Imagine a road that takes you away from the bustling cities. At the end of the road, the ocean. There, a few dunes, a quiet lagoon, a couple of cows nibbling on the dry brushes, a dog or two strolling the shores, a bird flying low. Whether you are a kiteboarder coming for the strong constant winds and shallow turquoise water, or ab birdwatcher looking for endangered species, the quiet of the place, the remoteness, and its beauty, are sure to charm you. Plan on extending your stay there, because you might not want to leave. Well, luckily, the new Vayu Resort is right there to let you enjoy the secluded setting while resting in one of the exclusive accommodation.
Vayu Resort: The Complex
Mannar Peninsula is about 300 kilometers (around 190 miles) north of Colombo on the West coast of Sri Lanka. The west-most point, at the edge of the small Talaimannar town, is the beginning of the famed Adam’s Bridge that in mythological times is said to have linked Sri Lanka with India along a 50-kilometer long (30-miles) sandbank. A cyclone destroyed the said land connection in the 15th century.
Thanks to its location built right by the water, Vayu Resort offers unobstructed views, access to the kitesurfing area, and to the nearby Adam’s Bridge Marine National Park. The complex is all new as of Summer 2017, nestled among dunes and native brushes, a short distance from the town of Talaimannar.
With only 12 wooden bungalows and 8 spacious tents as of 2017, the resort feels like a retreat. The complex comes with an onsite restaurant, a lounge area, and a second-floor open viewpoint that combines as a yoga class. The staff lives on site and is ready to help at any time.
Vayu Resort: Bungalows & Tents
All six deluxe cabanas are separate from each other for increased privacy. The cabanas stand on pilotis, which provide incredible views of the ocean, as well as clearance and protection against the flying sand. The spacious rooms are beautifully decorated with wooden furniture and colorful curtains.
A mosquito net gives you a peace of mind at night although the constant breeze keeps the mosquitos at bay most of the time. The porch and lounge chairs are a great place to chill after a long “hard” day of kiteboarding or birdwatching. As for the bathroom, how does showering under the stars sound? Step into your spacious private area, where you find a large mirror, a towel hanger, and hot water readily available. With options to fit four people, the wooden cabanas are suitable for groups of friends and families.
The six white-washed garden bungalows are tucked among dunes. The rooms are tastefully furnished as well, with wooden bed and shelves, mosquito net, and a high ceiling for keeping the bungalows cool. The private open-air bathroom is perfect to shower under the sun (or the stars!).
The eight deluxe tents are perfect for backpackers and budget travelers. Set with floor mattresses, towels, and bedsheets, the tents are under shaded covers to keep them cool even under the hot Sri Lankan sun. The shared bathroom is only a few steps ahead.
Some of the rooms can be converted to accommodate families of four people. If you are coming with your family as part of your kiting vacation or birdwatching outing, the resort offers discounts for kids under 13 years.
Food at the Vayu Resort
The resort is full-board, meaning breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in your stay.
Since the resort was officially closed, we did not get to taste the food ourselves. But our friend Kobus could not stop raving about it, saying the food was terrific! He stressed that there was something different every day, with a vast variety of food on offer. The meals offered local Sri Lankan food, from rotti, kottu, and the traditional rice and curry. Western meals are also provided, as well as vegetarians. Whether you are a meat eater, seafood lover, or veggie enthusiasts, liking it spicy or mild, the staff at Vayu can cater to your needs and preferences. The buffet option offers fresh salads and fruits for the taking. Plentiful and tasty, the food at Vayu Resort aims to fill the tummies of hungry kiters after their long and hard sessions.
Tea and coffee are free and available throughout the day. The resort provides water dispensers to let you refill your bottles all day long. Not only it prevents you from suffering from dehydration due to the constant heat, but is also environmentally friendly, limiting the plastic containers that cause so much pollution.
Nightlife around Mannar
The resort is remote, and there is not much of party life there or in the nearby town. Plus, unless you have your mean of transportation, you might need to get a taxi to get anywhere. So if partying is your thing, you might want to look into another place.
But if you are into mingling with other guests and making friends with people from all around the world, drinking a cold beer or two while chatting with the kite instructors about jump tricks, or sharing kiteboarding stories, then you found a great place. The open dinner and lounge areas mean the wind blows straight onto the resort like a natural fan keeping it nice and cool.
But the resort is not without evening entertainment! Bonfires, live music on the beach – there are plenty opportunities to socialize and have a great time!
With the wind blowing steadily, shallow lagoon and warm flat water, it’s not surprising that Mannar is a prime kitesurfing destination. The season runs mostly in the summer, though winter also offers good kiteboarding opportunities. For more information, check our post about kiteboarding in Mannar.
The resort has been built with kitesurfers in mind. During the kitesurfing season, the resort provides free storage for your gear; free boat rescues on the lagoon and staff to help you out on the beach. A kiteschool, together with gear rental, is also available on site.
Vayu Resort is right by the Adam’s Bridge Marine National Park. Come winter, migrating birds flock to the islands and make it the perfect birdwatching destination including several endangered species.
During a survey done in February 2018 by zoologists from the University of Colombo, they observed about 90 species of birds, including around 50 breeding residents, 40 winter migrant birds, and a total number of 1,880 birds.
Catch the sight of one of Sri Lanka birds right from your bungalow: Greater Flamingos, Black Tail Godwits, Garganeys, Pintail Ducks, Gulls, Plovers, Terns all in flocks of several hundred. You may even catch the sight of raptors: White Bellied Sea Eagles, Brahmini Kites, Common Kestrels, and even Crab Plovers and Pied Avocets. An ornithologist dream come true! So bring your binoculars and your best photography equipment!
Mannar Beach & Waterfront
- The 16-kilometer (10-mile) sandbar that is the beginning of the Adam’s Bridge separates the ocean into two separate beach sides. In summer, the south part of the dunes sees waves, the north part flat water.
- The north side features white sand and warm shallow turquoise water, which makes it ideal for kiteboarding, a simple stroll, or watching birds flying by.
- The ocean side, due to the tides and waves, tends to receive some of the sea pollution unfortunately common in Asia. The owners of Vayu have been pioneered sustainable, eco-friendly projects around Kalpitiya and are planning similar efforts in Mannar.
He talks about some of the sustainable initiatives he and his team are working on.
Vayu Resort Activities:
Besides kiteboarding and birdwatching, the resort offers several onsite activities:
- Free activities: Grab one of the SUPs (Stand Up Paddles), bicycles, or kayaks, and go explore!
- Paid Activites: from Yoga to snorkeling or scuba-diving, even massages or motorbike rental. Pick one, or several, depending on how much you want to chill or get adventurous!
Vayu Resort: Yoga Retreat
During the off-windy seasons, Vayu Resort also organizes weekly yoga retreat, as well as hosting events, conferences, and incentive trips. Secluded and remote, the resort is perfect for meditation or team building. These retreats are available from 15th of October to the 15th of December, and the 1st of March to the 1st of May.
Day trips from Mannar
- The Wilpattu National Park is only a couple of hours away and a great place to find the elusive Sri Lankan leopards or one of the rare two-tuskers Sri Lankan elephants
- History-buffs will want to explore the ancient cities of Anuradhapura or Sigiriya
- Rent a scooter or bike and discover the nearby fishing villages around Tailamannar, go to the old Lighthouse, or drive by the natural Palmira Palms
Supporting the Local Community
Besides implementing eco-friendly projects to manage plastic bottle pollution, the owners of the Vayu Resort hired local staff from the nearby villages. They are training them with the help of their experienced team from their Kitesurfing Lanka Resort in Kalpitiya.
People in that part of Sri Lanka speak Tamil, which is the second official language in the country in addition to Singha spoken in the southern part. The resort hired a local English / Tamil / Singha teacher to teach and improve the knowledge of these three languages to the staff. The classes are offered three times a week, and free to all staff.
Vayu Resort Travel Tips
- The sun in Sri Lanka is incredibly strong! Make sure to take high SPF sunscreens, sunglasses and a good hat
- Share a taxi to keep the costs down.
- Bring a reusable water
- Check our post on Kiteboarding Mannar for tips on what to bring
- With the wind continually blowing, the evenings can be on the cold side. Take something warm with to wear
- Prepare for a long day ride from Colombo as the 300-kilometer (190 miles) trip which takes between 5 to 7 hours by private car. Break it with a visit to the Wilpattu National Park and search for elephants and leopards. Or check the ancient cities along the road.
How to Get to Mannar Sri Lanka
- By Private Car with Driver: Vayu Resort can organize a private car, the most convenient and fastest way to reach Mannar. Vayu can arrange transportation from the Negombo Colombo International Airport for US$ 140 (Euro 120). Shared taxi can be arranged as well.
- By Train: Trains in Sri Lanka are quite efficient and run on time. Take one of the two daily trains from Negombo up to Talaimannar
- Visit the Sri Railway website for more information
- Make sure to double-check the names of the stations before booking, to ensure the correct names and locations.
Vayu Resort is a fantastic resort in an excellent location. We, unfortunately, did not get to experience the full benefits of the new complex as we stayed there right after the end of the summer season when the place was officially closed. So while we did not get to taste the yummy food ourselves, or got to kite, we did enjoy the luxury accommodation and met the friendly team.
Moreover, our good friend Kobus De Wet spent several days during the high summer kiteboarding season. We teamed up with him to get his feedback on this experience so that we could compile both our experiences. Kobus is an IKO instructor traveling to meet and teach new people around the world, including Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Zanzibar, Tanzania. So we trust his judgment when it comes to kiteboarding resorts. His home base is in Cape Town, South Africa, where he spends the African summer months managing his own kiteschool Kiting Buddies. Thanks Kobus for sharing your insights!
Since we were not there at the high of the season, we featured photos from both Kobus and Vayu Resort in addition to our own. Given that the resort was officially closed when we stayed, we did not do a What we liked / did not liked summary. But one thing for sure is that we liked what we saw, and can’t wait to go back to get the full experience! Whether you kitesurfed or not, whether you are a birdwatcher at heart or not, the quiet of the place, the nice resort setup, and the warm welcome of the Vayu Resort team will for sure make your stay a blast!
Our stay was in partnership with Vayu Resort. Thank you for the terrific opportunity! Our opinion is our own and is not impacted by this connection.