Like many other islands in the world, Sri Lanka is well known for its beautiful coastline and access to beautiful beach experiences. And with so many options it is not easy to choose where to go. Deciding which beach is better than others is a matter of personal taste, but we will tell you about the ones we visited during our trip in the country.
Negombo beach is probably the easiest to access when coming from the Bandaranaike International Airport of Sri Lanka which is located between Negombo and the capital city Colombo.
We had quite a nice time in Negombo, where we enjoyed the city part, but we cannot say it has a beautiful beach. The road along the beach offers access to several expensive restaurants (more expensive than what we found in other places) and a lot of shops. Hotels in the area look lovely and, of course, you also can find some luxury resorts and fancy restaurants. The city of Negombo does not offer much to see but it is a great place to relax after or before a long flight. It is also considered an all-year destination.
Galle Face Beach (Colombo)
Galle Face Beach is the beach of the capital city Colombo and is located close to an industrial area, which makes it not a beach to enjoy very much (definitely not for swimming), but a walk along the coast can offer a short escape from the busy city.
If you move North from Colombo, you can find some nicer beaches around the area of Jaffna, but we cannot tell you much about it as we haven’t been there.
Our favorite beach was in Trincomalee, a beach that we think offers something for everyone. “Trinco” is located on the east coast, its coastal area extending to the south, under the name Uppuveli and a bit to the north, under the name Nilaveli.
We stayed in the North area of Uppuveli beach, which is a great spot for tourists and backpackers. Restaurants in the area offer mainly overpriced meals, but if you search a bit you will find cheaper options. We enjoyed very much the stay there as it proved to be a great place to relax after the intense travel in Sri Lanka. The beach is very beautiful and perfect for long beach walks, offering access to fancy beach bars, coffee shops and snorkeling and diving experiences. One of the famous spots for diving and snorkeling is Pigeon Island, but we did not go there as the corals are in danger due to the water sports and intense mass tourism. Depending on the season you can do some boat excursions for whale and dolphin watching.
The Uppuveli beach is located around 3-4 km far from the city, while Nilaveli beach is approximately 14 km far. Away from the beach area, you can visit temples or the local markets. The best season to visit is considered from May to September, but the weather in Sri Lanka is always subject to change.
If you are heading more south towards the center of the east coast of Sri Lanka, you will reach Batticaloa. We stayed in the less touristic area Navaladi, populated by only a few accommodations and even fewer restaurants. It was a nice place as we were the only ones at the beach, but has also limited access to facilities. To reach the city it takes around 15-20 min by tuk-tuk. Pasikudah is considered more touristic with better options.
Similar to Trincomalee, the travel time to the east coast is considered best during the month of the European summer.
Arugam Bay was on our list of places that we planned to visit, but we found it difficult to reach from Ella due to the poor transportation options, so in the end, we skipped it. Arugam Bay is well known for its surfing activities.
We planned our stay in Mirissa after deciding to spend some time in the south part of the country. Even if the best time to travel to the south is considered from December to March, we were really lucky with the weather in August and profited from low prices and the low number of people during the offseason.
In Mirissa, you will find plenty of affordable restaurants and bars and a beautiful viewpoint close to the harbor. But we also understood that prices here can vary extremely accordingly to the season. The main beach area is very well organized and clean. Instead, the beachfront at Mihiriwella Road, where the fishing boats are, is covered by nets, garbage and death fish.
Mirissa is a great starting point for day trips to other beaches or to Matara city (including the Ahangama Beach), where you can find the famous stilt fishermen (good to know: it is not a common practice anymore nowadays, they just do it to get some money from the tourists). Click here for more photos from Mirissa.
You can also travel to Galle, which has a small, nice and very touristy city inside its Fort. The whole south coast offers great opportunities and beautiful beaches. From November to April whales can be spotted in the area.
Sri Lanka offers great beaches for every kind of traveler and during any season. Most areas are easily accessible by bus and train. For those who enjoy train rides, I recommend the coastal train ride from Colombo to Galle, which I found more entertaining than the famous one from Kandy to Ella.