Sri Lanka What is known for

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BEACHES

Perhaps some day all of Sri Lanka's fine beaches will once again be visitor-friendly. In the meantime, check the current conditions for stays in Trincomalee (a stunning natural harbor on the northeast coast) and Arugam Bay (the island's best surfing). Or, you can always stick to the southerly shores at Kikkaduwa, a resort area 60 or so miles down the coast from Colombo, where you can take diving (coral reefs and wrecks) and snorkeling breaks between visits to the cafes and restaurants along the shoreline.

SIGHTSEEING

Festival lovers should time their visit for Kandy Esala Perahera, a 10-day, mid-summer Buddhist fete held in the hill country capital of Kandy, situated on a lake surrounded by low hills. This is one of Asia's more famous festivals, and the pageantry includes dancers and decorated elephants, highlighted by a grand procession celebrating the town's famous relic, a tooth of Buddha enshrined in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth.

CULTURE

When most of Sri Lanka is drenched in summer heat, it is an endless spring in the southern hill country - which is why Nuwara Eliya was a favorite hill station during the days when Ceylon was part of the British Empire. The village once called "Little England" still has the feel of an English hamlet (complete with golf course and botanical garden), and is a short hop from World's End - a 2,000-foot sheer precipice set amid tea plantations, waterfalls, and a vast plateau rich with wildlife.