Sri Lanka's Best Beaches
Affectionately known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”, Sri Lanka has many spectacular beaches spotted along her breath-taking coastline. Picking Sri Lanka’s best beaches isn’t straightforward - it depends if you’re looking for quiet relaxation, fun activities or some surf!
Our following selection of Sri Lanka’s best beaches combines the idyllic white-sand beaches favoured by sunbathers and the more active beaches which attract families, divers and surfers. You can visit many of these beautiful beaches on our various Sri Lanka tours and if you have a specific beach you’d like to go to we can include them in a tailor-made tour.
Top 10 Sri Lankan beaches
Arugam Bay Beach
Unquestionably one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka for surfing, Arugam Bay is a mecca for surfers and hipsters from around the globe who come to ride the high waves generated at the tip of the bay during the peak months of April to October.
The beach has a very laid back atmosphere and is absent of any over development, just the attractive palm-fringed beach and surfers taking advantage of the awesome waves.
Located on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka, you can take the opportunity to visit the nearby Kumana National Park (previously known as Yala East National Park). Arugam Bay is highly recommend if you’re looking for a laid back beach while touring the east of the island.
If you’re looking for a more developed spot on the southern coast, Unawatuna beach is within the Galle district and is one of the most popular coastal destinations on the island. The resort is busy year-round and is a magnet for travellers to Sri Lanka.
The stunning beach rivals the very best beaches in the world and is perfectly located for a day or two stay exploring the historic city of Galle and its Dutch Fort.
Unawatuna is definitely a beach best reserved for those unfazed by the hustle and bustle of a commercialised coastal spot; maybe looking to grab a bite to eat, partake in some water sports or have some fun in booming discos spotted along the beach.
Although we’d recommend Mirissa beach (next) as the best location for dolphin and whale watching, Alankuda beach on the west coast of Sri Lanka is a great spot for dolphin spotting. Regular boat trips take lucky spotters along the coast to marvel at the majestic dolphins.
Alankuda definitely fits into the category of undiscovered beaches, with much less in the way of development which makes it ideal for those who want to enjoy the sea and sands in peace.
The beach is also great for kitesurfing and you’ll no doubt notice a few surfing along the pristine waters.
One of the highlights of any trip to Sri Lanka is having the chance to lay eyes on the enormous blue whale and the other stunning sea life which call the warm waters along the southern coast of the island home. Mirissa beach is not only an intimate, family friendly beach, but is also probably the best beach in Sri Lanka to go whale watching.
The whale watching season runs from November to April and we offer whale watching in Mirissa as an excursion on many of our Sri Lankan tours.
The beautiful beach is sheltered in the small quiet bay and is an ideal spot on the south coast to lay back in the sun, enjoying the awesome views out over the Indian Ocean.
Negombo is located close to the capital, Colombo, and is home to large beach resorts that are popular among sun worshipping westerners. Because the beach is an hour away from the main airport, Negombo is also a popular spot for travellers to soak up the sun on the golden sand before they fly home.
For those looking for an affordable beach getaway, Negombo provides everything you’d expect. There are plenty of activities to keep families busy and the golden beach provides a great place to lay back and enjoy the sun.
Uppuveli and Nilaveli Beaches
If the developed Negombo Beach is not your style, the twin beaches of Uppuveli and Nilaveli offer stunning, unspoilt locations which is characteristic of the eastern coastline of Sri Lanka.
You’ll find much fewer people taking advantage of the idyllic location compared to the western and southern counterparts, allowing you to enjoy the sounds of the Indian Ocean blissfully.
When visiting Uppuveli and Nilaveli you can also snorkel around the beautiful coral reefs that border Pigeon Island.
Galle Face Green
When visiting Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, Galle Face Green provides a splendid open space to stroll through, right next to lapping waves of the Indian Ocean. Although not technically a beach, it is a great spot to relax and is popular with families, children, kite flyers and anyone looking to take a break from the busy capital.
The southern beach of Tangalle is among the best found along the southern coast, with palm trees hugging the beach front as crystal clear waters lap the golden sand that stretches along the meandering coastline.
If you’re planning to take advantage of the spectacular Indian Ocean with a spot of water sports, Bentota beach on the west coast of the island is the place to go. The beach is teeming with water based activities including surfing, windsurfing, jet skiing, and sailing.
You can explore the nearby river and lagoon during a boar safari; a tranquil trip down the scenic waterways spotting the country’s famous water birds and wildlife.