Sri Lanka’s 1,340km coastline, washed by a warm Indian Ocean, blesses the island with many spectacular stretches of sand. Beaches in the south and west of the island tend to be more dramatic – deep coves, wide bays and curved stretches of sand backed by dominant swaying coconut palms and lush rising headlands. In the east of the island and also to the north west, near Kalpitiya, in the island’s drier zones, the beaches are wide and long, yet onshore the land is flatter, more arid and shaded by the crackly star-shaped leaves of sugar palms.

Sri Lanka is a surfer’s paradise, and many destinations across the island – from south west Hikkaduwa and Weligama to east coast Arugam Bay draw surfers from far and wide. Many of the island’s beaches are pounded by gentle surf or in some cases, strong waves, and not all coastal locations are suitable for swimming. There are many exceptions however, and plenty of little-visited bays luring you in for sea swims. The island is subject to two monsoons, which means that sea swimming is possible year-round – from November to April it is best on the south and west coasts while May to September it is idyllic on the east coast.

Where : Some of the South Coasts best beaches are just 15 minutes from The Fort Bazaar, rooms from $130 USD ++