West Coast Beaches
Negambo is well known as the most popular beach resort in the West Coast. This classic fishing town is located 37km North of Colombo. Its wide sandy beaches, lush tall coconut palm trees and gourmet seafood will send any visitor into instant tropical paradise! Be sure to visit the fish market where you won’t be stuck for choice with the freshest seafood. It’s a great photo opportunity for visitors to see in abundance most popular outrigger canoes also known as “oruwa” that are dug out from a huge log, floating along the Negambo lagoon.
Mount Lavinia well known for its popular beach and Mt Lavinia Hotel, is located in South Colombo (12km away from the city). Its clean soft sandy beaches and calm clear waters make it an ideal destination for swimming. The name Lavinia is a symbol of the secret love affair the British Governor had with a local. They used to meet at the holiday house of the Governor built in 1805, which is now a part of the Mount Lavinia Hotel.
South Coast Beaches
Beruwela is situated about 60km south of Colombo. Beruwela is the start of the south coast which stretches for around 130km. It is about an hour drive from Colombo. One of the highlights of Beruwela is the famous Mosque by the lighthouse. This mosque is a reflection of the first Muslim settlement on Sri Lanka, established by the Arab traders in 8th century AD. Beruwela has excellent water sport facilities and offers good bathing throughout the year. The sunny beach stretches from Beruwala to Bentota.
Bentota is situated in the Galle district and is popular for water based recreational activities. It is a popular destination for those who are searching for a romantic getaway. This resort getaway offers everything from hotels, water activities, shopping arcade and an open air theatre showing folk and mask dancing.
Ambalangoda boasts the beautiful coastline and is 86 km from Colombo. It is well known for its devil dancing and mask making. An array of handmade colourful masks that are worn during traditional dances are produced here. Masks carved out of soft wood and brightly painted make a great souvenir and other products such as batiks and hand woven cottons can also be purchased.
Hikkaduwa, located in the Galle district, 98km South of Colombo is commonly described as the most popular social beach spot. It is home to the colourful and breathtaking underwater world of coral and tropical fish. Whether you prefer to come up close and personal with the abundant marine life through snorkelling or admire the view from a distance by taking a ride on a glass bottom boat, Hikkaduwa will not disappoint!
Your fun does not stop once the sun goes down on Hikkaduwa. There are also a range of restaurants, bars, clubs and cafes for the fun and social experiences to continue through the night. Whether you prefer to relax by the sand or explore the busy and alive town of Hikkaduwa, you are guaranteed to have a memorable time!
There’s also an annual festival called “Hikka Fest” which attracts a party going crowd. The “Hikka Fest” is a mix of drummers, dancers and musicians that make the beach town come alive. This event is held usually towards end of July for 3 days.
Galle, recognised as the Sothern Capital (116 km from Colombo), is home to the popular Fort called “Santa Cruz”, which is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Fort which was initially built by the Portuguese in 1619 has been expanded and further developed by the Dutch and the British. Galle was the main seaport of Sri Lanka before Colombo and still handles shipping and cruising yachts to present.
Located 120km from Colombo, Unawatuna is a beautiful beach. The golden beach is protected by a reef and is safe for bathing. The beach can be crowded with locals on public holidays. Unawatuna is still popular with tourists and offers wreck and diving opportunities.
Weligma means “Sandy Village”. Situated 143km from Colombo or 27km from Galle, is true to its name with sandy sweeping bays. It is predominantly a fishing town where you can still see the famous stilt fisherman going about their daily fishing routines.
Located 4km southeast of Weligma, Mirissa is well-known for one of Sri Lanka’s most breathtaking beaches. Its reputation is earned by the beautiful curve of sandy beach with crystal clear and calm waters. It is a great alternative to Unawatuna or Hikkaduwa and ideal for that traveller who wants to experience a quieter beach holiday.
Tangalle (situated 195km from Colombo) had a strong Dutch influence and travellers can still enjoy the white sandy beaches and is a perfect alternative to laze and soak up the sun. Some of the beaches in these bays do shelve off steeply and create waves that can make it dangerous for swimmers.
East Coast Beaches
If your main aim is to have the ultimate beach holiday then Trincomalee is the ideal place! Located 257 km from Colombo, it is surrounded by beautiful beaches and is proudly described as one of the finest harbours in the world by Horatio Nelson (British Admiral of the 18th Century). The magnificent harbour also boasts a strong history since the time of the Sinhala Kings and the Colonial rule since 1676 by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British.
Nilaveli located 14km from Trincomalee is a beach resort is internationally famous for hosting the 1985 Fun Board Championships. It is ideal for sun bathing, swimming, diving, snorkelling and water sports including fishing, sea angling and whale watching.
Kal Kudah and Pasi Kudah
Kal Kudah is a 2km long bay which is described as one of the best beaches in the East Coast. The offshore reef is the key to protecting this area from the monsoon. Pasi Kudah is a 4km bay is located South of Kal Kudah and is popular for its pristine clear waters. In 1973, the area comprising of both Kal Kudah and Pasi Kudah was declared as national Holiday Resorts.
Many tourists are drawn to Batticaloa for its famous attraction of the “Singing Fish”. On a full moon night between April and September locals can hear a faint but musical sound that rises from the lagoon waters that is produced by a breed of fish that is found in the lagoon. The sound is described as noise that is created by rubbing a moistened finger around the rim of a wine glass. Batticaloa also hosts other attractions such as a Dutch Fort, which is a reflection of the Portuguese and Dutch rulings of the town.
Argum Bay well known for its optimum surfing conditions is a popular destination for both the beginner and experienced surfer. Located 314 km from Colombo, is a fishing village with beautiful sweeping beaches ideal for swimming. A popular venue for water sports and ample opportunities are available for fantastic underwater photography. Divers also find the East Coast beaches a wonderful challenge as they explore many of the ship wrecks.