is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.


Is there any better sound than the rustling of palm leaves, I wonder as I laze about in my enormous, fluffy white island of a bed at the Avani Kalutara Resort on Sri Lanka’s southwestern coast.

After all it’s a sound that most often accompanies only good things – things like sun, surf and soft sand, all of which I can spy less than a beach ball’s throw away out the open balcony doors to my left.

An even more magnificent sight greets me at the far end of my junior suite – a short, verdant spit of land crammed with swaying palms, flanked on one side by the churning Indian Ocean and the other by the calm waters of the Kalu Ganga River. It’s really something to behold.

Unfortunately I’m not beholding it solo for long.

“Beautiful, yes?”, comes a voice from the ether. I scan the grove of coconut palms and spy a wide grin beaming up at me from below.

“Where you from? How long you stay?”

Beach touts have discovered Sri Lanka – and you can run but you can never, ever hide.

After a quick yoga session away from prying eyes in my spacious suite (I just missed the resort’s once-weekly complimentary group yoga session on the riverside lawn), I head to Mangroves restaurant for the included breakfast buffet. Along the way I admire the simple, elegant architecture of the 105-room resort, a combination of white walls, dark wood finishes, high exposed beams and scattered wooden sculptures.

Known as Kani Lanka in its previous incarnation, the resort reopened in October last year following a $5 million facelift.

After brekkie I book in for an Ayurvedic massage at the hotel’s Spa Ceylon, a deliciously relaxing ritual involving a pressure point crystal massage that leaves me feeling light and spacey in just the right way.

It’s monsoon season so sadly not ocean swimming, sailing or windsurfing weather as it is in high season, but that doesn’t stop me from taking a relaxed stroll down a long string of picture perfect tropical beaches later in the afternoon. I do manage to tear myself away from the serenity early in the evening and take the 10-minute rickshaw ride to visit the world’s only hollow Buddhist shrine, Kalutara Vihara, but within half an hour I’m scurrying back to the resort for a delicious candlelit dinner on the lawn facing the river.

And as I sip my post-feast caprioska, I decide that perhaps there is a sound that’s better than the rustling of palm leaves: the clink of ice in a cocktail glass.

The writer travelled as a guest of Avani Kalutara.


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Avani Kalutara Resort & Spa, St Sebastian’s Road, Katuturunda, Kalutara, Sri Lanka.


From $150 a night, includes breakfast.


Wild ocean on one side and calm, cruisy river on the other.


The extreme hard-sell from the beachside touts over the resort fence can be a bit of a buzz kill when you’re chilling by the pool.

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