Beach in Sri Lanka

Best paradise beaches in Sri Lanka

Last Updated on November 5, 2022

With more than 1340 kilometers of coastline, Sri Lanka is a great place for beach lovers.  In this guide, you’ll learn all about Sri Lanka’s best beaches, the already famous ones, and the off-the-beaten-path ones.

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Sri Lanka’s best beaches – South Coast:

The south is the first beach destination in Sri Lanka, from Galle to Hambantota, the coast is full of amazing beaches and resorts towns. Those places are great if you like to party or meet other travelers. It’s also where you can see the famous stilt fishermen, just know that they only do it for tourists now. They just wait to be paid to climb on the pole so you can take their picture.

1- Unawatuna

Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

Definitely made for tourists, Unawatuna is a  really nice beach. About 2 km long, it’s a good place to swim as the waves are not too strong. The city is only hotels and restaurants, you should be able to find something that suits every budget. Be careful, the closer to the beach you stay, the noisier it is.

2 – Midigama

Midigama, Sri Lanka

Midigama is a really small beach near the main road but it’s one of my favorite in Sri Lanka. The sand is white and thin, boarded by coconut trees shielding you from the street, not touristy at all and really clean.

3 – Weligama Beach

Weligama, Sri Lanka

Weligama is notorious among surfers, it’s also the perfect place for beginners as some spots offer less-strong waves. The bay is protected from the wind, so the waves are slow and low-powered.

4 – Mirissa

Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Mirissa is a busy resort-town built for tourist, the beach is big and clean. You’ll find plenty of sunbeds and beach bars. You might also see some stilt fishermen but it’s just for show. Mirissa is famous for its whale watching tours, bring some binoculars and just know there are at least 30 other boats going with you. All speeding together towards whales coming out to breathe. I’m not sure it’s really ethical. I wouldn’t do it again.

5 – Polhena

Polhena, Sri Lanka

This quiet little town is perfect to relax and unwind for a couple of days. It’s also great for snorkeling and turtle watching, there are some spots you don’t even have to get into the water, they come really near the shore.

6 – Tangalle

Tangalle, Sri Lanka

This beach is really beautiful, good for swimming and quiet. I really liked it because, even if it’s quiet, the place is still adapted to tourists and people are used to foreigners, which means you can wear a swimsuit at the beach without being out of place.

Sri Lanka’s best beaches – East Coast:

The east coast is less frequented and offers many unspoiled beaches. It’s the perfect place to surf. Beware that, contrary to the rest of Sri Lanka, the raining season is from November to March.

1- Marble beach, Trincomalee

Marble beach, Sri Lanka

This beach, located in Trincomalee’s Bay, is one of the nicest beaches in Sri Lanka. Its environment is just superb and when the sun is bright and the sea calm, the water surface is as smooth as marble.

2 – Pasikuda Beach, Batticaloa

Pasikuda Beach, Sri Lanka

This beach is a must-see if you’re in Sri Lanka, it’s famous for having the world’s longest shallow coastlines. You can walk for about 250 meters before losing feet. The beach is also known for its impressive reef you can snorkel too.

3 – Nilaveli Beach, Trincomalee

Nilaveli Beach, Sri Lanka
Photo by Anton Croos

Locals will tell you that Nilaveli is one of the cleanest and purest white sand beaches in Asia, and you’ll understand why once you get there. The scenery is also spectacular with many islets surrounding the beach. The best part being that there are almost no tourists there, it’s the perfect unspoiled beach.

4- Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

Arugam Bay is another Sri Lankan hotspot and a must-see if you like beaches and surfing. It’s a small, laid-back, fishermen village with a foreign twist. As tourism has increased, small cafes and hostels have spread,  but still preserving the quiet atmosphere of the place.

Sri Lanka western beaches:

The west coast offers fewer beaches than the southern or eastern coast, however, there are still some nice spots not to miss.

1 – Kalpitiya Beach

Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka
Credit: Sompop S

Kalpitiya beach is starting to get touristy but still has a laid-back vibe. There, you’ll find the first Kitesurfing school of Sri Lanka.

2 – Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

Famous with surfers, this beach is one of the best surfing spots in Sri Lanka. It’s also really crowded and full of resorts, so maybe not worth it if you don’t surf

The Northern Beaches

The north of Sri Lanka is not attracting too many tourists due to the war that took place there and only finished a couple of years ago. However, now it’s totally safe, but not the best place for beaches. The coastline has a lot of potential but Sri Lanka is one of the countries that throw the most plastic into the ocean and that, unfortunately, you can witness in the north. Most beaches are just covered with garbage. But don’t worry, I still managed to find a nice one:

 1 – Manalkadu Sand Dunes

Manalkadu, Sri Lanka

The beach in itself is not spectacular and definitively not the place for sunbathing. What’s interesting is the sand dunes around, the area is huge and the result just spectacular.

If you’re thinking of going to Jaffna, you might want to check out this travel guide.

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Polhena beach, Sri Lanka