If you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka, a stay at one (or more) of their beautiful beach areas is essential. The best Sri Lanka beaches are the perfect place to take a break, relax and enjoy the famous Sri Lankan hospitality.
The reality is there are hundreds of beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka. Whether you are looking for white sand beaches in Sri Lanka, hidden away coves surrounded by palm trees, quiet beaches in Sri Lanka, the best surfing beaches in Sri Lanka or the best family beaches in Sri Lanka, you are spoilt for choice with Sri Lankan beaches.
To help you plan your Sri Lanka itinerary, in this article we share 15 of the best beaches in Sri Lanka.
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- 1 Where are the best Sri Lanka Beaches
- 2 What is the Best Time of Year to Visit The Best Sri Lanka Beaches?
- 3 Best Beaches in Sri Lanka
- 3.1 1. Hiriketiya Beach
- 3.2 2. Uppuveli Beach
- 3.3 3. Tangalle
- 3.4 4. Silent Beach Tangalle
- 3.5 5. Dalawella Beach
- 3.6 6. Mirissa Beach
- 3.7 7. Secret Beach, Mirissa
- 3.8 8. Polhena Beach
- 3.9 9. Weligama Beach
- 3.10 10. Arugam Bay
- 3.11 11. Unawatuna Beach
- 3.12 12. Jungle Beach
- 3.13 13. Nilaveli Beach
- 3.14 14. Ventura Beach, Bentota
- 3.15 15. Hikkaduwa Beach Sri Lanka
Where are the best Sri Lanka Beaches
Regardless of the time of year or your destinations, there will be great beach areas in Sri Lanka to visit. The island is fortunate to have gorgeous sandy beaches in the North, East, South and West of the country.
The south Sri Lanka beaches are perhaps the most well known, with pretty beaches stretching all the way from Tangalle to Hikkaduwa.
All the beach towns have a different vibe, so whether you are looking for the best swimming beaches in Sri Lanka or the best beach in Sri Lanka for snorkeling, there will be a great option on the south coast.
For surfers, the east and south coast offer some great options. Depending on the time of year, the best surf spots can be found at spots like Arugam Bay, Weligama and Hiriketiya.
Below is a handy map to refer to as we run through the best beaches Sri Lanka has to offer.
What is the Best Time of Year to Visit The Best Sri Lanka Beaches?
An important thing to know when planning your Sri Lanka beach holiday is that Sri Lanka has two distinct monsoon periods that affect the coastlines at different times of year.
If you want to visit the North and East coast beaches in Sri Lanka, the best time to visit is from April to October.
For the South and West coast Sri Lanka beaches, November to March is the best time to go for drier weather and calmer seas.
Best Beaches in Sri Lanka
Here are 15 of the best beaches of Sri Lanka.
1. Hiriketiya Beach
One of the all-round best beach destinations in Sri Lanka
Hiriketiya Beach is a horse shoe shaped bay located on the south coast of Sri Lanka. It is one of the best beaches in south Sri Lanka and a popular surf and yoga spot in Sri Lanka with hipster cafes, good waves and a laid back vibe.
The unpaved roads contribute to the chill vibes of this beach town where thick jungle meets the sea and where time becomes totally irrelevant.
What you can expect at Hiriketiya beach is a laid back vibe with surfers, yoga fanatics and Digital Nomads. It attracts a certain type of visitor, mainly surfers, yoga enthusiastics and creatives, who have made a vibrant melting pot of cultures from this tiny beach town.
The beautiful beach itself is not too wide but perfect for a beach stroll or to peddle out onto the waves. For swimming it’s not the best beach in Sri Lanka because the waves can be rough at certain times of year.
But families and children can play on the edge of the beach where the sand meets the ocean. There are a few great cafes and restaurants along Hiriketiya bay which are perfect for a healthy lunch or dinner.
When you’re done exploring the beach, there are enough other things to do in the direct area of Hiriketiya beach. You can check out the Hummanaya blow hole which is a submerged cave that pushes the sea water upwards resulting in a huge natural water fountain. The water fountain sometimes reaches 25 – 30 metres depending on the wind and power of the sea.
You can also swing at the palm trees of the neighbouring beach Dikwella or visit the most southern point of Sri Lanka at Dondra lighthouse.
The best time to visit Hiriketiya beach is from December until April before the south-west monsoon season hits Sri Lanka’s south coast.
Best accommodation: Jasper House – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Ilse from Digital Travel Couple
2. Uppuveli Beach
One of the best beaches in East Sri Lanka
Trincomalee is home to many beaches, but arguably the most popular is Uppuveli Beach. With its laid-back vibes and off-the-beaten-track appeal, a trip to this stunning beach on the east coast of Sri Lanka will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
There’s something for everyone at Uppuveli Beach. If you’re in search of a remote escape, you can easily find solitude here whilst it also offers a festive atmosphere for those looking to meet other backpackers in Sri Lanka. Families can enjoy daily strolls on the long sandy beach and kids will love playing in the calm waters which offer perfect swimming conditions for young children.
If there’s one place to visit in Uppuveli Beach, it’s Fernando’s Bar. Situated right on the beach front, the setting doesn’t get much better than this! It’s the best spot to watch the sunset and they serve up some delicious meals too.
Uppuveli Beach is just a 10-minute drive from Trincomalee which is home to many attractions including Pathrakali Amman Temple, a bright and colorful Hindu temple situated in the town center.
The weather at Uppuveli Beach can be unpredictable, so to be safe, it’s best to plan your trip during the dry season from May to September. If you’re in search of a quiet beach lined with palm trees and chilled-out vibes, Uppuveli Beach is the place for you!
Best accommodation: Alfresco Beach Hotel – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Carryn from Torn Tackies
Best beach resorts in Sri Lanka
Sleepy Tangalle and the surrounding area are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka. From wide white sand beaches to tiny palm lined beaches, there are plenty of pristine beaches to explore.
There is plenty of affordable accommodation in the town of Tangalle, but we recommend staying out of town at one of the beachfront guesthouses or resorts.
Some of the best 5 star beach resorts in Sri Lanka are scattered along the coast east of Tangalle. Tangalle Beach and Rekawa Beach are stunning beaches. The guesthouses along this stretch of coastline are the perfect base for a day trip to Yala National Park to go on safari.
To the west of town, some of the best beaches in Tangalle include Goyambokka Beach, Silent Beach and Unakuruwa Beach. Grab a sun lounger and a coconut and enjoy a blissful day by the water in Tangalle.
Tangalle is a little out of the way, but absolutely worth visiting if you are searching for the best beach places in Sri Lanka.
Best accommodation: Anantara Peace Haven – Click here to see the latest prices.
4. Silent Beach Tangalle
One of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka
Some of the best beaches in southern Sri Lanka are in Tangalle, in the southern part of the island. And out of all the options available here, Silent Beach is the most noteworthy one. Also known as the Amanwella beach, this postcard-perfect location is the definition of the dreamy and secluded destination by the ocean.
This is a relatively short strip of white sand lined by tall palm trees. The water here is crystal-clear, with beautiful shades of blue. Because Amanwella is tricky to reach, it is almost always empty.
The only constant occupant of the location is the Amanwella resort in the western part of the beach. It is an exclusive 5-star hotel and one of the best best resorts in Sri Lanka. The ocean is calmer in this part of the Silent Beach, and it is possible to swim.
The eastern part of the beach is wilder. It often has rough waves, which makes it problematic to swim, but still good to relax by the ocean. Also, during the season, the beach is the go-to destination to observe baby sea turtles hatching.
To get to Amanwella, you will need to take a tuk-tuk or drive a bike to the Tangalle road, as close to the beach as possible. From there, head deeper into the neighborhood. The locals will point you to the narrow path that will lead you to the beach.
Since there is not much commercial activity here, it is a good idea to take water and snacks with you. Keep out of the sun in the shade of the palm trees or if you manage to negotiate, you can enjoy use of the chaise-lounges of the Amanwella resort. The best season to visit Silent Beach is from December to March.
Best accommodation: Palm Paradise Cabanas and Villas – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Inessa Rezanova, image by Natalie Rezanova from Through a Travel Lens
5. Dalawella Beach
Most famous beach swing in Sri Lanka
Dalawella Beach is a beautiful stretch of coast in the southwest of Sri Lanka. Most people visit this great little beach while staying in the Unawatuna area, which is a popular beach town.
Dalawella Beach offers a quiet sanctuary from the busier main beach in Unawatuna and is a very low-key area with few establishments.
It isn’t the best beach for swimming but you can swim in one section, right out the front of a restaurant called Wijaya. The other parts of the beach are a bit rocky for swimming.
The highlight of Dalawella Beach is the palm tree rope swing, which has become famous thanks to going viral many times on Instagram. A rope is tied to a bent palm tree that allows you to swing far out over the ocean and get that epic photo.
Dalawella Beach is a great beach to relax for the afternoon without too many crowds and hawkers. You can really sit back and enjoy some relaxation on one of the top little beaches in Sri Lanka.
Best accommodation: On the Rocks Villas – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Jackson from Journey Era
6. Mirissa Beach
Best place to see whales in Sri Lanka
Mirissa is one of the best beach towns in Sri Lanka, which has grown to become a popular destination for travellers. Located between Weligama and Matara it is famous for clean and beautiful beaches, lots of water sport activities, especially surfing and snorkelling. Even if you are a beginner, the beach is safe to try surfing.
Mirissa is the hotspot for many whale watching tours, which is one of the top things to do in Mirissa. The best time to see whales in Sri Lanka south is from October to March. Be sure to book a Whale Watching tour to spot some whales and dolphins too, if you are lucky.
You can get splendid panoramic views of the coast and the beautiful ocean from Parrot rock, which is worth the climb. Head to Coconut Hill, one of the most famous photogenic places near Mirissa with a pretty point lined with coconut palms, from where you can enjoy sunrise or sunset.
Rent a motorbike and go beach hopping as you will find many beaches on the stretch, including Weligama and Dalawella. You can also plan a day trip to Galle, followed by Unawatuna, both of which can be easily reached on a bike, by tuk tuk or taxi.
The best accommodation options in Mirissa are all close to the beach, which are worth paying for as Mirissa is all about the beaches.
Best accommodation: Casa Maria Guesthouse – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Reshma from The Solo Globetrotter
Read Next: Best places to stay in Mirissa
7. Secret Beach, Mirissa
Quiet beach area near Mirissa
Located away from the busy part of town, Secret Beach is one of the best beaches near Mirissa. As it’s grown massively in popularity, Secret Beach certainly isn’t as secret as it once was, but it’s still well worth a visit on a trip to Sri Lanka. Here, you’ll find a small restaurant/bar serving up food, drinks and great music.
Feel free to swim in the blue waters or spend time relaxing on the beach. There’s a nice big shaded area of beach, perfect for chilling, away from the sun and the more noisy area with the bar. You’ll also find a tree swing here, great for picking up that Instagram-worthy shot to help make your friends back home jealous!
We visited in October, and it proved to be a great time to visit. The weather is great, and you’re looking at solid high 20s every day, though there is still the chance of a bit of wind and possibly rainy showers at this time of year.
If you’re looking for a buzzing atmosphere in the evening, then staying in the centre of Mirissa is a great option. There’s tonnes of great value accommodation. From here, you should take a day trip to Secret Beach and use it as a time to completely relax and unwind.
Best accommodation: Handagedara Resort – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Bradley from Dream Big Travel Far
8. Polhena Beach
One of the best beaches for Snorkeling in Sri Lanka
Approximately a 20-minute drive from the tourist hotspot of Mirissa, Polhena Beach is our favourite beach in Sri Lanka. With beautiful white sand and stunning blue seas, it’s the perfect spot for a relaxing beach day!
What makes this beach stand out in particular though is the sea turtles found not far from the shore. Pack a snorkel and wade into the water and you’re likely to see a number of wild turtles – a truly wonderful sight!
The turtles are found in relatively shallow water and they’re normally quite easy to find. If you don’t have your own snorkel then there are several vendors on the beach that will rent one out to you for around 400 rupees.
Considering the combined beauty of the beach and the chance to snorkel with turtles, Polhena Beach is surprisingly quiet. It’s not completely unknown, but in our experience it wasn’t as crowded with tourists as some of the other beaches in Sri Lanka.
Plan your trip between December and March, as the weather in the area is best at this time of year – and no one wants a rainy beach day! It’s best to visit in the morning if possible as the turtles are more active at this time of day.
Polhena Beach can easily be visited from most towns along the south coast. We took a day trip from Mirissa, but if you catch a bus in the right direction then simply ask to get off at Polhena Beach. Unfortunately the bus doesn’t drop you at the beach itself, but it’s only around a 15-minute walk away from the bus stop – and it’s well worth the walk!
Best accommodation: Culture Resort – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Sam and Natalia from Something of Freedom
9. Weligama Beach
One of the best surfing beaches in Sri Lanka (for beginners)
Sri Lanka’s southern coast is lined with beautiful beaches, but one of the best is Weligama. What makes Weligama beach so great is that it’s the perfect place to learn to surf in Sri Lanka.
The waves in Weligama bay are perfect for beginners, but if you paddle further out there are some bigger waves for more advanced surfers. There are over 30 surf schools within a 500m radius in Weligama, so there’s no shortage of professional lessons for those wanting to learn. Elsewhere Surf and Yoga Camps is a great place to stay if you’re looking for a surf camp.
Weligama is positioned in a great location, in the middle of many of the main attractions of Sri Lanka. Popular Mirissa and Galle are only a half-hour drive away, and Udawalawe National Park can be done as a day tour.
The best time to visit Weligama is from October to March during the dry season, although you can visit year-round. If you go during the off-season you will be rewarded with fewer crowds and cheaper prices.
The waves are typically bigger during the off-season, so this may be a better time to go if you are an experienced surfer.
Best accommodation: Weligama Bay Marriott Resort & Spa – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Lora from Explore With Lora
10. Arugam Bay
Best Surf in Sri Lanka
Arugam Bay, also known as A’Bay, is on the less visited East Coast of Sri Lanka. Located just north of Yala National Park, Arugam Bay is most well known for being the best place to surf in Sri Lanka and the area has a few different beaches to surf at.
Elephant Point is at the Southern end of Arugam Beach and popular for surf lessons for beginners. Whiskey Point and Peanut Farm are popular for more experienced surfers.
If surfing isn’t your thing, don’t worry you can still enjoy some the Sri Lanka east coast beaches as there are plenty more things to do in Arugam Bay. Due to its hippy and chilled out vibe yoga is on offer and there are lots of healthy cafes to visit too.
It’s also very close to Kumana National Park which is part of Yala East National Park so you can do a day trip from Arugam Bay to see Leopards and Elephants!
The best time of year to visit Arugam Bay is May to September, which is opposite to the popular south coast Sri Lanka beaches.
This is another one of its unique points and why it’s one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka because it’s peak time is during Sri Lanka’s offseason which creates an even more chilled out atmosphere in this already chilled-out surfer town.
Best accommodation: Surf N Sun – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Ellie from The Wandering Quinn
11. Unawatuna Beach
Best family beaches in Sri Lanka
Unawatuna is a long beach on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka close to Galle. It is backed by palm trees, with fabulously clear water and golden sand.
There’s plenty to do both on Unawatuna beach and nearby. From snorkelling and swimming to relaxing on sunbeds to rent and lots of places for kids to play.
Although the waters are relatively calm, you can still learn to surf too. It’s a great place for kids to learn before progressing on to the bigger waves at Tangalle and Weligama.
At the far end of the beach, you can walk up a small set of steps to a Japanese peace pagoda and buddha statue with fantastic views across the whole beach and out towards Galle.
If you fancy some shopping, there’s a long street running from the middle of the beach full of independent shops selling souvenirs, traditional clothes and snacks.
My top tip is to get up early for a morning swim when the water is calm, and the sun glistens onto the sea.
Best accommodation: Hotel Flower Garden – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Sylvie from Travels with Eden
12. Jungle Beach
One of the best beaches near Galle
Sri Lanka is known for its pristine and romantic beaches. But there’s one beach hidden from regular beachgoers – the Jungle Beach in Unawatuna. As the name suggests, the beach is actually surrounded by a small jungle. This one is for those who want to experience adventure and beach vibes at the same time.
Jungle Beach is a tiny bay area well hidden from the usual hubbub of Unawatuna city. Visiting this little isolated haven is definitely among the best things to do in Unawatuna. Due to being less crowded, the beach, as well as the water, is super clean.
The best part is reaching the beach itself. The entrance to the beach is through a rather narrow and steep path that will take you to a sign with the name of the beach on it, painted on a rock. It’s a short, but a rather adventurous hike across a few rocky hills of the Rumassala Mountains.
A small detour before reaching the beach will take you to a secluded rock-beach with lots of crabs and the deep blue Indian ocean will be just a few meters away!!
Apparently, the Jungle Beach itself remained secluded until very recently because a fairly challenging hike was required to reach it. Latterly, a muddy path was carved out to save visitors the fear of getting lost in the jungle!
The beach has since then seen more crowds visit. A small eatery has been set up on Jungle Beach and a number of sunbeds are available. The eatery serves Sri Lankan snacks, as well as sandwiches and chilled drinks. If you want a bit of seclusion all you have to do is to keep walking away from the sunbeds.
Best accommodation: Cocobay Unawatuna – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Sonakshi and Mainak from Places in Pixel
13. Nilaveli Beach
One of the best quiet beaches in Sri Lanka
Hidden away on the east coast of Sri Lanka just north of Trincomalee town lies Nilaveli Beach, the best beach in Trincomalee. It’s often overshadowed by the more popular Uppuveli Beach, which is just a short drive away. But those who make the effort to explore Nilaveli Beach will be rewarded with a secluded and picturesque stretch of shoreline.
The soft sand and clear waters coupled with the palms trees that line the beach make it one of the best family beaches in Sri Lanka, couples and those travellers looking to escape the crowds.
If you’re a surfer, you’ll have to go elsewhere as there are no waves in Nilaveli Beach and the water is more conducive for those who want to laze in the calm, flat waters, and spend their days soaking up the sun whilst sipping on a fresh coconuts.
Just a stone’s throw away from Nilaveli Beach lies Pigeon Island National Park, one of the best places to go snorkeling and with some of the best diving in Sri Lanka.
Unfortunately, the reef was damaged by the 2004 tsunami and uncontrolled tourism has also had a ripple effect on the marine life and coral surrounding Pigeon Island.
The best time to visit the Sri Lanka east coast beaches is from May to September when the weather is warm and sunny, with no rain showers. Spending a few days in Nilaveli Beach will give you a true island experience, and is guaranteed to be one of your highlights of Sri Lanka.
Best accommodation: Memo’s Beach – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Carryn from Torn Tackies
14. Ventura Beach, Bentota
Best beaches near Colombo
Considered one of the famous resort towns in Sri Lanka, Bentota is home to the beautiful Ventura beach. Located in the southwest of Sri Lanka, approxiamately 90 minutes from Colombo Airport, Bentota is lush with greenery and filled with beautiful tall coconut trees.
Ventura beach is a family friendly beach with an array of activities and the perfect spot for water sports. It is considered the best beach in Bentota.
The best time to visit is late September till mid April. It is during these months that the sea is calm and safe to swim. The most popular activity for tourists at the beach is snorkelling in the crystal clear waters.
This area of Sri Lanka is famous for its beautiful array of marine activity, so the snorkelling and scuba diving experiences are totally worth it.
Our recommendation for accommodation would without a doubt be the Vivanta by Taj Hotel, one of the best hotels in Bentota. This is just one of the various luxury properties located along the beach.
Aside from the beautiful beaches, it is highly recommended that you visit the nearby Kande Viharya Temple which is a famous Buddhist temple with an extraordinary sculpture of Buddha above it.
Best accommodation: Taj Bentota Resort & Spa – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Manpreet from Hello Manpreet
Read next: Best things to do in Hikkaduwa
15. Hikkaduwa Beach Sri Lanka
Best place to see turtles hatching on the beach
Located in the small town of Hikkaduwa, in the southern province of Sri Lanka, 20 km north-west of Galle, is Hikkaduwa beach. It is a spotlessly clean beach with the softest sand you’ll see in the entire country.
Considered one of the best surf spots in Sri Lanka, Hikkaduwa beach is an ideal destination for people who love water sports. It is also a family-friendly destination and hence, a must-do in your Sri Lanka itinerary.
It is the best beach in Sri Lanka for many reasons – soft clean sands, clear blue waters, beautiful fish and sea turtles in shallow waters, fewer crowds, tranquil atmosphere, and safe for kids.
As the water is warm, the beach is ideal for swimming and diving. Snorkeling is a lot of fun here as you can see the most colorful and amazing species of fish at the shore itself.
It is advised to snorkel in the north end where the reef offers protection from the surf. You can rent snorkeling equipment for a price of 1500 LKR (USD8). Big waves in certain parts of the beach make it a paradise for surfers.
You can simply sit and laze around on the sand or chill at the lovely cafes and juice bars to sip a drink. There are a few restaurants that offer free sunbeds if you order food or drinks. You can also feed giant sea turtles at a particular turtle point on the beach.
Coral Sanctuary, Hikkaduwa Lake, and the Seenigama Vihara temple are some of the nearby landmarks that you can explore. The best time to visit the Hikkaduwa beach would be anywhere between December to March.
Best accommodation: Citrus Hikkaduwa – Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Vaibhav from The Wandering Vegetable
I hope you found this guide to the best Sri Lanka beaches helpful for planning your Sri Lanka trip.