All Around the Island: 5 Must-See Sri Lankan Beaches

Home to ancient legends and a modern mix of cultures, Sri Lanka is a land of intriguing dichotomies, but, it is her beaches that will enchant and captivate.

Like a little droplet dripping off the tip of India, Sri Lanka sits in the azure ocean, luring you to her sandy shores.

Sri Lanka’s is an island of natural wonder and that beauty extends to its seas; those venturing from their fancy beach villas and hotels will find the Indian Ocean packed with life and activities of every description.

Home to ancient legends and a modern mix of cultures thanks to the various religions of her people and the remaining influence of the colonizing Portuguese, Dutch, and British, Sri Lanka is a land of intriguing dichotomies. But, it is her beaches that will enchant and captivate.

Slide BENTOTA BEACH: A short journey down south of Colombo brings you to the golden beaches of beautiful Bentota – a perfect retreat for a city break. Relax and unwind on the sand under shady palms, enjoying fresh Sri Lankan seafood or get involved with the myriad water sports on offer. Try your hand at water skiing, jet-skiing, windsurfing, and canoeing or explore the depths with a little snorkeling or diving. Embark on a relaxing cruise up the Maadu River and through the mangroves to immerse yourself in the local flora and fauna. Slide TANGALLE: Set a course for the south and explore the port town of Galle. A short drive east along the coast, you’ll stumble upon the inimitable Tangalle, home to some of the island’s most beautiful stretches of sand and surrounded by yet more natural and spiritual sites of interest. Resort lovers will find a home in Amanwella, a tranquil beach retreat in the middle of a coconut grove set in a secluded bay. From here you can follow jungle trails to the local villages or simply lounge on the sand, sipping refreshing cocktails and enjoying the area's famous seafood barbecues. Slide ARUGAM BAY: Follow the rising sun and explore the east coast of Sri Lanka, which boasts picturesque towns and the perfect surf. The best path for exploring the east coast starts from Passekudah and Kalkudah where the sand is white, the water is clear, and you can stroll around charming fishing villages for some of the freshest seafood in the country. Continue south to Arugam Bay, one of the top 10 spots for surfing on the planet; try out your skills with an expert instructor or simply enjoy the view. Slide TRINCOMALEE: A little further north on the east coast, you will find the pretty harbor town of Trincomalee, home to a fascinating mix of cultures. A stroll down the street reveals mosques and churches, a Tamil temple on the cliff and a Portuguese fort. But most important are its stunning beaches, famous as jumping-off points for fantastic whale- and dolphin-watching opportunities, one of the best spots in Asia to find blue and sperm whales. With a history stretching back more than 1,000 years, this fascinating area brims with both natural beauty and cultural diversity. Slide JAFFNA PENINSULA: Secluded Mannar island offers authenticity and an opportunity to commune with the Christian Tamils. Sample some freshly-caught fish and find utter peace as you walk, swim, or relax on completely deserted beaches. Continue upward to Sri Lanka’s northernmost city, Jaffna, which – besides a rich heritage – is on the Jaffna Peninsula: soft white sands, shady trees, and turquoise waters at Casuarina Beach, as well as a number of outlying tropical spots perfect for island hopping. 1 / 4

What makes Sri Lanka a fantastic beach holiday destination is its history and natural wonders. Whether it’s ancient forts or following in the steps of the Tamil Kings of old, the small size of this curious island belies the diversity of its charms. The key to the best possible beach vacation in Sri Lanka is getting the right mix of nature, culture, and adventure.