3 weeks in Sri Lanka. Part 1: A working coconut estate with kids.
About an hour’s drive north-east of Negombo and Sri Lanka’s international airport, you'll find a slice of rural tropical paradise at a boutique hotel, set on a genuine, working coconut estate. With 50 acres of organic crops, beautiful landscaped gardens and a swimming pool, relaxing into life on the estate is unavoidable. The friendly and informative staff take care of everything from the moment you are greeted with fresh coconut to drink using, of course, a metal straw.
After checking into our family lodge and taking a quick dip in the pool, we were invited on a tour of the estate via a bullock cart ride. The kids were very excited and jumped straight off the garden swing to board the traditional cart. We were taken around the expansive estate and shown a variety of produce, including passion fruit and peppercorn vines, mango and cashew nut trees, rice fields and an old cinnamon tree. The king of the crops however, must be the coconut palm, with four different varieties and a multitude of uses. Our driver raced up a tree, bare foot, to gift us some tasty fruits. We sampled young coconut water, sweeter coconut milk and some delicious coconut flesh that the kids could not get enough of!
We were all engaged throughout the tour, spotting a monitor lizard, water buffalo and workers hand milking the dairy cows. Families with older children could also make great use of the complimentary mountain bikes to visit the surrounding countryside. Our two were a little young, so the staff kindly agreed to take us on a short walk around the nearby village of Wadumunnegedara. We got a great insight into rural life, watching children play with kites along the burnt orange tracks, listening to the cries of ‘malu’ from the local fishmonger on his scooter, and witnessing an old lady crack open cashew nuts by hand.
All rooms at the estate are finished with ornate antique furniture and have either balconies or a veranda, providing a perfect evening space for adults once children have gone to bed. The chefs work hard to deliver classic Sri Lankan dishes, using fresh produce and spices from the plantation. Even the milk and buffalo curd are produced on the estate. We loved the coconut rotis, sambal and traditional fish curry, whilst the children’s favourite was the home-made passion fruit jam, served at breakfast with toast made from fresh bread, baked in the local village.