Whether you are too bored of the manmade modern pools in luxury hotels overlooking the sea or too sick of high rates for a swim in those, natural swimming spots and manmade tanks in ancient kingdoms are better substitutes for swimming pools in Colombo (or anywhere else, basically). And they are a lot more fun.
Before you pack your bags and go on your next roundtrip, have a look at these places where you can swim for free. We’ve listed our favourites.
1. Bopath Ella
Located in Kuruvita, Ratnapura, Bopath Falls are truly a gift from nature. It’s only a few kilometers away from the Kuruvita town and a safe enough place for a swim. It’s a perfect weekend getaway place for those who are tired of everyday 9-5 work. Bopath Falls Rock Chalets and Minara Bopath Ella are two of the many places around to stay a night or two.
2. Paravithota, Ingiriya
Only a one drive from Colombo. Located in Ingiriya, this natural pool is a perfect place for a one-day trip with friends or family. It’s safe, clean and very tidy.
Here the waterfall and the river inside Makanduwa forest are perfect places for swimming and water sports such as water rafting.
4. Polhena Beach
Named as one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka to have a quick swim, Polhena beach in Matara is absolutely a stunner in natural beauty. Southern Expressway is the easiest way to get to Sri Lanka’s down south. Consider staying at Amaloh by Jetwing Matara if you are heading there for more than one day and need a first class luxury experience.
5. Kahanawita Ella
Located 3.5km away from Dehiowita, Kahanawita Ella is a scenic waterfall in Gomala Oya.
6. Panawala – Watawala
A scenic, safe and clean natural bath place here in Watawala. Follow the Eheliyagoda or Dehiowita routes to get there.
Cascades down from Kabaragala Mountain, Kiriella resembles a cascade of milk from distance as the name stands up to the justification. Kiriella Falls are 18m tall, 4m wide and 15km away from Ratnapura town.
8. Kudawa Camp, Sinharaja
Near Kudawa Camp Inside Sinharaja Rain Forest, have a dip in the crystal clear water of Koskulana River. There are a wide range of activities to enjoy if you are camping in Sinharaja.
A popular place among many Lankans. Located in Ingiriya, Nachchimale is a natural pool which attracts many locals. The little stream which supplies water to the natural pool makes it a scenic place. Perfect for a one-day trip.
Waves here can be a bit rough but if you want to lay flat and bodysurf this is a good place. Or get into a hammock and sip onto a thambili (king coconut). This is not exactly a swimming place but we couldn’t resist mentioning it because the beach here in Mirissa is that wonderful. During the season, you can join a water safari looking for blue wales, too. There are many luxury accommodation options around Mirissa, but for a backpacking experience, Hangover Hostels are our favourite.
Here is the perfect beach to relax and the perfect sea for a swim. There are many luxury and semi-luxury hotels overlooking the sea where you can plan your stay.
Located in Thalduwa – Dehiowota – few kilometers in Eheliyagoda route, Dehenwaka Falls are a safe place to bath and create a perfect one-day getaway.
13. Thudugala Falls
The beautiful Thudugala Falls and the base pool in Kalutara are a scenic and nice place for a quick dip.
14. Olu Ella
Resembling the lotus flower, the multiple little streams of Olu Ella in Yatiyanthota are somewhat of a hidden beauty in this part of the isle. The road to Olu Ella from Yatiyanthota is through rubber plantations which you may feel like escaping into and never come back.
15. Sorabora Wewa
The massive breathtakingly beautiful irrigation reservoir in Mahiyangana town is a perfect place for a quick dip. You are allowed to camp at Sorabora Wewa making it the most perfect weekend getaway. Here’s to the dry zone!
16. Minneriya Lake
Scenic. Also safe, as long as you don’t cross the limits. Having my father worked in Irrigation Department was a blessing when we visited Minneriya. The irrigation office apartments are overlooking the Minneriya Lake and the mountain range in distance. If I could, I’d have bought the whole apartment. It’s that beautiful.
Connecting both dry and wet zones in the island, Belihul Oya is rich in bio-diversity. Perfect for nature lovers and those who cannot take hands off their cameras. You can stay the night in Belihul Oya camp site or The Rest House Belihuloya is a charming accommodation option, too.
18. Diyaluma Falls
Located in Koslanda, Diyaluma Falls is the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. Situated in Colombo – Badulla highway, the science waterfalls creates a must-visit holiday spot. Don’t forget to visit Ella town, too.
19. Basawakkulama Wewa
And finally, Anuradhapura. There are a few routes to Anuradhapura from Colombo. This a pretty tedious day trip. So consider staying one night in the ancient capital.
20. Nuwara Wewa
Anuradhapura, again, and at last. There are many hotels and guesthouses in the area for your relaxation. The Lake Side at Nuwarawewa is one.
Note: Though swimming and bathing in natural and irrigation reservoirs is a common sight in Sri Lanka, the water levels may change from time to time. Be careful when you swim in these places and avoid bathing in places which has ‘dangerous’ signs put on. Avoid walking on slippery rocks in waterfalls and avoid the sea when the waves are rough.
If you’ve been to any other place which is nice and safe for a quick dip, comment below. We’d love to know.