10 Best Beaches in Sri Lanka 10 Best Beaches in Sri Lanka

10 Best Beaches in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka beaches are a slice of heaven, well known for their idyllic scenery, colorful wildlife, and excellent surfing. From east to west, every beach has its own unique character, from white sand bars and tidal islands to palm tree beach swings and bohemian beach bars. Plus, there’s something for every kind of traveler, whether you’re an advanced surfer looking to find the best waves or a hammock lover looking to relax, sip fresh coconuts, and paddle in the shallows. Whatever you’re after, spending time on the beaches is an absolute must Do in Sri Lanka

Best Sri Lanka Beaches

Enjoy finding the best beaches in Sri Lanka! Use this complete travel guide to find the beach that’s right for you, including ratings for crowdedness, surfing, and season.

Sri lanka beaches map

1. Wijaya Beach – Stunning Beach in Sri Lanka

Our absolute favorite beach of all the Sri Lanka beaches we’ve seen is Wijaya Beach in Unawatuna. This stunning white-sand beach is hugged by hanging palm trees and lapped by crystal-clear water. It truly feels like a little slice of paradise!

Large rocks and a coral reef form a natural swimming pool, making it the perfect place for a swim. Plus, it’s an excellent place to see giant turtles; look out for their little heads poking up above the water for some air. 

After your wonderfully relaxing beach day, head to one of the beach bars and restaurants nearby. Enjoy a bite to eat while you watch the sun go down.

  • Season: December to April and July to September
  • Crowded: A little bit, but there’s always room on the beach to find a spot to sit
  • Surfing: Not great, better for a relaxing dip
sri lanka beaches unawatuna palm swing

2. Mirissa Beach in Sri Lanka

Mirissa attracts all kinds of people, from advanced surfers to avid sunbathers. Of all the Sri Lanka beaches, Mirissa Beach is the most well-known; it’s famous for excellent surfing, restaurants, bars, and snorkeling.

The beach itself stretches for 2km, and in the middle, you’ll find the great Parrot Rock. To the left side of the rock, you’ll find the best spot for snorkeling. To the right side, you’ll find surfers of all ages and abilities enjoying the incredible waves. 

Parrot Rock (although you won’t find parrots!) is a great thing to do while you’re visiting Mirissa Beach. The rock sits in front of the beach and offers great views of the palm tree forest below. Because the rock is out at sea, you’ll need to research tidal times to walk across safely. 

  • Season: November to April and August to October
  • Crowded: Quite popular. Parrot Rock is particularly busy at sunset. We recommend visiting at sunrise (if the tide permits) for a quieter viewing experience. 
  • Surfing: Good surfing to the right of Parrot Rock.
sri lanka beaches mirissa parrot rock

3. Secret Beach in Mirissa

Secret Beach is one of the most hidden Sri Lanka beaches and an absolute gem! Although it’s not much of a secret anymore, it’s a little harder to find. This makes it feel much quieter and more remote.

You’ll find it tucked away to the side of the main beach, with a tiny bar and a local lady selling coconuts. It’s a little adventure in itself to get there, as you’ll need to follow a 2km steep trail over the headland (it takes about 30 minutes from Mirissa main beach).

Once you get there, you’ll see the headland is split into three little beaches. Each one is a little bit different, and it’s an excellent place for snorkeling and sunsets. If you get here early enough in the morning, you’ll likely get to enjoy this beautiful ocean paradise completely alone! 

  • Season: November to April and August to October
  • Crowded: A bit crowded later on in the day, but arrive early, and you’ll get to enjoy it for yourself.
  • Surfing: Not great; better for paddling in the rock pools and enjoying the snorkeling.
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4. Hiriketiya Beach in Sri Lanka

Hiriketiya Beach, also called Hiri Beach, is becoming more famous for its waves. Some say it’s fast becoming the surfer’s paradise of Sri Lanka! It’s easy to see why the horseshoe bay is so popular, backed by dense palm tree forest and close to trendy eateries where you can get a delicious brunch. Surfers are drawn to this spot from all over the world, bringing with them a surfy, bohemian vibe that can be seen throughout Hiriketiya. 

Although the water is busy, there is still room to swim or watch surfers catch the best wave of the day from the comfort of the shore. The best thing to do is rent a board and join them by getting a lesson from one of the surf schools on the beach. 

Tip: After you’ve enjoyed the waves of Hiriketiya, head to nearby Dikwella, where you can find palm tree beach swings to enjoy at sunset.

  • Season: November to April (better for smaller, beginner waves) and August to October (bigger waves for the more advanced surfers)
  • Crowded: A little bit, especially with surfers from mid-morning. Arrive at sunrise for the quietest time of the day.
  • Surfing: Great surfing – one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka!
Hiriketiya Dikwella palm swing header

5. Trincomalee Beach

Trincomalee Beach and Nilaveli Beach are entirely different from other Sri Lanka beaches. Because of their location, off the beaten track on the east coast, you’ll find these beaches almost empty. Plus, the scenery is breathtaking. 

Trincomalee Beach is a little busier, filled with traditional, colorful fishing boats and locals casting their nets just off the shore. You’ll also find some great beach bars here, where you can sit on swings and choose from many refreshing cocktails.

best beaches in Sri Lanka

Hire a motorbike, and just 10 minutes away, down a small sand track, you’ll find Nilaveli Beach. The beach is a long, endless stretch of white sand backed by shallow, crystal-blue water that looks almost too good to be real. Here, time stands still as cows wander slowly down the beach, and there’s almost no person in sight.

For the best snorkeling, jump on a boat from Nilaveli Beach out to Pigeon Island (just 10 minutes away). This paradise island has some of the best snorkeling in Sri Lanka

Tip: From March to August, you will have the chance to spot dolphins and whales during their migration.

  • Season: February to August
  • Crowded: Quiet. If you pick a spot far up Nilaveli beach, you might not see anyone except cows and fish for your entire beach day – bliss!
  • Surfing: Not for surfing, the water is shallow and clear, perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

6. Tangalle Beach

Hidden on the southeastern coast, Tangalle is one of those Sri Lanka beaches made for paradise seekers. It’s a bit harder to reach as it’s dislocated from the usual Sri Lanka route but so worth a visit! This means that few tourists visit Tangalle, creating a more tranquil experience (you’ll notice that the area only contains a handful of visible resorts).

sri lanka beaches tangalle drone

Best Hidden Beach of Sri Lanka

The traditional fishing village is home to the friendliest people and gorgeous white sand beaches, surrounded by turquoise ocean, large frothy waves, and palm-tree and mangrove groves. Because of the reef and rocks, there are strong currents and big waves, which make Tangalle Beach unsuitable for swimming and surfing. However, the long beach is perfect for walks and relaxing and a fantastic place to watch the sun go down. 

Enjoy the peaceful sounds of nature, sleep in the shade of the trees, and get your fill of fresh coconuts from passing sellers. A trip to Tangalle is an absolute must on your journey through Sri Lanka! 

  • Season: November to April and May through October
  • Crowded: Very quiet!
  • Surfing: Not for surfing. Swimming can also be difficult here, especially in September and October. 

7. Koggala Beach

Koggala is a relatively unknown beach paradise in the deep Southwest of Sri Lanka, located between Unawatuna and Mirissa. The white sand and the few people on the beach make Koggala Beach a great location to stay on your trip. Spend your days creating the first footprints in the sand and watching the fantastic variety of wildlife here, from colorful fish to turtles and even small sharks!

You should also make some time to watch the traditional practice of stilt fishing which is still in existence here. This is where the local fishermen sit high up on makeshift bamboo stilts, fishing in the waters close to the beach. They sit out there for hours under the blistering hot sun, showing tremendous strength and dedication to their work. 

Koggala is also known among Sri Lanka beaches as a good surfing spot, although the strong currents mean it’s better for advanced surfers. 

Tip: Koggala has a small rainforest reserve around a lake (close to the beach). Here you can discover mangroves, small islands, and an abundance of wildlife. Join a boat trip and learn more about nature.  

  • Season: December to April and July to September
  • Crowded: Quiet
  • Surfing: Good, better for advanced surfers. Quite windy, so it’s also suitable for kitesurfing and windsurfing.

8. Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay, located on the east coast, is really the best of the Sri Lanka beaches for surfing, becoming more and more famous for surfers worldwide. In fact, there are even international surf competitions now held here. Because every day brings excellent waves, many surfers make Arugam Bay their home during the peak surfing period (April to September).

sri lanka beaches arugam bay

Despite its notoriety, the area still has that remote beachy feel, with wooden cabins lining the beach and palm tree forests. However, it also has fantastic restaurants, cafes, and bars close to the center, where you can find lots of international dishes and bohemian outdoor terraces. 

Tip: Arugam Bay isn’t far from some of the best national parks in Sri Lanka, like Yala and Udawalawe. Because of this, you’ll find lots of tour companies offering jeep safaris where you can spot elephants, monkeys, and even the elusive leopard! See availability for a safari tour of Yala National Park.

  • Best time to visit: April until September (please note that some hotels will be closed outside of this primary surf season).
  • Crowded: Popular in high-season
  • Surfing: Best waves of all the Sri Lanka beaches!

9. Unawatuna Beach

Swaying palms, a golden sand beach, and a few dozen simple beach bars and restaurants; this is the beauty of Unawatuna. This beach is easily the most popular beach on the southern Sri Lankan coast. Although, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s as busy as what you might see in countries like Thailand or Spain. The wide-open spaces in Sri Lanka mean you’ll always find a spot to relax.

sri lanka beaches unawatuna main beach

What’s more, Unawatuna village has a laidback vibe, where days pass slowly in a haze of coconuts, good food, and refreshing morning swims. The beach is located in a sheltered bay, so it’s very safe to swim in.  

Tip: Search for ‘Dream Cabana’ in Unawatuna on Google Maps, and you’ll find the Instagram hot spot of the town: an amazing beach swing hanging high from a long protruding palm tree on the beach. 

  • Season: November to April
  • Crowded: Popular in high season as this part of the south coast is very accessible from Colombo. 
  • Surfing: Possible but not great. The sheltered bay is better for swimming and relaxing.

10. Hikkaduwa Beach

The beach of Hikkaduwa is one of the Sri Lanka beaches located on the west coast and the closest to Colombo. Because of its west-facing nature, the sunsets at Hikkaduwa Beach are out of this world; nothing beats seeing the sun melt into the horizon line in the warm evening air.

During the day, you can see amazing coral reefs, making Hikkaduwa popular for diving and snorkeling. You’ll see a great diversity of wildlife among the reefs and shipwrecks, from small tropical fish to larger sharks. Giant turtles also swim very close to the beach, giving travelers the unique opportunity to see these incredible water giants up close. Please always remember to be respectful of the turtles, never touch them, and observe them from a distance to not cause them stress. 

  • Season: November to April
  • Crowded: Yes, famous because of the turtles and its proximity to Colombo.
  • Surfing: Great surfing!
25/03/2024 https://www.saltinourhair.com/sri-lanka/sri-lanka-beaches/
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