Golden Beaches of Sri Lanka
Seeing as Sri Lanka has this island nation thing going for it, it’s pretty obvious that this beautiful country is going to have a beach at the end of any point you walk towards. Dilemma is: which ones are really worth visiting? This article will take you through 6 of the best beaches Sri Lanka has to offer.
First thing’s first, though, you’ll have to know where to land. If you’re into the west coast beaches, Bandaranaike International Airport is the landing point of choice. For south-west coast visits, Ratmalana Airport; and for south-east coast there’s Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport. For east coast beaches, a domestic flight from Bandaranaike or Ratmalna to Trincomalee is the most convenient option.
Despite the abundance of golden miles of beach sands, you may also be interested in more literal aspects of treasures. And if that’s the case, Sri Lanka has a lot of gem stones and other forms of jewelry to offer at relatively lower prices, when compared to other countries. This is because the country is blessed with rich deposits of gems like rubies and sapphires – earning it the jeweler’s name “Gem Island”.
Keep an eye out for legitimate jewelry stores when you’re on your beach trips, and avoid tempting offers by street-side vendors as you’ll most likely find their alluring “jewels” to be less so in a couple of days after being purchased. Some popular stores are Vogue and Colombo Jewelry Stores.
West Coast – Negombo Beach
Just 30 mins away from Bandaranaike Airport is Negombo Beach, which is a few kilometers away from the vast Negombo Lagoon. Such close proximity to the airport makes this beach the busiest all year round. It’s a favorite among tourists and locals alike as the bustling beach has brought together a ton of commercial spots to explore. The beach itself runs for miles and this makes it quite spacious, despite the number of visitors. Some stretches of golden sands are also reserved for hotel visitors only which makes it still possible to relax under the sun in peace – given that you choose the right hotel to stay in which has such accommodations.
Popular activities in Negombo Beach are fishing, various water-sports, and diving. The locals fish off the beach often, hence the sight of boats on the beach which complement the setting. There are also occasional photography contests along the shore.
Places to stay: Golden Star Beach Hotel (3-star), Jetwing Blue (4-star)
West Coast – Kalpitiya Peninsula
A three-hour ride from Negombo Beach will get you to another lagoon, Puttalam Lagoon. And at the other side of this lagoon is Kalpitiya, which is made up of a picturesque set of little islands. At the peninsula, visitors get to enjoy a diverse marine experience as there are diving packages offered to those wish to explore the marine sanctuary.
For those who don’t want to get their feet that wet, there’s the favorite option of dolphin and whale watching as these animals frequent the waters of the peninsula throughout the year. Sea turtles and dugongs are even sighted often in these waters. Extreme watersports like Kitesurfing is also a popular choice amongst tourists who visit Kalpitiya.
Places to stay: St. Anne’s Lagoon House (3-star), Bar Reef Resort (4-star)
West Coast – Bentota Beach
Bentota beach is located near the mouth of the Bentota River along the South-Western shoreline of Sri Lanka. The beach is about a 1.5 hour drive from Ratmalna Airport using the Southern Expressway or the more scenic route would be via the Colombo – Galle Main Road as it stretches along the shore.
Visitors to Bentota Beach can take part in nature conservation projects and activities by visiting the Sea Turtle Protection Association. More extreme visitors may wish to try out the many watersports activities that establishments like La Luna Watersports Center have to offer. And though the beach may be what you’re in the mood for, a swift visit to the river may prove to be worth your while as there are tons of fun stuff to do there like rafting and tubing; even wildlife tours are available along the riverside.
Places to stay: Oasey Beach Hotel (3-star), AVANI Bentota Resort and Spa (4-star)
West Coast – Hikkaduwa Beach
An hour from Bentota is Hikkaduwa Beach. You’ll find your time fly like the wind here as you watch turtles hatching at the Turtle Farm, be moved by the displays at the Community Tsunami Museum, and be awed upon setting foot on Seenigama Muhudu Viharaya; a revered little island off of the coast. This isolated island holds a shrine and a small freshwater well. A dress code is often required for visitors to wear; there have been rumors of bad things happening to those that don’t give the mysterious place due respect.
As always, the adventurous types get to enjoy various watersports along the beach with even surfing being a viable option as the waves are sometimes so permitting. There is a Coral Sanctuary nearby that people can take a boat ride to. Scuba diving and snorkeling packages are also available.
Places to stay: Coral Sands Hotel (3-star), Suite Lanka Hotel (4-star)
East Coast – Arugam Bay Beach
This beach along the eastern coast of Sri Lanka is a certified surfer’s paradise. However, it’s going to take at least 3 hours to get from Mattala International Airport to this beach. The waves here have been known to rise up to 10 meters at times. Just as certain as seasoned surfers are in the height of Arugam Bay’s waves, is the certainty that visitors stay over at the beach for longer periods than anticipated. For sufer noobs, there a few surfing camps where one can learn to ride and tame the waves off of the coast.
Places to stay: Arugam Bay Surf Resort, Kottukal Beach House (4-star)
East Coast – Nilaveli Beach
Nilaveli Beach, which is situated in the North Eastern part of Sri Lanka, has a little island just two kilometers just off of its coast called Pigeon Island. Here, you’ll find a National Park where you can swim with Dolphins and the color fishes that take refuge in the island’s nearby coral reef. Swimming and diving kits are available for rent at the island.
Places to stay: Pigeon Island Beach Resort (3-star), Nilaveli Beach Hotel (4-star)
Sri Lanka can be combined with a tour to the Maldives and I did that. If you want to do this combination, then I suggest that you stay at Negombo. It is not too far from the airport and yet you have great beaches.