The majority of people visiting Sri Lanka spend their beach time in Negombo due to it’s close proximity to the capital city Colombo. If time allows I’d recommend heading towards the South of the Island instead, you’ll be spoilt for choice on where to stay so, I’m going to help you by recommending my top three beach towns in Sri Lanka.


Mirissa is great if you’re looking for a more chilled out beach vibe, especially if you’re coming towards the end of a hectic trip like us. Although Mirissa wasn’t my favourite town, if you can only visit one then I would definitely recommend choosing this one as it’s appealing for everyone.

What to do:
– Find the secret beach (it’s not really a secret, just type it into Google).
– Whale watching although, my experience of this wasn’t enjoyable. The tour operators just harassed a blue whale throughout the trip.
– Enjoy happy hour on the beach front, it lasts nearly all evening.
– Head over to nearby Weligama to get your surf on.

Where to sleep:

We stayed at Poppies which was in a great location, we also heard good things about Peacock Villa.

Where to eat in:
Roti Shop Mirissa (Udupila Road) – It’s not the most appealing place on the eye but, their roti’s are amazing.
– I&I Restaurant – Super cheap local food offering a great Sri Lankan Breakfast.
– Central Beach Inn/Café – Located right on the beach, this place offers great cocktails and decent western/ Sri Lankan food.


 Regardless the bad write up from Lonely Planet, Unawatuna turned out to be my favourite beach town. The beach is full of life and there is a great party scene here. We were lucky enough to be invited to a locals house party and it was honestly one of the best nights out I’ve ever had. Partying aside, Unawatuna is a great place to base yourself for visiting other areas such as Galle or Koggala.

What to do:
– Party all  night in Una’s lively beach bars.
– Take a day trip to Galle, it’s like being back in Europe.
– Visit Jungle Beach.
– See the stilt fisherman in Koggala, remember you will need to tip them to take a photo.

Where to sleep:
We stayed at Gloria Grand Hotel which was amazing value for money.

Where to eat:
– Happy Spice – our local friends recommended this place to us and it was great if you’re looking for authentic local food.
– Sun ‘n’ Sea Wood Fire Bistro – great for pizza.


Just 1.5 hours from Colombo by private taxi, Hikkaduwa is the perfect beach town if you’re short on time. It’s also a great place to try and see turtles in the ocean rather than in one of the sometimes unethical hatcheries! We were lucky enough to see huge turtles  daily during our short time in the town. If you do spot one of these beautiful creatures, please remember not to touch (I got in a fight with someone after they tried to pull one out of the water).

What to do:
Go snorkelling. Although the reef is damaged after the tsunami there are still plenty of fish and maybe even a turtle to see.
– The Tsunami Museum – it’s not like your usual museum but, it will tug on your heart strings.
– Tsunami Honganji Vihara – Buddhist statue in memory of those whom lost their lives in the 2004 tsunami. Stop here on the way back from the museum.
– Naga Viharaya – Buddhist temple.

Where to stay:
We stayed at Tamara Motels which was a great budget guest house.

Where to eat:
Nordic House Luxury Burgers – after being veggie for the duration of the trip these burgers were incredible!
– Tigri Beach Restaurant – great for seafood.

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  1. Is there only one whale watching charter there? I’d be curious to know who to avoid. I took some divers on a scuba trip once to do an animal feeding, and while it was neat to see the sharks and eels come out, I did get uncomfortable when it looked like the feeder was agitating the eels out rather than just letting them come feed on their own accord. Still really neat to watch but I have mixed feelings about directly interacting with wildlife.

    That you for this post. It was nicely written!


  2. I visited Sri Lanka last year with my family. While we did go to the turtle hatchery, which was nice but it is also sad that it has become more of a tourist attraction with a lot of people opening their own hatcheries to make money. Like you said tourism is till in its infancy and there are not many laws to protect wildlife. We just have to be mindful when we visit.
    Vrithi Pushkar


    1. We definitely need to be mindful of the places we visit which is difficult because it only natural for animal lovers to want to get up close. Sometimes we don’t think about the consequences to the wildlife.


  3. Sri Lanka is on my list to get to ASAP. I’d love to stay somewhere like this where there are parties but you can chill out as well. Thanks for the write up!


  4. Really informative post about the Southwest Coast of Sri Lanka. I’ve got a few more towns to add to my travel bucket list now. And also, thank you for your honesty about the whale watching tour.


  5. Thanks for sharing this post, it’s so interesting. I’ve never been to Stri Lanka and probably won’t go there in the next few years, but it’s so nice to learn something new.


  6. I love going to a place and being pleasantly surprised despite recommendations. It’s good to know that Lonely Travel isn’t always right. Sri Lanka is definitely on my lists… if only for the turtles : )


  7. I’m glad that you are conscious about going on animal-based tours, I feel that lasting effect of tourists destroys many enviornments and animal lives. I love how in depth you are about the different aspects on Sri Lanka. Thanks for sharing!


  8. Yes, those are some great beaches. Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa are some of the best beaches I’ve been in Sri Lanka. There are no interesting beaches in Galle though but a small patch of sand near the lighthouse. I’ve seen locals swim in those waters.

    Liked by 1 person

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