Top 15 Paradise Beaches in Sri Lanka

Drone shot of one of the paradise beaches in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, the cute little island country south of the Indian subcontinent, is famous for its beautiful beaches and flourishing national parks. Being an island country, Sri Lanka is blessed with a plethora of pristine beaches. From white-sand or coral reefs, from cliff-beaches to romantic beach, Sri Lanka has it all. Below, we have listed 15 of the best beaches in Sri Lanka, including why you should choose each one.

Editor’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions and always follow the advice of your origin and destination governments before planning any trip.

Unawatuna

Why: For Tranquil Blue Waters (and our personal favorite)

Where: Galle District (Google Maps Location)

Let’s start the list with our personal favorite – Unawatuna Beach. Located south of Colombo, this arc-shaped (or banana-shaped) beach is among the most popular beaches in Sri Lanka. Famous for its turquoise water and bright-golden sand, Unanawatuna beach remains crowded throughout the year, but especially around December-January (the peak holiday season). 

The area surrounding the beautiful banana-shaped beach is full of resorts, both luxury and simple. Additionally, if you want to try out a short hike, there is a Japanese peace Pagoda on the top of a small hill. Spectacular panoramic views of the ocean (from the top) will be your reward for the short hike.

Trivia: Unawatuna beach, along with Hikkaduwa beach (also listed below), was listed among the 12 best beaches in the world by CNN (before the devastating tsunami of 2004).

Bentota

Why: For Beaches And Mangroves

Where: Galle District (Google Maps Location)

Bentota beach in Galle is probably the perfect beach for a family vacation in Sri Lanka. The sea is calmer and the beach is cleaner making it an apt choice for peaceful beach-day-out. The only downside is that you won’t find too many bars and restaurants on the beach.

Since the water is relatively calm here, activities like snorkeling, sailing, deep-sea fishing, water skiing, windsurfing, kayaking/canoeing are common here. There is also a turtle hatchery near the Bentota beach that does a great job in rescuing turtles separated from their families.

Mirissa

Why: For Whale Watching

Where: Matara District (Google Maps Location)

Mirissa beach offers one of the best sunsets that you will watch at any beach in Sri Lanka. If you want to experience the taste of Sri Lanka’s island life topped with swaying palm trees and crystal clear water, look no further than this white sand beach. And once the tides and waves pick up, it also becomes ideal for surfing.

Quite opposite to the calm Bentota beach, Mirissa beach is always in a party mood. And especially during the peak season (December-January), you will find a massive crowd of young travelers grooving to the tunes of various DJs! There are lots of restaurants and bars lined up along the beach, and the nightlife is also pretty active.

Besides, Mirissa beach is also well known for blue-whale watching tours. Many tour providers arrange whale watching tours and the probability of sightings is also very high. 

Tip: if you are traveling in the peak season, make sure to book your whale-watching tour in order to avoid exorbitant prices at the eleventh hour!

Dickwella

Why: For Romantic Staycations

Where: Matara District (Google Maps Location)

Dickwella is the perfect honeymoon beach destination of Sri Lanka and is also one of those places we stayed during our honeymoon in Sri Lanka (along with Colombo and Unawatuna). There is an abundance of alluring resorts along the beach, ranging from luxury resorts to budget hotels.  

Wewurukannala Vihara, a 50 m tall seated Buddha statue (the tallest statue in Sri Lanka), is just a couple of kilometers from the beach.

Related read: How to travel Sri Lanka on a budget

Weligama

Why: For Instagrammable Beaches

Where: Matara District (Google Maps Location)

If you are looking for that perfect beach-photo, Weligama beach is the answer. Known for epic sunset views, Weligama beach is bound to set your Instagram on fire!

Once a small fishermen village, today Weligama boasts of some of the most luxurious resorts on the southern coast of Sri Lanka.

Weligama is also one of those few remaining places where you can still find Sri Lanka’s unique (but, almost extinct) fishing culture – stilt fishing. Stilt-fishing requires immense skill and it is one of the most unique experiences in Sri Lanka. 

Trivia: the word ‘Weligama’ translates to ‘sandy village’ in the local tongue.

Galle

Why: For Postcard-Perfect Colonial Architecture

Where: Galle District (Google Maps Location)

Although there are many beaches in Galle, the most iconic one is the Galle Fort beach. The majority of Sri Lanka’s photos that you see on postcards are taken here with the picturesque Galle Fort in the background. 

Induruwa

Why: For Scenic Beaches and bird-watching

Where: Southern province (Google Maps Location)

Located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Induruwa beach is famous for its golden sand and turquoise waters. In addition to the beautiful beach, you can also explore the neighboring lakes and lagoons, plus a lush green rainforest with the opportunity for watching many migratory birds.

Hikkaduwa

Why: For Untouched Nature’s Bounty

Where: Southern province (Google Maps Location)

Once an untouched and unexplored paradise, Hikkaduwa beach today is a bustling and happening place. And the major reason being – Hikkaduwa beach has it all. From scuba diving to snorkeling, from peaceful swimming to bars and restaurants with live music, Hikkaduwa has something to offer for all types of travelers.

Koggala

Why: For Rare Turtle Species

Where: Southern province (Google Maps Location)

This beautiful white sand beach is home to two rare species of turtles, Loggerheads and Leatherback turtles. There are also a few sea turtle conservation project centers and hatcheries close to the beach which take care and nurture the newborns.

Negombo

Why: For Peace And Relaxation

Where: Western province (Google Maps Location)

Probably the closest beach to Colombo’s international airport, Negombo is highly popular among locals and travelers alike. Being less than 15 km from the airport, you can practically hit the beach within a few minutes of arriving in Sri Lanka. The golden sands of the Negombo beach is ideal for a peaceful stroll in the evening or shop for local souvenirs or even listen to live performances in one of the many bars and restaurants that line up the beach.

But Negombo is not just about the beach. There are plenty of places to visit and interesting things to do in Negombo. Like visiting the Negombo Fish Market (Sri Lanka’s second-largest fish market), the Dutch Fort, Angurukaramulla Temple, St Mary’s Church, and trying a boat ride in the Dutch Canal or canal sailing.

Arugam Bay

Why: For Surfing And Fishing

Where: Ampara District (Google Maps Location)

Arugam Bay is an uber-famous beach, not only in Sri Lanka but also in the world, especially among the surfers. And thus, this beach is full of foreign travelers every year during the surfing season (April to October). At the tip of the bay, also known as Arugam Bay Point, it is said that waves have even risen to a height of 10 meters!

Mount Lavinia

Why: For the complete-beach-experience in Colombo

Where: Colombo District (Google Maps Location)

Mount Lavinia is Colombo’s ‘go-to’ beach for an all-round-beach-experience. The beach remains full of people throughout the day. Early-mornings and evenings are filled with people doing refreshing morning walks or a beautiful evening stroll. There are plenty of restaurants and bars on the beach, some of which host live performances later in the evening.

When we went there on the new year’s eve, the beach had come alive and was rocking with countdown parties and there were fireworks (hosted by the array of five-star and luxury hotels on the beach) at the stroke of midnight. 

Tip: Read our safety tips to travel around Sri Lanka as a solo traveler.

Pasikuda And Kalkudah

Why: For White Sand Beaches

Where: Batticaloa District (Google Maps Location)

Although most of the famous beaches are on the western and southern coast of Sri Lanka, the east coast is also no less. Known for their beautiful white sand and relaxing beach resorts, the tropical beaches of Pasikuda And Kalkudah are quintessential for a beach vacation. Located very close to each other, both these beaches have calm and clear waters making them most suited for swimming and bathing. 

Tip: try to get up early (in fact very early) to catch one of the best sunrises you will ever see. 

Uppuveli

Why: For Delish Lankan Cuisine

Where: Trincomalee District (Google Maps Location)

Another gem of the east coast, visit Uppuveli for a truly remote and unspoiled beach experience. As is the case with any east coast beach, if you wake up early, you can start your day with an exceptionally beautiful sunrise. In addition, you will also see the fishermen return from their day’s catch. Feel free to lend them a hand with their heavy nets. You can enjoy the fresh catch for a delicious sea-food lunch. 

Pigeon Island

Why: For The Best Coral Reefs

Where: ‎Eastern Province (Google Maps Location)

Pigeon Island is a tiny island off the mainland, less than a mile from the coast of Nilaveli. It can be easily reached by a ferry from Nilaveli beach. Pigeon Island calm and clear water, apt for snorkeling and diving. Being one of Sri Lanka’s two Marine National Parks, this island has its own spread of coral reef with colorful fishes. 

Tip: there are no shops or restaurants in major parts of the island, and hence it is advisable to carry your own water and some light snacks.

 

We hope you enjoyed reading this list of best beaches in Sri Lanka and that we have been able to excite you for a beach vacation in Sri Lanka. If you have already been there, do let us know which beach did you enjoy the most on social media.

Which other dream destinations are you dreaming of visiting once the pandemic is over?

This blog-post has been contributed by Mainak and Anuradha from Places In Pixel, a travel and photography blog where they share their travel-planning ‘how-tos’ and travel-photography tips and hacks. They love a little bit of luxury-travel, but on a tight budget. And hence they share the same affordable and sustainable luxury-travel planning tips on their blog.

Contributing members are responsible for the accuracy of content contributed to A World to Travel.

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