Roughly the size of Ireland, Sri Lanka may be diminutive, but it packs an awful lot in between its palm-fringed shores. Poised above the equator in the balmy waters of the Indian Ocean, the Cinnamon Isle has endless swathes of lovely strands on which to relax. Read on for our lowdown on the best beaches in Sri Lanka and make sure you pencil in time to lounge on its sands.
This conclusively puts it on the list of the best beaches in Sri Lanka. The surf season runs from April to October and you can rent boards right on the beach if you don’t have your own. If you’re not into surfing, swim in the well-protected inner bay, explore the mangrove lagoons and soak up the chilled-out atmosphere.
Absorb Sri Lanka's ancient culture at Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa on this tailor-made trip to Sri Lankan culture and coast. Journey south to colourful Kandy with its temples and tea factories, followed by a relaxing stay on sandy southwest beaches.
At Bentota’s northern end, you’ll find Paradise Island. This thin spit of land separates the Indian Ocean and the tranquil waters of the Bentota Lagoon. Behind the lagoon, the Bentota Ganga river provides the perfect conditions for jet skiing, speedboating, water skiing and windsurfing. The Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery is also nearby.
If you want to spend your holiday in style without spending too much, read about some of our favourite boutique hotels in Sri Lanka.
Discover the tea plantations, waterfalls and hill country of the Central Province before being whisked away to the golden sands of Sri Lanka’s glorious Indian Ocean beaches on the south coast on this tailor-made trip to Sri Lanka Deluxe. From whale watching to soaking up the rays, this trip offers a relaxing escape to Sri Lanka.
The surf is another attraction that brings people to this shore, with the season running from November to April. You'll also be able to experience outstanding snorkelling at the Coral Sanctuary just a couple of hundred metres offshore. A word of advice, it’s illegal to take coral and shells out of the country.
The strand was seriously depleted by the 2004 tsunami but has since been plumped up with sand scooped from the seabed. Thanks to offshore rocks that break up the waves, the water at Unawatuna is safe for swimming year-round.
Kalpitya offers eco lodges and amazing kitesurfing opportunities as well as superb dolphin watching. You may even spot the occasional pod of sperm whale too. The Barr Reef Sanctuary coral system has the highest level of biodiversity of any coral reef around India.
Join us on a once-in-a-lifetime voyage exploring stunning sunny beaches; lush green mountains; unspoilt forest trails and breath-taking world heritage sites. This all-encompassing tailor-made trip to affordable luxury in Sri Lanka includes accommodation, private transportation and a variety of excursions and activities.
Nearby, the village of Hiriketiya and its horseshoe-shaped beach is becoming one of the south coast’s most popular surfing destinations – at the moment it’s very small scale with just a few guesthouses, but this may change very soon.
If you're looking for more great places in Sri Lanka for surfing read our list of the best places to surf in Sri Lanka.
Tourism has never taken off quite as much as the entrepreneurial locals would like, however, and Tangalla remains resolutely low-key compared to the resorts further west. What gives the place added appeal, however, is the number of rewarding attractions in the surrounding countryside.
Find plenty of options for your holiday with our guide to the best things to do in Sri Lanka, or maybe you would like to choose your destination from the list of the most exotic places to travel in the world.
Ready for a trip to Sri Lanka? Check out the snapshot The Rough Guide to Sri Lanka. If you travel further in Sri Lanka, read more about the best time to go and the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. For inspiration use the itineraries from our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.
We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this doesn’t influence our editorial standards. We only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.