Best Beaches in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s seasonal monsoon climate means you can enjoy a beach honeymoon holiday anytime.

Sunny skies abound along the west and south coast from October to April, while the east coast beaches are best from May to September.

Sri Lanka’s best beaches, include…

Bentota Beach

Discover a wide expanse of golden sand that sweeps in a long gentle crescent between the warm aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean and the blue Bentota River, set just behind the palm-fringed beach.

Sunbathe on the smooth golden sand, swim in the ocean or try sailing, windsurfing or waterskiing.

Stay in comfort at one of the many beachside resorts including the historical five-star Bentota Beach Hotel or the luxurious Taj Exotica Bentota, which nestles in a manicured beachfront garden.

Explore the Bentota River and lagoon by boat, looking out for water monitors and crocodiles among the tiny islands and mangrove forests as herons, cormorants and colourful kingfishers soar overhead.

Bentota Beach is located 62km south of Colombo on the island’s southwest coast.

Mount Lavinia Beach

This popular golden-sand beach rests beneath a soaring headland that is home to the luxurious Mount Lavinia Hotel – the former residence of the colonial Governor General.

Mount Lavinia Beach is located just 12km south of Colombo.

Ambalangoda Beach

Relax on this quiet and undeveloped palm-fringed golden-sand beach located just south of Bentota Beach.

Ambalangoda is perfect for a day trip and the nearby town is famous as the home of devil dancing and mask making, both important aspects of Sri Lankan culture.

These colourful hand-carved and hand-painted masks are worn during traditional dance dramas, which you can watch at the local Bandu Wijesooriya School of Dancing.

Hikkaduwa Beach

Discover Sri Lanka's only marine sanctuary, home to abundant corals teeming with colourful tropical fishes.

Go swimming, snorkelling and diving or admire the underwater coral gardens in a glass-bottomed boat. Surf the beach break, sunbathe or swim from the pristine golden-sand beach and relax in comfort at either the Hotel Coral Garden or the Hotel Reefcomber.

Hikkaduwa Beach is located 98km south of Colombo. Numerous beachside restaurants, bars and clubs provide evening entertainment.

Unawatuna Beach

Framed by lush jungle-clad headlands, this beautiful kilometre-long crescent of palm- and tree-fringed golden sand shelves into a picturesque reef-protected bay.

Relax on the beach, go swimming, snorkelling and diving or hike up to the hilltop stupa (Buddhist temple) located behind the beach for panoramic views.

A short stroll to the western end of the beach brings you to Rumassala Hill, a legendary rocky outcrop that is home to a large collection of medicinal herbs and boisterous macaque monkeys.

Unawatuna is located around 5km south of Galle and offers a range of beachside accommodation with several boutique villa-style resorts lining the beach, including the Off Rocks Beach Villa, Thambapanni Retreat and the Thaproban Beach House.

Weligama Beach

This quiet golden-sand beach lies south of Unawatuna and is renowned as the home of the famous stilt fishermen, one of Sri Lanka's unique beach sights.

Watch as local fishermen cast their nets while balancing on a single pole embedded in the sea bottom.

Relax in comfort at the luxury Mandara Boutique Hotel, one of several resorts that line this popular beach. Or stay on idyllic Taprobane Island just metres off shore and a hideaway for the rich and famous in its private villa.

Inland, explore rubber and coconut plantations, ancient temples and spot wildlife in nature sanctuaries.

Mirissa Bay Beach

Discover a secluded, picture-perfect, wide crescent of golden sand fringed by lush palm trees.

Swim in the calm, clear waters, surf and snorkel the west end of the bay and stroll along the beach to the rocky headland that separates the beach from the neighbouring fishing harbour.

Come for a day and dine on fresh seafood at one of the beachside restaurants or stay for a few days or longer at one of the beachside accommodations such as the upmarket Mandara Boutique Hotel.

Nilaveli Beach

This wide, 6km-long crescent of golden sand offers safe swimming as well as a wide range of watersport activities including waterskiing, diving and snorkelling, which is especially good around the nearby offshore Pigeon Island.

Nilaveli Beach is located on the east coast just 14km from Trincomalee.

Arugam Bay

Discover a long expanse of golden sand perfect for swimming and sunbathing, but more famous for surfing. The best time to surf is between May and November.

Arugam is located on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka and offers a number of budget-style guest cottages.

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Latest update: Sri Lanka Beach Guide: 29 April, 2022