By Raisa Wickrematunge
Picture stepping out of your tent and seeing the beach just steps away. A clear sea stretches before you. Nearby, hammocks swing in the light breeze. This is the view from your room — or rather, tent — at the Dolphin Beach Resort in Kalpitiya.
The words ‘luxury tent’ might seem like an oxymoron. Yet there really is no other way to describe a tent which both has air conditioning and can comfortably fit a double bed or two in its spacious interior. The colour scheme is bright and summery — lots of oranges and yellows. There is even a covered ‘verandah’ complete with sofa and colourful throw pillows, should you wish to relax indoors.
Each tent is marked with a lamp painted with a particular species of dolphin at the entrance. At night, the glowing words ‘Humpback,’ ‘Bottlenose’ or ‘Spinner’ serve as a guide to make sure you don’t wander into the wrong room.
The best thing about the stretch of beach here is that the touts and hordes of tourists have yet to descend upon it. It is relatively unspoiled, and the water is calm. In Kalpitiya, dolphin watching is naturally the main attraction. Tours are available, though you have to be sure to visit at the right time (between December to April). Unfortunately, since it was so close to the end of the season, the dolphins eluded our speedboats, but there was plenty more to do. For those who want to attempt something a little more energetic, there is a range of water sports available, from kayaking to snorkeling and kite surfing. During the high season water skiing and fishing is also possible.
The food is buffet style, simple and delicious. The roast paan in particularly warm and freshly made, keeps you going back for seconds. The hotel claims to specialise in fresh seafood, and this proved true with the crab curry served at dinner, which had just the right balance of spices. When on holiday, it’s the little things that count. Attention to detail is important, and this is where Dolphin Beach really delivers. There are many thoughtfully provided nooks and corners. Hammocks, beds and sun loungers are laid out on the sand so you can curl up with a book or alternatively congregate in the Dome, a large summer house that stands at the edge of the beach.
There are only around 10 tents, and that means attentive service. The staff are friendly and might even invite you to join them in a spirited game of cricket in the evenings — that is, if you aren’t too busy enjoying the sunset.
All in all, Dolphin Beach provided the right mix of activity and relaxation. Needless to say, this does come at a price. During peak season (between December and January) a single occupancy tent on full board could set you back US $120. If you’re in the mood to splurge a little, though, it’s well worth a visit.