If you thought Sri Lanka's only offerings are tea and the scenic blue train ride, then think again. Often overshadowed by its more glamorous neighbours of Maldives and Thailand (Phuket, Krabi), this tear drop isle does not fall short of its own beautiful (and perhaps better!) beaches. In fact, beach bums often quote Sri Lanka as home to some of the best beaches in the world!
And if you're still feeling hesitant on choosing Sri Lanka as your next beach getaway, then read on as we try to convince you otherwise ?
1. Beautiful beaches aplenty!
That ideal image of a beach - soft golden sands, swaying palm trees and sparkling turquoise water set against the beautiful backdrop of endless ice-blue sky is what you'll be greeted with here in Sri Lanka. With 1340 km of gorgeous coastline, Sri Lanka's beaches will suit every type of beach vacay - from romantic getaways, family-friendly vacations, adventure seekers to solo wanderings.
Unawatuna beach, the most famous beach in Sri Lanka, is always packed with people and is perfect for some fun in the water with kids. If crowd isn't your cup of tea, head on over to the less touristy Dalawella and Tangalle beach for peaceful strolls with stunning views. A watersport enthusiast?
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Uga Bay offers plenty of activities from swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, diving, as well as windsurfing! As for that long romantic walks along the beach with your special one, the dreamy Bentota beach with its beautiful sunset is the one for you ?
2. Luxurious Muslim-friendly beach resorts
No beach escapade is complete without staying a night or two (or more!) at a fancy and picturesque beach resort. And with countless beaches all around Sri Lanka, alluring resorts line the coast, awaiting to be enjoyed by travellers like you and your loved ones. And did we mention they're Muslim-friendly too?
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You can find Muslim-friendly hotels which offer not only halal food, but also prayer mats, Qibla direction, and a list of nearby halal restaurants upon request! Options include the chic sea-gazing guestrooms of Jetwing Hotels, the affordable yet cosy St. Lachan, , and the 5-star hotel of Taj Samudra!
From breezy rooms with magnificent coastline views to infinity beachfront pools, romantic seaside dining, and blissful rejuvenating spas, you'll have a hard time leaving this slice of paradise ?
3. A surfer's paradise
Thanks to its strategic location and tropical weather, Sri Lanka is a paradise for surfers. With many good surf breaks, quality consistent swells, and year round surf options all over the coast of Sri Lanka, it's no wonder surfers from all around the world flock to this gem of an island.
There's no particular best time to go for a surf here as anytime is a good time. However, the main surfing season for the south coast is from November to May and for the east coast, it's from April to October. Head on over to Arugam Bay on the east, often cited as the popular surf spot, or catch the waves at any surf spots across the southwest coast from Hikkaduwa down to Matara.
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Whether you're a pro or beginner, there are waves for all levels of surfers. There are also quite a number of surfing classes available if you wish to sign up. So bring along your board and ride the waves of your lifetime at this magical island of Sri Lanka.
4. Charming smaller islands
Beyond beach towns and surf scenes, a scattering of small islands can be found dotted off the coast of Sri Lanka, just waiting to be explored. For travellers who like to go off-the-beaten-path and uncharted tourist territory, island-hopping is a must do here in Sri Lanka.
Travel up north to Jaffna and visit the charming island towns surrounding it. Causeways and ferry rides link the islands. From colonial architecture and fort remains at Kayts to ancient historic temples of Nainativu, your island-hopping journey is bound to be an immersive and fulfilling one ☺️
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For nature lovers, make a stop at either Neduntheevu (or Delft in Dutch) Island or Pigeon Island. Take in the otherworldly feel of Delft's barren landscape with its huge baobab tree, wild ponies, palm shades, coral and limestone chunks, and wild horses. Or be in awe of the underwater landscape of Pigeon Island, known for its glittering coral gardens and marine life.
5. Magnificent blue whales
Jump at the chance to see the magnificent blue whale and its fellow brothers in the flash here in Sri Lanka!
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Sri Lanka's waters are home to a large variety of whales and dolphins due to its prime location and abundance of aquatic food such as krill. The best time to see them is from November to April as they make their annual migration trip. Though Mirissa is often cited as the best spot for whale-watching, we recommend Kalpitiya and Trincomalee for the same heart-pounding experience but with lesser crowds.
While choosing your tour operator, make sure that the company abides by the criteria set by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) for a responsible whale-watching operation. And while these expeditions are usually offered in morning and afternoon, it's the morning ones which are considered the best time to catch these joyful majestic creatures ?
6. Delicious halal food
Contrary to what you might expect, halal food is easily available in Sri Lanka. As Muslims make up 10% of the population, there's a vibrant Muslim community here hence accessible halal options for us, fellow Muslim travellers!
If you're in Colombo, try dining at any of these restaurants - Eastern Wok with its eastern delicacies, Sandwich Factory for American-inspired food, and Al Maas Family Restaurant for some scrumptious local and Pakistani cuisine. There're also a few halal restaurants near the beaches such as Indian Hut and Crepe-ology at Galle.
Plus, did you know that McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, and Taco Bell in Sri Lanka are all halal-certified by the Sri Lanka Halal Council?? If you want to try local street food, head over to the Muslim town of Dharga where you'll find dozens of small halal eateries. So fret not and indulge in the gastronomical delight that Sri Lanka has to offer ?
7. Rich culture and history
Sri Lanka's offerings aren't just its heavenly beaches, exclusive resorts, thrilling water adventures and scrumptious cuisine (as if those alone aren't enough!), but the country itself is rich in culture and history.
Sri Lanka is home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. History lovers will love the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya, the magnificent cave wall paintings of Dambulla and the great ruined city of Anuradhapura.
For something closer to the beach, the coastal town of Galle fits the bill. Take a step back in time as you stroll around the streets with its colonial architecture influenced by the Dutch, the Portuguese and the British. Make a stop at the iconic lighthouse and clock tower, explore the fortified fort, and learn about the history of the place at the many museums.
8. Perfect for budget travellers
To top it all off, a vacation in Sri Lanka is an affordable one. For less than USD25 a night, you can get an entire house for 4 complete with basic amenities and in close proximity to the sea. As for luxury stays, prices start from a reasonable USD140.
Credit: Weligama Bay Marriott Resort and Spa on Facebook
Food is really cheap too. A hearty meal of rice and assorted of curries complete with drinks will only cost you USD3. Street food such as hoppers, veggie samosas, and isso vadai are no more than USD0.50 while the fulfilling kottu dish is priced at USD1.50. And a 1.5 litre of mineral water is only USD0.25!
As for transportation, you'll find that travelling in Sri Lanka is cheaper than other countries. Bus rides start from USD0.90 depending on where you're heading while a three-hour train ride from Colombo to Kandy for a third-class seat is only USD1.20 ? Talk about value for money!
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So instead of going to the usual popular beach destinations, why not head to the often underrated beaches of Sri Lanka? With its magnificent beach views, fancy yet affordable resorts, water activities galore, and abundance of delicious halal food, your beach getaway in Sri Lanka is sure to be a magical and memorable one ?