Sri Lanka’s Southern Beaches

Sri Lanka is blessed with many beautiful Sri Lanka southern beaches, but which best suits your needs? If you’re planning a trip to the south, here’s a handy guide to choosing the right Sri Lanka southern beaches within easy reach of the city of Galle.

Sri Lanka Southern Beaches

Best for whale watching

If size matters to you when it comes to sea life, then you need to hot foot it to Mirissa, the whale watching capital of the south coast. There are plenty of tour operators willing to take you a few miles offshore to give you a chance to view blue whales, orcas, sperm whales, dolphins and turtles. Go between December and April for the best chance of wildlife viewing.

Best for surfing

While Arugam Bay is the undisputed surf capital of Sri Lanka, the coastline near Galle also offers myriad opportunities to take the board for an outing. If you find yourself in the area between October and April you’ll find good waves and minimal rainfall. Try sleepy Gurubebila Beach for your best chance of avoiding the crowds; it has two surf breaks at Plantation and Coconut Points.

Sri Lanka Southern Beaches: Surfing Arugam Beach, Sri Lanka
Surfing Arugam Beach, Sri Lanka: Photo on Flickr by Surfing the Nations / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Best for local colour

Weligama draws the tourists but it’s also a thriving local town and there’s plenty to see on the beach as the fishermen pull up their boats, fix their nets or sell their catch. The outrigger fishing boats that you’ll find pulled up on the sand opposite Taprobane Island are colourfully decorated and worth driving to.

Sri Lanka Southern Beaches: Weligama beach
Weligama beach

Best for stilt fishermen

Many of the so-called stilt fishermen who you’ll see balancing in the shallows are actors, but it doesn’t make the sight of them any less atmospheric. The stretch of coast west of Weligama is a good place to find them but you’ll need to pay to take a photo; the more fishermen there are, the higher the cost. For a more authentic shot, head to nearby Polhenna Beach.

Sri Lanka Southern Beaches: Stilt fishermen near Weligama
Stilt fishermen near Weligama

Best for tourist infrastructure

Unawatuna is perhaps the best known of the Sri Lanka southern beaches resorts, its crescent of sand just a few convenient kilometres from the hustle and bustle of Galle. The illegal structures that blighted the sea line following the tsunami have mostly been cleared leaving visitors free to enjoy the calm waters of its bay. There’s also a good range of off-beach activities to keep you amused, from yoga to cookery classes.

Sri Lanka Southern Beaches: Unawatuna Bay by jthediver
Unawatuna Bay by jthediver / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Best for people watching

Galle Fort might not be your first thought if you’re thinking of heading to the beach but the strips of sand that line the bastions are perfect for people watching. Hole up in one of the cafes in the Old Dutch Hospital and watch the kids playing just a short stroll from Galle Fort’s iconic lighthouse. On the weekend, you’ll often see informal games of cricket taking place amongst the picnics.

About JuliaHammond


Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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