I didn’t know what to expect when I visited Sri Lanka, but after a few months travelling around India, I was more than ready to chill out on a beach somewhere and Sri Lanka seemed like a good choice. Unfortunately, I only had 10 days in the country, and so instead of travelling around trying to see as much as possible, I settled for exploring the South Coast.

The area is easy to reach from Colombo and public transport and Tuk-tuk’s make it easy to get around. Plus, the area is absolutely stunning, and a true paradise if I’ve ever seen one. If you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway, but still want some vibrant culture too, then Sri Lanka’s South Coast really is a perfect destination. Here are 5 spots you can check out!

1. Unawatuna

Sri Lanka’s original paradise beach is still the most idyllic bay in the country. The crescent stretch of white sand is a beach lovers dream. While the place is defintely established on the tourist trail, it still keeps a lot of it’s original charm while being a convenient and relaxing place to stay. The water is turquoise blue, the locals are constantly smiling and the food is delicious.

2. Handunugoda Tea Estate

If you don’t have enough time on your Sri Lanka itinerary to head up to the hills around Kandy and Ella, then a day trip to the Handunugoda Tea Estate should satisfy some of your cravings for Sri Lankan hills and tea culture. The estate produces the famous ‘Virgin White Tea’ a variety which isn’t touched by hand throughout the entire process. The living museum will guide you through the entire tea making process and at the end you’ll be rewarded with a few sample cups in their colonial veranda.

3. Galle

Sitting on the South West tip of Sri Lanka, Galle is a fort city filled with old Dutch colonial buildings mixed with vibrant Sri Lankan colours and flavours. It’s really a must-see spot, particularly if you love cafe hopping and boutique shopping. The whole fort area has an incredible bohemian vibe, with stunning resturants like Fortaleza set in an old spice warehouse.

4. Stilt Fishermen

One of Sri Lanka’s most unique and photographed sights is the stilt fishermen which you can find at various points along the Southern Coast. While many of these sites are now primarily for tourism, you can find a few authentic spots if you head out early in the morning with a local guide. Most of the fishing takes place between Dalawela and Ahangama but ask your Tuk-tuk driver for the nearest location.

5. Mirissa Beach

While all of Sri Lanka’s beaches seem to be breathtakingly beautiful, Mirissa offers a little more. Whale watching is a big attraction here, as Sri Lanka’s South Coast is one of the best places in the worth to see varieties of the giant creatures –  including blue whales. Mirissa is also a great chill out spot, without the development of Unawatuna.

Have you ever been to Sri Lanka’s South Coast? Let us know your favourite spots in the comments below!

All photographs by Annapurna Mellor