Sri Lanka’s spectacular coastline boasts palm-dotted bays and sweeping stretches of warm sand fringed by bathtub-temperature water and rolling waves, not to mention charming boutique hotels and cafés. It’s perfect for surfers, but has something for every kind of beachgoer, from the adventurous to the sunbathing. Fly to Colombo and travel by car a couple of hours south to reach these picturesque villages in a relatively unexplored paradise full of hidden gems.
AHANGAMA AND WELIGAMA
You’ve probably fantasized about leaving your job and moving to an exotic island—Swedish couple Petter and Linn did just that. After finishing school in Sweden, they decided that they wanted to explore the world. While visiting most corners of the world, they started to write about all the inspiring people they met. These short stories grew into a successful blog, which in turn inspired a surf and yoga camp. Tucked in the jungle in the lush village Ahangama, Sunshinestories is the perfect match for the vigorous traveler seeking thrilling, active experiences, plus an unlimited stock of fresh coconuts.
In 2016, the Swedish power couple opened up a boutique hotel, Ceylon Sliders, in the nearby village of Weligama. But it goes beyond the usual hotel amenities. Their café is a must-visit (try their Salty Island smoothie and their avocado toast), as is their adorable shop. Lastly, sign up for their yoga classes held at both dawn and dusk on the rooftop, where a stunning view over the beach is an extra treat. If you pick dawn, grab a surfboard and hit the waves, just outside the hotel entrance, right after. For your après, head to quaint Green Peace Innfor fresh juices and smoothie bowls, or stop by Wijaya Beach in Unawatuna for authentic Sri Lankan food and pizzas.
Nearby, another lovely and inspiring couple owns Sri Lanka’s best-kept secret, the newly opened boutique hotel The Kip. Owners Phoebs and Seddy, originally from Australia and Italy, will make you feel at home as soon as you arrive. Their impeccable taste is evident in the magnificent interiors, and each room is thoughtfully decorated in a minimalist, yet intimate, style. In addition to the over-the-top service, attention to detail, and heavenly surroundings, this boho-luxe sanctuary also offers delectable food thanks to Seddy’s incredible Italian cooking skills (ask for his pasta!). Checking into this paradise is a must—it’s a true home away from home.
KOGGALA & TANGALLE
Set by the serene lake Koggala, the remarkable Tri hotel is another mandatory stop. Unwind by the infinity pool overlooking the tranquil lake, practice yoga in the coolest yoga studio you have ever seen, or just wander around the gorgeous modern buildings and rooms. Relish Sri Lankan delicacies with a modern twist in the restaurant.
Another exquisite hideaway is the remote and stylish Amanwella, a member of the exclusive Aman family, in the village Tangalle, a match made in heaven for those longing to unplug and wind down. You’ll have access to a peaceful private beach backed by swaying coconut palms, an extraordinary infinity pool, flawless service, enticing food, and sophisticated rooms.
Other mandatory activities include visiting the Galle Lighthouse and Dutch Fort, then taking a stroll along the waterfront. But if you’re looking for half- or full-day excursions on the coasts, try exploring the national park and wildlife reserve Udawalawe, visit the tea plantation and factory Handunugoda Tea Estate (buy their signature Virgin White Tea, extremely rich in antioxidants and said to be the healthiest tea in the world), or go on a whale and dolphin safari in Mirissa. With all these distractions from the surf and sun, you may just have to extend your stay to soak it all in.