The latest of the Asia Pacific countries to open up to international yachts, Sri Lanka has relaxed Covid 19 health guidelines recently for overseas travellers and visitors arriving by sea. Visitors are now permitted to go ashore without any restrictions other than wearing masks.
“The government has opened its doors to the world and foreign-flagged yachts once again,” says Priyantha Perera, director of Asia Pacific Superyachts (APS) Sri Lanka. Two recent health guidelines approved by the Ministry of Defense this week in lifting the restrictions of crew movement during the Covid 19 pandemic are available to yachts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Now that the country is open to arriving yachts, it’s interesting to note that even with the many regulations concerning tender boat operations and lack of anchorages suitable for superyachts, Sri Lanka remains a stunning adventure cruising destination,” notes Perera.
A country of 1,300 kilometres of coastline, eight Unesco World Heritage Sites and 15 national parks are among the many reasons Sri Lanka is known as ‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean’. Galle is the preferred port and APS reports refueling and provisioning at the port of Galle is straightforward. Galle is where most yachts clear in and is also the port where conditions for visiting yachts have shown some improvement, notes Perera. “An agent is required to clear into and out of Sri Lanka and basically organise everything. APS can handle all yacht needs and can specifically advise on moorings and restrictions at Galle, as space is very limited,” she adds.
Once formalities are completed, special permission must still be obtained before travelling to other northern states. There are important procedures in place for captains after entering, however. “Yachts must first obtain Defense Ministry & Sri Lanka Customs Approval before cruising around the country,” adds Perera. “The best time to visit is October to April, when the bay is blue and the sea calm with light winds and blue sky. During these six months all the conditions are spot on to enjoy some wonderful cruising experiences,” she adds.
Boating has been important in Sri Lanka going back many centuries to its fishing industry. The culture of this remote country, separated from India by a few nautical miles along the narrow Palk Straits, is integral with boating and remains a useful stop for yachts en route to the Red Sea. It is also a good point of departure for cruising the Maldives, Chagos and Seychelles.
The main cruising destinations in Sri Lanka consist of the north-east coast and the southern coast which boasts some of the most pristine beaches of the world. An APS itinerary will include a journey to and around the best cruising grounds along with authentic experiences, such as personal visit to the local stilt fishermen - the only spot in the world to find these unique fishermen.