The westcoast of Sri Lanka is one of the most popular places for tourists to visit and relax. Palm trees stretching over the beach, a green king coconut in your hand and a good swim in the waves. You can find some really overlooked places where the pristine beaches is found almost empty of tourists, and where you’ll find local families relaxing and having fun. There is of course also the big tourist cities like Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna and Negombo with many hotels, bars and restaurants. The general prices in these areas have been pushed up and you loose the local feeling of Sri Lanka. Of course it depends on who you are and what you are looking for on your travel. Many tourists prefer these kind of places to enjoy the beach life and party with other tourists, but for us paradise is where we can be ourselves and enjoy the nature.
We will in this article describe the west coast beaches we visited, some we liked because of the local feeling and others because of the beach. We will describe these places in the order we visited them – from Colombo and downwards.
Wedikanda is a small local village in the suburbs of Colombo. The beach is not maintained so you’ll find a lot of trash lying on the beach and floating around in the ocean. This area is interesting if you want to have a real local experience without any tourists, close to cheap local restaurants and super markets. If you want to stay here, we would recommend you to book accommodation on Airbnb, because guesthouses and hotels are a bit scarce.
Right next to Wedikanda is a tourist town called Mount Livinia. It’s not a place you need to spend a lot of time in, but if you need a beach while you are staying in Colombo maybe this could be the place.
Again a very local area where the beach is not very well maintained. The ocean is okay to swim in and the waves are not so big. We stayed in the northern part of this town where tourists again are almost non existing. There is a lot of guesthouses and hotels close to the beach in this area, so it is possible to find a place without booking, especially because the area is so empty of tourists. We’ve seen a big amount of street dogs in this area, also fighting against eachother, so just keep your distance.
We just fell in love with this area from when we hopped of the train, till we left the town. Ambalangoda is a very overlooked area for tourists with beautiful and empty beaches, and no litter! The water is clear and the beach have the finest white sand. We’ve felt a very welcoming family kind of vibe here, and we didn’t feel any kind of hassle. There is a local seafood market every morning in front of the harbour, where the fisherboats that’s been out fishing the whole night sells their fish. We bought a whole kilo of tigerprawns at this market, to make a great french dinner ourselves with white wine, butter and a pinch of salt and lime – Delicious!
Stay some nights in Saga or Sena Home, just ask after them when you arrive, you wont regret it! Go experience this area within the next years as we are sure this will be a very popular tourist place in the future.
Hikkaduwa is an old hippie town from before the civil war. This place was once a great tourist place with divine snorkeling upportunities and wide beautiful beaches. Today this place is a very crowded and touristy place that just looks like every other ”full moon” party place in Asia. The buildings are far to close to the shore and the corals are almost destroyed. You won’t get a feeling of real Sri Lanka here and your money won’t stay in your pocket for that long. We were very surprised that the prices was almost 4 doubled here, compared to the prices we where used to in the local areas. Two days was plenty for us here.
The place we stayed was just outside of Hikkaduwa at a beach called Narigama. We walked along the beach, through the many tourists sunbathing in front of the big hotels. The waves are really big so be aware not to hurt yourself.
An overlooked, but upcoming stretch between Hikkaduwa and Galle. Many people skip this area because you mostly won’t find it on a tourist map. The beach is a 2 km long, not to narrow not to wide beach with only a few tourists walking up and down. It is possible to swim here and the waves are not too big, still be aware of currents.
We stayed at a little cosy place called Take It Easy – Beach Huts. They’ve built 4 small wooden huts, not bigger than a mattress and only 20 meters from the water edge. The owners is a very friendly and helpfull young couple. Find them on facebook!
The beach in Mirissa is a really nice looking beach, the only issue is the amount of people coming here for that reason too. The waves are again really big here, so it can be dangerous to swim here.
Mirissa is also famous for the whale watching tours. We took a daytrip into the city to do the whale watching in the early morning. A lot of tourists are going there to see the whales everyday, but we were lucky to choose a boat that wasn’t that crowded as others. All in all we had a great trip and saw the big bluewhales in the surface of the ocean and even a whaleshark came and said hello!
An upcoming tourist area, but still authentic and not too crowded. On the coast you’ll find many small beaches and the waves break much farther out than other beaches on the west coast, therefore is this area great for swimming and snorkeling. Because of the more calm waters, turtles are swimming close to the shore to eat the seagrass, so you’ll have a very big upportunity to swim with turtles. Check our point of interest in this area for where we swam with turtles. Many calm accommodations are situated close to the beach so it is very easy to find a good stay on every budget you may have.
We stayed at the owner of the only diving school in the area, called Chamlie’s Dive Home. A guesthouse with private bathroom, kitchen, free laundry and snorkeling gear. Everyone knows Chamlie so ask around and you’ll find him.
We wanted a last beach stop before going north and into the mountain areas. When we looked for accommodation here, we could see that the prices was a bit higher than the other beach stretches we’ve been on. When we arrived to our chosen accommodation, we where surprised that the area was really empty - a very small village, and far away from the mainroad and local restaurants. We only saw a few tourist, mainly retired people hiding from busy areas. Fortunately, the place we stayed at had a kitchen, so we could borrow a scooter to drive into town and buy groceries for our stay. The few restaurants we could find was simply too expensive for our budget. The beach was surprisingly stunning, very long and empty but the waves can be too high to swim in. So for long romantic beach walks all alone this could be the place!