Paradise Island, The Pearl of The Indian Ocean, The Teardrop of India. Whatever you want to call it, there is no denying that visiting this magical island is like living in a dream. Until recently, Sri Lanka was a hidden treasure compared to the more widely trodden paths throughout the rest of Asia. However, all that is changing as the world begins to discover this alluring island.
Tours to Sri Lanka are becoming a popular way to experience the variety this island has to offer. From verdant rainforests, to ancient cities, to highland mountain ranges. One of the most popular attractions (not surprisingly) are the beaches in Sri Lanka. Families, couples and solo travellers come from all over the world to tread in the soft sand, swim in the turquoise oceans and ride the famous waves. With so many beaches in Sri Lanka to choose from, one of the most memorable experiences can be to search for your perfect one. Be warned, there are a lot to choose from, and all of them are utter paradise! Here’s our list of favourites to get you going.
A small cove of sand protected by the coral reef, with numerous palm trees creeping up the coast. These calm waters are ideal for swimming and snorkelling with regular turtle sightings as they pop up for air. If you’d like to see some more wildlife, hop on a boat safari to the nearby Nilwala Ganga where you can spot crocodiles, fish, monkeys and birds whilst drifting through the sleepy villages that meet the river.
Unawatuna is one of the most popular beaches in Sri Lanka, and it’s not hard to see why. With its famously calm waters, it makes for a great base for snorkelling, scuba diving and even whale shark spotting! Visit the nearby Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya – a quiet Buddhist rock temple that has unusually small crowds Sri Lanka.
Mirissa is the place to go if you want to do some whale watching. Boats depart daily from the beach and have a great success rate for spotting whales and schools of dolphins, often seeing at least a few sightings of each on your trip. The beach of Mirissa is a wide, vast expanse of sand with lots of restaurants serving fresh fish currys and bars coming alive in the evenings.
Hikkaduwa is a backpackers paradise and one of the most fun beaches in Sri Lanka. Popular for casual surfers, foodies and people who just want to lay back and tan. The area has become a popular place to stay with the younger crowd due to the variety of hotels, guesthouses and nightlife on offer. The town has a long stretch of road running parallel to the coast which is lined with shops selling jewellery, gemstones and surf-wear. At night, the beach bars take it in turn to host the evenings party where residents flock to drink and dance into the early hours.
Arugam Bay is consistently voted as Sri Lanka’s best surf spot due to the famous point break. The crescent shaped beach is brimming with locals offering surfing lessons, boards and equipment. The sound of music drifting from the bars to the beach, adds to the unique laid back, party loving vibe you won’t find anywhere else on the island. If you head to this area, consider going down to Whiskey Point – it’s famous for parties. Great music, dancing and partying until dawn happens here every weekend – without fail! Definitely the best beaches in Sri Lanka for surfing fun!
Perhaps one of the lesser known beaches compared to Arugam Bay and Hikkaduwa, due to its lack of party scene. Tangalle is a vast, open stretch of beach that continues for as long as your eye can see. Virtually empty apart from the odd timbered beach restaurant serving freshly caught fish and coconut cocktails. A great place to relax away from the busy areas of Sri Lanka so you can finally get around to reading that book whilst lazing about in the sun.
Uppuveli, just north of Trinco is the classic, white sand beach you find on many Sri Lankan postcards. With Palm lined resorts dotted along the coastline and sleepy villages in between beaches, this is a great place to sample authentic cuisine and mingle with the ever-welcoming locals. Pigeon Island is a short boat trip from Uppuveli, which is fast becoming a popular destination for Sri Lanka holidays. A fantastic spot for snorkelling off the shore and diving with sea life.
Bentota is a hot spot for family holidays to Sri Lanka. The beach is home to a large collection of resorts that offer traditional ayurvedic treatments, massages and spa days. With the shallow waters around this beach, it’s a great place for families and young children. Bentota has a range of water sports activities to choose from like sailing, windsurfing and even boat safaris!
Dickwella is the perfect spot for a bit of romance and a popular destination for honeymooners. It has lots of secluded coves, calm waters and immaculate beaches to chose from. An amazing spot for snorkelling around the coral reef that peaks just below the turquoise surface. The Dickwella area is famous for still practicing traditional lace making – which you can learn from many of the locals that are more than happy to chat with you on the beach.
Passekudah and Kalkudah
These back-to-back beaches are definitely ones to watch out for as Passekudah beach is quickly filling up with concrete foundations for luxury resorts. Passikudah Bay is one of the best known reefs in the east, with shallow waters and coral scattered along the shoreline. One of the best beaches in Sri Lanka for swimming! Kalkudah is just 4km north of Passekudah. Equally as beautiful and almost completely deserted of tourists, however it’s a great beach to view the famous stilt fishermen waiting for their daily catch.
Tucan Travel offer several different holidays to Sri Lanka. Taking a stress-free organised tour is a great way to beach-hop around the island! If you’re just looking for a quick break, the Sri Lanka one week holiday will take you around the highlights of the island. If you’re lucky enough to have more time the Jewels of Sri Lanka tour lasts 15 days and will give you a more in depth tour of Sri Lanka, including visiting a few more beach towns such as Unawatuna and includes the famous train journey to Ella!
Roxy is part of the marketing team for Tucan Travel. She has been travelling solo for years, predominantly around Asia, Indonesia and Europe. You can find her on LinkedIn here.