30th July 2015
Unawatuna is the default beach destination for people on shorter vacations. Unawatuna can be walked from end to end in under 15 minutes, and the small bay keeps waves relatively small. While not the place for surfing, calm swimming and soft sand make Unawatuna a great family choice in Sri Lanka.The real appeal of Unawatuna is the accessibility; a small access road parallels the beach and keeps people off of the busy main highway. The narrow road is lined with small shops, guesthouses, and eateries. With calm water and the isolated ‘Jungle Beach’ just a short walk away for snorkeling, Unawatuna is an excellent choice for snorkeling and turtle-spotting trips. Unawatuna is approximately 90 miles south of Colombo.
Far quieter than Unawatuna, Mirissa is the next major beach destination south of Unawatuna. Popular with surfers and budget travellers, Mirissa is a tiny village along a long strip of sand dotted with guesthouses and beach restaurants; the place to experience bigger waves but still enjoy the protection of shallow water and an on-duty lifeguard.
You will generally find better deals on seafood in Mirissa. However, prices for accommodation on the beach are comparable to Unawatuna. Mirissa is a popular place to go whale watching when they are in season and visitors are treated to a free and educational turtle hatchery directly on the beach.Mirissa can be reached by jumping on one of the public buses bound for Matara along the main road.
Quiet, serene, and a favorite for surfing beginners, Weligama is a small alternative to the busier beaches located more north. Most visitors simply drive through, come to take surfing lessons, or stop to photograph some of Sri Lanka’s famous stick fishermen or the famous Taprobane House perched on a tiny island.
You will find several boutique hotels dotted throughout Weligama and many more surf camps along the main road. Fishing boats outnumber visitors during the low season; catch-of-the-day seafood is cheap and readily available.Get to Weligama in the south by grabbing any bus passing between Colombo and Galle to Matara.
Tangalla is the gateway to the wide open spaces and beaches of southeast Sri Lanka. Tangalla was originally a small fishing village and has some old world charm. From Tangalla city, the white sands stretch for kilometres and kilometres, both northwest and southwest, with a series of smaller bays and beaches. The sunsets are breathtaking.
This small bay is one of the best places to go swimming, with a sheltering reef that catches most of the big waves. The kilometres of soft sand makes it the ideal place to go running or just go for a afternoon walk. Get to Tangalla by grabbing a bus or car from Colombo or train to Galle and then bus or car to Tangalla.
Courtesy: The Himalayan Times. http://thehimalayantimes.com/travel/travel-abroad/sri_lanka/sri-lankas-best-beaches/. A version of this article appears in print on July 30, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.