Explore the South Coast in a Day
Sri Lanka is a holiday destination that appeals to lovers of history, culture and natural wildlife, but it is probably best known for its amazing beach life. From surf towns to beach parties, it’s fairly easy to move between the neighbouring beaches that line the island’s southern coast. Here’s a guide to exploring Sri Lanka’s south coast in a single day.
Begin your journey in the city of Galle, the administrative capital of the Southern Province that is known for the rustic charm of its old town, and for the historic Galle Fort. It’s easy to lose yourself exploring the cobbled streets of the town, wandering through the unique boutique stores that hawk their wares at passers-by. The architecture is a harmonious blend of past and present, and there are several landmarks you can easily spend a day exploring – if you weren’t planning to travel through the rest of Sri Lanka’s major southern towns, that is.
The Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and was originally built by the Portuguese in the 16th century before being fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century. It is the largest fortress to have been built by European occupiers in Asia, and is home to historic landmarks such as the Galle Fort Lighthouse, Meeran Mosque, the Groote Kerk and the Dutch Hospital. Try and spend an hour or two soaking up the history and culture that is practically seeping out of the cracks of the Fort…in fact, spend most of the morning here before packing up to head to your next destination.
Next stop: Unawatuna Beach! Located about a 15-minute drive away from Galle, this beach is the first stop in a chain of beach visits – think of it this adventure as a pub crawl, but with beaches instead of bars! The waters at Unawatuna Beach offer great swimming opportunities, and there are plenty of sunbeds scattered along the shore for beach-goers to rent! At the western end of this banana-shaped stretch of sand, you’ll find a little pagoda with a statue of Buddha that overlooks the bay.
There a plenty of beach-front restaurants to choose from here, generally featuring a menu of freshly caught seafood! Settle in for lunch and an afternoon of relaxing on the beach – and remember, the strength of the sun’s UV rays in Sri Lanka is pretty high, so make sure that you top up your sunscreen!
Head back on the road for ten more minutes to reach Wijaya Beach, located less than two kilometres away. Try and get here by sunset, because here you’ll find that Instagram-famous beach swing that has been making the rounds on social media. Hop on for a quick photo, and let’s continue on to your final destination.
This next stop is a bit farther away than the others, but it’s also your final stop on this beach tour. Situated around 28 kilometres away from Wijaya Beach, it will take you around 40 minutes to get here by car – but it’s worth the drive! The large beach at Mirissa features soothing waves that lap at its shores, and several small restaurants and cafes that you can head to for a nice, cool drink. After the sun goes down, these little restaurants put out tables and lanterns on the beach to light up the shores, offering a variety of fresh cooked seafood for you to enjoy!
After a good night’s rest, the fun doesn’t have to end. Mirissa is known as one of Sri Lanka’s best whale-watching and dolphin-watching locations, so you can head out the next day to book a tour of one of the passenger boats. Hopefully, you’ll be able to spot a blue whale, which is the largest animal in the world. Pro-tip: The best time of year to visit the south coast beaches and take advantage of whale-watching weather is between the months of December and March.