Sri Lanka might be a small country, but it is full of attractions. Sri Lanka beaches are one of its strong points which attract a good number of tourists. Imagine beaches with white sand and palm trees on the shore. This is the coastal landscape of Sri Lanka. The positive and differential aspect of Sri Lanka beaches is the fact that many of them are not overcrowded. There is tourism, hotels, and some restaurants and bars on the beach, but it does not ruin the magical feel of the landscape.
Sri Lanka has a tropical climate, with constant heat and humidity on the coast and plateaus. Throughout the year maximum temperatures vary along the coast between 28°C and 34°C (82F and 93F). Meanwhile, the minimum temperatures vary between 22°C and 26°C (71F and 79F). The highest temperatures occur between March and June and the lowest temperatures between November and January.
Due to different rainy seasons across the country, the best time to travel to Sri Lanka is the months between December and March along the east coast and in the south of the country. While between the months of May and September are the best to visit the East Coast. Keeping that in mind, we selected 10 epic Sri Lanka beaches spread across the country.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Sri Lanka (Travel Guide)
Best East Coast Beaches
After twenty-six years of civil war and a violent tsunami in 2004, the east coast of the island, affected by both, is proof of Sri Lanka’s resilience. Arugam Bay is undoubtedly one of the best surf spots in Sri Lanka. Even if you are not a surfer there are plenty of other attractions, including mangroves full of crocodiles and national parks where you can observe elephants. Nowadays, there are more and more agencies offering tours around the area, such as visits to Yala National Park or the ruins of Buddhist temples hidden in the jungle.
Our Top Recommended Tour in Arugam Bay ==> 1 Night Camping in Kumana National Park
From Arugam Bay, it is easy to explore other amazing Sri Lanka beaches. For instance, if you go north there is the famous Whiskey Point in the Pottuvil area. On the other hand, if you choose to go south you will encounter waves of great surfing quality at Peanut Farm. Another sought after surfing spot is Elephant Rock, because of its large green tube waves that slide every second until they collapse in the sand.
The best places to stay in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka:
Our top hotel pick: Arugambay Roccos – this property is right on the beach and is absolutely gorgeous. We spent 2 nights here on our most recent trip to Sri Lanka.
Read reviews and check prices for hotels in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka with our hotel comparison tool
Kalkudah beach is an enchanting, yet under-explored beach. It was one of the areas in Sri Lanka to be completely devastated by the 2004 tsunami that hit Southeast Asia. With only a few resorts and almost no tourists, this might be the most epic Sri Lanka beach on this list. While in Kalkudah beach, visiting neighboring Pasikudah beach is a must.
Moreover, just south of Kalkudah beach is another place that was also destroyed by the tsunami, Kallady beach in Batticaloa. It is worth taking a scooter there and exploring this small golden bay. Down some streets, there are still collapsed houses, and in the sand, there are parts of buildings. What is most striking about Kallady beach is the now leaning Thiruchendur Murugan temple, due to the force of the tsunami.
The best places to stay in Kalkudah, Sri Lanka:
Our top pick hotel: Maalu Maalu Resort & Spa – this is one of the most beautiful beach front properties we have ever stayed at in our travels.
Read reviews and check prices for hotels in Kalkudah Beach, Sri Lanka with our hotel comparison tool
Looking to do more than just sleep on the beach?
Our top recommended tours from Kalkudah beach (Bentota Area), Sri Lanka:
- Udawalawe Safari Private Day Trip from Bentota
- Bentota by Beetle – Private Village Tour
- Nuwara Eliya Tour from Bentota
During the dark years of the civil war in Sri Lanka, the east coast was off-limits and its beautiful beaches were confined. Perhaps, this is why the beaches on the east coast are so well-preserved. Peace has brought new opportunities for those seeking sunshine, and Uppuveli beach is rapidly emerging as the best place to go diving.
Attractions such as the sparkling corals of Pigeon Island make this a special destination among Sri Lanka beaches. Pigeon Island is a great site for snorkelers as well. It offers crystal clear waters, shallow reefs, colorful fish, and many other wild animals. In addition, Uppuveli beach is one of the beaches with the most tranquil and safest seas, which is appealing if you are traveling with children.
The best places to stay in Uppuveli Beach:
Our top hotel pick: Trinco Blu by Cinnamon – this beach front property is an oasis with great dining and beautiful views.
Read reviews and check prices for hotels in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka with our hotel comparison tool
South Coast Beaches
Mirissa beach is a very beautiful beach, with many palm trees, shade and small waves; great for relaxing. In front of it, there is a small island which is connected by a path of stones.
The sunset from the top of the little hill is simply amazing and a must if you are in Mirissa beach. It is also worth noting that Mirissa beach has several bars to choose from. You can spend the whole day there and enjoy food and drinks (including happy hour prices) at any time of the day.
Mirissa beach not only has great restaurants, more lively nightlife, and good accommodation options, but it is also strategically located in the middle of the best of Sri Lanka beaches.
Therefore, if you intend on visiting more of the Sri Lanka beaches on the south coast, it is a good idea to book your accommodation at this location. From here you can rent scooters and visit many other beaches around the area.
For example, you can go to Dalawella beach, Koggala beach or Midigama beach and catch a glimpse of the famous Sri Lanka fishermen sitting on top of thin wooden trunks in the middle of the sea.
They stand in groups of dozens across the beaches and is a beautiful sight, but they will not hesitate to ask you for a tip if you aim a camera at them.
Our hotel recommendation for Mirissa: Triple O Six ***** Excellent Traveler Rating
Read reviews and check prices for hotels in Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka with our hotel comparison tool
Our top recommended tours to take while in Mirissa Beach:
- Yala National Park Adventure
- Deep Sea Fishing and Whale Watching Day Trip
- Private Day Tour: Udawalawe National Park Safari From Mirissa
- Private Tour: Whale Watching in Mirissa
- The Giant Loop Cruise in Mirissa
Polhena beach is a small beautiful beach. It has very white sand and very blue water. The highlight of Polhena beach is snorkeling and exploring the reef and its biodiversity.
But what this beach is really known for are its turtles! The seashore has a large strip of coral in which the water level reaches your waist giving you plenty of space to swim with turtles.
Even though they are the stars here, not only turtles live in these waters. There are many colorful corals and fish to look out for.
The sea is quiet and calm, making snorkeling that much easier and fun. Just remember to wake up early, mornings have a low tide, making it easier to find those awesome turtles.
Our hotel recommendation for Polhena beach, Sri Lanka: Lion’s Rest ***** Excellent Traveler Rating
Our recommended tours to take in Polhena beach, Sri Lanka:
- Yala National Park Safari Experience including Lunch at a Campsite
- Private Trolling Fishing Tour
- Family-Friendly Private Galle City Tour
Talalla Beach is a small fishing village in the south of Sri Lanka. It is not popular like Tangalle or Mirissa, but it is perfect for those who seek tranquillity.
Talalla is so secluded that you may be the only one to leave footprints on the soft golden sands of the beach. In the late afternoon, when the sea gets rough, the best option is to choose one of the boat-shaped bars by the beach and enjoy the happy hour atmosphere while watching the sunset.
The food prices here are considerably lower than the restaurants at other Sri Lanka beaches. To get to Talalla it is best to take a tuk-tuk in Matara, one of the cities in the south of Sri Lanka.
Our hotel recommendation for Talalla beach, Sri Lanka: Talalla Retreat **** Excellent Traveler Rating
Out top recommended tours to take in Talalla beach, Sri Lanka:
- Whale Watching Cruise
- Galle Fort and City Cycling Tour
- Half-Day Lagoon and Village Cycling Tour in Galle
Tangalle marks the boundary between the perfect tropical coves that dominate much of the southwest coast and the extensive beaches that you will find in the southeast corner of the island.
On the right end of Tangalle beach is the Turtle Conservation Project Turtle Watch (Rekawa), which is why this beach is so special.
This project chooses to watch and protect the eggs instead of taking them off the beach. They monitor and study the behavior of the local turtles to help find a way to preserve these animals in Sri Lanka.
In addition, visitors are allowed to watch turtle spawning, after paying a certain fee to the project.
Best place to stay in Tangalle beach, Sri Lanka: Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort ***** Excellent Traveler Rating
Our recommended tours to take in Tangalle beach, Sri Lanka:
- Private Day Trip to Turtle Hatchery, Yala National Park and Kataragama
- Sri Lanka – Pristine Beach Tour
- Private Day tour- Rain Forest trekking from Galle
Unawatuna beach has tempting calm waters, several restaurants by the beach, and a low-key vibe. Unawatuna beach might have little glamor but the village-like feel of the area is what makes this place so charming.
The village, with no cement, has narrow streets, cafes, cute restaurants, clothes and crafts stores, all in the middle of many green palm trees. Unawatuna beach is the closest beach to Galle, Sri Lanka’s best preserved colonial city.
It was founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, and it is the best example of European-style fortification in Asia. Nowadays, Galle is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Best place to stay in Unawatuna beach, Sri Lanka: CoCo Bay Unawatuna ***** Excellent Traveler Rating
Our top recommended tours to take in Unawatuna beach:
A few miles from Mirissa beach lies this little paradise called Weligama beach. It is an endless stretch of flat sand, warm water, and free sun loungers from the surf schools. Weligama is the surfers’ beach and if you like big waves, this is the place to go.
Despite that, there are waves for all levels of difficulty. There are even surfboards for rental and the possibility of learning to surf at one of its surf schools. The beach is very big and beautiful too.
Although being busy and vibrant with surfers, we’re sure you’ll find your own private space on the sand.
Best place to stay in Weligama beach, Sri Lanka: WH Beach Resort ***** Excellent Traveler Rating
Our recommended tours to take in Weligama beach (Galle Area):
- Private Day Tour: Lunuganga Estate Meetiyagoda and Madu River from Galle
- Private Day Tour: Hidden Temples & Secluded Coastlines from Galle
West Coast Beaches
Wadduwa is well known for its well-preserved golden beach, as well as coconut plantations. The town is also known for selling products made from coconut fiber such as rugs and brooms.
Just south of Wadduwa are Bentota beach and Beruwala beach, separated by the Bentota river. Beruwala beach marks the beginning of about 130 km (80 miles) of beach where the development of resorts has made enormous strides in recent years.
Bentota beach is surrounded by mega-resort hotels and boutiques. Like most large beach resorts in Sri Lanka, many places in Bentota beach and Beruwala beach offer water sports including swimming, water skiing in the rivers or estuaries, snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, paragliding, and fishing.
Best place to stay in Wadduwa beach, Sri Lanka: Ocean Queen Hotel ***** Excellent Traveler Rating
Our top recommended tours to take in Wadduwa beach (Bentota Area):
- Whale Watching in Mirissa from Bentota
- Nuwara Eliya Tour from Bentota
- Private All Inclusive Kandy Tour from Bentota and Beruwala
- Day Excursions to Udawalawe From Bentota
- Private Tour: Watersports Adventure in Bentota
- Private Day Trip to Galle from Bentota
- Sinharaja Rain Forest day tour
Looking for a complete tour of Sri Lanka?
Our friends over at Gadventures has 11 complete tours offer in Sri Lanka that range anywhere from 6-14 days. We love them and have joined their tours all around the world. They offer great small group adventures that brings you closer to the destination, its people, their culture, and their way of life. When you join a Gadventures tour you become family and that is why many travelers will only book with Gadventures. Below we have listed out three of the top tours they offer in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Encompassed 14 days Colombo to Mirissa – Explore Sri Lanka’s diverse cultures, vibrant colors, white sand beaches, tea plantations, rock fortresses and swaying palm trees of this tropical jewel. Just like all of Gadventures tours, this tour is about more than just beaches and stunning views, it’s about the inspiring people you’ll meet along the way as you explore Sri Lanka.
Discover Sri Lanka 12 days Colombo to Negombo – (National Geographic Tour In Partnership With Gadventures) Become enchanted by Sri Lanka as you explore Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Dambulla Cave Temple and as you stroll through the tea plantations and spice gardens. Explore Wilpattu National Park with a local forest ranger in search of elephants and leopards. Come away with a deep understanding of why early Arab traders called this country “Serendib,” a name gave English speakers the word “serendipity.”
Sri Lanka Express 8 days Negombo to Unawatuna – Explore Sri Lanka’s natural highlights and incredible culture on this eight-day tour. Take in a spice plantation, look for elephants on safari in Udawalawe National Park, and visit a stunning tea plantation. Wrapping up in Unawatuna, this tour is designed for add-on beach time to complete your vacation.
Looking for more on Sri Lanka?
- Sri Lanka Travel Guide
- Places to Visit in Sri Lanka: Our Ultimate Guide
- Kumana National Park – The Only Safari Guide You Need
- Arugam Bay Guide to the Perfect Visit
- On Safari in Yala National Park in Sri Lanka
- Boogie Boarding in Sri Lanka