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Sri Lanka’s Best Beaches


Sri Lanka is a great destination offering a huge variety of experiences within a relatively compact area. Brilliant wildlife, tea plantations, great hiking opportunities, Sinhalese culture, colonial architecture… Whatever draws you to Sri Lanka, most people want to spend at least a few days on the beach. We often get asked about our favourite Sri Lankan beach destinations, so here’s a quick round up of the locations we’d recommend.

A turtle on the beach in Aluthgama, Sri Lanka


Situated on the west coast, this is the country’s most popular beach destination with locals and visitors alike. It’s home to most of Sri Lanka’s bigger resort style hotels, but there are also many smaller boutique options. The beaches are well kept, the water is safe for swimming and the airport is within easy reach, meaning it works well at the end of a long trip or as a single destination for a shorter getaway.

Bentota Beach on Sri Lanka's west coast


Down in the south of the country lies Tangalle. There are numerous beautiful beaches here, and whilst some can be a little overrun with independent travellers, there are some lovely unspoiled options and a good range of smaller, more characterful places to stay – especially if you aren’t a huge fan of large resorts. Tangalle works well as a beach stay midway through your visit to Sri Lanka.

A sailboat sits on the shore of a beach in Tangalle, Sri Lanka


Boasting a charming, well preserved old town, and plenty of nearby beaches, it’s no wonder many visitors to Sri Lanka include Galle on their list of must-visit destinations. Many of the beaches surrounding the town are not suitable for swimming due to the strength of the tides, but Unawatuna is a lucky exception. There are many great quality places to stay along the surrounding coast, including many that are within easy reach of Galle Fort and Unawatuna, making Galle a great destination if you want to mix beaches and culture.

The Galle lighthouse in Galle, Sri Lanka


If you have the time, then there are plenty of pristine, unexplored and undeveloped beaches on the country’s east coast. The area around Trincomalee has some great beach options, as well as some charming places to stay which often come for a smaller price tag than the southern hotels and guesthouses. Unusually, Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons – the southwest monsoon runs from May through to September and the northeast monsoon runs from October to January – meaning that no matter when you visit the island it is always likely to be sunny somewhere. However, if you have young children and your travels are limited to school holidays, you may want to head for the country’s east coast to avoid the rain.

The beautiful beaches of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

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