Sri Lanka is an ideal beach holiday destination with beautiful sandy beaches stretching almost continuously around its Indian Ocean shores and plenty of warm, tropical sun.The more popular tourist beach destinations are on the west and south-west coast at Negombo and Bentota, although there are lovely beaches and some charming hotels all along the south-west coast. The new Coastal Highway brings the ‘Riviera’ east of Galle and the more deserted and remote beaches of the deep south coast within easier reach. Sri Lanka is so fascinating that it is worth combining your beach holiday with a nature and wildlife adventure and visits to the cultural sights. View our suggested touring holidays, all of which can be extended with a beach stay. BEACH ACTIVITIESAll beaches in Sri Lanka are open to the public allowing for an impromptu game of beach cricket or volleyball with the locals. Life on the seashore means fresh seafood dinners and leisurely walks along the beach, passing by fishermen as they prepare to launch their brightly painted fishing boats into the Indian Ocean. Bentota and Hikkaduwa are the main centres for water sports and there are numerous places to surf. Five species of sea turtles nest on the beaches whilst whales and dolphins roam the seas.BEST TIME OF YEAR FOR A SRI LANKAN BEACH HOLIDAYThe best time to visit the west and south coasts is between December and April for calms seas and sunshine. The Deep South has slightly different weather patterns with calmer seas between August and February, and on the east coast the calmest conditions are from May to July. The sea currents around Sri Lanka can be strong so it is advisable to swim in the hotel pools. POPULAR BEACH HOLIDAY REGIONS IN SRI LANKANegombo and West CoastNegombo has a wide golden sand beach, only 20 minutes from the airport. It is a lively tourist resort and a fishing town with fish markets. Being on the west coast, it benefits from some spectacular sunsets. Overlooking the golden sand of Negombo beach are Jetwing Sea, a luxury beach hotel with simple and contemporary architecture; Jetwing Blue, whose recently refurbished guestrooms boast spectacular sea views; and Jetwing Beach, a luxurious hotel which was designed by Geoffrey Bawa. Just a few minutes walk from the beach but without sea views is Ayurveda Pavilions, a small hotel which offers rejuvenating treatments.Find out more about holidays to Negombo and the West Coast of Sri LankaWadduwa, Bentota and South West CoastIn Wadduwa, long stretches of sand are bordered by coconut groves, small fishing communities, private villas and a few secluded hotels. Three hotels which are all in beautiful beachside settings in Wadduwa are The Blue Water, an elegant and minimalist hotel designed by Geoffrey Bawa; Reef, a nine-suite boutique property which offers intimate luxury; and Serene Pavilions, an exclusive and peaceful haven with outstanding service.Further south is the beautiful coconut palm lined golden sand of Bentota, one of the most well-known beaches in Sri Lanka which stretches for miles and gets more secluded the further south you go. Hotels near the beach include Vivanta by Taj, a first-class resort with an excellent range of facilities; Paradise Road The Villa Bentota, a boutique hotel converted from an 19th century Dutch ancestral home by Geoffrey Bawa; Club Villa, a comfortable villa within beautiful grounds which was also converted by Bawa; and Saman Villas, a small luxury resort at the southern end of Bentota beach. To the south of Bentota are Induruwa, Ahungalla and Hikkaduwa, all protected by a coral reef and providing scuba diving, snorkelling and other water sports. In Ahungalla, the Heritance Ahungalla is a first class beach resort which was designed by Geoffrey Bawa; while further south is Aditya, a modern and intimate boutique hotel between Hikkaduwa and Galle. Find out more about holidays to Wadduwa, Bentota and the South West CoastGalle and South CoastOn the ‘Galle Riviera’, east of historic Galle, the golden beaches are often narrow and the shallow waters dotted with wooden stilt fishermen. A few miles away is Unuwatuna, said to be one of the top beaches in the world. Further east is Thalpe beach, a fashionable stretch of golden sand lined with exclusive villas and small boutique hotels which include Apa Villas, the Frangipani Tree and Era Beach. In season, sea turtles return to the beaches here to lay their eggs. Further east is Koggala, where the beach is narrow and dotted with stilt fishermen. It is here that The Fortress is located, an outstanding resort hotel which blends contemporary design with traditional touches. The expansive Weligama Bay has stretches of soft sandy beaches and some sheltered shallow waters for swimming. It is popular for surfing with rolling waves and a fine sand bottom whilst shipwrecks offer diving opportunities offshore. Mirissa is the main embarkation point for whale and dolphin watching boat trips (December to April).The Weligama Bay Resort is a newly built boutique hotel with breathtaking views over the Indian Ocean, while located within the bay itself is Taprobane Island, a 1920s villa which provides an idyllic private island retreat. In the deep south, around Tangalle, lie deserted beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see. Remote, unspoilt, secluded bays and sheltered coves border lush forests and plantations – this is truly stunning scenery. The Beach House is located beside one such cove just a few miles west of Tangalle, a five-bedroom villa offering barefoot luxury. Further east is Amanwella, a first class resort where suites are discreetly positioned on a hillside overlooking a glorious golden sand beach. Swimming and snorkelling can be enjoyed in sheltered waters between August and February. Nature lovers will treasure the wild beauty of the beaches that border Bundala and Yala national parks further east. Find out more about holidays to Galle and the South CoastNorth-east coastNilaveli beach is acclaimed as the finest stretch of coastline on the eastern shores boasting white sands and crystal-clear waters. Beachside hotels include Jungle Beach, an eco-resort set on an estate between the stunning beach and a lagoon teeming with tropical bird and plant life; Nilaveli Beach Hotel, a comfortable property with beautiful ocean views; and Pigeon Island Beach Resort, where elegant guestrooms open on to the beach overlooking Pigeon Island National Park, renowned as one of Sri Lanka’s best marine reserves. Just a few miles south near Trincomalee is Chaaya Blu, a recently refurbished hotel furnished in a retro-chic style. Further south, the unspoilt Passikudah Beach provides a picture-postcard image with a shallow shoreline and coral-rich waters. This is the setting of Maalu Maalu Resort & Spa, an eco-friendly hotel which has been built in the style of a traditional fishing village. Find out more about holidays to the North-east Coast
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