Surf on lush blue waves, dive with dolphins and snorkel over coral gardens – Sri Lanka’s pristine palm-fringed beaches are sure to wow.
Garlanded by the glistening blue waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka’s 1340-kilometre-long coastline hugs the island country. Blessed with watersport thrills, hidden coves and bewitching bays, Sri Lanka’s scenic seascapes lure beach-lovers, surfers, divers and partygoers from across the globe.
From the cliff-fringed shores of Unwatuna to the gin-crystal waters of Mirissa and the rolling waves of Weligama, we’ve curated a list of the best beaches in Sri Lanka.
Watersport thrills at Bentota
Where golden shores are kissed by rolling surf, the quaint resort town of Bentota rests on Sri Lanka’s west coast. Serenaded by technicolour sunsets that melt into the blue of the Indian Ocean, Bentota’s natural beauty is undeniable, while a cluster of premium hotels and restaurants adds a splash of luxury. Fondly known as the watersports capital of Sri Lanka, head to Bentota Beach to get your adrenaline soaring with water-skiing, windsurfing, snorkelling and kayaking. A beloved gem of the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, Bentota’s tranquil charm is sure to bewitch all who visit.
Best time to visit: The popular beach town of Bentota pulsates with life from November to March.
Ready to escape? Stay at Kahanda Kanda and explore the dreamy beaches.
Whale watching at Mirissa
Tucked away on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, the picturesque sea town of Mirissa teases with its surreal blue whale sightings and surf-friendly turquoise waters. Dotted with coconut trees that sway in the ocean breeze, hidden beaches cradled by woody hills, and tidal rock pools, Mirissa unveils a tropical paradise. Experience the sheer magic of spotting an enigmatic blue whale or glimpse playful dolphins splashing around, snorkel in the camouflaged coves, or simply wait for dusk to spill its colours on the sky-wide canvas with an epic sunset. As night falls, Mirissa twinkles with buzzing beach shack parties, which pump out peppy music and an electrifying atmosphere.
Best time to visit: Get the best seats to enjoy whale watching when you visit Mirissa between October and April.
Luxuriate at Villa Vista Mirissa by The Serendipity Collection and go whale watching at your own leisure.
Palm tree swing ropes in Unawatuna
If the aromas of delicious seafood curries being stirred in the seaside restaurants don’t tether you to the enchanting shores of Unawatuna, the sight of its gnarly waves will do the trick. Clutching onto the southern fringes of the Sri Lankan coast, Unawatuna is only six kilometres from the UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of Galle Fort. The uniquely banana-shaped beach curves neatly and makes way for novice surfers to catch their first waves and swimmers to enjoy a splash in the shallows. Swing over the lagoons from the famous palm tree rope swing or take a short scenic hike to visit the Japanese Peace Pagoda. Moreover, if you’re craving good ol’ Melbourne-style brunch and freshly roasted coffee, head to Skinny Tom’s Deli, famed for its coconut ice-crushed drinks and mouth-watering shakshuka’s.
Best time to visit: Bustling Unawatuna Beach makes for a great escape between October and April.
Explore the best of Sri Lanka with our dreamy escapes here.
Coral garden discoveries in Weligama
The sandy village of Weligama, nestled along Sri Lanka’s Southern Province, serves up swimmer-friendly shallow waters and ample postcard-perfect moments. A curious blend of a bumbling fishing town and an inviting beach resort, Weligama’s energy flutters like the waves along its long sandy stretch. Take the plunge and dive into the ocean to explore the magical coral formations, go surfing or simply wade across to Sri Lanka’s only privately-owned island, Taporobane Island, housing a lone Neo-Palladian mansion.
Best time to visit: Weligama’s alluring coastline plays the perfect host any time between November and March.
Plan your escape to Green Turtle Villa by The Serendipity Collection and surf the waves in style.
See a turtle hatching at Kosgoda
From the endangered Olive Ridley to Leatherback, Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Green Turtles, Kosgoda’s warm, sandy shores act as the perfect cradle for marine turtles to nest. Snuggled along the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Kosgoda is world-famous for its turtle hatcheries and conservation projects, as well as its enchanting beaches. Immerse yourself in an enlightening experience by learning how wounded turtles are rehabilitated and how turtle eggs are kept safe from predators before it’s time for hatching. The coastal town of Kosgoda also allures with its raw and rustic charm, delicious Sri Lankan kottu and fish ambul thiyal and therapeutic Ayurvedic massages.
Eager to learn more about turtle conservation? Explore Kosgoda’s turtle hatcheries when you stay at KK Beach.
Best time to visit: Visit Kosgoda during the prime turtle-hatching season between January and May.
'Little Rome' charms in Negombo
A stone’s throw from Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB), Negombo’s shores are lulled by the cerulean hues of the Indian Ocean and make for an ideal first-day or last-day stop on your Sri Lankan escape. Languid and laid-back, Negombo’s rich colonial past, cinnamon trade history and churches exude a yesteryear charm. Bask in the vintage setting or explore the sea with a healthy dose of snorkelling, windsurfing or simply boating on the bouncing waves. Affectionately christened as ‘Little Rome’ courtesy of the canals the Portuguese settlers built, the fishing town’s energy becomes even more irresistible as the sun dives into the ocean and live performances and groovy beats jazz up the evening air.
Best time to visit: Particularly pleasant during the cooler months, Negombo makes for a wonderful escape any time between October and April.
Take a look at our Sri Lanka escapes here.
For more Sri Lankan travel inspiration, read 6 Must-Do Experiences in Galle, Sri Lanka.