When there are beaches are concerned with your Sri Lankan holiday you will be spoilt for choice. In Sri Lanka beaches total 1,340km fringe of the island, from the long-established tourist destinations of the southern coast, to the vast beaches of the deep south, and the less-visited expanses of the north and east. No matter what time of the year, you can find a beach that is in season and just waiting to welcome you to its warm sands. For more information visit
Negombo, “The Village of Honey”, is Sri Lanka’s oldest beach resort, just 6km from Bandaranaike International Airport and therefore popular for stays on arrival or before departure from the island. Famous in the 18th century for the cultivation of some of the best cinnamon in the world, Negombo is now one of the island’s most important fishing ports. The catamaran-type fishing craft, called oruwas, fitted with their large sails, characterize Negombo. On their return from fishing their trademark creamy-brown sails dot the horizon, becoming bigger as they make their way to the shore. You can even arrange to go out in one or, at least inspect its meticulous and clever design
The main tourist resort of Negombo is situated just north of the town. It has a long, often wide, picturesque stretch of sandy bay with numerous attractions both on land and water, and a string of well-established hotels. There is plenty to do apart from swimming and sunbathing as windsurfing, diving, and even kite surfing have become popular sports here.
South of Colombo
The South of colombo combines a number of package resorts plus an excellent selection of upmarket hotels and the National Tourist Resort, which comprises a shopping centre, post office and a market. The town has long been a tourist haven, for in the 19th century, when Galle was the island’s main port, those proceeding to Colombo in stagecoaches stopped here at the rest-house (long gone) and indulged in local oysters!
Bentota is Sri Lanka’s water-sports centre. The sea here is calm and an excellent diving location. The beach divides into two, the north end comprising a spit of land – dubbed “Paradise Island” - dividing the waves of the Indian Ocean from the still waters of the Bentota Lagoon, while the more pleasing southern end comprises an attractive swathe of wide sandy beach where some of the island’s best upmarket hotels are located. Surprisingly, although Bentota is one of the island’s most popular resorts, the beach is relatively quiet.
East of Colombo
Arugam village is situated in the bay of the same name on one of the nicest stretches of the south east coast with many miles of pristine beaches, It was once occupied by the Dutch as a military post and had a small mud fort. For the past quarter-century, however, it has been seasonally occupied by cosmopolitan surfers attracted by the waves and discerning travellers who appreciate the splendour of its isolation.
The curved sandy bay is wide and long. There are no big hotel complexes towering over the beach, which at many places is lined with a multitude of brightly coloured fishing boats. That there are empty spaces between restaurants and guesthouses is striking when you have been used to seeing how crowded and developed most west and southern coast beach spots are.
During May to October, which is dry season on the east coast, the bay becomes safe for swimming, and best for surfing. There are some beautiful coral reefs and an unbelievable number of tropical fish to be seen in and around the area where the best snorkelling, on a calm day, is on the southern tip of the bay.