Far more populated than the east coast, Sri Lanka’s west coast stretches for hundreds of miles, offering a selection of perfect beaches with all the tropical trimmings, and hideaway properties that transcend the usual classifications. Historically, the lion's share of the country’s development has occurred on the west coast, and a plethora of top hotels, from palatial to boutique, now fill the coastline. In the north west, the scenery becomes less cultivated as the crashing, turquoise sea serenades one of the wildest parts of Sri Lanka.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
Follow the coast between Colombo and Galle and you’ll find sweeping stretches of beach inhabited by every type of hotel, from big brand names to delightfully restored (sometimes slightly eccentric!) period villas. Handily placed for maximum rest and recuperation, they’re ideal places to sit back, late afternoon drink in hand, and dream about dinner. Cool off in a perfectly placed swimming pool (the sea here can be a little rough) or enjoy some water sports on sheltered Bentota lagoon. It’s unlikely that you’ll have gotten this far without hearing the name Geoffrey Bawa, a renowned architect and one of Sri Lanka’s most famous sons. A stroll around the stunning tropical gardens at his former home, Lunuganga, is likely to be within striking distance for those looking to explore lesser-known sights away from Galle’s sophisticated buzz.
Over the years, Negombo has become increasingly popular with larger tour operators, who fly their clients straight in to enjoy a week or two of all inclusive sun, sea and pampering. It may sound pretty perfect, and when done right can no doubt be relaxing, but you won’t get much of a feel for the country. In some ways, once inside that all-inclusive bubble, you could be anywhere. That isn’t the way we like to travel. The impact of tourism market has certainly taken its toll on Negombo’s formerly good looks and it can, in reality, be pretty shabby in parts. However, a night or two in Negombo can offer a smooth transition in or out of Sri Lanka in certain circumstances. Home to some high-quality accommodation in close proximity to the airport, this city is an contender for visitors craving some pre-or post-flight beach.
Despite being on a picture-perfect spit stretching into crystal-clear seas, its beaches and dunes dotted with wild beach gardens, Kalpitiya somehow remains low key. Even during the summer, when it becomes a world-renowned kite surfing destination, it stays off the mainstream travel radar. The accommodation can be fairly basic, but there are cool swimming pools, exceptionally fresh gourmet seafood, and the chance to see spinner dolphins and whales dancing through the waters offshore. It isn’t for everybody - some may find the accommodation choice a little limiting, and your route might not naturally bring you this way - but if you dream of flaming torches piercing the night sky, leading you over smooth sand to an open air seafood barbeque, then Kalipitiya is bliss.
Combine the island’s top wildlife crowd pleasers with some magnificent hidden gems and cultural highlights before spending some time on the beach.