For many of us, holidays are about getting some much-needed rest and relaxation by the beach, and Sri Lanka certainly does not disappointment in this department. Located off the Southern tip of India, this small island I call home has some jaw-droppingly beautiful golden shores on offer. Here are five spectacular beaches that need to go on your to-do list – and what to see and do when you visit.
Marakolliya Beach, Tangalle
Marakolliya Beach, situated about three kilometres from Tangalle – a town with plenty of old-world charm on the southern tip of Sri Lanka, has miles and miles of luscious sand, tropical flowers and mangrove lagoons. What makes it so special is that it’s almost untouched! While these days it’s hard to find beaches untouched by tourism, Marakolliya only has a small number of guesthouses on the sand hidden behind the trees, so you’ll feel like you’re in complete seclusion. By day, go kayaking on a lagoon tour, or try a spot of birdwatching and by night, watch out for turtles lumbering ashore to lay eggs.
Hiriketiya Beach, Matara
Hiriketiya Beach is a hidden gem in Sri Lanka’s South Coast. Located in a little horseshoe bay with good surf year round for all levels, this recently discovered jewel is described by all who visit as a ‘Perfect Paradise’. Nearby bays make the area perfect for swimming, walking and biking. Prevailing easterly or westerly winds are kept away by the horse shoe shape of the bay, making swimming and surfing conditions safe all year round. When you’re done catching waves for the day, there are a few good bars located near the beach perfect for sundowners.
Galle is one of the most important cities on the south coast of Sri Lanka, with a coastline that is without doubt one of the most stunning on the island. Amari Galle, nestled on a golden sandy crescent is only 10 minutes away from the magnificent Galle Fort. One of the largest remaining forts in Asia, Galle Fort, was built by the Dutch during the colonial time – walking the course is recommended! For guests seeking a little more peace and quiet, bask in the sun or shade by the ocean at Shoreline Beach Club.
Arugam Bay, known locally as ‘Arugam Kudah’, is home to a famed breakpoint that many regard as the best surf spot in the country. It’s a small area with a population of just a few hundreds, with everything dotted along a single road, which parallels the coast. Arugam Bay is the epitome of the laid-back beach scene that first drew surfers and sun-seekers to Sri Lanka. Check out Pottuvil, the transport gateway for Arugam Bay, which has a spectacular lagoon, a great surf break and fascinating ancient ruins to explore.
Marble Beach, Trincomalee
Marble Beach, one of the most secluded and private beaches in Sri Lanka, is located about 17 kilometres south of Trinco, Trincomalee, a port city on the northeast coast. Follow a turn-off on the left for Marble Beach, signposted just before the Kinniya Bridge, where you’ll find a gorgeous cove bookended by wooded headlands. Spend your time at the south end in the crystal clear water, enjoying the emerald and blue views. Venture further out to explore historical sites including the Koneswaram Temple Compound, with the Lovers Leap Cliff, the ruins of Fort Frederick and the seven hot springs of Kanniya.
Russell Cool is the Area General Manager for Sri Lanka, overseeing all aspects of ONYX Hospitality Group’s Sri Lanka portfolio of hotels. As an Australian national, who moved to the country in 2017, Russell offers a fresh take on 2019’s must-visit destination.
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Sri Lanka. Book your tickets now at airasia.com.