Beaches of Sri Lanka: which one do you choose?

Beaches in Sri Lanka stretch for miles. Which one you should choose to perfectly complete your stay on the island? Which beaches are better for swimming and which to surf? Where night life flourishes, and where you can take a rest from crowds? The following entry will help you!

I am glad that so many readers trust me and write emails with questions about Sri Lanka and I’m always happy to share my experience. But you know, there are still many places in Sri Lanka I haven’t visited so I can not tell you about them.

beaches

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Many people plan their visit to Sri Lanka as a combination of tour around the island + vacation on the beach, and sometimes there is a problem – which beach to choose?

beaches

Fortunately Sri Lanka is not a moon or something, and I’m not the only blogger who visited Ceylon. So I asked my fellow bloggers where did they stay, whether they would recommend this place to my readers and most importantly WHY? What did they like the most there? I want facts, not some bogus information. 😉

Important: we know that not everyone visited Sri Lanka yesterday. Places can change, so if you, my Readers, have any comments on the following list, please comment underneath. For next generations. 😉

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beaches

Do you prefer swimming in the ocean, water sports, and maybe you do not go into the water at all? Are you looking for fun and adventure, or unpopulated kilometers of beaches with golden sand? Below you will find the opinions of bloggers. And the choice I leave to you! 🙂

Remember that in the winter season is the best to choose beaches on the south coast, and in the summer on the east! I put together the following list in order from left to right part of the coast (looking at the map – from Galle to the right) and then north. Now, let’s begin! 🙂

The beaches in the south of Sri Lanka: Unawatuna

I fell in love with Unawatuna in March 2014 and I always come back here, though the beach has lost much of its charm. Nevertheless, I keep loving it and I’ll never stop. Why? Because it takes only 10 minutes to get to Galle by tuck-tuck or bus, so anytime I want to visit my favorite colonial city I just do it. If, however, I feel like I want to spend a day on a paradise beach and spot big turtles in the ocean, I go to neighboring Talawella (one-way tuk-tuk and back on foot). Besides, I love Unawatuna for nightlife! For the selection of restaurants (my favorite is the Tartaruga!), bars, attractions (water sports, cooking classes, etc.). And that always I meet here open-minded backpackers with whom I can talk about Sri Lanka or go out for a beer. If you are looking for beach where everything is in one place, then I recommend Unawatuna!

Though I will not hide: it’s busy (especially in the season from Christmas to the end of February) and the beach is not beautiful, not anymore. Boo-hoo! ;( (However, some girls on the trips that I organize said, that this beach is cool because it’s very wide. And it is!)

Accommodation: basic Amma’s Guesthouse (1500-2500 Rs depending on the season, dbl, without breakfast), or Silva Rest if you want something better (around 4000 Rs, dbl, without breakfast).

Mirissa

Shared by: Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys blog, who visited Sri Lanka in November/December 2014.

‘Mirissa beach itself is beautiful with some awesome sunsetporn. However, the waters are rough with crazy wild waves which can make you tumble – fun for go pro shots and for surfers, but not so much if you want to do some swimming.

Mirissa beach is more famous for being the starting point of whale watching safaris (which we highly recommend), so it attracts it’s share of tourism. But the beach is not as crowded as nearby Unawatuna which is why it was our favourite beach in Sri Lanka.

Accommodation: Poppies Guest house, 2,000 Rs a night for a double room with bathroom, without breakfast.’

Shared by: Tati and Michał from Poszli-Pojechali blog, who visited Sri Lanka in February 2013.

‘One of the more famous tourist beaches in the south of Sri Lanka, near Matara, a beach we fell in love with and changed our plans for it. From the Giragala hill there’s a fabulous view of the beach and the sea. Lots of bars serve drinks, cocktails, delicious lunches with fresh fish and seafood and beautiful sunsets that stayed in our memory for long. This is the best place to watch blue whales and dolphins (on an organized excursion). Hence, you can go on tours or cruise around, surf, do yoga, snorkel or relax during a massage in the spa.

We do not recommend: swimming (expecting for a swim, jumping in the water or entering the water with poor swimming skills) – there are very strong underwater currents that can mishandle even experienced surfers, whirling to the bottom and rubbing the skin into the blood.

Also we don’t recommend whales and dolphins. Excursion takes all day, and you can only see the tail (in this case they don’t give you back the money).

Accommodation: found on the spot on the beach by asking locals. 3500 LKR overlooking the sea, about 50 meters from the water line. On the other side of the road guesthouses were cheaper – about 2500-2700. Without breakfast.’

Matara

Shared by: Ewa and Romek from Gonimy Słońce, who visited Sri Lanka in January 2013.

‘In the south of Sri Lanka, at the village of Matara, a beautiful wide beach hides from the tourist crowds. It’s seductively empty, because it’s not an attractive place for visitors. At least it wasn’t that time. The town has a large bus station and is a perfect base to different parts of the island.

Unable to find accommodation there, the tuk-tuk driver dropped us at the only place that seemed appropriate for him and other drivers. Dropped off at the front desk of Matara Rest House, we were convinced that we can not afford this accommodation. What’s more it was the only one guesthouse in this town. However, when we heard the price for a room with fan (2400 Rs), I almost shouted that we’re staying.

We were at the completely empty beach, next to the island with a Buddhist temple and around a row of beautiful, paradise of palm trees … Instead of one night, we stayed for three. Our Rest House was very pleasant, the food excellent and the beach just for us. The only disadvantage was the cold water in the rainy season, but we did not bother. ‘

Accommodation: Rest House Matara, 2400 rupees for a double.

beaches
pic by Ewa & Romek

Tangalle

Shared by: Łukasz from lkedzierski.com, who visited Sri Lanka in March 2012.

‘Soft sand in dark-yellow colour contrasts beautifully with the emerald-blue colour of water. It is a perfect place to stroll at sunset. The waves are big enough for play. I do not know if I was lucky, or is it just so always, but there is complete peace and quiet. I was in Tangalle early March of 2012 and virtually there were no tourists. Sometimes the locals in the evening came to cool down in the ocean.

A small, narrow road separates the beach from many places where you can rent a room. I had no problem finding something at the right price.

Compared to Mirrisa and Unawatuna a beach in Tangalle perhaps may not be the widest, but it is certainly the quietest and virtually uninhabited. This is the perfect location to relax.

In the vicinity there is a place where at night the turtles arrive to lay their eggs on the beach. Unfortunately, I had no luck and did not see any turtles, although I waited nearly all night.

Accommodation: Sea Side, 900 LKR (in March 2012) for a room with a windmill and a bathroom just off the beach, no breakfast’

beaches
pic by Łukasz

Rekawa

Shared by: Monika from Wroclot blog, who visited Sri Lanka in February and March 2015.

‘Do you remember films about pirates, who – when they’re tired of robbing – rest under the palm trees, in hammocks, listening to the noise of the waves while sipping rum?

Rekawa is just such a place, a place that is unlikely in Sri Lanka because it’s empty. We didn’t meet anyone for whole long day at the beach! It is here that you can relax and reflect on yourself. It’s such enclave hidden among the palm trees and sand dunes, at the end of the island. Here life starts at night when the beaches of sea turtles hatch and lay eggs. This process takes several hours, but nobody rushes here…

Disadvatages? Too high waves do not allow for a bath. If you want to swim you should go to the other side of the village. Another downside is accommodation, veeeery expensive comparing to the rest of the island – for triple room we paid 2000 rupees per night, without breakfast (although a child got one), the cheapest we found. You should buy earlier some food and water (there is a shop, but a small rotation causes the dubious freshness of the products).

TIP: if you do not want to focus on yourself, cut off from the world, forget about the existence of other entities – do not go there. If you want to watch the turtles only, stay at the nearby Tangalle and come by tuck-tuck to Rekawa only for the evening.’

Accommodation: a hut in the bush found after arrival; 2000 Rs, triple room without breakfast

 

The beaches in the east of Sri Lanka: Trincomalee

Shared by: Jo and Olek from the blog 4everMoments, who visited Sri Lanka in August and September 2014.

‘Deciding to rest in Trincomale we can choose from peaceful and less known among tourists town beach Koneswaram and much more popular Uppuveli.

For lovers of quiet walks by the ocean I recommend the first one. Koneswaram is willingly visited by Sri Lankan so you should therefore remember to wear proper outfit according to Sri Lankan customs.

For those who love water sports and activities, and are hoping for a little more freedom I can recommend beaches of Uppuveli. The beach here is very well prepared for tourists. It is wide and long, and there are small restaurants with bamboo tables on the sand and parasols. You will find there also boats, rent diving equipment or the net stretched between wooden piles to play beach volleyball.

Getting to the city is a significant downside here. In the evening nothing happens here. On the one hand it’s calmly, but on the other, it’s difficult to find a good shop or go out for a meal.

Accommodation: Sunrise Hotel, triple room with bathroom is 2000 Rs / night, without air conditioning, wifi is weak. Price without breakfast. ”

 

Pigeon Island National Park

Shared by: Ewa and Romek again from Gonimy Słońce blog 🙂

“Near the village of Nilaveli, to the east of Sri Lanka, lies the tiny Pigeon Island. It’s a National Park and you can get there only by special boats during the day, but you cannot stay there for a night (in January 2013 entry with a cruise was 2500 Rs / person). Around it there is still fantastic coral reef, but the devastating effects of the tsunami can be seen all over around (in the form of dead coral). Crystal clear water with a pleasant temperature, quite a few shady spots on the beach and relatively low tourist traffic make it a place absolutely unique. The most difficult issue is the moment of leaving… but definitely it’s worth to go there, even for such a short time. Recommended not only for lovers of underwater landscapes. ;)’

Sri Lanka is much more than beaches, but an intense trip around the island should be finished with the rest of the ocean. I hope these reviews will help you to choose your happy ending in this country, and if you do not plan to go there yet, it will convince you that it’s worth it!

Do you like visiting beaches when you travel? Do you prefer water activites and sports or rather just resting?  What is the most important for you when choosing a beach? Feel free to share your opinions in the comment blox below!

26 comments

    • O wow, that’s a question! In fact I have no idea. I’ve never seen anyone camping wild there… I’m also not sure if I would try mostly because of jungle, monkeys, thousands of homeless dogs and… tropical rains. It rains heavily in Sri Lanka every 2-3 days (in some seasons every day) and it’s really humid place even when it doesn’t rain… So your tent would probably never dry. But you can accommodation for 2 people for about 1500 Rs (10 usd) so it’s not bad when you share costs 😉

    • You can wild camp in Sri Lanka. Ella Rock, Knuckles Range and a few other central spots on the Island have some beautiful mountain ranges that you can camp on. I haven’t camped on a beach yet but we are thinking of doing it soon 🙂 There are some lovely secluded stretches that will be perfect for wild camping

    • Some beaches are stunning! I would love to explore some in the northern part of the island 🙂

    • I’ve heard that in the north of Sri Lanka you can ffind several kilometers of beaches like that! 🙂

  1. Hi Hanna!

    What a cool list!Love all these beaches!Pigeon island is my favourite among the list(but haven’t been there yet)Love its clear water.Hope to visit there soon.

    And talking about Unawatuna,I think it’s not as beautiful as it used to be, thanks to my people(By the way I’m from Sri Lanka)
    Sheli ostatnio opublikował…The top 5 Sri Lanka water sportsMy Profile

  2. Proud to read all the comments guys. Thanks a lot. You’ll always welcome to my motherland.. Sri Lanka, pearl of the Indian ocean.

  3. Great post.. ! Thanks for sharing this amazing list of beaches with some fabulous pictures… Really lovely to see… Seems like you had a great time there.. Hoping for more of your writings about Sri Lanka.

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