Lying in the Indian Ocean, this glittering gem of a country really does have everything you could want from a holiday destination; Sri Lanka is a delight to visit.
Home to an incredible array of ancient archaeological sites, beautiful national parks full of wildlife, and of course a plethora of jaw-dropping beaches, traveling around this wonderful island nation promises an unforgettable experience.
Its long coastline has scenic hidden coves, glorious sandy beaches and sleepy little fishing villages for you to explore, while delightful coral reefs and pods of whales wait just offshore.
With such a vast range of incredible sights, it’s is no wonder that Sri Lanka’s tourist industry is booming. Its fabulous beaches are just one of the highlights that it has to offer.
10. Yala Beach
While most people visit Yala to catch a glimpse of elephants in their natural habitat at the majestic Yala National Park, Yala Beach is equally wild and alluring.
Very much off the beaten path, this secluded beach looks very rugged and untouched, and the massive waves that pound the coast mean that it is unsuitable for swimming. However, if you want to immerse yourself in pristine nature and lounge on a glorious beach with barely a soul in sight, then you’ve come to the right place.
Due to its remote location, there aren’t many dining or accommodation options available; this is part of the attraction for many people who stay here. Most guests combine their visit to the beach with a safari around the spectacular scenery in the nearby Yala National Park.
9. Uppuveli Beach
Lying in the northeast of Sri Lanka on the outskirts of Trincomalee, Uppuveli Beach is gorgeous, and ideal if you’re looking for a quiet holiday amidst some incredible scenery.
Its dazzling white sands stretch for over five kilometers, and you’ll find a number of hotels and restaurants hidden away among the palm trees. You can always head into Trincomalee if you want to explore more of Sri Lanka’s rich history and delicious cuisine.
From Uppuveli Beach, there are lots of excursions you can take; many people choose to go dolphin and whale-watching, or even scuba diving and snorkeling along its beautiful coastline.
As this scenic part of Sri Lanka is gaining in popularity every year, it is a good idea to head there now while it is still peaceful and picturesque.
8. Hikkaduwa Beach
A trendy place to head amongst tourists, this delightful beach lies on Sri Lanka’s southwest coastline and looks very untouched and unspoiled, with palm trees leaning over its golden sands.
Due to its popularity, there are now loads of shops, restaurants, and hotels to be found along the beach, as well as lots of great beachside bars and a couple of lively clubs. While there is a very chilled out atmosphere about town during the day, after watching a glorious sunset, many people dance the night away with the Indian Ocean lying right beside them.
As a beautiful coral reef lies just offshore, Hikkaduwa Beach is a great place to visit if you like scuba diving; you’re sure to see some sea turtles gliding gracefully about as you explore the abundant marine life.
7. Hiriketiya Beach
Located on the outskirts of Dikwella, Hiriketiya Beach is protected by a lovely little cove. Consequently, it is a great place to go swimming and snorkeling, as the waters are so tranquil.
The scenery is breathtaking, as trees cluster around its golden sands. Hidden away along the coastline are a plethora of hotels and resorts for visitors to choose from, although the area still feels very undeveloped in comparison with some of Sri Lanka’s other beaches.
Ideal for people looking for a secluded getaway, Hiriketiya Beach’s proximity to some other delightful beaches means that you can explore all along the coast while using the market town of Dikwella as a base.
6. Tangalle Beach
Much quieter and more relaxed than many of the other beaches along Sri Lanka’s southern coast, Tangalle Beach seemingly stretches forever. Its soft sands and spectacular scenery are perfect for long strolls, with the Indian Ocean peacefully lapping at the shore.
With lots of fantastic restaurants, bars, and hotels scattered about, Tangalle has everything you could want in a holiday destination. It is becoming more and more popular by the year, with many visitors choosing to go scuba diving at the nearby coral reefs.
In addition to the charming look and feel to Tangalle Beach, it is also located close to some sights which are well worth checking out, such as the cave temple of Mulkirigala and the beautiful scenery of Rekawa Lagoon.
5. Weligama Beach
Protected by a bay of the same name, Weligama Beach looks stunning with its glistening golden sands and is one of the best places to head to on the south coast.
Just behind the tree-line that preserves the untouched look to the beach are a multitude of restaurants and hotels. As many people here make their livelihoods from fishing, there is lots of delicious, fresh seafood to be had.
The waters of the bay are great for swimming and snorkeling; there is a little reef for you to explore. Because there are some surf breaks and swells, it is also a popular spot for those wanting to learn how to surf.
4. Arugam Bay
If you’re into surfing, there is no place better to visit in Sri Lanka than Arugam Bay. Large waves continually crash along the beautiful palm tree-lined beaches that stretch along most of the surrounding coastline.
Although Arugam Bay is an increasingly popular tourist destination, it is still delightfully undeveloped, so you won’t find many large hotels or resorts. This is in part what makes it so appealing; the local charm still shines through in its little cafes, restaurants, and cabanas.
As well as enjoying the beautiful beaches, there are loads of activities to choose from here. Whether it’s taking a tour of the scenic Pottuvil Lagoon, basking in the sunset at Elephant Rock or going on safari and seeing actual elephants at Yala National Park, Arugam Bay has it all.
3. Bentota Beach
Located on a thin strip of land that separates Bentota River from the Indian Ocean, Bentota Beach is the place to head if you want to be pampered while enjoying one of the nation’s most beautiful beaches.
Nestled around the mouth of the river are upmarket hotels and resorts for visitors to take their pick from, as well as some world-class spas and health centers. While many of these offer all-inclusive packages, it is definitely worth visiting some of the beachside bars and restaurants so you can sample their delicious local fare.
Bentota is also renowned for its brilliant watersport facilities, so you’ll often see people kayaking, jet skiing, and sailing, either on the river or the ocean itself. One of the most popular things to do is embark on a ‘river safari’ up the Bentota; here, you’ll pass through beautiful and remote waterways and may even catch a glimpse of crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks.
2. Unawatuna Beach
Lying just a short distance away from the center of Galle, Unawatuna Beach is one of the best beaches in the country; the sparkling Indian Ocean borders its glorious golden sands.
There is a very chilled out and welcoming atmosphere about the small village that lies alongside the beach. You’ll find a wide range of bars, restaurants, and hotels that cater to all budgets.
One of the most popular beaches in Sri Lanka amongst locals and tourists alike, it has so much going for it, with some fantastic dive sites where you can go scuba diving and snorkeling. If you visit during the right season, you may even find sea turtles nesting along the beach.
On top of all this, you can always explore Galle’s impressive historical sites and cultural landmarks – if you ever manage to tear yourself away from Unawatuna’s spectacular beach.
1. Mirissa Beach
Stunning to behold, Mirissa Beach gently curves around the bay in which it is located; the beautiful palm trees that cluster along its golden sands only add to its picturesque appearance. Its crystal clear waters are ideal for swimming in, and as there is a small coral reef offshore, it is also an excellent spot for snorkeling. In addition to this, some fantastic surfing can also be had at one end of the beach.
Despite the unspoiled feel, there are lots of beachside bars, restaurants, and hotels for guests to choose from; these are hidden away amongst the tree-line. While it is a pretty laid back and relaxing place, there are some lively bars around which provide incredible views of the sun setting over the ocean.
Located on the south coast of Sri Lanka, Mirissa Beach has some fantastic dolphin and whale-watching tours; it is an incredible experience seeing them in their natural habitat.