With over 1500 kilometres of tropical beaches, Sri Lanka is often referred to as the pearl of the Indian Ocean. Whether you like to socialize on the tourist beaches on the west coast or relax on the quieter beaches on the south coast, there is a beach for everyone. In this article, you can read more about the most beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka and how to apply for a Sri Lanka visa.
Tangalle Beach is the easternmost resort in Sri Lanka and is known by locals and many tourists alike as one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Despite its popularity, it is relatively quiet and mass tourism has not yet reached this place. Tangalle itself is a bustling town where you can still find many remains from the colonial period. The white sandy beaches, the clear water and the unspoilt nature that surrounds these beaches make this place a true tropical paradise. Please note that the coral reef and rocks make this beach unsuitable for swimming or surfing, but that does not make these beaches any less worthwhile.
Arugam Bay is a beach located on the east coast of Sri Lanka and, because of its waves, is loved by surfers from all over the world. International surfing competitions are often held here. It can get busy during the surfing season (April-September), so keep that in mind when planning your trip. Also, be sure to check that you meet the requirements for a Sri Lanka visa prior to travelling to Sri Lanka to avoid any disruption to your trip.
This beach is also the ideal starting point to visit Sri Lankaʼs best national parks, Yala National Park and Udawalawe National Park, where, among other things, you can spot elephants, leopards and monkeys.
Unawatuna Beach, located on the south coast of Sri Lanka on the Unawatuna Peninsula, is one of the most popular beach resorts in the country for both locals and tourists. But despite the tourist crowds, you can in fact still relax here. The waves that break on this beach are ideal for surfing, and this bay is also excellent for diving in order to discover the beautiful coral reefs and shipwrecks that lie off the coast of Unawatuna.
Unawatuna Beach seen from above, dotted with many colourful fishing boats.
Jungle Beach is located on the other side of the peninsula of Unawatuna and is a lot quieter than the touristy Unawatuna Beach. Because this beach is also more difficult to reach, it remains an unspoilt piece of Sri Lanka. It is a small bay, accessible by a narrow jungle path, completely surrounded by palm trees. The tranquillity and lush natural beauty of Jungle Beach should certainly not be overlooked during a trip to Sri Lanka.
Just north of Galle, in the south of Sri Lanka, lies the coastal town of Hikkaduwa. This village already became famous in the 70s because many hippies came to this area to live here. Since the 70s, however, Hikkaduwa has made a frightening development by the arrival of mass tourism. This tourism triggered the systematic erosion of the beach and made way for grey, concrete hotels. The result is a dirty and crumbling beach and dead coral.
As of today, Hikkaduwa is slowly getting back on its feet. The beach is slowly recovering, and the coral reef is growing a bit more every day. Partly due to the tsunami in 2004, many hotels have been demolished and renovated, giving the village back its former charm from the 70s. Hikkaduwa is loved by snorkellers, especially the Hikkaduwa Coral Reef. The reef is still recovering after years of damage, but there is improvement to be seen, and marine life is slowly returning to this place.
Mirissa is a quiet seaside resort located 4 km from Weligama, which is known as the place to spot whales. It may be a slightly lesser-known surf spot than Unawatuna, but it is a lot safer thanks to the presence of a lifeguard. Both beginners and advanced surfers are welcome here.
About 20 minutes from Marissa, you can find Secret Beach. This beach is located in an inlet and is surrounded on both sides by small hills covered with lush palm trees, which divides this beach into smaller beaches. The bay of Secret Beach is excellent for snorkelling, and it is even possible to spot sea turtles here. If you have the opportunity to visit Mirissa, donʼt miss Secret Beach.
Do not forget to apply for your Sri Lanka visa
Even before you discover the beaches in Sri Lanka, you will need to apply for a Sri Lanka visa. This is an electronic visa that you can easily apply for online, which means you no longer have to go to the embassy. The costs of the electronic visa are also considerably lower. The Sri Lanka visa is valid for 30 days. Please note that when applying for the visa, you may be asked about the expected date of arrival. You may travel to Sri Lanka 90 days before and 90 days after the expected date of arrival. However, the validity of the visa may expire if you travel to Sri Lanka outside those 90 days.