Ultimate guide to Sri Lanka's south coast

By tropicalescape | Jan 16, 2019
Asia > Sri Lanka

I’ve been living on the pearl of the Indian ocean known as Sri Lanka for 2 years, and I can truly say it holds a special place in my heart, not only because my son was born here but because of the kind-hearted people, luscious tea plantations, unforgettable safari’s, rich culture and stunning palm lined beaches.

I've lived on both the east coast in Trincomalee and the South West in Bentota and can say each offer their own unique experiences. The south coast has more of a colonial feel, particularly in the Galle area where you’ll find the UNESCO world heritage site Galle Fort. Home to some of the most picturesque beaches in Sri Lanka, it’s tempting to bask in the sun sipping coconuts all day, however the south coast offers more than just good surf and an Instagram post and here's why...

Safari at Yala National Park

Yala National Park is situated 6 hours south of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, and Sri Lanka’s most famous national park. It is known to have the highest concentration of leopards in the world as well as the biggest leopards weighing in at nearly 100kg. Yala is home to over 44 species of mammals including over 300 elephants.

Whale watching in Mirissa

You will find an abundance of marine life living in the waters close to Mirissa beach including Blue whales, dolphins, orcas, sperm whales, whale sharks, turtles and more.

Tea plantation

Close to colonial styled Galle is one of the only southern coastal tea plantations, Handunugoda tea estate. Handunugoda is home to ‘virgin white tea’, believed to be one the healthiest teas in the world and is one of the few estates in Sri Lanka exporting luxury tea globally. Tours of the plantation are free and you can visit between 8am – 4.30pm, Monday through Sunday.

UNESCO site Galle Fort

Galle Fort, an UNESCO world heritage site with imprints of the Dutch and British. Galle offers a little get away from the traditional Sri Lankan architecture with cobbled roads and European style restaurants, boutique shops and art galleries. A great day trip whilst staying on one of the close by beaches. You’ll find plenty of Instagram worthy moments too ;)

Watersports on Bentota lagoon

Speed along Bentota lagoon on a jet-ski, enjoy a windsurfing lesson, or take a river boat tour through the mangroves. Bentota is a great end location to any tour as it’s a quiet coastal town with a gorgeous long beach and only 100km from the airport. Don’t forget to visit Panchakapaduwa island meditation centre, a hidden gem in a small jungle to the far right of the beach.

Sinharaja Forest

A biodiverse hotspot, and UNESCO world heritage site. With 2 nature trails starting from Kudawa Conservation Centre you can hike through the dense tropical forest making your way to either peak of Moulawella or the peak of Sinhagala whilst witnessing over 20 endemic birds, waterfalls, monkeys and more.


Did I save the best til last? Maybe! The south coast is best known for it’s good surf and sandy beaches. The most popular spots are Mirissa, Weligama, Unawatuna, and Hikkaduwa. If you’re looking a quiet get away then head to Tangalle, or Bentota. You’ll always find a spot to yourself on these beaches. My favourite? Hiriketiya Beach, a cute horseshoe shaped beach.

Sri Lanka is one of Asia’s best kept secrets, but not for long as we are now number one on many travel lists for best place to visit in 2019… makesure you don’t miss out!

Bentota Mirissa Galle Tea Plantation Asia Watersports Leopard Safari Yala National Park Hiking Tours Beaches Boat Safari Hiking Sri Lanka

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Written by tropicalescape
Tropical Escape is a tour agency run by British expat Sinead, and her Sri Lankan husband, Chameera. Sinead moved from one tropical home (Thailand), to another (Sri Lanka) mid 2017 and hasn't looked back. Having lived on both the eastern and southern coasts of Sri Lanka and enjoyed numerous tours for research and personal pleasures Sinead and Chameera now specialise in creating bespoke itineraries for clients looking to explore the beautiful country that they call home.

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