Arugam Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka. When we went in August it was high season, mainly for surfing which is the major attraction of the city. Surfers come here for two or three months, usually between April and September. The accommodation is very cheap, just 5 euros a night for a log cabin right on the beach but if you stay a few weeks the price is even cheaper. The only problem is getting there. You have to go through Pottuvil, Ampara or Wellawaya which takes ages. The distances are short but the roads are terrible. Once you arrive, you forget everything and just relax by the incredibly blue sea and sandy beach. Paradise. For those ve do not surf you can sail, dive, or just swim in the sea. The area was severely affected by the Tsunami and many hotels and buildings were destroyed, the remains of which you can still see.
Unawatuna Beach is probably the most famous beach near the city of Galle in the south of Sri Lanka. However, given its popularity among international tourists, it is definitely not one of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka (you’ll have to head further out of civilization for those). The once-pristine shores are now lined with tourist-oriented cafes, hostels, and restaurants, many still in varying levels of disrepair after the devastating tsunami of 2004.
That being said, it’s a fun and convenient place for a day at the beach if you’re staying in Galle. Again, don’t come looking for untouched coral reefs and privacy. But, if you’re looking for soft sand, clear blue waters, and plenty of deck chairs where you can have a cold beer in the sun, Unawatuna is actually a great place. The beach itself isn’t all that big so it’s probably best to try and go in the off-season (we went in November and it was perfect).
To get there, you can take a tuk-tuk from Galle Fort for the equivalent of around $5.00 or less. The town of Unawatuna has kind of a beach-hippy vibe like you can find in some of the Thai islands, with lots of little bungalows, reggae bars, and shops selling handicrafts.
Negombo beach, a fishing village located 30km north of the capital Colombo, is a great beach with an incredible number of resorts. Sri Lanka is a popular destination for British, German and Dutch tourists. Negombo is only 10km from the airport, so many choose to begin their stay here. The beach is not at all the best I've seen in Sri Lanka: it was rainy season and the sea was a nasty brown color. When you bathed, it's not very clean, there was no sand or water. Mainly the expensive hotels clean the beach in front of them, but you only find these north of the village. To the south, there's a fish market and the old fort. The sea is calmer here than on the south coast, but there are sometimes strong currents so be careful.
Sri Lanka is a fairly large island, well, not quite huge, but getting around can be kind of a chore. Buses and trains only go about 30 km/hour, believe it or not. So, if you plan to go to the beach, it's best to stay in a restricted area such as the southern coast. Between Galle and Tangalle, there are a lot of small towns that have charming names, such as Unawatuna, Mirissa, Matara, Weligama. There are very quiet fishing villages with paradisaical beaches, but don't feel like you need to go to them all. Find a good pension and a beach that you like, and just stay a few days. Because transportation is super slow. There is a train that runs along the coast, and a lot of buses, so you can go visit Galle for the day, and the rest of the time you can hire a rickshaw to see the temples and around the mangrove. There are options for fishing and diving in some towns. The best season is from October to April but the pictures are in August and we had very good time.
This is another dream beach just south of Sri Lanka. Tangalle is easily reached by train or bus from Galle and Matara. If you can, try to stay at least three days.
The trip to Sri Lanka is tiring and this is the ideal place to rest. In the morning, you will notice how the fishermen come in from their night of fishing with their wooden boats. Then they go to sell the fresh fish market next door.
You can ask your family in the guest house you buy a bit of fish for dinner, or you can even try to negotiate at the market yourself. From Tangalle there is plenty of transport out into the country and to the rest of the East Coast. But do not travel much further from Hambantota, then there is a natural park and no good roads to get to Arugam. It's a good place for surfing and snorkeling, find out when the good season to visit is before you make your plans.
Maggona Beach is on the east coast of Sri Lanka. As you see in pictures, August was not the best season to go. In November or February, the sea has a beautiful blue color and is a paradise. It is a quiet fishing village where you can stop for a few days to rest before or after to visit the interior. We went by train. There is one that goes from Colombo to Galle, and you can get off when you see a beach you like. Leaving, you're better off not waiting for the train as you never know when it will come. It's better to return by bus. The beach is natural with many palm trees to give shade. If you're not a strong swimmer, don't go too far from the shore. In the next town you can find even more to do with fishing excursions and diving on offer.
Galle Beach is a small beach at the end of the seawalk about as far up as the lighthouse. You have to walk down a dirt road, which isn't dangerous but it's not a good place for a wheelchair or bicycle. There were some boys from town there, but we were the only foreigners swimming there. Since it's not a "leisure" beach, it's pretty uncommon to see tourists there, so I recommend not showing too much skin and being rather conservative. Sri Lankan girls, for example, swim fully clothed. Without going to such extremes, keep in mind that these guys have rarely seen a half-naked woman Western woman. If you do go in bikini, they won't say anything but you might get some unpleasant looks. It's a nice beach and the sea is super hot and it felt great to take a dip after a hot walk through the city.
Jungle Beach is, in my opinion, the most beautiful beach in Galle and it’s the perfect place if you want to enjoy the sun and sand without hordes of drunken Russian tourists (as can happen at the more touristy Unawatuna beach). Jungle Beach is located about 20 minutes from the historic Galle Fort area and all the tuk-tuk drivers know where it is.
Now, for an important distinction. There are actually two places called “jungle beach” that are right next to each other. The first one you come to (the one I visited) is more popular among the locals and is much more quiet and tranquil than the other. The other Jungle Beach is located at the far end of the road near the Japanese Peace Pagoda and is more touristy and crowded. I’d recommend going to the first beach but you can easily walk from one beach to the other on a path that goes through the rocks.
Anyways, back to the beach. Jungle Beach is a true slice of tropical heaven. You have to hike ten minutes down a jungle trail to reach it and once you get there you find a completely natural beach with no signs of development except for a few sun-bleached wooden sun loungers and a White Jungle Beach Restaurant, which is basically just a small shack selling cold beers, Sri Lankan tea, and snacks. We got there around 10:00am and were completely alone for at least two hours, a luxury in this day and age. If you’re in Galle and looking to go to the beach, I’d definitely say that Jungle Beach is the best place.
Panama Beach is just amazing and very near Arugam Bay so you can drive a motorbike across the road and find this beautiful place. It is a secret bay between the rooks with very calm water for a swim and perfect sand for a peaceful day with friends.