Sri Lankan health authorities have recently relaxed COVID health guidelines for overseas travellers arriving by sea. Visitors are now permitted to go ashore, with the only restriction to wear a mask.
“The government has opened its doors to foreign-flagged yachts once again,” says Priyantha Perera, Director of Asia Pacific Superyachts (APS).
“Two recent health guidelines approved by the Ministry of Defence this week in lifting restrictions of crew movement during the COVID pandemic are now available to yachts.
“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.”
A country with 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 refuelling and provisioning at the Port of Galle is straightforward. Galle is where most yachts clear in and the conditions for visiting yachts have shown some improvement.
“An agent is required to clear in to and out of Sri Lanka and basically organise everything,” comments Perera.
“APS can handle all yacht needs and can specifically advise on moorings and restrictions at Galle, as space is very limited.”
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.
“For example, yachts must first obtain Defence Ministry and Sri Lanka Customs Approval before cruising around the country,” states Perera.
“The best time to visit is October to April, when the bay is blue and the sea is calm with light winds and blue sky. During these six months, all the conditions are spot on to enjoy some wonderful cruising experiences.”
Boating has always been important in Sri Lanka, going back many centuries and its fishing industry. The culture of this remote country, separated from India by a few nautical miles along the narrow Palk Straits, remains a useful stop for yachts en route to the Red Sea. It’s also a good point of departure for cruising the Maldives, the Chagos Islands and the Seychelles.
The main cruising destinations in Sri Lanka include the northeast coast and the southern coast, which boast some of the most pristine beaches in the world.
An APS itinerary will include a journey to and around the best cruising grounds along with authentic experiences, such as a personal visit to the local Stilt Fishermen – the only spot in the world where these unique fishermen are found.