While there’s no denying Sri Lanka has some of the most stunning beaches in Asia, not all beaches are created equal so in this blog we detail our favourite, go to beaches on this beautiful tropical isle. The landscapes of Sri Lanka vary dramatically from the North, West, South and East coasts. Climate-wise, December to April opens up the south west coast, while May to September brings out the pristine shimmering blues of the East coast. Here are our prime picks of Sri Lanka’s best beaches.
Passikudah, East Coast Sri Lanka
Season: May to September. With one of the longest stretches of shallow reef coastline in the world, the far flung beaches of Passikudah and Kalkudah offer the experience of walking out kilometers into the sea and still having the water no higher than chest deep. This is the kind of beach you come to for long and lazy down times and to completely switching off. It’s ideal for families with youngest children because of the gentle sloping shores, and lack of strong currents in the season. Some of our favorite water based activities include easy snorkeling in shallow waters, shipwreck dives, private sailing excursion, whale and dolphin watching in season and bike rides along the gorgeous eastern road network that leads south. As this remains a fairly undeveloped part of Sri Lanka it is still possible to see the fishermen up at the crack of dawn hauling in their nets, singing their traditional folk songs for good luck.
Bentota, South West Coast
In season: October to April (Busiest in January and February). One of the island’s most developed beach resort towns, Bentota is where stunning lagoons meet the sea, and it’s long stretch on golden sandy beach has been attracting tourists here since the infancy of tourism in Sri Lanka. Its ease of access from Colombo fast made it a tourist hot spot from the 70s, for travelers looking for shorter beach breaks. Being home to some of the country’s most fascinating personalities like the Bawa brothers and bordering the village of Ambalangoda, from which traditional Sri Lankan masks are made, Bentota’s success lies in the diversity of land and water based activities; Bentota Lagoon offers the best location for waterskiing and wakeboarding on the island, as it’s water sports centres offer PADI certified diving, wind surfing and boat rides though it’s lush and unique mangrove forests. You can visit the two iconic properties of Lunuganga and Brief Gardens, famed for their Italianite architecture and gardens. Visit cinnamon farms and learn the art to peeling cinnamon and or learn about the traditional art of mask carving in Ambalangoda. Bentota presents an eclectic mix of activities that appeal to a wider audience of travelers.
Arugam Bay, East Coast
In season: April to September (Busiest in July and August). Named among the top beaches in the world for surfing, Arugam Bay’s close proximity to Ella, Udawalawe, Kumana and Yala National Parks has made it a hotspot not only for surfers but anyone looking for a laid back, cut off beach experience. The town has been frequented by surfers as far back as the 1960s, but it’s managed to retain its sense of cool, shabby-chic charm with a definite traveler feel to it. The main tourist activity that dominates this fishing village is definitely surfing, thanks to several world class breaks in the area, and it surfers from around the world who come to surf Main Point, Arugam Bay’s main break.It’s not just pro-surfers who can take advantage of A-Bay’s waves, there are plenty of beaches where beginners can take surfing lessons, such as Whiskey point which is about 15 minute drive from Arugam Bay. As well as surfing, A-Bay also attracts those who come for yoga, with dozens of places offering yoga classes.
Kalpitiya, North West Coast
In season: May to October. Relatively new on the tourist beach map, Kalpitiya’s history dates back to ancient times of maritime trade, prior to being colonized by the Portuguese in early 17th Century. Its windy beaches have made it a hot spot for kitesurfing, and known as one of the best spots in the world for this sport. The waters off Kalpitiya are home to spinner and bottlenose dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and the elusive and endangered dugong. Kalpitiya is among the best places in the country for ship wreck dives and visits to impressive nearby lighthouses. This beach resort town windy and dry in comparison to its south and east coast counterparts but makes up for it with stunning and diverse natural habitats ranging from bar reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangrove and vast sand dune beaches. Kalpitiya remains best combined with a visit to the north of the island.
Tangalle, South Coast
In season: December to April. (Busiest in January and February)
Featuring one of the largest bays in Sri Lanka, Tangalle stands apart with its wide open stretches of beach dotted with tall swaying palms that seem to roll out for miles on end. It is the perfect tropical beach, straight out of a postcard. Its balance in seclusion and tourist development make it ideal for all kinds of travelers, and from here the beaches of Talalla and Hiriketiya are not too far. When you tire of magical sunsets and sipping on coconuts, take a tuk-tuk ride to the 2000 year old Rock Temple at Mulkirigala, or visit the nearby Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary with over 150 species of birds, and 54 migratory birds in residence in the winter months. The quintessential Tangalle experience here is the chance sightings of turtle hatchlings making their maiden voyage out to sea.