Sri Lanka is known for its outstanding beauty and its beaches are no exception. Whether you want to take part in watersports, search for wildlife or simply lay back and relax, these are the best beaches in Sri Lanka.
BEST BEACHES ON THE WEST COAST
The west coast of Sri Lanka is home to the island’s most developed, and most tourist-oriented, areas. Miles of fine beaches are backed by hundreds of hotels and apartments, from Negombo in the north to Hikkaduwa in the south.
About an hour from Colombo, and a short trip from Bandaranaike International Airport, Negombo is best visited between March and September. This stretch of sand however is less about soaking up the sun and more about scenic boat rides, leisurely strolls and spectacular views of local fisherman going about their daily work.
Bentota is a family-friendly beach and one of the most beautiful shores on the west coast – think fine sand and crystal clear, shallow waters. There are also plenty of water sports – such as waterskiing, jet skiing, sailing and windsurfing – available all year round. If you’re after something a little different, try a boat safari along the river keeping your eyes peeled for numerous species of birds, lizards and even crocodiles!
After being hit by the tsunami back in 2004, the shores of Hikkaduwa and the hotels and restaurants that are found here have had a complete makeover. It’s now one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka, with vibrant resorts an energetic nightlife scene that attract partygoers from all over the globe.
BEST BEACHES ON THE SOUTH COAST
If you’re looking to lay back and unwind during your trip to Sri Lanka, the south coast is the most rewarding places to visit. Much of the region’s charm lies in its rural atmosphere, with gorgeous beaches, picturesque towns, superb wildlife parks and a number of Buddhist shrines and temples all in tow.
Galle is one of the most visited beaches on the island and one of the main reasons is because of its wide variety of offerings. Visit the old town of Galle to see its architectural beauty, or explore Sinharaja Forest Reserve to see Sri Lankan wildlife at its best. Deep sea fishing and whale watching tours are a must too!
Unawatuna is one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka without question, and is famous for calm blue waters and the occasional spotting of a whale shark or two. Close to the colonial town of Galle, you should also visit for water sports such as scuba diving and snorkelling and exploring around the Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya temple.
Mirissa is one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka, or maybe even the world, for spotting blue and sperm whales, as the two species migrate around the southern coast. If you visit in December, you may spot turtles laying eggs too! The vibe is laidback, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants dotted along the shore, or why not hire a boat and go fishing with the locals near the coral reef to try and catch your own meal?
BEST BEACHES ON THE EAST COAST
If your visit to Sri Lanka coincides with the west coast’s monsoon season fear not, as you can still enjoy temperatures of 30+ on the east coast. Due to the island’s civil war, the east coast was off the tourist trail for many years, however the unquestionably beauty of this area is slowly being seen by more and more travellers as the years go on. Take a visit as soon as you can, while it’s still relatively untouched.
Although you’re not able to go for a swim on the beach of Yala, due to dangerous currents, the spot still makes the best beaches in Sri Lanka list. It’s a great spot for a walking and, even more exciting, right next door you are able to see elephants, crocodile and even leopards on a safari!
This remote beach and village in the far east of the island is at the top of the list of best beaches in Sri Lanka. Famous for its surfing points, surfers from around the world make Arugam Bay their home during the surfing period, which is from April to October. The waves here can rise to a height of five to 10 metres depending on the swell and oceanic conditions, making the bay most suitable for those advanced in the sport. However, if you’re just getting started, there are plenty of surf schools along the shore ready and waiting to teach you how it’s done.