The beautiful tear drop island of Sri Lanka offers over 1300 kms of tropical coastline with plenty of beach to choose from. Combining a cultural tour with some downtime on the beach is a perfect combination and depending on what time of year you are visiting Sri Lanka, there is the perfect beach for you.
West and South Coast Beaches
If you plan on visiting Sri Lanka between December and March, we recommend heading to the beaches on the west and south coasts of the island. Some of our favourite beaches lie between Galle and Tangalle. Some beaches are excellent for families, suitable for snorkelling and swimming in calm, gentle waters. Others are wild and unsheltered, offering excellent surfing opportunities.
Unawatuna, Wijaya and Talpe all lie to the east of Galle, within about 15 to 20 minutes’ drive. This stretch of coastline runs parallel to the main east-west highway allowing easy access however it does make it the busiest stretch of beach in Sri Lanka. Alternatively, you can stay inland or in Galle Fort itself and make a day trip to the beach.
This part of the coast is lined with beautiful boutique beach hotels and private villas. Swimming is possible here in the sheltered lagoons of Unawatuna and Wijaya, so ideal for families. There are plenty of restaurants, bar and cafes to find delicious local and international cuisine.
Our favourite hotels are: Frangipani Tree, Aditya, KK Beach
Further east, up to an hour’s drive on from Galle, you reach the towns of Mirissa and Weligama. There is less development here with modest guesthouses and rustic restaurants with only a few luxury hotel options. Between the months of December and April it’s also one of the best places in the world to see blue and sperm whales make their migratory journeys around the coast of Sri Lanka. Private catamarans can be hired with a crew to go in search of these incredible marine creatures.
Our favourite hotels are: Cape Weligama
Continuing along the coastline, set on rocky promontories and quiet coves, the beaches of Tangalle offer swaying palms, expansive swathes of sandy beach and turquoise waters. This area is un-touristy, peaceful and quiet, but with far less access to local restaurants and bars.
Our favourite hotels are: Amanwella, Anantara Peace Haven, The Last House
North and East Coast Beaches
If planning on holidaying in Sri Lanka between March and September, then the east coast beaches are the best place to go to enjoy the best weather the country has to offer.
Lying close to the town of Trincomalee in the north east of the country, the beaches of Uppuveli and Nilaveli are blissfully unspoilt. Palm trees, golden sands, fishing boats and a distinct lack of crowds are what you’ll find here. This area is good for diving, snorkelling and whale watching.
Our favourite hotel is: Jungle Beach
Also nestled on the east coast the beach of Passekudah is the perfect spot for swimming thanks to the gently sloping seabed and calm waters. This area is developing quite fast with a choice of guest houses and luxury hotels.
Our favourite hotel is: Maalu Maalu