The best beach towns of Sri Lanka

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Introduction to Sri Lanka

If you’re looking for a place to hide from the fast-paced daily routine, Sri Lanka is a destination for you. The incredible architecture whose style was shaped by many cultures and breathtakingly beautiful nature, wild late-night parties, and quiet fishing on the shore – no matter what you seek, you will find it here. So let’s take a closer look at Sri Lanka’s best beach towns – Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, and Mirissa – and what they have to offer.

Hikkaduwa

There are two things that immediately come to mind when one thinks of Hikkaduwa — “loud parties” and “large crowds”. If you’re looking for a quiet getaway, you should probably look someplace else, but if you’re in for some real fun, don’t hesitate a second to come here.

Hikkaduwa is a small coastal town that has become quite popular with tourists for its nightlife. But there is more to Hikkaduwa than that. Whether you enjoy swimming or snorkeling, surfing or diving, turtle watching, or people watching – you’ll definitely find something here that is right up your alley.

1. Nightlife

There is a wide variety of beach bars and restaurants in Hikkaduwa that are open at night and are happy to present their guests with great music and atmosphere, delicious food, and a nice selection of drinks. Top Secret, Funky de Bar, Blue Moon Beach, just to name a few, welcome the guests for breakfasts, brunches, and late-night dinners with both local and international cuisine. Unlike other tourist spots in Sri Lanka, Hikkaduwa parties all week long, not just during the weekends, which makes it a great destination for those seeking lively gatherings.

2. Hikkaduwa beaches

With its crystal clear water and clean sand, Hikkaduwa is easily one of the best beaches you can find in Sri Lanka. Its waves are meant for surfing as its beautiful underwater world is meant for snorkeling. And for those who would like to experience the thrill of a real adventure, there are four shipwreck sites to explore. All the equipment can be rented right there, on the beach.

The best time to visit is from December till March if you want to enjoy the sunny but not too hot weather and avoid the heavy rains that often occur here in October and November.

Hikkaduwa beach

3. Enjoying the wildlife

A trip on a glass-bottomed boat is another must-try of Hikkaduwa. This short trip (about half an hour is all it takes) is an excellent opportunity to see the coral reefs, as well as the diverse sea creatures, colorful fish, and turtles in their natural habitat.
Incidentally, the turtles are the true stars in Hikkaduwa. You can feed them, and they are quite used to people’s attention.

And of course, don’t forget to stop by the Sea Turtle Hatchery. This brightly-colored building serves as a shelter for the rarest and endangered turtles. Here, the species that are hunted and mercilessly killed for their shells, are bred and looked after, and carefully preserved.

A trip like this would be entertaining and educational for both children and adults, as the hatchery presents the visitors with a lot of fascinating facts about the reptiles.

Unawatuna

Unawatuna, situated in the southern part of Sri Lanka, is another spot for those who like beach vacations. It offers a variety of entertainment, as well as nice and cheap cafes and bars, sightseeing, and shopping.

Winter and early spring is usually the best time to visit, as autumn (late autumn in particular) can get fairly rainy.

1. The Jungle beach

Unawatuna is a much quieter place compared to Hikkaduwa, although it’s becoming more and more popular with tourists, so the main beach can get pretty crowded. But you can always find quieter places. Take the Jungle beach, for example. It lies within a 20-minute walk from the main beach and is far less packed, but no less charming. If a short walk through jungles doesn’t scare you, then go ahead and find this hidden spot. Do some snorkeling among the coral reefs, multicolored fish, and huge sea turtles, try local dishes in one of the tiny beach snack bars, take some beautiful pictures for your Instagram, or just swim and relax – the Jungle beach has everything you need to spend a delightful time at the seaside.

2. Lagoon Canoeing Excursion

This isn’t going to take you more than a couple of hours, but the experience from the trip is going to be worth the lifetime. This is a great way to explore the beauty and the serenity of Unawatuna, its lagoons, mangroves, and canals, and get a great insight into the beautiful flora and fauna of the land.

It’s a nice change of pace from the busy tourist spots and a great chance to spend a little time enjoying the peace and quiet and some cool coconut juice.

3. Stilt fishing

This traditional method of fishing is a truly fascinating sight. The fishermen with rods perch on high stilts as they wait for the fish to bite. This isn’t an easy task and requires a lot of patience and practice. Sunrises and sunsets are when fishing usually happens, so make sure you don’t miss your chance to try your hand at it.

Hikkaduwa beach

4. Galle

And of course, let’s not forget about Galle, an ancient town that you absolutely have to visit. In this place, history comes alive around you. Take a walk around the 16th-century Dutch fort, one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. And after that spend some time wandering the cozy shops and cafes that line the picturesque streets or simply enjoy the beautiful colonial architecture of the town. Galle’s unique atmosphere will captivate your heart, and make you want to come back here over and over again.

Mirissa

Mirissa, a small beach town in the south of Sri Lanka, has been one of the most well-loved touristic destinations for over three decades now. While its neighboring cities

Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa offer their visitors a wide variety of entertainment, Mirissa’s charm lies in its peaceful atmosphere, breathtaking scenery, and calming sounds of the crashing waves. Truly, it’s hard to imagine a better place to relax and take your mind off of things.

The best time to visit Mirissa is during the winter. The high season lasts from early November to late March. This time of the year the sea is calm and the weather is good. It seldom rains, the waves aren’t high, and the water temperature measures around 29°C.

There are plenty of things to do and see in Mirissa, but these are the places and activities that you absolutely can’t miss.

1. Whale-watching tours

Mirissa’s whale-watching tours are quite popular with tourists because the local waters serve as whales’ wintering grounds. There’s a great chance to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. A boat trip like that will leave you with the most unforgettable experience.

Mirissa beaches

2. Parrot Rock Bridge

Parrot Rock Bridge is often referred to as the most beautiful spot in Sri Lanka. Visit this tiny island in the evening, and you can see for yourself whether this statement is true or not. This picturesque location offers a good view of the Mirissa beach. Keep in mind, however, that the rock can get a bit crowded in the evening as people gather there to watch the most spectacular sunset.

3. Mirissa beaches

When it comes to beaches, Mirissa offers some of the best ones in the whole of Sri Lanka. Visit the main Mirissa beach to enjoy the soft sand and warm sun. You can rent snorkeling and surfing equipment right there, too.

On weekday nights a variety of bars and restaurants open along the coast, offering their guests to try local cuisine and seafood, and enjoy the breathtaking view of the sun as it sets above the sea.

Mirissa beaches are seldom overcrowded, but if you seek an even quieter spot, the Secret Beach is a charming place that you can try. It’s easy to get there on foot, but you can also hire a tuk-tuk. It’s probably the safest place in Mirissa to swim, too, as the surrounding rocks shelter its shore from waves.

In conclusion

Sri Lanka is a great destination for families and honeymooners, as well as for solo travelers and large groups. It has something to offer to everyone. There is a variety of things to see and do for those who seek an active holiday, and it’s a perfectly serene location for those who simply want to relax and enjoy the quiet beauty of Sri Lanka.