Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean southwest of the Bay of Bengal and southeast of the Arabian Sea. Sri Lanka has been called “the pearl of the Indian ocean” because of its shape and location

Unawatuna Beach

Jungle Beach

Mihiripenna Beach

Koggala Beach

Dalawella Beach

Kikili Beach House

One of the most essential Sri Lankan experiences is to spend some time lazing on an idyllic, tranquil beach. Struggling to choose between them? Here is a brief overview of the country’s coastal regions followed by our pick of the best beaches in Sri Lanka.

West Coast

Sri Lanka’s west coast shows the island at its most developed, its most Westernized, and its most tourist-oriented. A string of fine beaches, backed by hundreds of hotels and guesthouses, peppers the coast from Negombo in the north to Hikkaduwa in the south. Despite increasing development in other parts of the island, the large hotels in Negombo, Kalutara, Beruwala and Bentota – all within easy reach of the capital, Colombo – continue to serve as the hub of the island’s substantial package-tourist industry. These resorts offer two-week trips to primarily European visitors, particularly during winter in the northern hemisphere.

South Coast

The south coast is one of Sri Lanka’s most rewarding areas to visit. Representing the island in microcosm, the region offers gorgeous beaches, colonial towns, and superb wildlife parks, as well as a host of Buddhist shrines and temples. In addition, this coastline is home to a selection of some of the island’s most alluring places to stay, from luxurious beach hotels to atmospheric colonial-era villas. Active travelers can find a never-ending range of things to do and see here. However, despite gradual ongoing development around the coast, much of the region’s charm lies in its somnolent and quintessentially rural atmosphere. Countless sleepy villages nestle in the shade of toppling palm trees, and the pace of life is unashamedly slow-moving. For proximity to more action, look for resorts near Galle, a colonial town on the southern coast.

Discover the region for yourself as part of Insight Guides’ Sri Lanka Deluxe trip.

Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka. Photo: Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock

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