Travel Monday: What's on Eva's Travel To-Do List 2016", I had Mannar Island listed as one of the things on this travel list. I've heard people say there's not that much for tourists in Mannar, except for dusty trails, some history and small villages, but somehow I knew I'd find beauty, wonder and adventure. I set out on one of my epic road trips with an open heart and mind in search of new discoveries and memorable experiences. As with most of my adventures they never really start and finish where I plan. I like to meander and follow my nose to things, so this bit in Mannar is a little segment of a longer road trip that I'm still blessedly enjoying.
I would recommend spending at least a weekend in Mannar. I don't think you can really get to know the place unless you spend longer, and a weekend still isn't really long enough other than to scratch the surface. It's not one of those international touristy spots in Sri Lanka. It's a little more off-the-beaten track, but to me it means you'll find more local hidden treasures and get to rub shoulders with everyday people, rather than tourists and big city folk.
You can reach Mannar by bus, train or car from Colombo. I'm keen to try out the rail service on the Mannar Line which branches off from the Northern Line at Medawachchiya Junction and goes all the way north-west to Thalaimannar. This time round I went by four-wheel drive, which meant it was possible to take in the scenery on the coastal route as well as try some off-road routes through Wilpattu National Park for an impromptu wildlife safari. I saw a government bus as well as a private bus on the Wilpattu route, so I suspect you'll get to enjoy the same route I took if you pick the bus option to Mannar.