10x Top beaches in Sri Lanka
-Top beaches in Sri Lanka- Including best travel time & tips-
Sri Lanka is a dream destination for beach lovers! With over 1300 kilometers of coastline, it’s not difficult at all to find yourself a lovely place near the azure blue ocean. While you’ll be able to find your own piece of palm-lined beach practically anywhere, some beaches are more popular and catered for tourists. Complete with luxurious resorts, ocean-view eateries and also a lifeguard to watch over your safety!
After spending a fair share of time relaxing on golden sand, and white beaches countrywide. I’ve came up with a list of ten top beaches in Sri Lanka. Including the best travel time, sightseeing suggestions and tips for visiting. Whether you just want to spend a couple of days relaxing on some of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka, or looking for inspiration to go beach-hopping; this list is for you.
Top beaches in Sri Lanka; South Coast
Sri Lanka’s south-coast beaches have been attracting numbers of tourist for a long time. They, therefore, have the largest number of popular beaches. Tailored to tourist needs; sleep in luxurious resorts, sip a fresh fruit juice under a palm tree or savor the daily catch in one of the candle-lit restaurants. Visit between November till April to enjoy dry, sunny weather as well as a calm ocean.
A lively beach with plenty of options for exploration, leisure, and nightlife. The beach itself looks like a u-shaped bay with white-ish sand and a pinkish glow. And the green-blue water of the Indian Ocean looks inviting. Find some shadow under a tropical tree, or take one of the sunbeds available at the beach cafes. The plentiful cafe/restaurants serve delicious fresh fruit juices, as well as fresh seafood and happy-hour cocktails with little alcohol in them. And play music until the late hours. Besides swimming, eating, reading and relaxing Mirissa has plenty to offer;
- From November till April it’s one of the best places to spot whales and dolphins in Sri Lanka.
- Although caution is needed, climb the characteristic Parrot Rock for a good view of the beach.
- Watch how the cafe’s transform to cozy eateries at night. And savor fresh fish by candlelight.
- Gaze at spectacular sunsets under a soft pink sky.
- Take a tuk-tuk and treasure hunt at Secret Beach; the place is full with white corals and seashells.
- Get yourself amazing Instagram pictures at the Coconut Tree Hill, located far left of the beach.
- Go on several day trips to cozy beach-town Unawatuna, Historical Galle Fort or surf-beach Weligama.
Top sleeping tip;
Stay at the Resort of Happiness. Besides super clean and spacious rooms, Dilki and her mother Rukmi are excellent hosts and even better chefs! They’ll surprise you every morning with the best traditional breakfasts we’ve experienced in Sri Lanka.
The beachy-town of Unawatuna is a perfect getaway for those who are looking for hip shops, immediate beachy vibes and plenty of luxurious resorts. As well as good budget accommodation. The town itself felt a lot more laidback and cozy compared to Mirissa. And although the beach feels larger, there were fewer visitors. In addition to small streets packed with jewelry, souvenir shops, and tour agencies, you’ll find hip restaurants selling fresh food, roti, and waffles everywhere. Both in town and on the beach. And, besides leisure, strolling, swimming and eating, Unawatuna it’s the perfect base too;
- Organize a day trip to historical Galle Fort.
- Visit the baby turtle hatchery in Habaraduwa
- Take a fabulous picture on the famous palm-tree swing at Dream Cababa.
Top sleeping tip:
Stay in the Rock Inn guesthouse for the best value for money experience.
Top dining tip:
Eat at the moderately priced Sun & Sea restaurant. Located at the far left, on the outskirts of the beach, they offer the tastiest dining experience in this list of top beaches in Sri Lanka.
Known for being the best surfing spot of the South Coast, Weligama couldn’t miss in this list of top beaches in Sri Lanka. Although basically every beach in Sri Lanka is a good place to practice your surf-skills, Weligama is by far the most famous one. Packed with surfing schools it won’t be hard to find yourself a teacher. In addition to surf classes; visit the impressive historical rock carving of King Kusta Raja Gala.
Also on the list of top beaches in Sri Lanka; the small beach-town Hikkaduwa. This beach-town has gained popularity in the 1970s and is still popular today. It’s therefore also one of the beaches that offers more than the sea, sun and delicious food. Go there too;
- Indulge yourself with ayurvedic treatments in one of the many spas
- Feed the large sea-turtle at Turtle viewpoint.
- Gaze at colorful fish, turtles, other sea creatures and (dead) corals at the Coral Sanctuary.
- Snorkel and scuba dive in the clear blue water of the Indian Ocean.
- Photograph colorful boats, and loads of fish at Hikkaduwa Harbour.
- Paddle-boat and to spot birds and lizards at the beautiful Hikkaduwa Lake.
- Understand the devastating destruction of the 2004 tsunami in the Community Tsunami Museum.
- Go on a day trip to Galle Fort
Top Sleeping Tip; At the Four Seasons Guesthouse you’ll be welcomed by a lovely family who lives in a beautifully renovated 100-year-old home. Additionally, it’s the secluded green garden what makes this place a top choice for sleeping in Hikkaduwa.
Different from most beaches on this list, Tangalle is often overlooked as a tourist destination. Because of this, it’s very possible to relax on a relatively quiet beach. Especially when visiting at the beginning or end of the season. Although less crowded there are still enough hotels, resorts, and restaurants to enjoy this cozy, golden-sand beach. So enjoy a fresh juice under a palm tree or swim in the natural, jacuzzi-like bay. Or enjoy one of the following activities;
- Observing local life in the fishermen village.
- Visit Sri Lanka’s largest Buddhist statue at the Wewurukannala temple.
- Go on a day trip to the Uda Walawe National park to watch elephants, and also other wildlife.
- Amaze yourself over the natural Hummanaya Blowhole and see how it sprays up to 30 meters.
- Climb the 210-meter stairs to see colorful, historical cave paintings in the Mulgirigala Raja Maha monastery.
I haven’t visited this beach myself, but heard good stories about it. If you have anything to add about this beach feel free to leave a comment 😉
Not necessarily one of the top beaches in Sri Lanka, but definitely worth mentioning because of it’s location; Negombo beach. In close distance to the international airport, many travelers choose to visit Negombo beach as the start-or ending point of their trip. But, because the sea can be too rough to swim at off-season; be sure to visit between November and April. Additionally, read more about Negombo and the choice between Negombo and Colombo here.
Top beaches in Sri Lanka; North-East coast
Generally less visited, but not at all least interesting are Sri Lanka’s north-eastern beaches. Because of the white sands, fewer tourists and the possibility to roam and feel authentic culture I personally prefer the North-East coast. Obviously traveling in the right season, between May and September helped in that! Although it was burning hot when I visited, the calm, azure ocean turned out to be the perfect place to cool down and still enjoy the weather.
Often referred to as the most relaxed beach-place in Sri Lanka, as well as the best surf spot countrywide. Arugam Bay makes a great destination for those looking for sun, surf, and fun. Hip restaurants play music till late night and serve delicious fresh food in a beachy, surf-ambiance. Being one of the most popular top beaches in Sri Lanka, expect affordable rooms to sell out during high-season. Especially during organized surf events, it might be smart to book beforehand. Visit from January till March, when the waves are perfect for swimming, and windsurfing. Or from May till October, when the waves are good for surfing. Other things to do around Arugam Bay are;
- Join local fishermen with a fishing trip on the ocean.
- Visit the beautiful white Muhudu Maha Viharaya Buddhist temple.
- Hike up to the ancient Kudumbigala Monastery and enjoy stunning vista’s.
- Organize a day trip to the Yala national park and see elephants and wildlife. As well as leopards if you’re lucky!
Unfortunately, I didn’t visit this place myself, but if you have; be sure to share your thought on this beach through the comment section below.
By far my favorite on this list of top beaches in Sri Lanka; Nilaveli beach. It might just be the least developed beach, resulting in just a small amount of visitor. And only little tourist facilities. Expect white sand beaches and warm, clear blue water. As well as lots of locals who come to enjoy the beach in the late afternoon, before the sun sets. While accommodation is easy to find, it’s harder to find eateries along the shore. As a result, you’re likely to eat elsewhere in Nilaveli town. Besides sunbathing, swimming and watching local life Nilaveli is a perfect place to;
- Rent a scooter and drive north to see stunning nature as well as authentic lifestyle.
- Go paradise-beach hopping and enjoy the other beaches around.
- Enjoy wildlife such as whale-and-dolphin watching. And snorkeling at Pidgeon Island.
- Explore nearby Trincomalee, including the Sri Pathrakali Amman Kovil and Koneswaram temple.
- Enjoy a spectacular sunrise if you start your day early.
For more inspiration about Nilaveli beach check this article with Six Amazing things to do around Trincomalee.
Just a few kilometers from Nilaveli lies the more developed Upuveli Beach. Generally this beach is a bit more crowded, yet still relatively unexplored. Take place under the palm-lined beach, swim in the clear blue waters and enjoy the small number of restaurants around. Similar to Nilaveli you can rent a beautiful resort-like apartment on the beach, or go for some of the mid-range accommodations for an excellent stay.
Located South of Trincomalee lies the relatively secluded Marble Beach. Bay- shaped with a lush green jungle-backdrop and clear blue waters, this is definitely one of the top beaches in Sri Lanka. Swim between bright colored fishes in crystal clear waters. Eat something in the Marble Beach Resort restaurant. And watch how locals enjoy a day at the beach. Run by the Sri Lankan Air Force, you’ll have to pay a small entrance fee to visit the beach. Due to a limited number of resorts, it’s best to book beforehand or to visit Marble beach as a day trip from Trincomalee, Nilaveli or Upuveli. Besides the activities mentioned above, Marble beach is also a good place too;
- Hike up to Diamond Hill to see fabulous views over Trincomalee and it’s harbor.
Tips for visiting Top Beaches in Sri Lanka
- Visit the beaches in the right season. Visiting off-season will likely result in high waves and strong currents, making it dangerous to swim in the ocean. In that regard; always be mindful about the current situation to prevent any danger.
- Besides using this list of beaches; rent a scooter and roam to find private and secluded beaches.
- If you decide to roam around; bring some snacks and drinks as they’ll probably won’t be available at the beach-side.
- This one might sound logical but bring enough sunblock (!) Together with clothes to cover yourself when burned. Don’t think you can take that sun on your first day without it; you can’t!
- Unfortunately, most beaches in Sri Lanka are littered with plastic and trash. Whatever you do, don’t be that person! Instead, carry your trash out or even help to clean the beach. It’s so important to travel responsibly nowadays.
- Similar to the last point; check your companies. Unfortunately, there are lots of people who only care about their own pockets. So whether you want to go whale/ dolphin watching, participating in snorkeling, diving or animal safari’s; be sure to check if the company is mindful about the animals’ well-being first!
What is your favorite beach in Sri Lanka? Or do you find a beach missing?! Let me know through the comment section below ^^ !
Although it might sound tempting to spend most of your holiday relaxing on top beaches in Sri Lanka, the country offers so much more than that! Some of my favorite activities are; climbing Pidurangala rock in Sigiriya. And eating your way around the country. Visiting endless tea fields in Nuwara Eliya and of course also, the mesmerizing train journey from Kandy to Ella are on top of the list!