For hundreds of years travelers have been captivated by majesty of Sri Lanka beaches, the beauty of the island and the diversity of its natural resources. Marco Polo had to admit that it is "the best island of this size in the world." Located in the southern part of India, surrounded by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, having a long history, which accounts for more than 2500 years, this island has the shape of a pearl and it is called "tropical paradise."
The Island of Sri Lanka has an exotic, palm-fringed coastline, which has no equal in the world.
Sri Lanka Beaches of the North-Western Coast
In addition to the serene beaches Marawila is famous for its atmosphere of seclusion. Recognized as the best place for secret lovers and honeymooners, Marawila hides its numerous hotels and resorts in the arrays of thick palm groves, providing complete confidentiality of private relations.
If you are looking for solitude and peace away from all worldly cares, welcome to Marawila. Coconut plantations, freshwater lagoons, deserted and at times wild beaches with traditional Sri Lankan fishermen boats create ideal conditions for carefree rest.
However, if you get bored, "lying on the mattress," you can always ride on water ski or wakeboard, shoot through the waves on the kite or look into the underwater world of scuba diving with an instructor.
It's nice to relax with a glass of toddy in hand in Marawila. It is this soft drink with cider taste the place is famous for. Interesting to know that toddy is actually harvested from palm trees. You can spend hours watching toddy collectors going on stretched ropes, moving from one palm-tree top to another. They gather the delicate flowers of coconut extract, from which they cook this unusual beverage. Locals joke that this is the oldest on-line trade in Sri Lanka.
The town of Kalpitiya. Sri Lanka is considered to be one of the best places to observe blue whales and sperm whales. In December and January whales encircle Sri Lanka in the west-southern part of the island, heading towards the Bay of Bengal. Since April, the whales move in a westerly direction past the Maldives to ascending currents near the coast of Somalia and East Africa.
During a season from November to June it's more likely to see blue and sperm whales. This is also favorable time for observation long-beaked dolphins famous for their ability to perform spectacular acrobatic leaps from the water. This type of dolphin is most often found near the coasts of Sri Lanka.
To observe the migration of large marine animals you would need to stay in Kalpitiya - a small town, 130 km north of Colombo.
In these beautiful places, tourism is not particularly well developed, although the area of Kalpitiya deserves great attention. In the city you can see the old Portuguese and then Dutch fort (built in the late XVI century) and St. Patrick's Church (St. Peter's Kerk), restored by the British in 1840. Sailing in a boat in the lagoon and touring in a jeep on the coastal dunes, it is nice to admire amazing evening sunsets. A one-hour boat ride from Kalpitiya will get you to the largest coral reef in Sri Lanka - Bar Reef. It is home to a variety of tropical fish, largest stingrays - manta rays, reef sharks and sea turtles.
Sri Lanka Beaches of the Western coast
The Town of Negombo - a small coastal town located near the Bandaranaike International Airport. It is ideal for both beginning and ending of your travel on the island.
Always cheerful and bustling Negombo has a lot of interesting historical sites to offer. Here, the Portuguese and the British left their mark, and at the time of the Dutch rule Negombo was one of the most important sources of cinnamon.
There are many churches in Negombo - the town was successfully converted to Christianity for which it is sometimes called the Little Rome.
Fishing - one of the main sources of income for local residents. Negombo is famous for its delicious dishes of fish, shrimps, lobsters and crabs. At dusk or dawn fishing harbors get full with old-world fishing canoes and catamarans. Fishermen vessels leisurely sailing the calm waters of the lagoon are an unforgettable sight that will touch anyone, even just for a second romantic person.
Negombo offers a wide selection of hotels and villas from budget to five-star, excellent restaurants, bars, shops with a wide range of products and variety of entertainment on the water.
Mount Lavinia located in a suburb of Colombo and has been famous for its beach since colonial times. Quiet and crystal-clear sea lures tourists and residents to plunge into its cool waters, soft sandy beaches call to forget about any worries and indulge into relaxation and contemplation of breathtaking scenery, which are especially good in the evening hours. The city lives mainly middle class. You will not find high-rise buildings and urban centers. The beach stretches nearly a mile, and, most likely, therefore, called «Golden Mile».
There are many hotels on the beach that offer luxurious apartments. Moreover, there are bars and restaurants that are famous for delicious food, especially seafood dishes. Mount Lavinia has always been a popular destination among tourists. Among other things, the city offers entertainment to all those who prefer night festivities. Mount Lavinia beach is also known for the noisy beach parties, Christmas, New Year, etc.
There are several legends about how the name «Mount Lavinia» came into life. It is believed that when Sir Thomas Maitland, Governor General of Ceylon from 1805–1811, built the palace, he called it «Mount Lavinia House» in honor of his secret mistress Lovina, who was a dancer in a gypsy camp. Statue of Lady Lavinia, whose name was soon opened to the public, is still in the middle of the fountain at the entrance to the Mount Lavinia Hotel. The territory of the Gypsy village once surrounded the governor’s mansion, has now been transformed into the city of Mount Lavinia, where several business sectors are growing and developing,especially tourism.
Other explanations for appearance of the city’s name are connected with words «Lihiniya Kanda» or «Lihiniyagala», which means «seagull’s hill» or «seagull’s rock». These phrases were used by Sinhalese, who once lived on the coast.
Today’s local city name sounds Gal Kissa (Sihnala word «Kissa» is translated as «rock). However, the name was officially recognized only when Governor Maitland put it as Mount Lavinia, Ceylon, as sender’s address when sending a letter to the British Secretary of State, Lord Castlereagh.
Hiding in bushes of riotous coconut plantations, facing the deserted beach, Wadduwa has become an ideal resort for those looking for a luxury home in a tropical paradise. Ayurveda, Spa and quiet secluded corners for peace and relaxation in Wadduwa are very popular among both foreigners and locals who wish to experience true pleasure and exclusive effects of traditional methods of Ayurvedic medicine.
At this resort you can relax with your family or friends and no doubt everyone will find something special to their tastes.
Beruwala is popular among fishermen. Everyone has a chance to contemplate colorful fishing boats brought to shore with fresh morning catch. You will have an opportunity to walk along the main road, which borders the beach and dotted with vendors selling fresh fish.
Despite what is known as Beruwela fishing area, the city is also a commercial center. This status it has been holding since VIII century AD. Many citizens — Muslim traders in precious stones. Most of them live in the area called «Chinese fort» while the Sinhalese fishermen fishing mainly in the open sea.
Here you can see the oldest mosque in Sri Lanka. It’s called Kachimalai. The mosque was built on a rocky promontory, which rises above the city.
Urban turmoil will not affect the peace of quiet beaches adjacent to the residential areas. Fresh sea air, crystal clear water make this place ideal for a perfect holiday, swimming and windsurfing. Places along the coast are protected by coral reefs, making this area safe for swimming all year round.
Sri Lanka Beaches of the Eastern Coast
Today many people come here to relax on the endless snow-white beaches of Uppuveli and Nilaveli, bathe in gentle waters of the Bay of Bengal, as well as to admire the fabulous views of Irakkandi lagoon.
Among sights of this region the first to note is Frederick Fort that you will marvel at following the path leading to the statue of Buddha on the territory of Gokana Temple. The road comes up to Swami Rock, 130 meter cliff called "Leap of lovers." There is also Koneswaram Kovil that keeps Swayambhu Lingam, which makes it the most important and prominent place for Hindus. Gopuram and inner richness of Hindu temple Kali Kovil both amaze and surprise you, but actions and ceremonies held here will lift the curtain of mystery of Hindu culture and religion.
Sri Lanka Beaches of the Southern Coast
Emerald Bay with white sand beaches, clean air and high solar energy can help restore your strength and courage before the expected adventure around the island.
Fans of diving will plunge with pleasure to colored coral reefs that waters of Mirissa's palm beaches abound in.
You can embark on a boat ride and watch whales and dolphins nearby. Moving from the coast to the center of the island, you will find a coconut and rubber plantations, ancient temples and gardens of spices.
There are many small charming restaurants in Mirissa, most of them are just a few steps fromthe ocean.
Freshly seafood, traditional Sri Lankan and Asian specialties are available at reasonable prices.Mirissa offers diverse variants of accommodation and lodging - you can live in family villas or luxurious small boutique hotels.
It is a very romantic place indeed! Swirls of leggy palm trees swaying majestically above clear waters of the emerald Indian ocean, beaches are warm and the underwater world is rich and whimsical ... An image of a tropical paradise will remain in your memory for a long time if not forever.
Bentota is known as a center of water sports. The resort is located between the mouth of the eponymous river and the ocean - Buddha himself instructed to do windsurfing, water skiing and other adrenaline rushing sports here. Before merging into the ocean, the river Bentota flows along the coast, forming a lovely beach between the river and the ocean all at your service.
Tranquil waters of the River Bentota will give peace to your mind while making a leisurely trip up the river. Pay attention to local flora. Out of 60 known species of mangrove trees, most can be found in Sri Lanka. About 10 species of mangrove plants are enedemic which means you will see them only in Sri Lanka and only on the Bentota river safari.
A sight of baby crocodiles basking peacefully in the sun will please you much. You will certainly meet loafer-lizards, carefree vacationing on mangrove trees. Moving along various river islands you will see cormorants gracefully cleaning their feathers.
Mangrove forests - an integral component of Bentota's ecosystem which nourishes and supports existence of all living creatures dwelling in this area.
There is a mythical place called Lunuganga in Bentota which is frequented by artists in search of rest and inspiration.
Sri Lanka Beaches proudly comprise beautiful Aluthgama separated from Bentota town with road and rail bridges which is 85 km from the international airport of Sri Lanka and 55 km from Colombo. It is a picturesque beach resort with a small trading town. Markets, shops, hotels and inns, endless white sandy beaches have made this place a paradise for recreation for every taste and budget. Walking along the winding paths will take you to the lagoon and you will be surprised to find yourself standing and looking straight on a piece of land that runs across the lagoon. This island is located between the lagoon and the sea, here and there you can see hotels and restaurants, and in the evening sky lights up with magnificent sunset.
The unique location of this picturesque area, hidden between the lagoon and the Indian Ocean, has made it a popular destination for a variety of water sports and for making romantic cruises on the Bentota river. Since beaches are away from the city, you can always retire and take a privacy under many palm trees swaying along the shore. At any time of the day beach walking will bring great pleasure and recharge you with energy for further achievements. If you love nature, then be sure to visit the turtle farm, located on the beach. There you will see how these amazing creatures are grown to be finally released into the ocean. This is all done in order to maintain the population of turtles in the wild.
Indian epic Ramayana says that the Unawatuna's shore is littered with thousands of trees - coconut and palm trees, rows of houses and monasteries run along the banks and the celestial beings, gods and demons coming down the coast line." Indeed, if there is a heaven, then it must be just such a lagoon with white sand, gentle ocean and turquoise waves.
The lagoon isn't big in size, but every 300-400 meters of the ocean is different - there are bays, where the bank is protected from waves by the reef and ocean is calm and gentle, pieces of coral lying on the beach and hermit crabs run around. There are coral reefs, but there are places where you can enter the ocean at a very gentle sandy bottom.
Compared with other rival coastal places, Unawatuna can not boast of rich possibilities for surfing and diving. But there are some interesting dive sites and interesting places for reef and cave diving.
However, inherent in Unawatuna the heady atmosphere of relaxation, pampering and total carelessness. This is the place for an idle life and better suited for young people. It's great to indulge in a leisurely walk in the moonlight or dance to the rhythm of waves mixed with reggae and fusion music coming from cafes dotted the coast of the paradise lagoon.
Unawatuna is the most popular town in the southern part of the paradise island. It is located 5 km from the capital of southern province, the city of Galle. On the one hand, all joys of civilization are within easy reach, on the other - nothing will disturb your peace and privacy. In addition, the highway is a mile away from residential areas of Unawatuna, which only adds charm and unicity to the resort town.
Unawatuna's area is bordered by "medicinal garden" Rumassala - highlands, where a lot of medicinal plants grow and is home to over 60 species of endemic birds and animals. Rumassala extends to 50 hectares and is a conservation area.
Unawatuna is the starting point for journeys further south into the island. Hence, many travel to the National Park of Yala and Kataragama temple from here.
Balapitia Resort. Less than two hours drive south of Colombo or along the coastal road by train and you get to Balapitia, a small picturesque village with a soft golden beaches.
Despite the fact that Balapitiya is not a place of mass tourism, it is just a short drive from Bentota, one of the largest resorts in Sri Lanka. To the south of Balapitia lies Ambalangoda a small town famous for its carved masks. A paradise for surfers, Hikkaduwa, and the historic city of Galle can be visited without spending a lot of time on the road, as they are close to each other.
Balapitiya — a traditional fishing village, where everyone seeks an opportunity to feel unique atmosphere of serenity. In the restaurant You can taste fish dishes cooked according to traditional recipes of Balapitia. Walking along the beach you will observe how fishermen pulling ashore long fishing nets called Maa-Del laden with fish of different sizes.
fishing and safari rides are frequently organized on the river. An exciting boat trip on salty lagoons, which lie along the sea, on the river Maadu with banks dotted with vegetation will provide an opportunity to admire amazing flora and fauna of Balapitia attracting all nature lovers, eco-tourists and birdwatchers. Once important administrative buildings of the British Empire, mansions and estates have now been turned into villas and hotels that accept tourists from around the world.
Hikkaduwa Resort. 87 km from Colombo, on the southern coast of the island stretches Hikkaduwa - the most popular among Sri Lanka beaches.
Diving and surfing mecca attracts toutists with its beautiful coral gardens and even more - the remains of sunken vessel not far from the shore you can go exploring with an aqualung.
Swimming and snorkelling in shallow water, just 200 meters from the shore, you can quietly watch a myriad of colorful fish of various sizes, attracted to the coastal waters of the town. Even the trip on a glass-bottomed boat will leave you marvelling at beauties of the underworld.
The water temperature usually remains at level of around 26-28 degrees. Best time to relax - from October to April. Since there is a premium diving and surfing in the city there are several diving clubs. And in November, annual championship is held by Japanese Association «Pro Surfers» in Hikkaduwa which attracts many surfers from Japan as well as athletes from other countries.
Hikkaduwa is ideal for beach vacation. It's a sight for sore eyes: wide, white beaches, crystal clear ocean water, hot sun. Great restaurants, shops, internet, and a very decent service distinquish Hikkaduwa among other coastal towns.
At night you won't get bored here: Hikkaduwa has a wide choice of cafes and restaurants, serving excellent fresh seafood, fresh tropical fruits of all sorts and fancy as well as eye-popping actions.