and friendships forged over a feast of fun and familiarity.

The next Culinary Collective is slated for March 9, when Chef Monty Koludrovic from Sydney’s legendary Icebergs will be in town. Chef Monty’s early cooking influence came from his Russian Nona and her traditional feasts, and was later refined at important kitchens throughout Europe.

On May 4, Executive Chef Federico Zanellato of Sydney’s award-winning fine diner LuMi will hit the pans, followed by the amazing barbeque king

Dave Pynt, of Burnt Ends in Singapore, on June 24. In September Hong Kong’s Matt Abergele from Yard Bird will headline, while October will feature the many talents of Chef James Lowe of Lyles,

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Exploring Phuket’s Wild Side

in Recreation by

Phuket’s tropical heat makes it tempting to laze days away on the beach, but those seeking adventure will find plenty of action-packed activities on and around the island.

The warm, clear waters of the Andaman Sea, the island’s lush interior and a growing number of adventure and sports operators all offer plenty of adrenalin-fuelled fun while connecting with nature.  

Surfing and standup paddle boarding: From October through May, when the south-west monsoon brings bigger waves, Phuket is a surfer’s dream – especially off Kata Beach. During the rest of the year, calmer conditions mean smooth, glassy water in the bays, perfect for standup paddle boarding (SUP).

Sailing: Phuket is a great place to learn to sail or hone your sailing skills with lessons and yacht charters available at all the island’s marinas. The Phuket Yacht Club in Chalong hosts regular races and lessons, and its fleet of small dinghies are perfect for kids learning the ropes.  

Scuba diving: A prime launching point for exploring the Andaman’s fascinating sea life, Phuket welcomes divers of all abilities. Several PADI-certified shops around the island offer instruction and day trips to nearby sites including the sapphire waters of the Similan islands. 

Kiteboarding: Kiteboarders should head to Rawai or Nai Yang beaches where colourful kites pull riders at breathtaking speed across the bay. Rentals and lessons are available for learners.  

Wakeboarding: Board riding is not just surfer territory in Phuket. The island has two inland cable wakeboard parks that see everyone from beginners to world champions flying and flipping their way around the course. Try Phuket Wake Park near Patong or Anthem Wake Park in Cherng Talay, not far from Surin and Bang Tao beaches. 

Cycling: Phuket is not big on bike lanes, so two-wheeled explorers may want to try a guided cycling trip rather than navigating their own route. Amazing Bike Tours offers day tours to off-the-beaten-track locations that provide healthy doses of fresh air and beautiful sights. An especially scenic trip takes cyclists to the nearby island of Koh Yao Noi, along peaceful rural roads with magnificent views across Phang Nga Bay. 

Ziplining: Soar like an eagle through the treetops on ziplines that give you a bird’s eye view of Phuket’s jungle landscape.

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Spilling the Beans: Villa ISSI

in Dining by

Every chef in Elite Havens has his or her signature creations – the ones guests ask for again and again. This month, the chef at Villa Issi shares two of his gourmet dishes with us. Try these recipes at home and get ready to wow your guests at future dinner parties. 

AYAM PELALAH

Shredded organic chicken breast with homemade tomato sauce

Ingredients:

  • 150 gr chicken breast
  • 25 gr bean sprout
  • 5 gr romaine lettuce
  • 10 gr tomatoes, diced
  • 10gr red chillies, diced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 5gr garlic, diced
  • 5gr shallot, diced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 – 3 star fruit slices (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Grill chicken breast for 5 -6 minutes per side.
  2. Transfer chicken breast to a bowl, allow to cool and shred the chicken meat with 2 forks.
  3. To make tomato sauce, heat olive oil in a pan.
  4. Sauté diced tomatoes, garlic, red chillies and shallots.
  5. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
  6. Mix shredded chicken breast and bean sprouts with tomato sauce.
  7. Place romaine lettuce on top of a plate, serve the chicken and garnish with star fruit (if using).

Serves 1

TUNA SAMBAL MATAH

Pan-seared Tuna with shallot, garlic, lemongrass sambal and fresh mango salad.

Ingredients:

  • 200 gr tuna loin
  • 100gr young mango, cut into long thin strips
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper and paprika powder
  • Sweet chilli dressing
  • 50gr sautéed asparagus
  • Steamed rice wrapped in coconut leaves (optional)

For the sambal:

  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stems, finely chopped
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Preparation:

  1. Season tuna with salt, black pepper, and paprika powder.
  2. Mix the sliced young mango with sweet chilli dressing.
  3. Sear tuna loin on a pan about 5-8 minutes and cut into 4 slices.
  4. To make sambal, mix all the ingredients for sambal in a bowl.

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