A guide to Sri Lanka’s south coast beaches

A guide to Sri Lanka’s south coast beaches

Wondering which of Sri Lanka’s south coast beaches is the best fit for you? Use this guide to discover the ins and outs of the main hotspots, from world-class surfing spots to idyllic peaceful properties.

Arugam Bay

Wend your way out to the eastern end of the south coast and you’ll arrive at Arugam Bay. Surfing is spectacular here – so much so that it’s ranked as one of the top destinations in the world to catch a wave. From beginner-friendly bays to point breaks that connoisseurs will find challenging, there’s a wealth of options for rewarding surfing.

The main town is situated right on the coastline and has an alluring atmosphere that encourages lazy days when you’re not on the waves. Rise early to watch a mesmerizing sunrise, stroll the nearby cultural sites or sit back and relax in a sea-side café.


Ignite the spark between you and your partner at Tangalle, Sri Lanka’s most romantic destination. This town is blessed with beaches that are the stereotype of a tropical paradise: long stretches of golden sand caressed by azure waters, with swaying palm trees standing proud behind.

Beach relaxation is the name of the game in Tangalle, so it’s perfect for those who want to unwind. Stay at stunning properties like Geoffrey Bawa’s The Last House, Amanwella, Buckingham Place and Coco Tangalla which encourage R&R at every turn.


Looking for the location that’s the place to be? Head to Hiriketiya, a super-cool surfing town on the central south coast. There’s qualified instructors offering lessons for beginners and those who want to improve their existing skills, and fantastic waves almost every day outside of monsoon season.

A cohort of arty hotels and hostels sit behind the horseshoe bay, and magnificent villas line the headland offering exquisite sea views. These properties have an electricity that has people dining and dancing late into the night, and returning year after year.

Neighbouring Dikwella is a calmer spot with swimmable beaches during the season, ideal for families or those keen for peace and privacy.


Often described as Sri Lanka’s best beach destination, Mirissa is well worthy of the title. Its beautiful crescent bay with small rocky outcrop offers safe swimming between December and March, chances for surfing and plenty of opportunities for other water sports including snorkelling and jet skiing.

There’s also a harbour here that acts as the starting point for south coast whale watching tours. Head out in the early hours for a morning watching these majestic mammals move through the water, occasionally showing their fins or expelling air through their blowhole.

Sunset boat tours are a gorgeous way to view the coastline which shines pink and gold each evening.


Sandwiched between Mirissa and the UNESCO City of Galle, Koggala has an enviable position. Tourists can easily access fascinating heritage sites and exhilarating activities on the water while enjoying the serenity of Koggala’s coastline.The beaches here are fairly narrow and subject to high tides, but in the mornings and evenings you can stroll the sands for significant distances while enjoying the cooling lapping of the ocean.

Inland is a large lake with a property-lined shore, a tranquil spot for those who don’t mind a short walk, cycle or drive to the coastline. Our favourite hotel is Tri Lanka, a boutique with glorious gardens, quality yoga, amazing views and rooms with exquisite designs.


Closest to Galle is Unawatuna, a lively town that benefits from its proximity to this iconic heritage site. The beaches here are not as visually impressive as many of the others in the island, but Unawatuna has a range of facilities dedicated to elevating the tourist experience. Cafés and restaurants line the back of the bay, offering a wide variety of refreshments throughout the day – including local favourites and child-friendly options. Registered water sports companies operate here too, providing equipment and support for a range of sea-based activities.