Sri Lanka is famous, among other reasons, for its beautiful palm-lined tropical beaches, drawing beach lovers, surfers and yoga fanatics from all over the world. Many of these best beaches in Sri Lanka can be found in the South or along the east coast.
I visited many beautiful Sri Lankan beaches during my recent trip to Sri Lanka but alas, time did not allow me to visit them all. So I have called upon my travel writing colleagues to ask them about their own favourites. I asked ‘which are the best beaches in Sri Lanka?’ And below are some of their awesome suggestions…
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What you can expect from this article...
- 1 The Beast Beaches in Sri Lanka
- 2 Frequently asked questions about visiting the beaches in Sri Lanka?
The Beast Beaches in Sri Lanka
Best Beaches on Sri Lanka’s South Coast
Dalawella Beach, about 3km from popular Unawatuna, is one of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka. The beautiful soft white sand, the emerald water, the impressive rock formations and the sloping palm trees create a Sri Lankan beach vista that would be typical of a Sri Lankan post card.
Many people are drawn to Dalawella beach to capture an iconic photo of the infamous palm tree swing at sunset, popular with Instagrammers. For this reason, many people visit just for a few hours before sunset which means that during the day, this beautiful beach is often quiet and peaceful with just a handful of beach restaurants and guesthouses.
I’d recommend spending a few days here. Camp out in a beach hut and wake up to the sound of crashing waves. Enjoy the lagoon for safe swimming keeping an eye out for turtles, commonly seen. Then take a day trip to Galle, a Dutch fort where you’ll find beautiful sunsets, delicious restaurants and the best shops for finding souvenirs.
Secret Beach Mirissa
The Secret Beach in Mirissa is possibly the worst kept secret ever! But the 20 minute short hike to reach it is enough to put off the hoardes of tourists so if you come at the right time, there will be barely anyone else here.
Thanks to a wall of rock creating a lagoon, it is safe to swim at Secret Beach. Given that many beaches in Sri Lanka have ferocious waves, this makes it one f the best beaches in Sri Lanka for swimming.
It is also one of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka with it’s little palm lined coves.
You won’t find any shops here so make sure you bring your sunscreen with you! But there is a little restaurant with a toilet and another stall hiring deck chairs and snorkels.
The Secret Beach can be tricky to find but you’ll find detailed directions in my Secret Beach Mirissa guide.
By Christine of Dontforgettomove.com
Sri Lanka is home to many beautiful beaches, but one of our absolute favourites is Tangalle. This gorgeous strip of coastline is located in southern Sri Lanka.
Tangalle beach has soft, pinkish sand, lined with palm trees leaning over the deep blue water. Unfortunately, it’s not recommended to swim in the water along most of the beach, but there is a small protected bay where it’s safe to swim due to a nearby reef.
There isn’t a ton to do at the beach itself, but its quiet, peaceful atmosphere is what made us fall in love with it during our Sri Lanka itinerary. Tangalle is a perfect beach to have an afternoon walk on the soft sand, lay down a blanket and relax with a good book, and wrap up your day with a lovely sunset over the water. It’s picturesque tropical landscape also make it an ideal place for some beach photography.
Tangalle is historically a fishing village, but the city’s incredible beach has turned this area into a small tourist hub. Although there are a few resorts that line the beach, we still felt like we had the place all to ourselves.
If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of homestays in the area of Medaketiya for as little as $10/night. If you’re happy to splurge, you can’t go wrong with the Anantara Peace Haven, with its stunning rooms right on the water starting at $200. December to March is typically the best time to visit Sri Lanka’s southern coast.
By Daniel of DestinationlessTravel.com
Polhena Beach is a little known beach located around a 20-minute drive from Mirissa on Sri Lanka’s Southern coast.
The beach itself is amazing for a few reasons. For one, the entire beach is protected by a reef which means it’s sheltered from some of the harsh swells that hit the area.
But another reason is because of the turtles. Many people think the only place to swim with sea turtles on Sri Lanka’s southern coast is in Hikkaduwa. But this isn’t true as you can swim with even more turtles at Polhena Beach!
The turtles use this reef-protected bay to feed and enjoy the calm waters. These same turtles also lay their eggs on the beach, however, due to poaching, these eggs are moved to a hatchery for protection. Luckily the hatchery is also located on the beach and if you’re lucky you may even see
some hatch and be released!
At Polhena Beach you can rent snorkelling gear for 400 rupees and swim with the turtles. But, please be aware that it is illegal to touch or feed the turtles.
Many visitors simply go on a day trip to Polhena Beach from Mirissa but there are actually many hotels near the beach so you could spend a night or two here if you wanted.
Also located on the beach is one restaurant. Here you can enjoy a drink or fill up after a day of swimming with turtles!
By Stefan and Sebastien of Nomadicboys.com
Mirissa beach was our favourite in Sri Lanka. It’s clean, beautiful and a great place to chill out. Whilst most people come here for the whale watching tours (which are fantastic), this means the beach is often overlooked, so will lack the large crowds that other popular beaches around south Sri Lanka suffer from.
The sunsets in the evening at Mirissa are also a massive highlight – it was one of the most romantic moments we shared together in our big Sri Lanka trip.
The best time to visit is between November to around April/May. The monsoon takes over the rest of the year, so the waters become particularly choppy and rough. This is also the ideal time to come for the whale watching tours.
In terms of places to stay, we loved the Imagine Villa boutique hotel, which is located along a long deserted beach between Mirissa and Matara. For budget travellers, check out Poppies Guesthouse, located on the main strip of Mirissa, minutes walking distance to the main beach.
Other than the beach, the most popular thing to do in Mirissa is a whale watching tour. We recommend seeking out a reputable company that abides by the requirements of the WDCS (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society), for example, not getting too close to the whales with the boats so as not to stress them.
Raja & the Whales is an example of one (we found it in Lonely Planet and also on TripAdvisor). We also saw lots of turtles and dolphins on our whale watching tour, but the main highlight, of course, was seeing two beautiful blue whales coming up for air then diving back down.
By Rai of www.araioflight.com
I stumbled across Koggala beach without having much of a plan of visiting at all. This quiet beach located along Sri Lanka’s southern coastline is only a couple minutes away from Galle and Unawatuna, whilst still far enough to retain the serenity of the region. In comparison, it is relatively uncluttered and unexplored as a tourist destination.
This long wide stretch of white sand offers a beautiful setting for sunset walks or simply relaxing along the ocean. Be careful when swimming as the water can be rough in this area. For better swimming conditions, I would recommend visiting one of the neighbouring beaches instead.
Apart from a visit to the beach, there are a handful of options worth visiting in the area. Koggala lake is a vast freshwater lagoon that can be enjoyed by joining a boat tour.
It is also the birthplace of Sri Lankan author Martin Wickramasinghe and the museum by the same name dedicated to his arts in the town is another option.
There are not many hotels located along this beach, but its close proximity to other beach towns makes this a convenient place to visit.
Maria of inbetweenlattes.com
Silent Beach is located in Tangalle, an up-and-coming beach town in the south of Sri Lanka. It is definitely the most picturesque beach we have seen and we kept going back over and over again for sunbathing and swimming. The waters are turquoise blue and the sand is white and soft… It is a true paradise.
There is an awesome Instagrammable swing that is set up towards the far end of the beach will keep you entertained for hours on end. There are no bars here so be sure to bring your own snacks/drinks.
The best time to visit Silent Beach is during the high season (from November to April), known for its low rainfall and calm seas.
For the ultimate luxury experience, you can’t beat staying at 5-star resort Amanwella Resort with direct access to Silent Beach. If you’re a budget traveller like myself, I recommend Grand Residence in Goyambokka. It is a small family run guest house with comfortable facilities and convenient location (just 10 minutes away from Silent Beach on foot).
If you’re heading to South Sri Lanka, don’t miss this hidden gem in Tangalle!
By Penny of globetrove.com
We placed Unawatuna on our itinerary largely because we wanted to visit Galle Fort and did not want to stay in a city. It was rather ironic that we landed up falling in love with Unawatuna beach rather quickly and we spent one of our most memorable days in Sri Lanka just lazing and enjoying the ambience there.
Located on the south coast of Sri Lanka, Unawatuna is a popular destination as people head further south. Some of the things that I loved about the beach was the expanse of white sand, the clear water and the numerous options where you could just chill and eat.
While a number of people do try to catch a tan, we found the sun blistering hot and preferred to sit in the shade and sip on some locally made alcoholic beverages. Shawn couldn’t resist jumping in for a swim every now and then to cool off.
Another great thing about Unawatuna beach is the fact that there is a lot of accommodation available both on the beachand very close by. Budget accommodation is located at walking distance away so you don’t really need to rent a bike if you just want to head to the sandy shores.
Nafisa of myownwaytotravel.com
For those are going for a safari tour at Yala National Park, Yala Beach an additional attraction. Yala beach is a beautiful golden sandy beach inside this second largest national park in Sri Lanka.
Yala National Park is just 59.8 km away from Hambantota District, and the closest town is Tissamaharama. Staying at a hotel or beach resort near these destinations is a great way to explore Yala Beach as well as Yala National Park.
Between the months from February to June is the best time to visit Yala Beach.
The best part of the Yala Beach is the pristine beauty of the Indian Ocean and the remote view of Patanangala Rock which locally known as Elephant Rock.
At Yala beach, you can enjoy a beach walk along the shore and you can also go swimming. The entire beach area is very picturesque, and not very crowded, especially if you visit Yala Beach in the early morning. Why not enjoy a packed breakfast whilst enjoying the beach view?
Best beach on the West coast of Sri Lanka
By Hayley of msblissness.com
As part of our 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary, we recently spent a few days in Bentota. Located only 62 km south of Colombo, Bentota is not far from the capital, but it’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
It’s a beautiful little resort town with a pristine golden sand beach that stretches for miles down the coast.
There is both a beachside and riverside in Bentota. The riverside is a bit more rural, but you can find some lovely guesthouses along the river. If you prefer to stay on the beach, there are numerous hotels scattered all along the Bentota beach front.
The beach itself is one of the most beautiful in all of Sri Lanka. The best part is that it’s not half as crowded as the beaches in the South of Sri Lanka – like Unawatuna and Mirissa. The Bentota beach was the most serene and peaceful that we came across during our trip.
Backed by the Bentota lagoon, there’s also an array of water sports that you can do here. These include; water skiing, snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing, and fishing.
If you’re looking for a mix between peace and tranquillity and adventure, then Bentota is perfect!
Best Beaches on Sri Lanka’s East Coast
By Bradley of DreamBigTravelFar.com
After discovering most of the best beaches Sri Lanka has to offer, I have to say that Trincomalee was one of my favourites. This is despite the fact that there’s nowhere to surf here, which many other beaches in Sri Lanka allow for. Instead, Trincomalee was so wonderful, simply because it’s a phenomenal spot to relax.
The main beach stretches for hundreds of metres along the east coast of Sri Lanka and is made of golden sand all along. We stayed in a small homestay just off from the main beach but spent most of our days there relaxing at the beach bars. Perhaps the best being Fernandos.
As well as this, there’s plenty of other things to do near Trincomalee beach. The most popular being snorkelling and diving over at nearby Pigeon Island. Many people choose to get their driving licenses in Trincomalee and there are a number of companies offering this service. At certain times of the year, you can even go whale watching in Trincomalee!
So aside from awesome weather, clean beaches and warm blue seas, Trincomalee has so much else to offer.
By Dave of JonesAroundTheWorld.com
During my first trip to Sri Lanka, I had heard amazing stories from fellow travellers about this small beach town called Arugam Bay on the east coast of the country. While it wasn’t on my original itinerary, I scheduled it in for a few days and made my way to its sandy shores.
I had planned on a short visit, but absolutely fell in love with it’s relaxing vibe, surf atmosphere and beach parties, that I ended up staying for 10 days!
Arugam Bay is the surfing capital of Sri Lanka, but it really is a must visit even if you aren’t into surfing. While the beach itself isn’t that mesmerizing, the entire region is beautiful, and there are lots of nearby beaches and surfing points to keep you busy for a while.
Also, be sure to be there on a Saturday night, as there’s a legendary beach party that lasts until sunrise (if you’re up for it), and it’s one of my personal favourite parties in Asia!
Check out this article about the best things to do in Arugam Bay, and definitely make sure you make it here during your time in Sri Lanka! It’s got delicious food, lots of yoga studios, and one of the best backpacker vibes you’ll find in the entire country!
Frequently asked questions about visiting the beaches in Sri Lanka?
Is it safe to swim in the ocean?
Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean – famous for it’s fercious surf! This makes it an amazing destination for surfers but it can be a little dicey at times for swimmers.
That said, on many beaches there are peaceful lagoons created by rock and reef. Make sure you use a snorkel mask and try to spot some turtles!
When is the best time of year to visit the best beaches in Sri Lanka?
If you are visiting the South beaches, try to visit between December and March. The rainy season starts in April on the south coast. That said, i visited in early April and had non-stop sunshine.
Can I wear a bikini on the beaches in Sri Lanka?
Yes bikini’s are fine on the beaches. However, the culture in Sri Lanka is fairly conservative so bikinis which actually cover some skin are better! Avoid thong bikinis and do not sunbathe topless.
What activities can I do when I visit Sri Lanka’s beaches?
There are so many reasons to visit Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches beyond the scenery and sunbathing! Popular beach activities include surfing, yoga retreats, snorkelling, diving, sailing and whale watching.
Sri Lanka has some fantastic spots for snorkelling and diving and there’s a good chance of seeing endangered sea turtles. Sri Lanka is one of the best places to see the mighty Blue Whale – up to 30metres long and the size of a double-decker bus! Your best chance to see Blue Whales is by taking a whale watching tour from Mirissa.
Sri Lanka’s stunning south coast and the islands in the North make for great sailing destinations so you could consider taking a multi-day sailing trip. After my Sri Lanka trip, I hopped over to The Maldives and did a Maldives sailing trip with G Adventures. They offer similar sailing trips in Sri Lanka and I’d personally love to go back and try one out!
If diving is more your thing, how about taking a Liveaboard dive trip around Sri Lanka’s best reefs and dive points?
For more inspiration for things to do in Sri Lanka, check out these posts…
- 57 Awesome things to do in Sri Lanka
- 14 Fab things to do in Mirissa
- A Perfect 10 day Sri Lanka itinerary – for beach, safari, forest and culture
- Visiting Dalawella Beach
- Visiting Secret Beach in Mirissa
- Whale watching in Mirissa
- Yala National Park Safari guide
So which of these 12 best beaches in Sri Lanka is your favourite?
Hopefully, these beautiful beaches have helped to inspire you to travel to Sri Lanka. It really is the most wonderful country, with so much to offer. Not only does Sri Lanka have the best beaches, but it also has beautiful highlands and tea plantations, safari parks, fascinating temples, the friendliest of people and the tastiest of food! You won’t regret spending time in beautiful Sri Lanka…
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