Let me show you our selection of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka to know which spots you should put on the list for your visit. Caroline and me checked out various spots and took some great photos to convince you to spend some time by the sea in between all the other Highlights in Sri Lanka.
In Cooperation with Caroline (shavethehwales.net) who traveled the country much longer than me I'm able to feature various spots from different parts of the island. The map shows you all the destinations we are going to talk about within this article.
The beach hot spots are mostly located in the south and west of the country but also the east coast has some gems where you are also able to snorkel or go on whale watching expeditions!
Best time to visit Sri Lanka for beach holidays
The great thing: this country is a year-round holiday destination due to the fact that the monsoon is different depending on the area.
If you want to go to the south and west coast of Sri Lanka the best time to visit is from December to April. For the east coast the time between April and September is the best time. To make things easier we added a recommendation when to go to each of the listed beach spots below.
1) Beruwala & BentotaThis very long sand beach is without any doubt one of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka. Beside the fact that it is palm-lined it is a great destionation for families as the water is very shallow here. Moreover Beruwala is located very close to the capital Colombo (only a 2h drive).
Best time to visit Beruwala:
October to mid of April
Things to do in Beruwala & Bentota:
The Masjid-ul-Abrar is the oldest mosque of Sri Lanka // make a river safari at the Bentota river, located south of Beruwala and spot crocodiles, birds and varanidaes // water activities like snorkeling and diving at the nearby reef // turtle research center Kosgoda (a short drive south)
Because I was filming for the Cinnamon group I stayed at the Cinnamon Bey – an amazing resort which is located right next to the beach and is listed as one of the best resorts of the country (5 star). Nevertheless you're able to get a room from 70€. Highly recommended!
Find more accommodation options on the Bentota overview page of Booking.
2) HikkaduwaHikkaduwa is a very popular beach and is situated 100km south of Colombo. Especially during the high season this is the place to go for party lovers as there are many clubs and bars nearby.
Best time to visit Hikkaduwa:
October to mid of April
Things to do in Hikkaduwa:
The nearby reef is a great spot for snorkeling
The Chaaya Tranz is one of the best picks in Hikkaduwa. I was also filming there and enjoyed my time in between in this 4 star resort (rooms from 62€). Lovely resort!
Find more accommodation options on the Hikkaduwa overview page of Booking.
3) Unawatuna & Galle
The old town and the Fort of Galle are part of the UNESCO World Heritage and absolutely worth a visit. Pastel colored houses with wooden patios and small shops selling jewelry and handicrafts. Don't miss out to climb the walls to enjoy the view to the sea and watch sea turtles.
Galle itself doesn't have great beaches – therefore you should go for the short busride to Unawatuna.
Best time to visit Galle:
October to mid of April
Things to do in Galle:
Old town of Galle // climb the lighthouse for the best views // go running at the jungle beach of Unawatuna in the morning and watch the cute animals!
Find an overview of the various options at the Galle overview page of Booking.
4) MirissaThis beach is much calmer than Unawatuna – it is less touristy and offers colorful sunset as well as a beach full of beautiful mussels and stones.
Best time to visit Mirissa:
October to mid of April
Things to do in Mirissa:
Most tourists are coming for whale watching. You can book the expeditions mostly directly at your accommodation. If you are lucky you'll come to see blue whales // Watch the famous Stick-Fishermen doing their job in the evening at the rocks close to the beach
The place to go is called “Family Guest House” which is a very small hostel with a garden and fresh Papaya juice for breakfast. Find more options at the Mirissa overview page of Booking.
5) YalaThe beach of Yala is the only one in this list where you are not able to go for a swim due to dangerous currents. Nevertheless it is a great spot for a walk along the beach and watch the power of the water. Even more exciting: right next door you are able to see elephants, crocodile and even leopards on a safari!
Best time to visit Yala:
April – August (best time for safaris)
Things to do in Yala:
The wildlife safaris are the number one reason for a visit to Yala – beside the animals the huge park is also impressive in matters of its landscape. I recommend staying for several days and going on more than just one safari!
The Cinnamon Wild is the only resort which is located directly within the borders of the national park and has direct access to the beach. Often even elephants are crossing the resort. If you're fancy a 4 star resort which pool and some amazing food you shouldn't miss the Cinnamon Wild (from 88€)!
Find more accommodation options on the Yala overview page of Booking.
6) Arugam BayArugam Bay is a surf beach on the east coast. As it is a predominantly muslim area you should wear long clothes if you're a woman. Regarding the prices Arugam Bay is much more expensive than the beaches on the west coast.
Best time to visit Arugam Bay:
April till September
Things to do in Arugam Bay:
If you walk south along the beach for about an hour you'll get to a lake area with crocodiles and elephant // In the morning you can watch the fisherman doing their work at the beach
Cili Guest House – even though it is not directly at the beach you don't have to deal with crawling animals. Very clean, nicely decorated and WiFi is working great. Find more options at the Arugam Bay overview page of Booking.
7) Uppuveli, Nilaveli & Trincomalee
Uppuveli Beach is situated at the outskirts of Trincomalee and offers wide beaches this is why the majority of the hotels and resorts can be found here. If you manage to get up early you'll be rewarded with a beautiful sunrise at the beach.
Nilaveli is located a bit more out of town and therefore it is much quiter here. You can do excursions to Pigeon Island from both beaches, the coral reef is considered to be the best snorkeling spot in Sri Lanka – a wide range of exotic animals can be found here (even reef sharks!).
Best time to visit Trincomalee:
April till September is the best time but also during the monsoon season you can be lucky. I was there at the beginning of November, only excursions have been quite hard to find or have not been possible.
Things to do in Trincomalee:
Pigeon Island (coral reef, book tours right at the beach) // Whale & Delfin Watching in the bay of Trincomalee // Fort Frederick & Koneswaram temple
The 4 star resort Chaaya Blu is a great option (from 55€) – great food, beautiful location, very good service. They also have an own tour office in the hotel to book your expeditions. Find more options at the Trincomalee overview page of Booking.
Sailing & guided Tours
If you like to see more of Sri Lanka you can easily combine your independent beach holiday with a guided tour. This way you don't need to bother about organization, you get to know more about the country and you can travel with like minded people
After working with them in Peru I highly recommend the tours offered by G Adventures as their philosophy and focus on sustainable travel are in line with my personal values. With many years of expertise you can expect well organized, fun trips in small groups:
- Sailing in Sri Lanka (7 days) – with this tour you combine cultural experiences in Galle & Kudawella with a relaxed sailing trip along the south coast of Sri Lanka. Accommodation, meals, guides, catamaran incl. skipper & crew as well as equipment (kayak, snorkel, SUP) are included.
- Sri Lanka Land & Sea (14 days) – the ultimate package mixing cultural experiences & the highlights in Sri Lankas center with a 1 week sailing trip along the south coast.Accommodation, meals, guides, busses, admissions, catamaran incl. skipper & crew as well as equipment (kayak, snorkel, SUP) are included.
- Sri Lanka & Maldives Adventure (14 days) – the absolute dream trip! With this tour you combine cultural highlights, safari and beach in Sri Lanka with a cruise in paradise. Accommodation, meals, guides, 4×4, Dhone cruise incl. skipper & crew as well as the flight from Colombo to Malé are included.
My video about the best beaches in Sri Lanka
In my latest video series called “the Tropical Escape” I dedicated one episode to the beaches of Sri Lanka and will show you 3 more places to checkout apart from the ones mentioned before:
Preparation & Travel Guides
Make sure to checkout the main article about Backpacking in Sri Lanka where I summed up all information needed to travel this country independently.
If you want to come well prepared the following are great resources for your time in Sri Lanka:
- My Universal Packing List for long-term trips
- WorldNomads – Travel Insurance for normal and active travelers (extension possible)
The Lonely Planet Sri Lanka is the best sold guidebook for Sri Lanka. Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests. It comes also with more than 50 maps. Available for Kindle and as Paperback.
> buy it on Amazon
The rough guide to Sri Lanka
The Rough Guide to Sri Lanka is the most user-friendly travellers' guide to this fascinating country. Each chapter includes travel information, hotel and restaurant listings, sections on food and language to media and sport, and thoughtful background on the environment, politics, culture, music and history.
Are these the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka?
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