Table of Contents
- South coast beaches
- West coast beaches
- Northeast coast beaches
- What are the 10 best beaches for Sri Lanka Day tours?
- What is the best way to travel to the Sri Lanka beaches on a day trip?
- Travelling to the south coast of Sri Lanka from Colombo
- Unawatuna beach
- What are the activities available on a beach tour to Unawatuna?
- Dalawella beach
- Weligama beach
- Mirissa beach
- Hiriketiya Beach
- Bentota beach
- Kabalana beach
- Hikkaduwa beach
- Negombo beach
- Mouth Lavinia beach
- Devata Beach
Sri Lanka is a tropical island in the Indian Ocean, which has a coastal belt of 1340km (833-mile), its countless topographically varied beaches, coves, and bays attract sun-seekers, fun lovers, and surfers throughout the year. Wildlife plays its part too – beaches are vital nesting grounds for endangered marine turtles, while blue whales are sighted at sea.
Sri Lanka is a year-round destination, but it’s influenced by two opposing monsoons that affect the weather, ocean currents, and when and where you should visit. The southwest coast is best between November and April, and the east from May to September. These are the best beaches in Sri Lanka.
Recently lonely planet announced the best beaches in Sri Lanka namely, Unawatuna beach, Dalawella beach, Weligama beach, Kabalana beach, Mirissa beach, Hiriketiya beach, Bentota beach, Mawella beach, Arugam bay beach, Kalkudah beach, Nilaveli beach, Casuarina beach, and Kalpitiya beach. 7 of the beaches listed above are located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka.
South coast beaches
The south coast beaches were unpopular among travellers in the past mainly due to their remoteness from Colombo and underdeveloped tourism infrastructure. However, the recent development in southern Sri Lanka has changed the traveller’s sentiments. The newly opened southern expressway now assures you speedy access to the south coast from Colombo and the airport, even travellers now can’t enter the island through Mattala international airport and Hambantota international harbour in southern Sri Lanka.
With the rapid development on the south coast of Sri Lanka, some of the big players in the hospitality industry such as Shangri-La and Hilton have invested in mega-projects along the south coast beach having understood its potential as a leisure holiday destination. Many other hotel projects are underway to their completion while many other hotel projects are in the pipeline.
When is the best time to travel to south coast beach?
The best time to travel to south coast beach is from November to April. During this period, due to the absence of monsoon, the sea is very calm and quiet and ideal for swimming.
Below, find the average variation of the seawater temperature in Sri Lanka for the cities of Colombo, Jaffna, Galle, Mirissa and Tangalle.
West coast beaches
Bentota is a top pick for their beach holiday destination for most travellers. This west coast beach has been able to secure its place among the top beaches in Sri Lanka. Bentota is undoubtedly one of the best beaches on the island, which is also known as the golden mile. Apart from its wide sandy beaches and torque water, Bentota is easy to reach from Colombo. Bentota is a popular destination for one-day trips from Colombo as it can be reached within a short period of time. Another important reason for its popularity as a day trip location in Sri Lanka is the wide range of activities that it offers to travellers. Surfing, boating, fishing, diving, and snorkelling are some of the popular activities here. So, if you are looking for a beach activity on your Sri Lanka Day trip from Colombo, choose Bentota, you will never be disappointed.
When is the best time to travel to the west coast beach?
The best time to travel to west coast beach is from November to April
Northeast coast beaches
According to lonely planet’s best beaches in Sri Lanka, four beaches are in the northeast of Sri Lanka. These beaches are still isolated, and it attracts a very limited number of travellers. Among the most travellers occurring here are local travellers. A few places such as Nilaveli, Pasikudah, and Kalkudah attract some foreign travellers, however, compared to the number of travellers on the southwest coast is very minimal. Underdeveloped tourism infrastructure is one of the main reasons for a limited number of foreign travellers not choosing this region.
Five to six hours journey from Colombo to the east coast and about 7 hours journey to the northern province from Colombo is another major reason for its unpopularity among travellers and make the northeast of Sri Lanka not a viable option for travellers for short trips, especially Sri Lanka Day trips from Colombo and western province.
When is the best time to travel to the northeast coast beach?
The best time to travel to the northeast coast beach is from April to November
What are the 10 best beaches for Sri Lanka Day tours?
- Devata Beach
Above mentioned 10 beaches have been chosen as the best beaches for Sri Lanka Day trips mainly based on customer reviews and recommendations. Ease of travel and duration of the drive from Colombo to each beach holiday destination is also major fact considered in the evaluation. Availability of services such as hotels, restaurants, cafes, transport, and important places for sightseeing tours such as historical places, wildlife parks, and museums we also played an important role while choosing the above ten best beaches in Sri Lanka for day trips.
What is the best way to travel to the Sri Lanka beaches on a day trip?
Resort to a ground transport mode such as a taxi, which is the best way of travelling to this one beach holiday destination. At the time of finalizing these one-day trip places, we have thoroughly considered the time takes on travelling to these beaches from Colombo. All the above-listed beaches are only a 2-hour drive away from Colombo. However, the calculation is based on private vehicles and the use of highways.
Travelling to the south coast of Sri Lanka from Colombo
The south coast beaches were not considered suitable places for a one-day trip in Sri Lanka as the travellers had to spend about 5 hours to reach the south coast from Colombo. However, due to the newly opened southern highway, now the south coast beaches are only 2 hours away from Colombo and the most populated cities in the western province.
Despite being more than 120 km distance from Colombo, the south coast beaches are easy to reach from Colombo and the airport. If you are on a short vacation to Sri Lanka and looking for a pristine beach to visit on a day trip from Colombo, most beaches listed above are viable options for you.
Unawatuna is one of the best beaches on the south coast of Sri Lanka and is tucked 175 km away from Colombo international airport. Galle Fort, the iconic tourist attraction in southern Sri Lanka is just a few kilometres away from Unawatuna beach. Unawatuna is one of the best one-day trip places in Sri Lanka if you start your journey from Colombo, it is just a matter of a 2-hour drive to reach it.
Snow-white sandy, clean beaches and warm torques waters of the Indian ocean backed by a well-developed tourism infrastructure make Unawatuna stands out from the crowd. Hundreds of hotels, guest houses, and rest houses make it an appealing beach holiday destination for every budget.
Unawatuna bay is a year-round beach holiday destination and the calm waters of the bay assure a safe bath at any time of the year. Sunbeds line the beach, Jet Skis buzz around the bay and although it gets busy during peak season, it never feels crowded. Unawatuna’s dining scene is sophisticated, and there are regular weekend beach parties.
What are the activities available on a beach tour to Unawatuna?
As a beach holiday destination, Unawatuna offers a wide range of activities such as Surfing, diving, snorkelling, fishing, boating, swimming, and basking in the sun.
Just a few kilometres east of Unawatuna, much-photographed Frog Rock presides over Dalawella’s slender champagne sands. This idyllic south coast beach is guarded by a coral reef, which sits on the ocean bed, just a few hundred meters from the beach, so you can swim or paddle here for much of the year. Dalawella is popular for sea turtles and this endangered creature occurs here very often. Despite its holiday-friendly setting, Dalawella is still behind other popular beaches in terms of popularity. However, if you plan a Sri Lanka day trip to a beach holiday destination, Dalawella is a strong candidate.
Two kilometres long bay has emerged as one of the best surfing beaches in Sri Lanka for beginners, thanks to a forgiving sandy-bottomed break. Rent boards and book lessons from the surf outfits to the west of the bay – most are run by young surfers with first-hand knowledge of the local breaks. Weligama’s fine sand attracts many short vacationers, who particularly make day trips from Colombo to have a refreshing sea bath and leisure by the sea. Weligama is very popular among kids too, and there are plenty of places to eat, drink and sleep in every price range.
Mirissa is a popular beach holiday destination in southern Sri Lanka, however, most travellers descending here are on a day trip from Colombo or elsewhere in order to spot blue whales. Mirissa has become a hotspot for spotting blue whales over the last few years. It draws many travellers daily to its gentle moon-shaped bay, who are eager to see the biggest creature in the world. Dozens of whale-watching boats depart the Mirissa harbour with hundreds of travellers on half-day cruises, and blue whale sightings are guaranteed.
Yet Mirissa’s appeal runs much deeper – you can snorkel in the bay east of Parrot Rock or surf its western reef break, take a yoga class or enjoy a scenic ramble, such as Mirissa’s (not so) Secret Beach. Restaurants are plentiful, and evenings can be lively.
Flanked by a pair of jungle-tangled headlands, Hiriketiya’s deep bay is one of the most loved destinations for a Sri Lanka Day trip. Discovered by sun-kissed surfers, this dramatic setting, low-key atmosphere, and year-round swimming now hold universal appeal. Hidden beneath coconut palms, the bay houses a chic collection of timber-frame restaurants, coffee shops, guesthouses, and villas, stretching up and over the western hill en route to neighbouring Dikwella’s vast sandy bay.
By far Bentota is the most popular beach holiday destination on the island. Well-developed tourism infrastructure with many star-class hotels as well as another category of accommodation facilities. Sri Lanka’s west coast is dominated by large package-holiday hotels basking over fine stretches of sand. The best is Bentota, where the long honey-hued beach ends in a spit of sand separating the Indian Ocean from a big lagoon. A combination of water sports, decent swimming, and lifeguards attract families, though there are no independent restaurants on the beach itself. If you are looking for water-based recreation activities such as riding on a water scooter while enjoying sun-kissed beaches on your Sri Lanka Day trip don’t look for any other destination, Bentota is the most suitable beach holiday destination for you.
Forming part of laid-back Ahangama’s hip surf-and-yoga scene, Kabalana feels like a quieter, more intimate alternative to Weligama or Unawatuna. Arrange surf lessons from beachfront restaurants or rent a board for riding local breaks – the A-frame known as the Rock is rumoured to be Sri Lanka’s best deep-reef break. After dark, the focus shifts to the foodie restaurants flanking busy Galle-Matara Road.
Hikkaduwa beach sits between Galle and Bentota on the western coastal belt of Sri Lanka, 130km south of Colombo, is the Hikkaduwa 2km-long beach characterized by sandy beaches, coconut palms, and a lot of travellers. Between November and April, when the shallow ocean laps gently onto the beach, Hikkaduwa becomes Sri Lanka’s deep-sea diving and snorkelling hub with a fascinating underwater world. Hikkaduwa is home to turtles’ wide range of reef fish, it’s one of the best sites for snorkelling and diving in the country.
Negombo has tucked 40 km from Colombo in the northwest of Sri Lanka, and it is just 13km from the international airport. One the best beaches on the island for a short beach holiday. Negombo is a popular one-day beach holiday destination as it can be easily reached from Colombo, less than an hour of drive. Best between November and April, it offers one of the best beaches for swimming and sun-basking.
Mouth Lavinia beach
It is surprising to believe that such an unspoiled beach exists in a populated city like Colombo. If you’re craving a wide sandy beach that is just 30 minutes away from Colombo, then it is mount Lavinia beach that you look for. Although swimming is possible here, it can be treacherous out of season as the sea shelves deeply. The ease of access from Colombo and the airport makes Mount Lavinia one of the beach beaches in Sri Lanka for a one-day trip.
Galle is a popular charming city near the south coast of Sri Lanka. Galle is most popular for the Galle Fort, which is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the world that was built by the Dutch administration. The origin of the Galle fort dates back to 1505, and it was upgraded from time to time by the Dutch and British administrations. Apart from the Galle Fort, Galle is also very popular for some of the best beaches for beach holidays. Galle is surrounded by many palm-fringed pristine beaches such as Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, and Devata. Most of these beaches provide some of the best places on the island for surfers and divers. Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary is a popular place for snorkelling. However, Devata beach which sits just south of Galle is not very popular for diving or snorkelling. However, it has a stock of coral reefs, a fascinating collection of exotic fish species, and sea turtles, most importantly; travellers encounter just a few meters away from the beach.
6 thoughts on “10 Best beaches for a 1-day trip in Sri Lanka from Colombo”
We booked a small hotel in Dalawella and I feel the beach in Dalawella is better than many other beaches on the west coast. Be careful to plan your trip from Nov to April, if you plan a beach holiday in this part of Sri Lanka.
Hi, we will be In Colombo on a short trip (3 days tour). We like to spend some time on the beach and relax. Can you recommend a good beach which is not far from the airport?
There are a few nice beaches I would like to recommend for your beach holiday in Sri Lanka. I feel a beach like Bentota and Hikkaduwa is ideal for your beach tour.
Amazing article about Sri Lankan beaches. We are expecting to visit Sri Lanka next year. However, we plan a beach stay at least for 5 days. Can you recommend a beach, a nice place?
Dear Mr douglas
Thanks for the comment. If you travel to Sri Lanka from Nov to April west and south coast beaches are the best for a beach stay. If you arrive in Sri Lanka in Oct-April East coast is the best for beach holidays.
Nice article on Sri Lanka beaches. It is no doubt that Sri Lanka is popular as a beach holiday destination.