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The Essential Beach Guide for Sri Lanka

Nestled in the heart of the Indian Ocean, the tropical island of Sri Lanka is home to an abundance of stunning beaches. The turquoise blue waters, sandy white beaches, and tropical vibes create the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Surrounded by an extensive stretch of coastline, Sri Lanka is a year-round beach destination. Whenever you visit, you can be assured of finding a golden beach, feeling the soft sand between your toes and the warm sun on your face.

The beaches of Sri Lanka have something to offer everyone, from families and honeymooners to adrenaline junkies. The southern and eastern coasts are tourist hotspots that are easily accessible and offer a range of water sports and fun activities. Alternatively, if you are on the lookout for an off-the-beaten-path experience, you could make your way to some lesser-known beach destinations.

So come, immerse yourself in the magic of the sun-kissed shores and beach-hop your way around our island nation.

What are the best south coast beaches in Sri Lanka?

The south coast of Sri Lanka is a popular beach destination among travellers. Blessed with one beach town after another, it’s the ideal region to unwind and relax or, better yet, to engage in some fun beach activities. The best time to visit the south coast beaches is December to March.

Here’s a list of our favourite beaches in the south of Sri Lanka.

Unawatuna Bay

Unawatuna is a popular hotspot, perfect for a refreshing ocean dip, snorkelling around vibrant coral reefs, or simply basking in the sun. Situated approximately 6km from the city of Galle, Unawatuna boasts a natural coral reef that creates a secure environment for swimming and various water sports, including surfing, jet skiing, snorkelling, and diving.


Yet another popular beach destination, Hikkaduwa should be on the top of your travel list. Famous for its breathtaking coral reefs, it is a haven for snorkellers and scuba diving enthusiasts thanks to its stunning marine life. Apart from that, it is also an ideal spot to experience the best night-life that the south coast has to offer.

Weligama Bay

Weligama Bay has become a hub for beach goers, surfers, and travellers alike. Engage in a range of water sports such as surfing, scuba diving, paddleboarding, and snorkelling or enjoy a relaxing, safe swim in the calm waters. Since it’s the perfect surfing hotspot for both beginners and advanced surfers, Weligama tends to be bustling, drawing in large crowds.


Escape to the enchanting coastal village of Mirissa, a tropical paradise that will surely steal your heart. Known as the largest fishing port in the southern coast, Mirissa is the place to experience the best of whale and dolphin watching, surfing, jet skiing or even snorkelling to name a few.


Discover the stunning coasts of Tangalle, which exudes tranquillity at its best. Unlike some of the other beach destinations which are known to offer water activities, Tangalle is the ideal beach destination to spend your days lazing on the soft sandy beaches, taking refreshing dips in the warm ocean waters or exploring the nearby lagoons and mangrove forests.
Hiriketiya Bay is located about half an hour away from Tangalle, and is a surfer’s paradise. It is also a great place to chill, relax and connect with other travellers from around the world.

What are the best east coast beaches in Sri Lanka?

The east coast of Sri Lanka exudes untouched beauty, and the best time to make your way there is from April/May to September. Known to offer many beach excursions, the east coast is easily the best beach hotspot in the country when the south coast is experiencing the monsoon seasons.

Here’s our recommendations for the best east coast beaches in Sri Lanka.

Arugam Bay

Having gained recognition as one of the world’s best surfing destinations, Arugam Bay is a surfer’s paradise located on Sri Lanka’s breathtaking east coast. Known for its world-class surf breaks, catch the perfect wave at Main Point or Whisky Point, learn to surf / improve your skills at the surf schools, or simply relax and unwind.


With its crystal-clear shallow waters, the calm shores of Pasikuda are ideal for swimming, snorkelling, surfing or simply to soak up the sun. Thanks to its shallow depth, you can walk far into the ocean while the warm water gently laps against your feet. Don’t forget to also enjoy some water sport activities while you are here.


Known for one of the largest natural harbours in the world, Trincomalee offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure in the east coast. Whether it’s snorkelling in the clear waters, or whale-watching excursions to catch a glimpse of magnificent blue whales, it’s truly the place to be when exploring the beaches of the east coast.

Other beaches to visit in Sri Lanka

Casuarina Beach in Jaffna

Casuarina Beach in Jaffna is located on the picturesque north coast of Sri Lanka. This pristine stretch of sandy shoreline is brought to life by its casuarina trees, offering a serene atmosphere for beach lovers seeking solitude and peace. The shallow waters and calm tides make it ideal for swimming and relaxing, whilst slowly gaining popularity as a must-visit beach destination.


Known for its stunning coastlines, Kalpitiya beach is a must-add to your travel itinerary. Located on the north-western coast of Sri Lanka, the best time to visit is from October to May. Kalpitiya is a hub for water sports activities, making it the perfect destination for adventurous travellers out there.

Kudawa Beach is one of the best beaches to visit in Kalpitiya, and it is a paradise for adventure seekers. Go dolphin and whale watching in the deep blue ocean or indulge in thrilling water sports like kitesurfing, kayaking, waterskiing, windsurfing or better yet, go snorkelling and diving amidst colourful coral gardens and a myriad of tropical fish.

What are the best beach activities to experience in Sri Lanka?

From thrilling water sports to tranquil relaxation, the island paradise offers a variety of activities that cater to every beach lover’s desires. Here’s a few of the popular beach activities that await you on the stunning coastlines of Sri Lanka.


For the surfers out there, Sri Lanka’s waves are a playground like no other. Head to the world-famous Arugam Bay, Pottuvil Point, Main Point or Whisky Point on the east coast, where surf enthusiasts from across the globe gather to take on the renowned breaks. If not, make way to the southern coast’s Hikkaduwa, Weligama, Midigama, Ahangma to catch some of the best waves out there.


Snorkelling and Diving

Dive beneath the surface of Sri Lanka’s crystal-clear waters and discover a world of underwater magic teeming with vibrant coral reefs and exotic marine life. Hikkaduwa, Mirissa,Trincomalee and Pasikuda are just a few of the coastal hotspots that offer exceptional snorkelling and diving experiences. Strap on your snorkel or scuba gear, and prepare to be enchanted by marine life. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, these coastal havens will leave you in awe of the stunning biodiversity that lies beneath the waves.


Water Sports

The South Coast of Sri Lanka is a water sports enthusiast’s playground, offering a diverse range of thrilling activities. From Jet skiing, banana boat rides, parasailing to stand-up paddleboarding and kite surfing, you are in for quite the adventure. Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Mirissa and Unawatuna are ideal for Jet skiing and stand-up paddleboarding, while Weligama, Mirissa and Bentota offer parasailing. Rivers near Hikkaduwa and Bentota are ideal for kayaking whilst Kalpitiya is simply the best when it comes to kitesurfing.


Whale and Dolphin Watching

Embark on an unforgettable oceanic adventure by joining a whale and dolphin-watching excursion along the southern, eastern and north-western coasts of Sri Lanka. Mirissa, Kalptiya and Trincomalee are renowned for their proximity to whale migration routes, offering you the chance to witness these gentle giants in their natural habitat. From magnificent blue whales to playful dolphins, the sight of these majestic creatures breaching the surface is sure to make your day.


Useful tips for planning a beach holiday in Sri Lanka

Here are a few tips to ensure your safety and wellbeing while you experience some of the best excursions on the idyllic shores of Sri Lanka.

1. When engaging in water sports activities, always make sure to follow safety guidelines and regulations.

2. Don’t forget to wear appropriate gear and use the necessary equipment to keep your safety in check.

3. Keep in mind to avoid littering at all times and dispose of your trash in designated areas to protect the environment and wildlife. Leave the place the same way you found it.

4. Be aware and familiarise yourself with the weather conditions and tides before participating in water sports activities.

5. Last but not least, always listen to the instructions given by the instructors and follow their guidance.

As you explore the shores of the island nation, we are certain that you will experience the best tropical holiday you could have ever dreamed of!