Don't miss the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery, one of 18 turtle care centres along Sri Lanka's southern coast. Five species of turtle that are seen around Sri Lanka nest in Kosgoda, making this the best spot to see the different kinds, help feed them and perhaps even watch hatchlings be released into the ocean.
See some of Sri Lanka’s other amazing wildlife. Yala National Park is a popular choice where you might even get to see a leopard. Note that you’re not allowed out of the Jeeps, so make sure your children will be happy to sit in a confined space for some time.
Head to Sri Lanka's adventure hub Kitulgala for outdoors adventures that are particularly great for teens, including whitewater-rafting, kayaking, canyoning, abseiling and jungle treks.
Enjoy the sun, sea and sand, but ensure you know what the currents are doing – the south coast has a treacherous riptide. Hikkaduwa Beach, protected by a reef with shallow waters, is popular; you may get to swim amidst leatherback turtles and dolphins, or you can see them on a glass-bottomed boat trip. Surfing is also on the up in Sri Lanka, with some surf schools offering kids' tuition.
Head to Dambulla with its impressive temples to Buddha (including a vast golden one in the lotus position in the square) then on to the reclining Buddha and cave paintings. Hawkers along the route sell melons if you need cooling down. At Weligama Bay on the southern coast is a noteworthy Buddhist rock sculpture of the Kusta Raja or 'Leper King'.
Amble around the Cultural Triangle of Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, all ancient capital cities in Sri Lanka's colourful past. As well as housing Buddha’s tooth (in the Temple of the Tooth), Kandy, historical bastion of Buddhist power, has a small but good National Museum, botanical gardens with space to run around, and plenty of local arts and crafts to browse. Polonnaruwa, recognisable to many parents as a backdrop for the video of Duran Duran’s Save a Prayer in 1982, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. And don't miss the UNESCO-listed, 650m-tall rock citadel of Sigiraya – one of the wonders of the world.
Discover Galle, the former capital, with good beaches, good shopping and an ancient fort that’s fun to clamber around. Its incongruous Dutch appearance is a reminder of its colonial heritage. The current capital Colombo is a bustling city with beaches, shopping, museums and markets, but it can get very crowded.
Read up about the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage to decide whether you feel it's something you would like to visit – opinions differ wildly as to whether the famous centre is ethical or not.