Beach Guide: Sri Lanka South Coast

Beach Guide: Sri Lanka South Coast

December 26, 2017 Do Plan 0

Sri Lanka is a beach lover’s paradise and during our stay on the South Coast, we explored 6 of them from our homebase in Fort Galle. Compared to other beach destinations in South East Asia, the beaches here haven’t been over commercialized by development…yet. It is still possible to feel like a castaway on some of the more known beaches here. In some ways, this absence of established tourist infrastructure is one of the things that makes Sri Lanka and its beaches so enjoyable but also somewhat inaccessible.

Sunset at the beach by the Jetwing Lighthouse in Galle

Sunset at the beach by the Jetwing Lighthouse in Galle

We visited 4 beaches in the area during our stay: Galle Fort Lighthouse Beach, Jungle Beach, Mirissa Beach, and Unawatuna Beach. We chose these beaches out of convenience and reviews we had read on other blogs and TripAdvisor. In addition, we also scoped out Mihiripenna Beach and Weligama Beach briefly. Please consider that ocean changes can occur frequently which may affect the accuracy of the information we shared here. For informational purposes, we visited these beaches the first week of November 2017.

Galle Fort Lighthouse Beach:

If you are staying in the Fort area, you will enjoy this beach for a quick swim but we would not travel from far to swim here. We enjoyed our almost daily quick swims here as we were staying at Fort Bazaar, a short walk from this beach. This beach is also popular with locals.

Main swimming area at Lighthouse Beach

Main swimming area at Lighthouse Beach

View of where we swam at Lighthouse Beach

View of where we swam at Lighthouse Beach

  • Water: The water is very warm, calm and shallow which makes it more of a bathing spot that swimming spot.
  • Bottom: The bottom is a combination of pebbles, large flat rocks and sand. I decided to keep my flip-flops on to protect my feet.
  • Garbage: It was very clean here and there was no garbage or broken glass anywhere.
  • Shade: There is no shade here throughout the day.
  • Facilities: There are no showers, restrooms, or restaurants beach clubs here.
  • Personal Safety: We felt safe in leaving our belongings unattended because we swam away from the popular spot and went around the wall where we had an entire stretch of beach to ourselves.

Jungle Beach:

We took a tuk tuk to Jungle Beach because we’d heard so many great things about it. Just a 10 minute tuk tuk ride out of town, you get to see a nice view of Galle and the beach as you make your way up the hill past the famous Japanese Pagoda. To access the beach, you need to walk down a semi groomed path which is doable for anyone who doesn’t have any serious mobility impairments. Of all the beaches we visited, this one was the most disapointing because it was not anything like the review we read about it on a popular travel blog. We chose to leave Jungle Beach without swimming here and headed over to Unawatuna by walking through the jungle for about 2.5 kms. 

View of Jungle Beach

View of Jungle Beach

Jungle Beach

Jungle Beach

  • Water: The water had moderate surf when we were there and broke pretty close to shore which made it a bit challenging to swim.
  • Bottom: The bottom was a combination of sand and larger rocks.
  • Garbage: There was a lot of garbage in the water, washing up on shore and on the beach which kept us from swimming there.
  • Shade: There is very little shade here throughout the day.
  • Facilities: There are no showers or restrooms but there is a restaurant/café with food and drinks and beach chairs.
  • Personal Safety: We felt pretty safe but it can be very secluded in some spots. We would feel safe in leaving our belongings unattended for short periods of time here.

Mirissa Beach:

We hired a tuk tuk for the day to visit Mirissa Beach which is 35 kms south down the coast and the road takes you through some popular spots like Talpe, Koggala, and Weligama. Once we arrived to Mirissa beach, we really enjoyed walking down the beach and finding a quiet spot to swim on the left side of the bay where the water is calmer. We really enjoyed swimming here and meeting locals who were eager to chat with us about where we were from and to find out our names. We also children building sand temples as opposed to sand castles (I wish I would have taken a photo of the stunning sand temple before the waves washed it away!). Of all the beaches we visited, this was the one where we saw the most locals enjoying it. 

Me at Mirissa Beach

Me at Mirissa Beach

Mirissa Beach

Mirissa Beach

Gringo burger from The Original Rocket Burger at Mirissa Beach

Gringo burger from The Original Rocket Burger at Mirissa Beach

There were a number of restaurants and bars on the beach and since we were getting hungry and the setting was so nice, we decided to have lunch here. We really enjoy the local vegetarian food but decided to get burgers and fries to enjoy on the beach from The Original Rocket Burger, a local chain. Sometimes when we eat food from home abroad, we have regrets but there were no regrets  from our Gringo burgers and fried. Yup, we ordered the Gringo burgers that have cheese, BBQ sauce, crispy onion, green chili mayo, caramelized onions, ketchup and mustard.

  • Water: The water in the bay to the right has a strong undertow and the waves are good for surfing. The water in the bay to the left is very calm and clear and perfect for swimming and treading water.
  • Bottom: In the bay to the right, the bottom is soft sand and in the bay to the right it is combination of sand and larger rocks that weren’t sharp and they were easy to see due to how clear the water is.
  • Garbage: It was very clean here and there was no garbage or broken glass anywhere.
  • Shade: There is very little shade here throughout the day.
  • Facilities: There are no showers or restrooms, but there are restaurants/beach clubs here.
  • Personal Safety: We felt safe in leaving our belongings unattended but in view while we swam together for brief periods of time.

Unawatuna Beach:

We visited Unawatuna twice; once we took a tuk tuk directly here and the other time we walked through the jungle from Jungle Beach to get here. Compared to the other beaches, Unawatuna is a lot busier with merchants trying to sell you items and activities, there are beach clubs/bars, and budget hotels that bring more people to the beach but it’s not as bad as other blogs make it out to be. That being said, we enjoyed Unawatuna the most of out all the beaches because of how swimmable it was, pleasant to walk down the beach, and food and beverage was easily accessible. While here, we enjoyed having a few beers at the Lucky Tuna where we met a very friendly waiter who took care of us by helping us to call our tuk tuk driver to come pick us up and we highly recommend trying Hopstars for their hoppers; they were delicious, very affordable and made by local people.

  • Jungle path between Jungle beach and Unawatuna beach

    Jungle path between Jungle beach and Unawatuna beach

    Unawatuna Beach

    Unawatuna Beach

     

  • Water: The water was warm, clear, and the surf was calm with a few larger sets of waves that were easy to dive under. The surf conditions here reminded us of calmer days in Ka’anapali Beach in Maui.
  • Bottom: The bottom is soft sand.
  • Garbage: It was very clean here and there was no garbage or broken glass anywhere.
  • Shade: There is no shade here throughout the day.
  • Facilities: There are no showers or restrooms, but there are restaurants/beach clubs here.
  • Personal Safety: We felt safe in leaving our belongings unattended but in view while we swam together for brief periods of time.

Weligama Beach:

Weligama Beach is just north of Mirissa Beach and has what a lot of other places don’t, a high-rise western chain hotel; for better or worse, a Marriott Hotel opened here recently and is available for points redemptions. The beach in Weligama is pretty nice and very popular for surfing. From what we could see, the waves were suitable for beginners but they can get very large at other times. Weligama was more of a surfer spot that’s become more popular so there are a number of small restaurants and bars catering to western tourists but you can still find local food here. If we come back to Sri Lanka, we would consider spending a few days here.

 

If you would like to photograph the famous stilt fisherman, they are located near Weligama but make sure to inquire about the price to take a photo as they don’t actually fish like that anymore, it’s just for show for tourists.

Mihiripenna Beach:

Talpe is closer to Galle and home to a few beach clubs and hotels. There are some parts of the beach that are swimmable but it depends on the time of the year, the surf conditions and where you are. We stopped at the Owl and the Pussycat on Mihiripenna beach for lunch because we are very interested in staying here and wanted to check it out. If you are looking for a pristine calm place to swim, the Talpe area is not the place for you but it you want to experience nice sunsets by the sea, then it’s a great spot.

Arak Sour cocktail at the Owl and the Pussycat in Thalpe

Arak Sour cocktail at the Owl and the Pussycat in Thalpe

Passionfruit cocktail at the Owl and the Pussycat in Thalpe

Passionfruit cocktail at the Owl and the Pussycat in Thalpe

 

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Have you visited any of these beaches? Were the conditions different than what I reported? Which of these beaches are you most interested in visiting?

 

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