Many people choose to visit Sri Lanka purely to enjoy relaxing on one of the island’s stunning beaches, filled with golden sands, clear turquoise waters and picturesque views. With more than a thousand miles of beautiful beaches to explore, it can be difficult to know where to start! Our guide to the very best beaches in Sri Lanka should help.
Sri Lanka beaches
Located around 126km directly south of Colombo in the Galle district of Sri Lanka, Unawatuna beach is popular among tourists thanks to its golden sands, crystal clear blue waters and range of bars, restaurants, and activities.
At Unawatuna, you can swim, snorkel, do a little diving, fish and take a trip on a glass-bottomed boat. This beach’s shoreline is framed with an abundance of lush coconut palm trees, making the views spectacular wherever you’re situated.
Mirissa is located on the south coast of Sri Lanka. It’s well known for its beautiful sandy and clean beach and choice of seafood eateries. This beach is also an excellent place for whale watching; you may be able to spot Bryde’s, fin and sperm whales as well as the gigantic blue whale. Dolphins are often seen in Marissa’s waters too.
Activity wise, there are some water sports to try, including surfing and snorkeling. Marissa is a fantastic place to relax and sunbathe, and it has a lively atmosphere in the evening, with several bars offering happy hour once the sun goes down.
Another beautiful beach situated on the south coast of Sri Lanka, around 17km north west of Galle is Hikkaduwa beach. It’s a great spot for surfing for beginner and experienced surfers alike. The waters are warm and incredibly clear and there is a coral reef near the main beach where you can see fish and turtles.
Hikkaduwa has a bustling nightlife scene, with plenty of clubs and bars to visit as well as shops, cafes and other interesting sights to see, such as the nearby turtle hatchery, a local conservation project.
If a little R&R is on your to-do list while visiting Sri Lanka, look no further than picturesque Bentota beach, which can be found around 56km north of Galle. Bentota is a quiet, peaceful, unspoiled haven – a sunbather’s paradise. There are some fantastic photo opportunities to be had if you’re willing to wait for sunset at this beach. The waves at Bentota can be rough at times, so take note of any “no swimming” signs should they be in place during your stay here.
Negombo beach is located on the west coast of the island near to Bandaranaike International Airport, making it a good first or last stop to visit if you’re travelling around Sri Lanka.
The beach itself is sandy, long and wide in places and the tides are often strong, so it’s better suited for surfers rather than swimmers. It can be very windy at Negombo, especially during July and August. Spectacular ocean views can be found here, although the beaches further down the coast are better for sunbathing.
Trincomalee is a city situated on the east coast of Sri Lanka around 245 km from Colombo. It overlooks Trincomalee harbour, one of the finest, natural deepwater harbours in the world. The beaches in Trincomalee include Marble beach and Uppuveli beach; each is very beautiful with crystal clear waters and white sands. Arisimale beach is also located in Trincomalee. Its sands are almost rice-like and unusual compared to other beaches in the area.
As far as Sri Lankan beaches go, Trincomalee ticks several boxes. There are many things to do here, including sunbathing, snorkelling, diving, kite surfing and whale watching.
As well as being one of the best spots for dolphin watching in Sri Lanka, Kalpitiya is fast becoming a favourite place for kite surfers too. The sea is calm at Kalpitiya since it’s sheltered from the Indian Ocean by a sandy headland. As well as dolphins, you may also see reef sharks, manta rays and turtles at this beach.
Passikudah is a lovely, clean beach that’s perfect for swimming and taking long walks. With white sands and turquoise waters, you’d think this beach would be overcrowded, but interestingly it’s not. Passikudah is an excellent beach for families and couples.
If you’re looking for a picture-postcard type of beach, Talalla could be it. This beach is more or less pristine – relatively untouched by tourism with glorious white sands, sparkling waters and lush green palms where you may just catch sight of monkeys and iguanas.
Did you know?
You can visit the Kalpitiya, Passikudah, and Talalla beaches as part of our Splendours of Sri Lanka Escorted Tour. This a 30-day motorhoming expedition where you can see the very best of what Sri Lanka has to offer, while your personal driver transports you from one incredible location to another.
Stilt fishing is one of the most traditional fishing methods in Sri Lanka. Look out for the fisherman perched on poles along the shore. The method involves a verticle pole embedded into the seafloor with a cross-section allowing the fisherman to perch a few metres above the water. The method allows the fisherman to limit their shadow on the water which can disturb the sea life.
Sri Lanka beaches are simply unforgettable
A trip to Sri Lanka wouldn’t be complete without experiencing a taste of tropical paradise at one of the country’s outstanding beaches! Whether you prefer to be active or want to enjoy some downtime for a while, Sri Lanka’s beaches offer the best of both worlds.