An island nation in the South Asian province, Sri Lanka has absolutely no shortage of beautiful beaches along its coastline. Whether you’re looking for a family friendly beach to have a fun time with kids, or a secluded offbeat beach for some calm and tranquility, or even a beach to enjoy some world class adventure and watersports at – Sri Lanka promises to fulfil all your expectations from a beach vacation. 

Looking for some good beaches and wondering what time is best to visit? We’ve collated a list of our favourite beaches in Sri Lanka including the most popular, offbeat and some personal recommendations so that you wouldn’t have to search farther. 

Sri Lanka’s beach destinations can mainly be divided into 3 groups 

1. The Eastern Province Beaches 
2. The South West Province Beaches
3. The Western Province Beaches

We’ll follow this bifurcation below to make everything easier to understand. So here’s our list of the best beaches in Sri Lanka!

The Eastern Province Beaches

Sri Lanka is a country with a complicated weather cycle because of the two monsoon seasons it experiences in a year. The best time to plan your trip to the beaches in the Eastern Province is between April and September as this area experiences monsoons in the months between November and March.

1. Nilaveli Beach, Trincomalee (Recommended)

Probably one of the largest beaches in this area, Nilaveli is situated on the northernmost point of Trincomalee. This has to be one of the most isolated beaches in Sri Lanka and is generally known to be less touristy. This beach is blessed with pearly white sand and crystal clear waters that let you swim on whims, courtesy the calm waves that quietly sweep the shores for the most part of the day. 

Whale watching is also a popular attraction at this beach during the months of May through September, so book a trip accordingly.

You’ll find a few restaurants, shacks, bars and hotels lining the beach along with their sunbeds that can be rented for a small amount.

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

2. Pigeon Island, Trincomalee (Recommended)

Pigeon Island is a small island just 1 km off the coast of Nilaveli and can be accessed by boats operating from Nilaveli. If there’s only one recommendation you take from this list, let this be it.

You’ll find the most crystal clear waters in all of Sri Lanka by the Pigeon Island. Situated in a Marine National Park, this island is home to a lot of coral reefs and is famous for snorkeling and diving. You’ll find yourself spotting exotic fishes, sea turtles and sharks everywhere you turn and the transparency of the water makes it one of the best snorkeling experiences in Sri Lanka.

This place is operable only between 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. so make sure you plan a trip accordingly. There are no shops or restaurants on that side of the island so make sure to carry water along. Littering is absolutely not allowed, so carry a small bag to dump the trash in.

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

3. Uppuveli Beach, Trincomalee (Popular)

Located 10km to the south of Nilaveli, Uppuveli is probably one of the largest beaches on the coast of Trincomalee. Soft golden sand, warm waters, calm waves are just some of the attributes that can be used to describe this beach. There are quite a few bars, cafes, and restaurants by the beach, so just choose one for a few hours and grab a sunbed when the sun is at its hottest. 

You’ll find some parts of the beach lined with fishing and tourist boats as this is a famous spot for fishing and boat tours (like Pigeon Island) alike. 

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

4. Marble beach, Trincomalee (Offbeat)

Situated on the southernmost point of Trincomalee, the marble beach is run and maintained by the Navy. Blessed with soft white sand and transparent blue waters, this Beach is a favorite among locals and foreigners alike. The earlier hours of the day is the perfect time to visit the beach to enjoy some alone time as local kids and families start dribbling in towards the afternoon. The crowd will still be a lot less than what you’re used to so it’ll still feel pretty secluded – a win-win. 

When hungry, you can grab a quick bite at the Naval Restaurant. Some delicious sea food with the waves crashing close is exactly what the heart ordered! 

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

5. Arugam Bay (Popular)

Situated in the east coast of Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay is a hot favorite with surfers and adventure seekers. And why wouldn’t it be? Arugam Bay is known as one of the best surfing spots in the world, after all. You’ll find some incredible surfing points like the Main Point (perfect for intermediate to advanced surfers) and Whiskey Point (perfect for beginners with teaching lessons available).

I know we’ve said it before, but the water here is crystal clear again. Sri Lanka is blessed that way. 

This place is also known for some amazing beach parties and chill vibes. You’ll find some pretty great Yoga classes by the beach during early morning hours, hotels too usually arrange for personal Yoga sessions. 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 tiring as it takes more than 12-14 hours. Hiring a direct cab/mini-van is what we’d recommend if you get a chance to split the cost with a few other people as the journey will only take around 7 hours.

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 quite a 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’ll not find a lot of beach bars or restaurants – and hence, not a lot of sunbeds. So make sure you take the heat and the 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 in the night, 6 hours long and comfortable. From Valaichchenai, Pasikuda is a short distance and can be reached by taxis available outside the station.

The South and South West Province Beaches

These areas experience monsoon between the months of June and October making December through May, the perfect months for a trip this side.

7. Tangalle Beach (Offbeat)

This beach sits in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka and is still, surprisingly virgin. The turquoise blue waters, the palm tree lined coasts and the pristine clean shores make this the perfect tropical destination for people looking for some calm and quiet. Swimming here is usually not recommended as the waves can be rough. A small bay with a sheltering reef nearby catches some of the biggest waves and forms a natural Jacuzzi.

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How to get there: Tangalle is approximately 180 km from Colombo and has a direct bus (#32) running through the major towns of the South Coast, from Colombo and back. You can also hire a personal taxi to reach here.

8. Mirissa Beach (Recommended)

Located 50kms west of Tangalle, the beautiful beach of Mirissa is known to attract young traveler. This beach is home to some really good restaurants, bars and shacks that ensure an amazing nightlife. It is also blessed with some exceptionally clear blue waters and soft golden sands.

You’ll witness some of the most beautiful sunsets ever, on this beach. So be ready with your camera to try and capture it. 

This is also a famous spot for whale watching tours through the months of December to April so make sure you inquire in advance about their sightings. You can also snorkel, dive and try some of the other popular water sports here. 

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How to get there: The direct bus (#32) runs through southern beach towns from Colombo and back so you can grab a seat there. Taxis are also easy to find.

9. Secret Beach (Recommended)

The warm blue water is not accompanied by rough waves, making it easier to swim here. Although, be careful on the actual sand while walking, as it does tend to be rockier and filled with a significant amount of small stones. Keep an eye out on the dozens of small hermit crabs you can spot while out here.

You’ll find a few shops selling water and juices to keep you hydrated. Get your snorkeling gear and head out to this small beach for a few hours! 

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How to get here: Small 15 – 20 minute walk from Mirissa.

10. Unawatuna Beach (Popular)

You’ll find Unawatuna beach as you go further out, to the west of Mirissa. This is probably one of the most famous Beaches in Sri Lanka and is frequented by a lot of tourists and rightfully so. The calm blue water makes swimming here a favorite attraction.

Owing to its fame, you’ll find a lot of bars and shacks along the shore with sun beds up for rent, in case you want to take a nap or sip on some chilled beer. 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 Big Buddha statue and a Pagoda at the top of it. The view from up here is absolutely stunning against the backdrop of the beach.  The path here makes for a scenic walk as well. Go here if you don’t mind the crowds. 

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How to get here: The direct bus from Colombo (#32) makes a stop here before continuing its journey further south-east. Taxis and tuk-tuk function every day.

11. Hikkaduwa Beach (Popular)

Hikkaduwa is a popular resort town that attracts a lot of tourists during peak season. While the beach does tend to get quite crowded, this still hasn’t affected the quality of water or the cleanliness around the beach. The waters are crystal blue with soft golden beaches – typical of Sri Lanka.

Swimming and snorkeling here, are a hot favorite among tourists because of the clear waters and the amazing marine life. If you’re lucky, you’ll also find sea turtles moving to the shore to hatch eggs. Make sure you don’t go too near or be aggressive lookers, so as not to scare them off. The popularity of the beach makes sure there are numerous bars and restaurants lining the shore for some downtime. Be sure to check out some beach parties once the sun goes down, as they pop up in plenty! 

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How to get there: Bus #32 and private taxis.

12. Wijaya Beach, Unawatuna

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 a quiet downtime. It also has a natural reef that breaks waves and is perfect for swimming and snorkeling with sea turtles. Swimming beside huge sea turtles at Wijaya is probably one of the best experiences you’ll ever have in Sri Lanka.

There is a swing by a palm tree that you can use by paying a small charge on the beach and you’ll also find a few restaurants by the shore for a quick bite. 

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

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 very underdeveloped as compared to other beaches so keep in mind that you won’t find many restaurants and bars on this beach. But if you are looking to have a quiet vacation away from tourists, this is the perfect place for you to be.

People prefer to take a river safari across the Bentota River close by, to experience the wildlife. 

There’s also a sea turtle research center nearby, at Kosgoda where treatments are provided to injured and endangered species before being nurtured back to health. It’s worth a visit, promise!

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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.

The Western Province Beaches

The Western province experiences a similar weather cycle as the South Province does, with heaviest rains between July and November. December to April is the best time to visit this region.

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 shore 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. There are a few water sporting options available 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.

15. Alankuda Beach, Kalpitiya (Recommended)

The Alankuda Beach on the Western coast of Sri Lanka is still a new discovery and is relatively secluded when compared to its Southern counterpart. The main attractions here, are the dolphin and whale sightings with a lot 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 developed beach resorts offering various luxurious services like pools and massages so you can also choose to stay here for a night. 

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

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