Sri Lanka Beaches: A Guide From Coast to Coast

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Palm trees and pastel skies. The Pearl of Indian Ocean has some of the most gorgeous beaches that promise to take your breath away. No matter what type of beach bum you are, you’ll find your little paradise here.

After having 2 weeks+ of travelling from Central Highlands to Cultural Triangle and all the way up to the North, we can’t wait to enjoy our last two weeks in Sri Lanka chilling at different beaches.

So, here’s a guide all the beaches we had explored from East to South, and shall let the pictures tell the rest.

Trincomalee

Uppuveli and Nilaveli beaches were two of those beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka badly affected by the 2004 tsunami. Fortunately, after the conflict of the North ended, these two beaches in the North-East became popular for travellers seeking sunshine and seclusion.

Perfect weather for beach photoshoot!
Whole beach by ourselves
You may even spot some reindeer by the beach!

Season: February to August

Where we stay: Lobster Inn (1,800LKR/ USD10)

Getting there: We took a 5-hours bus from Jaffna to Trincomalee (362LKR/ USD2). After that, we took a local bus (15LKR) to Uppuveli Beach area where we stayed.

Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay located on the East coast, is famously known as surfers paradise. This area is recognized worldwide as one of the best surf spots in Sri Lanka, mainly for experienced surfers as the waves can swell to 5-10 meters. The two well-known surf spots are Peanut Farm and Whiskey Point.

My mermaid seat
Low season = no tourists

Season: May to September

Where we stay: Burj Hut Hotel (2,000LKR/ USD11)

Getting there: It is a hassle to travel from Trincomalee to Arugam Bay as there is no direct bus. First, we took a 3.5-hours bus from Trincomalee to Kalmunai (293LKR/USD1.60), then a 30-minutes bus from Kalmunai to Akkaraipattu (50LKR/USD0.30), then another 1-hour bus to Pottuvil (95LKR/USD0.50).

From Pottuvil there is a bus towards Arugam Bay at every 30-minutes, however the tuk-tuk drivers will lie to you saying there is no bus. They will charge you 150-200LKR for a less than 15-minutes ride to Arugam Bay. If you are as budget as us, you may ignore these drivers and patiently wait for the bus which costs you 20LKR.

Tangalle

Hidden on the South-Eastern coast, Tangalle epitomizes the beauty of relaxation. It is a little bit hard to reach since it’s out of the way from the usual Sri Lanka route but definitely so worth a visit! Tangalle beach is very quiet compared to Mirissa and only contains a handful of visible resorts. We glad to have spent Christmas here as it was so much peaceful.

Overlooking Tangalle coastline
Tranquility at Goyambokka Beach
Hiriketiya Beach is the perfect spot for beginner surfers

Season: November to April

Where we stay: Sadika Guesthouse (2,000LKR/USD11)

Getting There: From Arugam Bay, you will have to go back to Pottuvil and catch another bus 7-hours to Matara. Most travellers go to Mirissa via Matara which is 15-minutes away by tuk-tuk. If you are heading Tangalle like us, you have to change bus at Matara for another 1-hour journey.

Midigama

We didn’t knew about Midigama until we arrived at Welligama. Welligama and Midigama is only 10-minutes away by riding, and that’s how we found this awesome town. If not, we will find our time wasted for stopping at Welligama.

Facing the Indian Ocean, there are many good spots in Midigama depending on your skills. Unlike Arugam Bay which attracts for non-surfers, Midigama is the place you may consider skipping if you don’t even surf. There is nothing else to do in this small town except to surf, eat, sleep.

Most popular from intermediate to expert is the Lazy Left and Lazy Right, located close to the market. If you are super confident (but also make sure you are super pro), other spots include Coconut, Plantation and Ram’s. Do take note that this area is a reef spot so you need to be extra cautious!

Surfing at sunrise
Sunset goal

Season: December to early March

Where we stay: Kalaara Wave Resort (1,500LKR/USD8.50)

Getting There: Take a bus from Tangalle to Matara (80LKR/USD0.50), then change to another bus which pass through Midigama (40LKR/USD0.25). Total journey should take less than 1.5-hours.

Mirissa

The quintessential main beach destination of Southern Sri Lanka, Mirissa retains a fantastic charm, picturesque beaches and chilled out beach vibe. With its 3 separate bays and some cool rock points in-between, chances are you’ll be spending most of your time here!

Due to its overpopulated with tourists, we did a day-trip to Mirissa from Midigama which is only 15-minutes away. Our mission was to find the “secret beach” and take a mandatory shot on top of Coconut Tree Hill!

The “secret beach”
Palm tree dome
Bonus shot

Season: November to April and August to October

Unawatuna

Unawatuna Beach is a busy crescent bay beach edged by the delightful groves of swaying palms, protected by twin reefs and supported by impressive rocky outgrowth. This place is like a mini Bali in Indonesia.

Famous for its instagrammable rope swing and low bending palm trees, Dalawella Beach is a beautiful strip of sand just down the road from Unawatuna.

Season: November to April

Where we stay: Ceylon Hostel Galle (1,881 LKR/ USD10.50)

Getting There: It’s only a 30-minutes bus ride from Midigama to Unawantuna (90LKR/USD0.50)

Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa is a cool little beach town, with lots of restaurants, cafes and bars, and of course great beaches! Once a diver’s paradise, Hikkaduwa was greatly affected by the 2004 Tsunami. Nevertheless, it is still a great place for wreck diving, while the corals and reefs are restoring.

Hikkaduwa is another popular spot for beginner’s surfers and turtle watching at sunsets. Since it is a long long stretch of beach, you can choose to stay at the party area, or the quieter spot.

You may feed these wild turtles but please do not touch them
Secret spot for sunset
Counting down at the beach
Our first dive on 1st January 2019!

Season: November to April

Where we stay: Ozone Guesthouse (1,500LKR/USD8.5)

Getting There: There’s a direct train from Unawatuna to Hikkaduwa (60LKR/USD0.40).

Negombo

Negombo Beach is probably the most under-rated beach of all. Tourists usually spend their first or last day in Negombo, hence the beach is usually been overlooked. The beach was empty while we were there. The only thing that made it worthwhile is we get to take a shot with a traditional fishing boat.

Our first shot of Sri Lanka’s beach

Season: December to March

Where we stay: Negombo Village Guesthouse (1150LKR/USD6.50)

A day dreamer who has a passion in roaming around the world getting lost, experiencing new cultures and meeting the locals. I enjoy staying with a local home (i.e couchsurfing) and work with them (i.e workaway)!

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