The hardest part about the south coast of Sri Lanka is deciding which beach to relax on. The coast is dotted with plenty of beachside towns; all with different personalities and activities on offer. We allocated 3 nights (out of our 10 night trip) along the coastline excluding our stay in Galle, with 2 nights spent at Hiriketiya Bay and 1 night at Weligama. I would also recommend making some stop offs on route, so you get the chance to soak up the vibes of other beach towns along the way.
Luckily for us, Hiriketiya Bay came as a recommendation from some friends, and what a great recommendation it was! Located one bay over from Dikwella Beach; this bay is an oasis of calm. A beautiful sandy bay, lined with perfect palm trees, clean white sand, and waves suitable for beginner surfers, Hiriketiya Bay ticks all the boxes. Hiriketiya Bay is certainly worthy of more than 2 nights stay should you be able to secure accommodation for a longer duration.
Activities: Swim, learn to surf, stand up paddle board, take a yoga class, cafe hop, or just sit and read a book on the beach with a cold Lion. You can do as much or as little as you choose.
Stay: The Salt House. We stayed 2 nights at The Salt House – originally hoping for 3 nights, but this place is high in demand so you need to get in early. Highlights included free yoga for guests; breakfast included; an outdoor common area to enjoy drinks with friends, relax and read a book, or dip in the pool; plus well-furnished rooms with open air showers. Worth noting that there are only a handful of rooms with air-conditioning, most are open air with ceiling fans and mosquito nets to keep out the bugs (so have some insect repellant nearby).
Eat / Drink: For such a small beachside town, you really are spoiled for choice…
The Grove: Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or brunch, with THE best coffee we found in Sri Lanka. Healthy salads, veggie bowls and fresh seafood, made this our go-to lunch joint each day. The seating out in the front garden makes for a chilled space to enjoy a brief break from the beach.
Dots Bay House: This place is full of atmosphere, with live music and cocktails in the eve, and also a great place to grab dinner. They serve up a mean curry, and fresh seafood. Yum!
Lychee Bar: Cold beer and feet in the sand beach bar. Simple sundowners with the best kind of view.
Verse Collective: Located at nearby Dikwella beach, this is a great spot for cocktails and sunset watching. Its an easy 10-15 minute walk over from Hiriketiya Bay. Although the food wasn’t particularly exciting, the gin and tonics (and the sunset views) certainly hit the spot.
We needed to find another night stopover along the coast on our way to Galle after leaving Hiriketiya Bay, and we ended up choosing Weligama primarily on the awesome accommodation we found here. Whilst the beach was big and expansive, it didn’t quite live up to the charm of Hiriketiya Bay, however our accommodation made up for it in spades.
Activities: We didn’t have much time in Weligama, so our only activity was to take a long stroll along the beach, which included some time out with a beer and book on the beach. Weligama beach is more of a fishing and surfing beach – its not one of the prettiest in terms of sitting back and taking in the views, but that could have been impacted by the overcast day we had.
Stay: Ceylon Sliders. There was absolutely nothing disappointing about our choice to stay here. Actually, I’m going to go as far as to say that this was the best room we had on our whole trip! Ceylon Sliders is a trendy surf store, meets awesome cafe & restaurant, meet airbnb with 2 very well furnished and comfortable rooms. We stayed in the Island Suite; a super chilled out space, with a balcony to sit and watch the sun set, and air-conditioning which allowed for an incredible nights sleep.
Eat / Drink: Staying at Ceylon Sliders, you’ll have breakfast included in your room rate. Make sure you arrive to the table hungry as they will serve you up a delicious and healthy spread.
We also enjoyed a late lunch / dinner at Ceylon Sliders (not by laziness, but because the menu looked amazing) – enjoying a healthy veggie bowl and burger in their lush green courtyard space.
Mirissa has a Bali-Like vibe about it, with lots of restaurant and accommodation options, but also a lot of tourists. We only stopped by for a visit during our car ride from Hiriketiya Bay to Weligama. Many people love staying in Mirissa and using the town as the base to explore the south coast. For us, we were looking for something quieter and more chilled out so were happy with our decision to bypass staying overnight.
With only a brief visit, make sure you cover the following activities:
Stroll Mirissa Beach: Take the time to walk the entire length of the beach. It’s great for people watching, seeing the various beach cafes, bars, restaurants and soaking up the beach atmosphere.
Seek out Mirissa’s Street Art: Wind your way through the small streets of Mirissa town, keeping your eyes peeled for the vibrant street art culture.
Lunch from No.1 Dewmini Roti Shop: If you time your day just right, make sure you grab some lunch from what is famed to be the original and best roti shop. Family run, freshly made, and excellent reviews to boot.
Other South Coast Sights
Dondra Head Lighthouse: This lighthouse marks the southernmost point of Sri Lanka’s coastline. We stopped by hoping to be able to climb the lighthouse and check out the views along the coastline. However, it was closed to the public on the day of our visit. Regardless, it made for a nice car rest stop to see the exterior of the building.
Coconut Tree Hill: Quite likely not the official name (as our driver had never heard of it) but this is what appears to be the name adopted by google maps. The hill seems very popular with the instagram crowd; so you might struggle to get a photo without others in the frame! However, the setting is idyllic: a perfect palm covered hill surrounded by the expansive blue ocean; and therefore absolutely worth a stop if you have the time.