Does Sri Lanka have any world class beaches?

What I love about Lanka’s beaches is their sheer ruggedness. But if you’re looking for white sands and calm seas, does such a beach exist in Sri Lanka?


ආයුබෝවන්! මගේ බ්ලොග් වෙත ඔබව සාදරයෙන් පිළිගනිමු!

Despite being full of cultural attractions and scenic highlights, Sri Lanka is not known for its holiday resorts or paradise beaches. In fact, nowhere on the sub-continent, not even in India, is known for its great beaches. Of course, you have the likes of Kovalam in India and Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, but these do not compare well to the famous beaches of Thailand, the Philippines, or anywhere in the South Pacific (especially not Bora Bora). In my opinion, Sri Lanka actually has more famous beaches than India and Bangladesh put together, but how many of them should you be seeking out for your holiday of a lifetime? Let’s examine a few of the more popular choices:

Trincomalee in the East
Trincomalee in the East

For visitors to Sri Lanka who land at Colombo Airport, Trincomalee is probably the beach resort area that is farthest away, as the crow flies. It would take at least 6 hours driving time to get there, and traffic in Sri Lanka moves slowly! However, upon arrival in the Trincomalee area, you will be greeted with amazingly soft white sands and dark turquoise waters, which for many people will justify the travel time. Seas can be very rough, so swimming may not be possible, but watersports are a certainty!

Unawatuna Beach
Unawatuna Beach

Almost half way between the popular tourist towns of Galle and Hambantota, Unawatuna is needless to say a well-visited beach resort area. Water sports can be popular here, but the soft sands underfoot and tourist infrastructure behind you mean that a visit to these beaches at Unawatuna will always mean total relaxation!


Hikkaduwa is located around 100km south of Colombo. The beach resort areas in Hikkaduwa are very rustic, but many people say that this best represents Sri Lankan rural life. Even the hotels here are quite basic (and cheap). The golden sands and rolling waves found at Hikkaduwa provide a very memorable holiday, and the location is also enroute to Galle, so it’s a popular stopover point for tourists. The rough seas around here also provide a good opportunity for surfers.

Arugam Bay - great for surfing, but what else?
Arugam Bay – great for surfing, but what else? (Photo: Surf Transworld)

A very well-known area for surfing, Arugam Bay is based in the south east corner of Sri Lanka, near the town of Panama. When you mention to people that surfing is a possibility in Lanka, they almost always think of going to Arugam Bay. While the beaches in this corner of Sri Lanka are nothing to write home about, the lush vegetation more than makes up for it. Just be prepared to see lots of surfboards on the beach!

Negombo Beach
Negombo Beach

Negombo is situated just 35km north of Colombo, so this is the easiest beach area to get to in Sri Lanka. However, this means it is also probably the busiest. The locals also love the beaches in this area, so you need to realise it’s not just about tourist resorts and hotels. At Negombo, you may be fighting for some shade under the palm trees with local businessmen or tuktuk drivers!

Cinnamon Beach in Bentota
Cinnamon Beach in Bentota

Not as far south as the likes of Hikkaduwa or the historic town of Galle, Bentota is a very popular beach resort area in Sri Lanka (not to be confused with Hambantota). Bentota is situated 64km south from Colombo and is easily reachable on the train. When you arrive, you will find areas like Cinnamon Beach that are rugged and lush with jungle. While seas may be quite rough, you simply cannot beat the ethereal atmosphere on Bentota’s beaches.

Have you been to any beaches in Sri Lanka, or would you prefer to head further south to the Maldives? Tell me what you think! වර කියවීම සඳහා ස්තූතියි!


12 thoughts on “Does Sri Lanka have any world class beaches?

  1. You should try havelock island in Andamans. They have one of the best beaches i have come across, white powder sand and turquoise blue water


  2. Can anyone tell me if there are any beaches with calm seas for swimming and snorkeling. It seems that the post above often mentions rough seas. We would like to have some beach time on our holiday and we love to swim, but not with waves crashing on our heads or vicious tides. Any advice for calm, lovely seas…or maybe Sri Lanka doesn’t have calm waters? Many thanks. Kim


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