The island nation, resembling a teardrop, sitting nestled amidst the great Indian Ocean, has no dearth of beautiful beaches along its coastline. Whatever your ask – a kid friendly beach, one with water sports, or a quaint one, tucked away from the hustle-bustle, Sri Lanka promises to have something to offer.

Want to know more? Well, look no further. We’ve collated a list of the best beaches in Sri Lanka. Go through our recommendations and pick the one that suits your need.

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: As Sri Lanka has two monsoons, it’s best to time your beach holiday accordingly.

 

1. Nilaveli Beach, Trincomalee

 

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Probably one of the largest beaches in this area, Nilaveli is the northernmost point of Trincomalee. One of Sri Lanka’s most isolated beaches, Nilaveli is blessed with pearly white sands and crystal clear waters. Tourists can swim on a whim here, courtesy the calm waves that subtly sweep the shores for the most part of the day.

Restaurants, shacks, bars, and hotels line the shore along with sunbeds that can be rented for a small amount. Whale watching tours are quite popular activities that operate from here during May through September.

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How to get here: There’s a direct train to Trincomalee from Colombo early in the morning that takes around 7.5 hours. Once in Trincomalee, you can hire a tuk-tuk/taxi or rent a car/bike to Nilaveli, roughly 14 km away.

Best time to go: April to September

 

2. Pigeon Island, Trincomalee 

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A small island just 1 km off the coast of Nilaveli, Pigeon Island can be reached by boat. A Marine National Park, this island is home to coral reefs and is famous for snorkeling and diving. You’ll find yourself spotting exotic fishes, sea turtles, and sharks everywhere you turn. The crystal clear water makes it one of the best snorkeling experiences in Sri Lanka.

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How to get there: There are ample of boats at Nilaveli to ferry you to the island and back. These boats also offer snorkeling equipment if you’d require.

Best time to go: April to September

Timings: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: Plan a trip accordingly and be sure to carry along drinking water as there are no shops or restaurants on some parts of the island.

 

3. Uppuveli Beach, Trincomalee

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Uppuveli is one of the largest beaches on the coast of Trincomalee. Soft golden sand, warm waters, and calm waves are just some of the attributes that can best describe this beach. Pick from one of the many bars, cafes, and restaurants that dot the shore or just grab a sunbed and sit with a chilled beer. What’s more, this spot is also quite popular for whale watching and sunset cruise tours. You could try one of those too. 

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How to get there: This beach is well connected by road, so you can get a tuk-tuk/taxi or make your way in a privately rented vehicle.

Best time to go: April to September

 

4. Marble beach, Trincomalee 

Offbeat

Perched on the southern tip of Trincomalee, the marble beach is run and maintained by the Navy.  Despite being a favorite among locals and foreigners, the beach never feels crowded. If you’re looking for some quietude, then head to the beach early in the morning. As the day picks up, the crowd starts trickling in. 

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How to get there: This beach lies about 17km south of Trincomalee and is easily accessible by road.

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: When hungry, you can grab a quick bite at the Naval restaurant. Some delicious seafood with the waves crashing close, is exactly what the heart ordered!

 

5. Arugam Bay 

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Listed as one of the best surfing spots in the world, Arugam Bay is one of the most happening places to be on the east coast of Sri Lanka. A hot favourite with adventure seekers, it has some incredible surfing points, perfect for beginners and advanced surfers alike. 

This place is also known for hosting some of the best beach parties and the vibe is chill as can be. We’d recommend staying here for at least a couple of days to experience it all. 

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How to get here: The journey can be taxing and can take more than 12-14 hours. Hiring a direct cab/mini-van is what we’d recommend if you are in a group, as this will cut down your travel time by half.

Best time to go: April to September

Ithaka’s pro tip: Do join a yoga class that is quite popular on the beach during morning hours. Often, hotels arrange for personal yoga sessions too!

 

6. Pasikuda Beach 

Offbeat

Situated on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, this is a beach frequented by backpackers. The water here is calm and shallow for a fairly long stretch from the shore, making it ideal for swimming. There are a few beach resorts on the northern side of the beach while the southern point is usually thronged by locals.

You won’t find a lot of beach bars, restaurants or sunbeds here. So make sure you take the heat and sun into account before venturing out mid-day. 

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How to get there: There are two direct trains to Valaichchenai from Colombo, one early morning and one at night. The journey takes 6 hours. From Valaichchenai, Pasikuda is a short distance and can be reached by taxis available outside the station.

Best time to go: April to September

 

7. Tangalle Beach

Offbeat

This beach sits in the southern province of Sri Lanka and surprisingly enough, it still isn’t thronged by a whole lot of tourists.  While the palm tree-lined beach is perfect for people looking for some calm and quiet, don’t be deceived by the picturesque vista and head for a swim. This, as the waves can get fairly rough. A small bay with a sheltering reef nearby catches some of the biggest waves and forms a natural jacuzzi – do look this up. 

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How to get there: Tangalle is approximately 180 km from Colombo and has a direct bus running from Colombo and back. You can also hire a personal taxi to reach here.

Best time to go: December to May

 

8. Mirissa Beach

Mirissa BeachPhoto by Ji-Elle from Wikimedia Commons

Recommended

Mirissa is a paradise for young travellers who flock here for exciting watersport options, DJ bashes, and for a chance to catch sight of a blue whale! This beach is home to some really good restaurants, bars, and shacks that ensure delicious food and an amazing nightlife.

Tourists often catch whale watching tours that run through the months of December to April so make sure you inquire in advance about the sightings. You can also snorkel, dive and try some of the other popular water sport here. Mirissa also boasts of the best sunsets ever. So be ready with your camera to try and capture some. 

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How to get there: A direct bus connects southern beach towns from Colombo and back. Taxis too are also easy to find.

Best time to go: December to May

 

9. Secret Beach

Secret BeachPhoto via pxhere.com

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As the name suggests, this is as secretive as it gets! The warm blue water here is quite calm, making it easier to swim. However, be careful of the actual sand while walking, as it is rocky and filled with a significant amount of small stones. Crack open a coconut, enjoy the sight of small hermit crabs, and a quiet sunset while out here.

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How to get here: Short 15-20 minute walk from Mirissa.

Best time to go: December to May

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: You can also get your snorkeling gear and head out to this small beach for a few hours!

 

10. Unawatuna Beach

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You’ll discover Unawatuna Beach as you go further out, to the west of Mirissa. With waters ideal for swimming and shores lined with beach shacks, Unawatuna is frequented by a lot of tourists. Go here if you don’t mind the crowd and want to relax on a sunbed with some chilled beer at hand.

A short walk to the west of the beach will take you to a trail of small rocks and stairs leading up to a small hill with a Japanese Peace Pagoda on top of it. Golden Buddha statues and stunning views of the ocean are some of the things to look out for when here.

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How to get here: A direct bus from Colombo makes a stop here before continuing its journey further south-east. Taxis and tuk-tuk function every day.

Best time to go: December to May

 

11. Hikkaduwa Beach

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Boasting its very own marine national park, Hikkaduwa is home to lots of coral reefs, sea turtles, and amazing marine life. With clear waters and perfect waves, the beach is popular for snorkeling, swimming, and surfing up a storm.

The best thing about Hikkaduwa are its sea turtles. Tourists are often found feeding them seaweed. If you’re lucky, you’ll also find some baby turtles to release into the ocean. Be sure to do some surfing or check out a beach shack party once the sun goes down, as these are around in plenty!

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How to get there: A direct bus connects southern beach towns from Colombo and back. You can also take private taxis.

Best time to go: December to May

 

12. Wijaya Beach, Unawatuna

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Located less than 3kms from the Unawatuna beach, Wijaya is a small offbeat beach on the Southern coastline of Sri Lanka. This place is usually frequented by backpackers and people looking for some quiet downtime. It also has a natural reef that breaks waves and is perfect for swimming, and snorkeling with sea turtles. Swimming with huge sea turtles here is probably one of the best experiences you’ll ever have in Sri Lanka.

There is a swing by a palm tree right on the beach that you can use by paying a small charge and restaurants by the shore to ensure that you don’t go hungry either. 

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How to get there: It is located less than 3km off Unawatuna and can be accessed by tuk-tuks/taxis.

Best time to go: December to May

 

13. Bentota Beach, Galle

Recommended

Stretching along the West coast of Sri Lanka, this is probably one of the most beautiful and cleanest beaches in the country. It is still pretty untouched as compared to other beaches so keep in mind the fact that you won’t find many restaurants and bars out here. But if you are looking to have a quiet vacation away from tourists, this is the perfect place for you to be.

People also prefer taking a river safari across the Bentota River close by to experience the wildlife. There’s also a turtle hatchery neighboring the beach that rescues turtles and nurses them back to health.

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How to get there: Around 80 km away from Colombo, the best way to get here is by a private taxi. There are no direct buses or trains, so you’ll have to change a couple of transports to get here.

Best time to go: December to May

 

14. Negombo Beach 

Popular

Situated at just 10km from the Bandaranaike airport, the Negombo beach is probably the most easily accessible beach in Sri Lanka. While this isn’t the most beautiful of Sri Lanka’s beaches, you’ll still find the typical clear water and clean sandy shores here.

There are a few good restaurants on the beach that you could head to for a good Sri Lankan meal post a dip in the sea. Water sporting options are available too and a ride on the catamarans is a must!

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How to get here: The best way to get here is by a direct cab from the Colombo airport or city.

Best time to go: December to April

 

15. Alankuda Beach, Kalpitiya

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The Alankuda Beach on the Western coast of Sri Lanka is still a new discovery and is quite secluded. The main attractions here are the dolphin and whale sightings (there are plenty of boat tours available throughout the season).

The strong winds and currents also make this a hot spot for kite-surfing and speed-boat riding. There are a few luxury beach resorts around that you can choose to in for a night. 

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How to get there: The easiest way is to hire a private taxi from Colombo, some 150km away. You can also choose to board a train or a bus to Puttalam and then take a taxi to Kalpitiya (50 km).

Best time to go: December to April

 

Sri Lanka is well endowed with beautiful beaches, some absolutely isolated, while others may be somewhat popular but certainly worth it. With a beach catalog like this, all you’re left to do is choose the one that best suits your vibe!  

 

 

 

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