The beautiful, tropical island of Sri Lanka is well renown for some of the best beaches in Asia. Golden sandy beaches adorn the coastline, perfect for surfing, family getaway, a romantic couple’s vacation, or honeymoon.
If you’re looking for somewhere different to go, that includes adventure, with relaxation and stunning beaches, then you must include these best beaches in Sri Lanka to your bucket list.
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Best beaches in Sri Lanka
Are you looking to sit back and relax on a nice sandy beach, with palm trees, incredible sunsets, and more? Then here’s just some of the best beaches to do just that in Sri Lanka:
Best beaches on the south coast of Sri Lanka
The south coast of Sri Lanka, is a popular tourist hot spot, with people seeking a glorious sandy beach to soak up the sun.
As you head south of the island, you must include these most beautiful beaches to your Sri Lankan itinerary.
If you’re looking for the best beach destinations in Sri Lanka, then you don’t need to look any further than Mirissa. With its laid back atmosphere, pristine beaches, stunning sunsets and sweet surfing waves, it’s the perfect place for both a relaxing and active beach holiday.
Mirissa Beach is in itself a little gem, lined with lovely restaurants on the beach where you can eat, drink and rent sunbeds. But the beauty of Mirissa’s shores doesn’t end there.
From Mirissa you can easily visit Secret Beach, a pristine beach with clear water and surrounded by palm trees. You can also head over to Weligama Bay, with its perfect surfing waves.
Another popular local gem in Mirissa is Coconut Hill. This little hill is dotted with tall coconut trees, and is one of the most popular sunset spots. Head over to Coconut Hill at the end of the day, and you will find little groups of travellers and locals alike drinking cold beers while enjoying the sunset.
One of my favourite activities to do in Mirissa is snorkel with turtles. You can book the excursion either from your hotel or from shacks on Mirissa Beach. They will pick you up in a tuk-tuk from your accommodation and take you to the turtle spot beach, where you will be able to swim with huge sea turtles.
I was surprised at how close they were to the shore, and how little we had to swim to find them.
Mirissa is also a popular beach party spot. Every night the party is at a different beach bar. If you want to know which one, just follow the light beacon that they shine from the bar!
The one bar a night system makes it easy to socialise, since you will see the same people every night.
I personally loved Mirissa and highly recommend it to everyone travelling to Sri Lanka.
Whether you’re searching for an active holiday, a relaxing beach stay, or a beach party destination, Mirissa has something for everyone.
Mirissa on Sri Lanka’s southern shores is not the island’s best-kept secret, with tourists flocking for the beautiful beach to surf and snorkel, or just hang out with beach bums as well as sea turtles.
Also, the big advantage, once a traveller secret is revealed, are good infrastructures as well as a good choice of dining and sleeping options.
Mirissa offers all of this and more.
On the main road is a wide variety of accommodations for every budget – as well as restaurants for every delicacy or diet. There are ATMs, supermarkets, specialty shops, and souvenir stands. All in a reasonable number and not disturbing the town’s somewhat laidback atmosphere.
A good place to take a break – also from travelling.
In addition, Mirissa also has a very nice beach. It’s not really secluded and all dreamy, but it’s nevertheless perfect for a carefree beach day.
You can go swimming and snorkeling as well as surfing or racing around on a jetski. If you want to relax and read a book in the shade, you can rent a beach chair with a parasol.
If you need a snack or something to drink, the next small beach bar is just a stones throw away.
The epitome of a beach vacation.
If you’re up to exploring the area, Mirissa is the perfect gateway: Centrally located between Mathara and the world-famous walled town of Galle, just minutes from many other beautiful beaches.
Whether you opt for a tuk-tuk or the local bus – or you’re brave enough to rent and ride a scooter – you’ll reach Weligama and even Midigama within minutes. All of these beaches are scenic, however, each of them is a bit different and caters to various needs.
No matter if you want to snorkel with turtles in the calm waters of Turtle Bay or ride the highest waves at Coconut Beach and Midigama – at night, you’ll go to bed salt on your skin, joy in your heart, and a big smile on your freshly tanned face.
By Renata of Bye:Myself
I’ve visited Sri Lanka several times and most recently I spent 30 days in Sri Lanka, driving around the country, exploring as much as I could.
So I’d say by now I’ve seen the majority of Sri Lanka’s beaches and Tangalle is definitely one of my favorites.
Tangalle is one of the largest towns in Sri Lanka’s southern provinces, but you really go here for the beaches.
Tangalle boasts several beautiful bays, starting at Goyambokka in the west, all the way to Tangalle Beach north-east of the center of town.
I would recommend checking out Tangalle Beach, but also definitely Goyambokka Beach, which is a cute small cove with a few simple but nice cafés/restaurants right on the beach.
Although Tangalle does cater to tourists it just feels more laid back and less taken over by tourists than Unawatuna, Hikkaduwa, and Mirissa.
Dickwella Beach seems content to remain out of the spotlight. Nowhere near as popular as other sandy destinations on the gorgeous south-west coast of Sri Lanka, this one dashes between the rocky headlands just over 20 clicks from the bustling transport hub of Matara.
It’s a low-key, laid-back strand that runs for over a kilometre from end to end. Behind, pockets of lanky palm trees clutch clusters of coconuts, occasionally giving way to cheap and cheerful guesthouses with come-laze-in-me hammocks.
Even during the high season – which typically runs from November to April in this corner of the island – there’s a chance you’ll be the only soul on the shoreline at Dickwella. That leaves oodles of space to lay out your towel, do a little yoga practice, or top up the tan.
The ocean is also famously empty. Most of the board riders will be over on Hiriketiya Beach just around the headland, so you should have the chest-high rollers all to yourself.
Be sure to visit Verse Collective at the east end of the beach. A cool and breezy garden there opens between the palm trees to reveal a concrete halfpipe and a welcoming café. It’s a surfer-skater bar with tasty organic breakfasts and perhaps the best coffee in the region.
For lunch, push into Dickwella town, where the uber-cheap Sri Lankan buffets of Jayantha Restaurant (think dals, samosas, and okra masalas) can be taken away.
Relax and Surf at Hiriketiya Beach
No Sri Lanka travel itinerary is complete without a few days at Hiriketiya beach. This small, yet stunning stretch of sand delivers a relaxed and intimate feel to your Sri Lanka beach experience. From the intimate cove to the excellent surfing this beach is a true slice of paradise.
Some people opt to stay right on the cove, however the accommodation can be noisy and filled with partiers. For a quiet stay with views of the water, stay on the hill just on the west side of the cove.
One of the best parts of Hiriketiya beach is the excellent surfing. With waves built for beginners and intermediates alike, you can learn to surf while you relax in paradise.
You’ll find surfboards to rent across the beach for around $5 US for a half day. Lessons cost a bit more, but are truly worth it if you’re new to surfing. Just be sure to wear water socks, since sea urchins can dot the area where the waves are.
Towards the center of the cove you’ll find ample waters for swimming. The waves here are generally much calmer and more suited for swimming. In the evenings you’ll even see locals with their families playing in the sand.
Arguably the best thing to do at Hiriketiya beach is to rent a motor bike and explore the nearby areas.
Dikwella Beach, just a 5-minute drive (or a hot 15-minute walk), boasts some of the best sunsets in Sri Lanka. Relax by the water and enjoy this local hot spot. Alternatively, you can drive east towards the very quiet, and very local Blue Beach, Nilwella Harbor, and Kudawelle Beach.
Further up the coast you’ll reach Tangalle where the scenery is beautiful, but the currents are too strong to swim.
Hirikiteya beach is one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka for surfing, exploring and relaxing along the coast. So pack your swimsuit and sense of adventure for an unforgettable Sri Lankan beach getaway.
By Meg Atteberry of Fox in the Forest
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 Unawantuna, while 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 neighboring 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 makes this a convenient visit and a great option when looking for a quiet beach to escape to for an afternoon.
Best Beaches on the West Coast of Sri Lanka
Only a short jaunt from the airport or the capital are these beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka along the east coast:
This might be the first or last beach you visit on your trip to Sri Lanka, due to it’s close prximity to the main international airport of Sri Lanka, Bandaranaike.
The beaches of Negombo are well known by locals, but still not very popular among tourists which make it worth a visit and a stay for a few days.
We loved the place, it’s comfortable, with golden sandy beaches. The palms trees all around make you believe to be in a paradise on earth.
The locals are friendly and because it is a big city, you will find everything you need to enjoy your stay a bit more.
The wide choice of accommodation and relaxing places, make Negombo a place to keep in mind for a chill holiday, with a sea breeze and quiet.
What makes this place unique, it’s maybe the capacity to adapt to your need, without need you to adapt to the location.
Negombo ideal for couples, families or just backpackers which are going for an insane adventure in wild Sri Lanka. This area of Sri Lanka is often associated with Surfer adventures, because of the waves hitting hard against the coast.
The ideal season to visit for water sports is at the end of August, just before the monsoon season.
What makes this place unforgettable, it’s the sunset. In Negombo, you can enjoy the most beautiful sunset on the Ocean.
Ending your trip here in Sri Lanka will give you the perfect memories to take back home.
The incredible hotels and leisure structures can restore your mind and body before heading back to the routine.
Negombo will be the perfect spot to enjoy a vacation in Sri Lanka. Check out Negombo Beach and Brown Beach, with continuing gold sandy stretches of beach and many hotels, restaurants and beach bars looking over the sea.
If you want to go wild, head to Morowala Beach formed mostly from rocks, from the wind and waves.
If you are staying in Negombo for a few days, it is worth waking up early for sunrise. Enjoy the first light of a new day. If you are lucky you will also see the fisherman’s boats pushing off the beach or coming back.
There is plenty to do in Negombo, from leisure activities, a tour in the lagoon, to the Religious ceremony around the city.
Situated along the south coast of Sri Lanka, you’ll find the small beach town of Hikkaduwa. Once the central hub of Sri Lanka’s beach scene, Hikkaduwa Beach was severely damaged by the 2004 tsunami. Today however, the beach and the town itself have been cleaned up and largely rebuilt.
The beautiful beach boats great swimming and surf, warm water, and plenty of adventure. The welcoming town continues to draw in visitors from around the world with its welcoming atmosphere, fresh seafood, cozy, tea shops, and beautiful accommodations.
If you’re an adventure and sports lover, Hikkaduwa Beach has got you covered.
The beach offers great waves for both swimming and surfing. Snorkelling is a great way to explore the beach’s coral reef. You can fish among the coral, fish, and sea turtles. There are also glass-bottom boat tours and catamaran snorkeling tours that can easily be taken from the beach.
If you’ve ever wanted to try surfing, Hikkaduwa is a fantastic location to start off. The beach has been a popular surf spot since the early 1970s, and continues to attract locals and tourists alike.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the massive sea turtles that live at Hikkaduwa Beach. You’ll often see them spending time in the waters by the shore of town. The sea turtles generally aren’t afraid of humans, and will often come swimming right up to you!
We recommend checking out a spot in front of the Hikka Tranz Cinnamon Hotel – here you will see signs about the turtles and will have the best chances of spotting them. If you visit between the months of January and April, check out the small turtle hatchery at Hikkaduwa Beach. You might be lucky enough to witness some baby turtles hatching and be released into the ocean!
Courtesy of Natasha from the Great Ocean Road Collective.
Beachside activities to do in Sri Lanka
Looking for an adventure in Sri Lanka? Then check out these bestselling beachside activities to do in Sri Lanka.
Things to see and do on a trip to Sri Lanka
After a long trip, you’ll want to spend time at a golden sandy beach, but there’s also other things to do in Sri Lanka. Here are some suggestions on things to see and do in Sri Lanka, to help you create your Sri Lankan itinerary:
What to Pack for a beach holiday
Whether you have a beach holiday planned in Sri Lanka, or just a day beside the seaside, you’ll need to pack the essentials for you and the family for your beach trip.
Don’t worry, we have it covered in this essential packing check list for a beach holiday. We also include a free packing check list, so you’ll never miss a thing.
We have a fantastic selection of the best beaches to visit in Sri Lanka, some of them we have visited, while others, we are yet to discover.
The most popular regions of Sri Lanka for the best beaches is the south and west coast. But the north and east coast are said to have some of the best beaches too, that are secluded and less touristy. Shams has visit Trincomalee and has only great memories of her visit. She has always promised to take me one day.
We would also love to get off the beaten path and visit Jafna. Certainly not as many tourist venture to the north of the island, so it would be a great opportunity for both of us to learn more about the different cultures and relax on a beach in the north and east.
Whether you head north of south, after a long flight, sometimes this is all you can possibly think about, laying back on a hot sandy beach and resting up before exploring the other amazing things Sri Lanka has to offer.
And these perfectly picked best beaches in Sri Lanka, will kick start your holiday and ideal for anyone.
Continue your Sri Lankan travel planning, with these useful posts:
- Places to eat in Colombo
- Best places to stay in Colombo
- What to pack in your beach bag
- How to travel on a budget
- Sinhala New Year celebrations
- Best places to visit in Sri Lanka
- Yala National Park in Sri Lanka
- Staple food of Sri Lanka
- Temple do’s & Don’ts
- Travel guide to Sri Lanka