Waking this weekend to the news of a fatal croc attack in Sri Lanka deeply shocked us. I was horrified to hear the tragic incident took place at Elephant Rock, near Arugam Bay on the East coast of Sri Lanka - the exact spot we'd visited only 14 days ago, wading through this very lagoon, with our kids ... to reach this remote but popular surf spot.
It's likely you'll come across plenty of lagoons if you're holidaying in Sri Lanka. In fact, 1338 kms of coastline in Sri Lanka has lagoons beside them so if you're a surfing family seeking out remote surf spots, it's likely there will be a lagoon nearby.
Read on to find out about our visit to Elephant Rock and our guide to keeping safe while discovering lagoons and remote surf spots in Sri Lanka.
Keep safe. Keep travelling.
Croc sign at Peanut Farm, a remote surf spot 15 mins south of Elephant Rock where the attack took place. Sadly there are no warning signs at Elephant Rock (below)
Authorities are now putting up warning signs at Elephant Rock
Kandy, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka is a busy, clogged city that some travellers choose to avoid. But Kandy's location right in the heart of the island is a welcome stop if you're heading to the East coast during the Yala monsoon (Yala blows from April-Aug & affects the South West coast). Kandy splits up the journey nicely and is only 3-4 hours from Negombo, Bandaranaike International airport or Colombo by taxi.
The last capital of the ancient kings of Sri Lanka, Kandy is a sacred place for Sri Lankans and all Buddhists, being the home of the revered tooth relic of Buddha, The Tooth Temple - a world heritage site. Kandy is a good point to start digesting Sri Lanka's culture. We advise visiting Kandy at the beginning of your trip when it's still high on your agenda, rather than homeward bound when chilled out beach vibes are bound to clash with hectic city life.
Kandy is also the starting (or end) point for the infamous train ride to Ella. Labelled one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, this is a must do when visiting Sri Lanka.
Here's are our suggestions for what not to miss in Kandy with kids.
168 hours into Sri Lanka and we're in full swing in this warm-hearted, stunning & incredibly diverse little country. The initial apprehension and guardedness a new country brings (especially with kids) has melted away. Getting to grips with how things work here only takes a few days and we've found everything incredibly easy with kids, apart from the food which can be challenging for little European taste buds.
We're impatient to discover the rumours of remote, pristine beaches, the rich culture of ancient traditions and temples, to witness tea being picked at tea plantations high up in the hill country, riding one of the most stunning train journeys in the world, not to mention the abundance of exotic wildlife.
As we become more clued up, we'll let you know our 27 day travel itinerary and top tips for travelling this amazing country with kids.
It's impressive what you can experience in 7 days in Sri Lanka. Even taking it slower as a family. Read on to hear our first impressions of this epic country.
Laid up in bed day 3 after my ACL knee surgery, I'm enjoying the peace and quiet of my two girls being on back to back playdates. My leg feels like a tree trunk, heavy and clumsy. In fact it almost feels like a cadaver's leg and no part of me at all. The pain fluctuates and apart from my hourly physio exercises, I'm left with only stillness and an incredible view of the Alps. With seemingly unlimitless time on my hands, I turn to what I do best - travel planning. I'm unsure yet as to the limitations placed on me now this Summer with the intense rehab required after this major surgery but what I do know is in a few short weeks we'll be bidding farewell to this beautiful Chamonix Valley and excitedly making our way sea bound to Devon.
Whilst we are looking forward to seeing our friends, being back in our own beds and for me, to potter in my beloved garden, we also have Summer holidays to think about. We Airbnb our home during the rammed 6 week Summer holiday so where to go? Stay local, travel back to Europe or to head long haul?
Here are my 5 epic locations perfect in August for adventuring families.
Family Ski Insurance - 6 tips to make sure you're covered & why a Carte Neige / E111 combo just won't cut it
Insurance. We all hate it. We all question it at some point or another. Are we paying too much? Are we paying too little and if so would we really be covered if the poo hit the fan?
With the late start to the ski season this Winter, most ski resorts in Europe are still drastically low on their base layer. Meaning rocks that are normally covered by now, remain visible and hard to the human form, particularly at fast speed. Skiing without insurance is fool hardy.
Already this season I’ve got two X-rays, an ECG, and an ultrasound under my belt and am booked in for an MRI at the hospital this Thursday. I'm gutted of course, that I've spend 3 weeks off the hill and counting from a suspected ACL rupture and meniscus damage. I'm hoping I can ski again once we know what damage is done and what brace to wear. Nevertheless insurance is quite a subject in our home at the moment. Thankfully it's nothing serious but I will be claiming back either through E111 or through our Ski Club GB ski insurance policy once we know the total bill.
Check our 6 family ski insurance tips before heading out to the mountains this Winter to make sure you and your family are fully covered and why we don't advise the Carte Neige / E111 combo.
Last New Years Eve we made the gargantuan decision to head for the Alps this Winter for a FAMILY SKI SEASON. With the onset of October, we’ve said adios to Summer and are rapidly ramping up Winter preparations. So why did we decide to do it, what does it involve and could you do it too?
With the explosion of working remotely, the dream of a family ski season can become reality
If you’ve never visited Sark, the tiny traffic free island in the Channel Islands, put it firmly and squarely on your bucket list! I’d been hankering to visit Sark for some time and with a family trip to Jersey organized, I seized the opportunity to tag on a 4-night stay.
I love catching a ferry. It’s normally the start of a great adventure. Ferries are the very essence of island hopping, more often associated with our Mediterranean neighbours, than the UK. But we forget that we, as an island nation have numerous ferry ports dotted around our shores. Albeit less glamorous than Capri, Mykonos or Santorini, UK ferries do link us to some pretty fabulous destinations.
In a bid to start exploring some of the cool locations that UK ferries can drop you to, we took a Condor ferry from Poole to The Channel Islands and on to St Malo in Normandy.
Approaching the Channel Islands - a scene more reminiscent of Greece than the UK
If you’re able to emotionally detach from your family home and want to maximize it’s potential whilst sitting empty, then Airbnb’ing your home to fund your family travels could be for you. Following on from my previous Airbnb post Live in a Tourist Hotspot? Fancy a free holiday? Airbnb your gaff and get going here's part 2 - 10' Airbnb Do's and Don'ts
Do - add local photos to your Airbnb profile
We live in a popular surf village in Devon where during the Summer holidays a huge percentage of local families upsticks and rent out their houses to holidaymakers. We’ve now joined their ranks and have successfully let out our house now a handful of times. Last Summer we were booked out with guests for 5 weeks back to back which funded our 5-week European family road trip. Not to be sniffed at! It’s not up everyone’s street but for families who want to travel or save it’s definitely worth the effort. Here’s why:-
Saunton Sands, North Devon is a tourist hot spot
Are some of us born to travel? Is there really a gene that gives us the desire to be on the road? Are we escaping to leave something behind, merely inquisitive, looking for answers or just thirsting for adventure? I explore the myth of the wanderlust gene and the fact that scientists can now prove it exists.
With our family exploring the possibility of spending next Winter in the Alps, I was interested to hear that a Montessori school had opened in the Chamonix Valley. With education being such a contentious point for families making the leap abroad, we jumped at the opportunity for our girls to have a half-day taster session whilst recently on holiday in Chamonix.
Proper kids backpacks are a rarity in this day and age. Surrounded by a vast array of plastic Disney emblazoned options, most kit is cheaply made rubbish which could never endure a long haul trip.
I wanted my girls, who at 3 and 6 were old enough to carry a small backpack on our 9 week trip, to contribute to lugging around our necessities and to get savvy with the cold reality of what every traveller experiences - limited capacity and what to pack. Which toys to take was their decision. They knew the size of their luggage & that they had to carry it - an important lesson for a prospective world traveller.
New Zealand with young children can be tricky if you're eager to do some serious stomping. Most trails are just too hardcore for little ones, and the landscape is often not varied enough - crucial to keep interest and banish boredom. Abel Tasman National Park perched at the northern edge of the South Island, is the smallest of NZ's national parks but brilliant for kids. Not limited to purely hiking the coastal trail, families can mix it up by catching water taxis and kayaking different sections of the 5 day trail. Surrounded by turquoise water, golden sands and verdant rain forest, four remote huts offer simple dorm accommodation. With no electricity, these huts are a real adventure for families who can get back to basics and really connect with nature, whilst having a safe option 'out' via water taxis should it all become too much.
The Family Freestylers are us - the Nixon family, who relish travel adventures both near & far