Places To Visit In Sri Lanka – Exploring The Coast

Places To Visit In Sri Lanka – Exploring The Coast

Sri Lanka’s coast line is among some of the most beautiful we’ve seen, and we really wish we could have stayed there much longer – there are many amazing beaches south of Colombo – with spice gardens and turtle sanctuaries to visit along the way. There are so many places to visit in Sri Lanka that it would take you months to see everything, despite the small size of the country.

places to visit in sri lanka Sri Lanka is famous for being the place where many beach and sunset postcards and ‘desktop screen savers’ are taken – and by visiting the beaches you’ll see why … 

The general vibe of the beach towns is very relaxed and laid back, making you feel like there is not a worry in the world – in other words, a perfect vacation destination. Here are three great places to visit in Sri Lanka along the coast…


places to visit in sri lankaHikkaduwa is a laid back beach town with a lively main road and a beautiful long beach lined with guesthouses and restaurants. It was one of our favorite places to visit in Sri Lanka for both good swimming as well as nice restaurants. During high season it’s a good beach for beginners who would like to try surfing, while in the off season the waves get quite big, making it a popular place for professional surfers.

There are parts of the beaches where you can swim in calm waters and even go snorkeling (and swim with turtles!) in the reef. We spent our days in Hikkauwa surfing, swimming and getting acquainted with all the different Sri Lankan food – and before we knew it almost a week had gone past!


places to visit in sri lanka There is a quiet calm over the streets in Galle Fort – locals half sitting, half lying down in chairs under ceiling fans, children playing cricket on the porches – there is not a sign of stress anywhere to be seen. We joined the rest of the locals in the little area, and sat for hours in cafes with a pot of tea, talking to our table neighbors and the waiter, feeling no need to leave any time soon.

A light ocean breeze sweeps through the streets every now and then, making it possible to explore the town without fainting from the heat. Old colonial European-style houses line the streets, painted in bright colors with Hibiscus flowers hanging over the walls and from the balconies of the long and narrow buildings. In the old days you had to pay tax on the width of your home, which resulted in people building narrow homes and instead extending in length – these houses remain to this day.

Quaint little tea houses and art galleries are scattered around the town, next to gem boutiques and antique shops – Galle is often included as one of the places to visit in Sri Lanka and is also a good base to explore the nearly beaches by bus or three-wheeler during the day.


Unnawatuna is a more quiet beach town without the hectic main road of Hikkaduwa, where the water is calm and clear, and where your hotel is located quite literally in the water.

This is one of those places to visit in Sri Lanka where you go for pure relaxation, with palm trees hanging over the waterfront providing a nice shade, and three-wheeler drivers waiting to take you on day excursions to turtle sanctuaries and spice gardens. Having breakfast at the beach with the waves touching your feet is a lovely way to start the day.

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25 Responses to Places To Visit In Sri Lanka – Exploring The Coast

  1. Egle Cepaite May 1, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Hi Nathan&Sofia! It’s the first time I’m reading your blog. Great job, I’m so happy I found it. 

    This winter
    I had the chance to discover Tangalla, Mirissa and Galle. Tangalla, no doubt, was my favourite one: miraculously peaceful, kilometres of savage beaches, amazing sunsets/sunrises… a
    veritable piece of paradise on earth. After the stay in Tangalla I
    found Mirissa overcrowded and too loud (all this restaurant stuff), the beach
    is just too close to the main road. Anyway, every place in Sri Lanka is
    worth seeing!

    • Sofia - As We Travel Blog May 2, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

      Hi Egle, glad to hear you like our blog! Thanks for sharing your tips of beaches to visit in Sri Lanka. The sunsets and sunrises truly are amazing in Sri Lanka, haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else.

      There are so many places to see in this country, we’ll be back to explore more beaches next time 😉

  2. Laura May 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    I really want to go to Sri Lanka… ever since I saw another travel blogger’s post on it a couple of years ago. And this is the first time I’ve read about their beaches so it’s just another great reason to go!

    • Sofia - As We Travel Blog May 3, 2012 at 5:07 am #

      The beaches is really just one reason out of many to visit Sri Lanka, the country offers so much in culture and nature!

  3. Lane & Juliet May 1, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Sounds like great places to do nothing.

    • Sofia - As We Travel Blog May 3, 2012 at 5:10 am #

      Doing nothing is the number one “activity”, and then there is surfing and eating of course 😉

  4. Dean Wickham May 1, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Great tips. Sri Lanka looks beautiful. What is the food like?

    • Sofia - As We Travel Blog May 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      Sri Lankan food is really good, it wasn’t as Indian inspired as we thought it would be, but it’s still really nice. You have to try Kottu Rotti – a very popular local dish, you’ll find it everywhere!

  5. Andi Perullo May 1, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    The beaches look AMAZING!!!!

    • Sofia - As We Travel Blog May 3, 2012 at 5:11 am #

      They are, you would love it there!

  6. Chris Fryer May 2, 2012 at 11:14 am #

     Sri Lanka is the world’s 22nd happiest place
    to live according to a new survey by
    a British non-governmental group.

    • Sofia - As We Travel Blog May 3, 2012 at 5:12 am #

      Interesting facts, thanks for sharing. 

      We felt that the people were very different depending on the area of the country, in some areas people seemed happier and better off than in others, so I guess that also plays a part.

  7. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 2, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    I’ve recently become a tiny bit obsessed with Sri Lanka, and this post only fueled the flames. I’ve been wearing out our Lonely Planet Guide, trying to figure out which beach cities are worth visiting. I’ve been hearing that Hikkaduwa is really touristy – did you find it unbearbly so? I’d also heard that the coral reef in that area has been badly damaged, did you notice anything like that? if there are turtles swimming about, I feel like it can’t be that bad!

    • Sofia - As We Travel Blog May 3, 2012 at 5:23 am #

      We went there during the off season, so it was quiet and very laid back then and not at all overly touristy – not sure what it’s like during high season, but it’s nothing like Phuket or anything similar 🙂

  8. Heather Stearns May 2, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    I had no idea Sri Lanka was so pristinely gorgeous! Thank you sharing your experience and insight. Once I travel internationally again, it’s going to the top of my destinations list. 
    Do either of you speak the local language? If so, how did you learn? Did you meet many people who spoke English? I’m always curious about communication.

    • Sofia - As We Travel Blog May 3, 2012 at 5:31 am #

      Several languages are spoken in Sri Lanka, so many Sri Lankans don’t even understand each other, but resort to English when speaking to each other! 

      Many people speak English very well (though not everyone), so it’s very easy getting around.

  9. Scott May 3, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Just catching up on the blog guys and it is ironic because Julia & I have just been discussing adding Sri Lanka to our travel plans once we leave SEAsia, your posts are really helping sway us that way! 

    • Sofia - As We Travel Blog May 4, 2012 at 8:17 am #

      That’s awesome, I definitely think you should add it to the list!

  10. Ava Apollo May 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    I honestly wouldn’t have thought it would be so pretty.  Oh dear, my bucket list of beaches I must visit is getting quite lengthy…

    • Sofia - As We Travel Blog May 5, 2012 at 3:11 am #

      Yeah, the more you travel the more places you realize you haven’t been to. There are so many beautiful beaches I’d like to see, but I don’t have a list of them – yet!

  11. Will - Gap Daemon May 8, 2012 at 4:01 am #

    Looks like a dream. Wish I was chilling on the beaches with you.

  12. Ruth (Tanama Tales) May 18, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    I will pick Galle because of the colonial + beach vibe.

  13. Anonymous May 19, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Been to Galle and Unawatuna. I love Unawatuna’s wide stretch of white sandy beach and Galle’s sparkling clear waters!

    • Sofia - As We Travel Blog May 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

      Yeah it’s a wonderful stretch of coast, the water has such a nice color there.

  14. Sri Lanka Holiday Ideas May 31, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    Great post and we would definitely recommend Hikkaduwa & Unawatuna. Beach in Negombo is popular as well & is situated within easy reach to the Airport. If interested see the following link for some other places to visit in Sri Lanka such as historic places, wildlife etc.