Ella, the little town high in the highlands of Sri Lanka’s interior is loved for its many hikes and laid-back vibe. But what does that mean for a non-hiker, or worse, someone visiting Ella in monsoon season? No worries, there is still much to love about this soggy little town.
Monsoon Season in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka gets hit by two monsoon seasons each year, the southwest between May and September and the northwest between December and February. Ella’s location means it sees both. That said, Ella receives the most rain between October and November.
I was visiting Sri Lanka on the tail end of this and, up until Ella, my experience was restricted to rooftop storm watching in Colombo. I nearly got heatstroke climbing Sygirya and lucked out with beautiful weather for the seven-hour plus train ride between Kady and Ella. Stepping off the train, however, the sky opened up and our luck ran out. The 15-minute walk to our hotel was the wettest in all of my travels. My shoes would never be dry again.
Thankfully we had a great little place to stay.
With plans of hiking and exploring now washed out we were left with three days of what to do when visiting Ella in monsoon season. Turns out, answering this wasn’t an issue. Here are a few of my favourites.
Visit Nine Arch Bridge
Rain or shine, visiting the Nine Arch Bridge is a must when in Ella. Head out first thing in the AM to avoid afternoon showers and be sure to line up your visit with a passing train. If rainy, spend a few extra rupees and take a tuk-tuk to the tunnel side of the bridge and avoid the hour-plus walk.
Even if cloudy you may luck out with brief sunshine as I did!
For full details on this outing check out my write up on visiting the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella.Compare airlines, dates and prices on flights to Sri Lanka all in one place with Skyscanner
Visit a Tea Factory
If visiting Ella during monsoon season a good activity is checking out a nearby tea field and factory. Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory offers daily tours and tastings of one of Sri Lanka’s biggest exports.
Take a Cooking Class
The best food (by far) that I had in Sri Lanka was while visiting Ella. The Matey Hut, in particular, serves up traditional dishes on the cheap. They also offer cooking classes which are a great way to kill a rainy afternoon in Ella. Be sure to book in advance as space is limited and it is a popular rainy day pass time!Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travellers have to say at TripAdvisor
Hike Little Adam’s Peak or Ella Rock
Adam’s Peak is the big draw for hikers in Sri Lanka’s interior. If too soggy or visiting Ella during monsoon season an alternative is Little Adam’s Peak. This two-three hour hike offers great views in a much shorter outing.Need a guide for your hike? Book one here!
Ella Rock is similar in distance and is an easy hike as well. Both should be done early morning to avoid afternoon downpours.
Get Wet While Keeping Dry
Last up on this list of things to do if visiting Ella monsoon season is, simply, chill. The rainy town has no shortage of places to relax or have a drink. Ella Coffee Avenue serves up the best caffeine fix in town and the massive Cafe Chill lives up to its name. The second-floor patio is a beautiful mix of beanbag chairs, cheap beer, and great food. I spent a solid day here and it only cost us $30 for coffee, smoothies, beer, and snacks!
Although I was hoping for a few more outdoor activities while in town, I have no regrets visiting Ella in monsoon season. It was the perfect place to slow down and relax before continuing out through Sri Lanka. That said, much like the “tablecloth” covering Table Mountain in Cape Town, my biggest takeaway is if the sun comes out, get outside!
Where to Stay in Ella
In Ella, we stayed at the Okreech Cottages. It was the perfect place to listen to the rainfall, read a book, and relax. It is also super close to the main strip so accessible to everything!
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