The island of Sri Lanka is packed full of beautiful beaches. After spending a month exploring here, we compiled a list of what we think are the 6 best beaches in Sri Lanka. We have also put together a map of Sri Lanka beaches to help you plan your travels and make the most of your holiday.
Map of Sri Lanka Beaches
As an island paradise, it’s no surprise that there are a multitude of amazing beaches to choose from, but we wanted to narrow it down to a list of the top 6 beaches in Sri Lanka. These beaches have everything from beautiful golden sands, sloping palm trees, rope swings and incredible surf. We definitely recommend visiting as many incredible beaches as you can on your trip, but make sure you don’t miss any of the spectacular ones that made their way onto this list.
Dalawella Beach | Unawatuna
Located on the south coast of Sri Lanka, you will probably recognize Dalawella Beach without even realising it. It is home to the most famous rope swing in Sri Lanka. Pictures of the palm tree rope swing are all over the place and it’s not hard to see why. It is a seriously Instagram-worthy location.
However, it wasn’t the rope swing that made this our favourite beach. Just around the corner from the rope swing is a small lagoon that is perfect for relaxing in ALL day. The water is only about waist deep and is an ideal temperature to float around in. It is also very common to see turtles in the lagoon and there is no need for a snorkel as the water is so shallow and clear.
Dalawella Beach is also home to Wijaya Rock, another beautiful location to shoot some photos at sunset. Climb the rock, grab some cool photos and keep an eye out for turtles in the water below as they are everywhere.
Getting to Dalawella Beach
This beach is just a short tuk tuk ride (200-300LKR/$1.13 – $1.70 USD) from Unawatuna making it easily accessible. We advise getting dropped off at Dream Cabana hotel as this is where the famous Dalawella palm tree rope swing is and walk around the corner to the lagoon.
Secret Beach | Mirissa
Secret Beach is a stunning little beach that is located just 10 minutes away from Mirissa by tuk tuk. It is quite a small beach but in this case, size doesn’t matter. As you walk onto the beach, just to the right, around the corner, the golden sand is surrounded by palm trees and has a perfect natural swimming pool to cool down in. A rocky outcrop protects a small section of the beach, meaning even when the waves are rolling in you have a nice calm place to swim.
Getting to Secret Beach
As Secret Beach is a short drive from Mirissa, it doesn’t attract many people so expect a relaxing few hours away from the crowds. We recommend taking a tuk tuk there which should cost around 400LKR ($2.26 USD) from the town centre. The road is steep, narrow and winding making for an interesting journey.
Hiriketiya Beach | Dikwella
Hiriketiya Beach or Hiri, as it is known by the locals, is an absolute gem. This sheltered, mushroom-shaped bay offers great waves and attracts surfers of all levels from across the globe. The beach and the bay here are absolutely epic, and on top of that, there is a really chilled out vibe here that seems to come hand in hand with a place packed with surfers. We had an awesome few days here surfing and hanging out on the beach.
Hiri is really starting to grow in popularity so it can be quite busy. Having said that, we found that it kind of adds to the atmosphere of the place. Definitely a beach you should visit and a great place to catch some waves.
Getting to Hiriketiya Beach
If you stay in Hiriketiya or Dikwella the beach is easily accessible by foot so no need to catch a tuk tuk. We were never more than 10 minutes walk away. The main entrances to the beach are in front of Dots Bay House and another in front of The Grove.
Goyambokka Beach | Tangalle
The hidden gem on the south coast of Sri Lanka. Many people make the mistake of skipping the town of Tangalle completely and heading directly to Yala National Park instead. Stay a night or two in Tangalle just so you can visit Goyambokka. As it is further from the main town, it is almost guaranteed to not be overly crowded. There were only a handful of people when we visited. It’s a short but beautiful stretch of golden sand with awesome turquoise water and easy swimming. There is also some amazing food available right on the beach.
This is probably the least well known beach on our list but judging by how good it was, it might not stay that way for long.
Getting to Goyambokka Beach
A tuk tuk from Tangalle town centre should cost 250-300LKR ($1.40-$1.70 USD) and take less than 10 minutes. From where you get dropped off, it is a short walk (100 metres) down a little alley towards the beach.
Uppuveli Beach | Trincomalee
If you make the long trek up to Trincomalee on Sri Lanka’s east coast, you will be well rewarded with a couple of incredible beaches. The first of these is Uppuveli Beach. Uppuveli is the most popular area to stay around the Trincomalee region, meaning you’ll have this fantastic beach right on your doorstep. The beach here stretches for miles and has some of the nicest golden sand and clear turquoise water in Sri Lanka. They never really get ocean swell up here either which means it is perfect for swimming in.
The waterfront is lined by some awesome bars such as our go-to favourite, Fernando’s Beach Bar. This funky spot has shaded huts to hang out in, hanging swings and a super chilled, funky environment. Grab an ice cold drink and chill out in one of their day beds!
Getting to Uppuveli Beach
From Trincomalee town centre a tuk tuk to Uppuveli should cost 300LKR ($1.70 USD). Although we would recommend staying in the tourist area surrounding Uppuveli Beach rather than Trincomalee itself. Once in Uppuveli, the easiest beach access is through Fernando’s Beach Bar.
Nilaveli Beach | Trincomalee
Just a short drive from Uppuveli you will find Nilaveli Beach which we think has the cleanest and clearest blue water in the whole of Sri Lanka. The water clarity here is stunning. It is another beach that stretches for miles meaning there is always a quiet patch of sand for you to hang out on. Tours to Pigeon Island National Park also leave from Nilaveli, offering another great outdoor activity for your trip to Sri Lanka.
It is a very popular beach with local tourists so we would advise visiting during the week if you are looking for a quieter experience.
Getting to Nilaveli Beach
This beautiful spot is just a 20-minute scooter ride from Uppuveli. Keep in mind that there are numerous entrances to the beach as it is so long. Google Maps takes you to the main entrance but we went a road further before turning off to the right in order to find a quieter area of the beach. We found the further north along the beach we were, the cleaner the water and surroundings were.
You really will be spoilt for choice in Sri Lanka when it comes to awesome beaches. There are cool beaches at every turn but some just stand out a little bit more than the others and deserved to make it onto our list of the best beaches in Sri Lanka. While these were our favourites we are sure you will get the chance to explore and discover some of your own. We hope that this travel guide and handy map of Sri Lanka beaches will help you to get out and enjoy these amazing places.
*Please note, prices are a reflection of our experiences while traveling Sri Lanka in March 2019 and are subject to change. Prices quoted in LKR were the exact prices we paid and USD conversions are listed for your convenience.