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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Staying At Cantaloupe Aqua Sri Lanka & A Day At Udawalawe National Park With Elephants

aqua hotel sri lankaFor the second half of our trip to Sri Lanka, we headed down the coast towards Galle. After a relaxing first few days in Sri Lanka at Serene Luxury Pavilions, we were ready to move further on and explore. We didn't even want to leave the Maldives but a tiny part of me was excited to explore the hustle and bustle of a very different country. Our next stop was Aqua hotel, owned by a Sri Lankan group called Cantaloupe hotels. I'd seen beautiful photos online and decided to go for this young, modern looking hotel. From the minute they picked us up from Serene, we knew the service was going to be epic.

cantaloupe aqua sri lanka
As most of you will know by now if you've read my travel section, I'm massively into my luxury travel. I like to stay in nice hotels but still get out and explore like a tourist. Aqua was clean, comfortable and actually felt like home, whilst it wasn't an extortionately priced, luxurious hotel, it had the best atmosphere, it was filled with brilliant, fun, young people and we had the best time. It was clean, comfortable and the staff really made it special. I've never come across such attentive, kind staff. Every day they'd ask what we were doing and they were genuinely interested, on an evening they'd remember what we told them and ask us about our day. Sri Lankan hospitality seriously is amazing and we didn't even want to leave Aqua because the staff were so great with us. One of the main reasons I chose to stay at Cantaloupe Aqua is because they offer the most amazing excursions and help you to plan every step of your trip if you want. Sri Lanka is a huge country, there's so much to see and do and we really didn't have enough time to do everything we wanted so we needed to stay in a  hotel with amazing excursions. 

The room was compact, but cute. I've never stayed on a bunk bed like this before! I was so excited. 

Our American Tourister suitcases have literally been around the world with us this year and they're still going strong. 

We went on a short walk along the beautiful beach next to the hotel and headed straight to the turtle orphanage. They put baby turtles back into the sea. It was so beautiful to see. 

Dress, online here. Don't forget to watch my Sri Lanka lookbook video

It was really nice to be further down the coast and closer to a beach we could actually walk on at this time of year in Sri Lanka. The sea was still pretty rough but the weather was warm and the beach was beautiful. These are the kind of Sri Lankan beaches I'd read about. 

We dined by the ocean every day and it was beautiful. Sri Lanka isn't as preened as the Maldives and I loved the fresh, rough ocean breeze I got. For a mid-price range hotel, I'd say this view every morning is pretty unbeatable!

The small infinity pool was perfect to dip into before breakfast when the ocean is too rough. 

I'm a breakfast lover and breakfast is like a four course occasion at Aqua which I loved. You can do all inclusive at Aqua and I'd recommend doing it just incase, it doesn't cost much more and it just means things are included. I loved the fruit platters we started our day with every morning and was more than happy with a basket of bread too. I opted for omelettes most morning and they didn't disappoint either. 

We decided to head into Galle Fort, a local town. You can easily organise a tour through the hotel but because it's close (around 30 minutes from the hotel) we jumped in a tuk tuk (they line the streets so you can't really avoid them) and bartered him down. The hotel staff told us roughly how much we should be paying. We ended up getting a full tour of one side of Sri Lanka with our driver which was pretty epic!

I wore my backless maxi and looked down onto Galle. 

galle fort

galle fort sri lanka

galle fort ice cream sri lankaHe then took us around the most beautiful temple.

I'd highly recommend jumping in one of these and finding someone who will take you to a few destinations throughout the day.

tuk tuk sri lanka

After a long day seeing the beautiful sights of Sri Lanka (we ate lunch at the most beautiful place on Unawatuna beach, our cute driver took us) it was time for dinner by candle light. We had a special Sri Lankan feast and I'd go back to Aqua just to eat this again. 

As you can see, it was the most epic feast. It was amazing to speak to the chef and get to try all the special Sri Lankan dishes. We didn't manage to finish it but we certainly gave it a good shot. I'd say this is the best meal we had in Sri Lanka, it was such a treat and anyone going to Sri Lanka must try this.

The following morning, we woke up at 4am, ready to explore Sri Lanka's best national park. It's been a dream of mine to see elephants in Sri Lanka for as long as I can remember and Aqua made it come true. Through their staff, we organised the trip and honestly, it was once in a lifetime.  Udawalawe National Park was around 3 hours from our hotel, the hotel booked us an amazing driver who made sure we were the first ones there, before it even opened. We watched the elephants at sunrise and had the park to ourselves. Cantaloupe Aqua even packed the car full of duvets, pillows and lunch for us. It really was beyond exceptional, on the way back, the driver took us around some beautiful areas too which was a massive bonus. 

elephants at udawalawe national park

udawalawe national park

I'm obsessed with animals and have never been to a safari in my life so this really was the most amazing experience. I cannot thank the team at Aqua enough for organising this. It's definitely something you have to experience when you visit Sri Lanka.

We didn't want to say goodbye to Cantaloupe Aqua, a beautiful hotel, with the most amazing staff. It's so close to so many amazing things to see and do too, it makes the perfect base for exploring Sri Lanka and the staffs are all locals so are incredibly helpful with travel plans! We were so sad to leave! But, it was time to explore another side of Sri Lanka...

Make sure you watch my vlog below:

You may also like:

- A Trip To Sri Lanka From The Maldives 

- The Best Hotel In The Maldives

- The Dreamiest Festival Ever 

Have you ever been on a safari? Have you ever visited a national park? Do you love elephants? 

Lots of love, Em x

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