My Favorite Palm-Tree Lined Beaches along Sri Lanka’s Southern Coast

The beaches in Sri Lanka blew me away. In fact, the entire country did.

The landscape in this tiny country is so beautifully diverse. From the country side to the beaches, every turn you take in Sri Lanka is full of surprises.

For the duration of our time exploring Sri Lanka’s Southern Province we based ourselves out of Galle Fort. Since it was the low season in Sri Lanka, we knew it would be best to stay somewhere that would offer more shopping and dining options because many of the beach side restaurants were closed. And as it turns out, Galle Fort was one of my favorite places in Sri Lanka! Each day we would explore a bit of Galle Fort in the morning before jumping in an inexpensive tuk-tuk and heading straight for the beaches.

Dalawella Beach

The idyllic and serene Dalawella Beach was my favorite of the ones I visited in Sri Lanka. Located just 8.5 kilometers south of Galle Fort, this small beach is just a little further down the coast from the busier, more popular Unuwatuna beach.

Dalawella is truly a special place.

I could’ve spent days here– soaking up the smell of the salty sea air, sleeping under the breezy palms and sipping on fresh coconuts.

We had our tuk-tuk drop us off at the Salt Beach House along the northern end of the sandy beach and sauntered down the shore. We quickly reached the popular palm tree rope swing but it was tied up around the trunk. I imagine that the owners have now wised up after this particular photo op became an internet sensation and are now charging to use it. We skipped it and found our own spot instead.

The towering rock formation appeared to be climbable, so naturally we scrambled up to the top.

Very carefully, of course.

We took turns playing on top of the rock before continuing along the palm tree-lined beach. We eventually reached the only area where people were swimming, directly in front of the Wijaya Beach hotel, in a small lagoon protected from the surf.

Walking amongst the leaning palm trees, digging my toes in the golden sand and listening to the magical sounds of the ocean made me feel like I was in a dream.

On our way back to Galle Fort we made a slight detour and briefly stopped at Jungle Beach. The hidden cove is reachable by following a path down to the ocean. We only stayed for a few minutes and weren’t overly impressed since we just came from, in my opinion, the most beautiful beach in Sri Lanka.

Mirissa Beach

For the hour long journey from Galle Fort to the charming seaside village of Mirissa Beach we opted to take a tuk-tuk. Having a private driver is significantly more expensive than taking the bus but our driver gave us a deal we couldn’t resist. For 3500 LKR ($22.85) roundtrip we were given the opportunity to stop anywhere along the way which meant we were able snag some photographs of those famous stilt fisherman. Additionally, our driver patiently waited for us while we explored Mirissa Beach, then dropped us off at Dalawella Beach (for our second visit) and waited again.

On the way to Mirissa Beach we stopped to take pictures of the stilt fisherman posing on sticks erected from the sea. This traditional way of fishing isn’t really used anymore but it is a way for them to make money by charging tourists for a photograph. Our tuk-tuk driver warned us that this was the case and he said you shouldn’t pay more than 200 LKR ($1.30) to take a photo.

Unfortunately, the man in charge of collecting the cash demanded 1500 LKR ($9.80) for pictures so we said “no thanks!” Luckily, our driver knew of a another place further along the way so, for the reasonable 200 LKR ($1.30) price tag, we were able to capture the pictures we wanted.

Since we were visiting the southern beaches during Sri Lanka’s off season, they were pretty deserted. Even most of the restaurants and shops were closed.

We loved it.

We slowly strolled along the quiet stretch of sand, taking in the sights and sounds. Digging our toes into the sand, we traced the outlines of where the warm waves came crashing along the shore. Palm trees line the long stretch of beach with patches of colorful, traditional fishing boats dotting the shore.

Hikkaduwa Beach

This popular seaside town is located about 17 km (11 mi) north-west of Galle Fort and due to its close proximity to Colombo, we stayed here for one night at the end of our trip.

The public bus was the most cost effective way to reach Hikkaduwa from Galle Fort and we only paid 35 LKR ($0.23) per person to reach our hotel. For our stay in Hikkaduwa I really wanted to find a hotel with a pool because it was really hot and after our non-air conditioned bus ride, a dip in some cool water would be nice. Well, we showed up to a pool drained of its water for restoration work….fail. After that disappointment we decided to head down to the beach to enjoy the sunset views.

The sunset did not disappoint.

The town of Hikkaduwa is much more touristy than Mirissa beach and Dalawella– something we noticed right away. The beach was crowded and the streets were lined with many tourist shops. Larger hotels, built to accommodate many guests, are taking up most of the space along the shore. We definitely preferred the tranquility of the smaller beaches.

Before arriving we had read that the shores of Hikkaduwa were home to friendly sea turtles that swim ashore almost everyday. We must’ve been there on their day off because we had zero sightings of sea turtles. Luckily, strolling down the beach sans sea turtles was still enjoyable and a nice way to end our south coast exploration.

All of my photos were taken with the Leica XU camera.

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