With over 1000 kms of coastline, Sri Lanka boasts some of the finest beaches in the world, with large swathes of golden sand fringed by coconut palms, shallow waters, underwater coral gardens and year-round sunny weather. With several star-class and boutique hotels located around most coastal areas, you are assured of high quality, affordable accommodation, as well as ample opportunities to indulge in your favourite water sports - swimming, diving & snorkelling, surfing, canoeing, sailing, boating, river cruises, deep sea fishing, water polo, water gymnastics, water and jet skiing, viewing the corals through glass-bottomed boats or just lazing about in the sun. Diving is subject to climatic conditions in different areas, depending on the monsoonal period. There are also several beaches off the beaten track, which are relatively untouched and within easy reach by motor vehicle. The food at seaside hotels and restaurants is cosmopolitan, with a choice of spicy Sri Lankan food or standard Western or Far-Eastern fare. Fresh seafood and an abundance of tropical vegetables and fruits are an essential feature of the buffet table. While many coastal areas have their own historical and heritage sites as well as several places of interest, you can easily reach other parts of the country within a few hours’ drive from the coast.
Arugam Bay – Surfers’ Paradise
Situated on the South-Eastern coast of Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay is ranked among the world’s top 10 surfing locations. It receives the same Antarctic winter swells that reach Indonesia 's southern shores in the middle of the year and has hosted a number of international surfing competitions, including the Sri Lankan Airlines Pro 2010 Arugam Bay Surf Competition and British Pro Surfing Association – ‘Champion of Champions’ contest, attracting top surfers from around the world. Arugam Bay also offers easy access to the Yala National Park (wildlife sanctuary) and Kumana Bird Sanctuary.
Blessed with one of the world’s finest natural deep water harbours, Trincomalee (Trinco), located on the Eastern coast of Sri Lanka, has attracted renowned travellers such as Marco Polo and Ptolemy over the centuries. Trincomalee is also home to the famed Koneswaram Hindu temple, which dates back to the 3rd Century CE and a fort built by the Portuguese in 1623 and later captured by the Dutch. Trinco’s beaches are ideal for swimming, surfing and scuba diving. Uppuveli and Nilaweli and Marble Beach are regarded as the finest among the island’s beaches, while ‘Pigeon Island’ offers the ultimate snorkelling experience The Sri Lanka Navy conducts cruises for watching blue and sperm whales, as well as dolphins, off the coast of Trincomalee. Over 12 species of whales have been spotted.
This is regarded as the best beach in the Jaffna peninsula, in Northern Sri
Lanka and is named after the numerous Casuarina trees that cover its coastline. The waters are extremely shallow and it is possible to wade a few hundred meters into the sea. Casuarina beach is one of the most popular destinations for people in Jaffna, as well as travellers from other parts of the island. It can be reached from Jaffna town in about 45 minutes by motor vehicle.
Protected by coral reefs, Unawatuna, located just 5 miles from Galle on the
Southern coast, offers a safe swimming experience, in addition to wreck and reef diving and some surf points, which have transformed this sleepy fishing hamlet into a popular tourist destination. A five minute climb up Rock Hill affords a breathtaking view of Indian Ocean sunsets, while the forests nearby offer ample opportunities for bird watching.
Renowned for its breathtaking beaches and turquoise blue sea, Pasikudah, on the East coast of Sri Lanka, offers one of the largest stretches of shallow waters, where one can walk hundreds of meters into the sea in chest deep water. Recognising the potential of this area, the Government has allocated 156 acres of land for the Pasikudah tourism zone. Once completed, this will consist of 14 hotels, shopping malls, art gallery, aquarium, open air theatre, cycle path and a golf course.
Located on the North-Western coast of Sri Lanka, Kalpitiya is a peninsula that
separates the Puttalam lagoon from the Indian Ocean. It is a marine sanctuary with its famous Bar Reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangroves swamps, salt marshes and vast sand dune beaches. Kalpitiya offers excellent opportunities for Bar Reef diving, whale and dolphin watching, snorkelling, cycling, fishing village walks and lagoon trips, in addition to viewing the Dutch Fort and St.Peter’s Kirk situated in the town area.
Bentota, on the South-Western coast of Sri Lanka, is regarded as one of the best tourist destinations in Sri Lanka, with a well-developed tourism infrastructure. Its unique location facing the Indian ocean, with its tropical lagoon and river estuary, make it a superb spot for swimming, body-surfing, diving, jet-skiing, windsurfing, parasailing or enjoying cruises on the river and lagoon. Bentota also boasts several star-class hotels and excellent sea-side restaurants.
Located on the Southern coast, Kirinda is renowned for its Great Basses wreck and the Great and Little Basses reefs, which offer excellent diving opportunities. Kirinda was made famous by Arthur C Clarke, who carried out his diving explorations here while writing ‘The Treasures of the Reef’. The lighthouse built in 1860 on the Great Basses is a noteworthy feature of Kirinda.
This is the place to visit if you wish to get a glimpse of migratory Blue Whales,
Sperm Whales, Fin Whales, Hump Backed Whales, the occasional Killer Whale, Bottle Nosed Dolphins, Rissos Dolphins, Striped Dolphins and Spinner Dolphins frolicking in the ocean, just a few nautical miles off the Southern coast of Sri Lanka. Whale watching boats leave the Mirissa harbour by 7.00 am, so it is advisable to be at least 10 minutes early to get yourself a place onboard.