Welcome to our guide to romance in Sri Lanka, best places for honeymoon and minimoon trips for loved-up duos. This guide will run through nine of the most enticing spots for celebrating getting hitched. There are all sorts on offer, from wild mountain retreats covered in tea to glinting tropical beaches washed by the turtle-filled Indian Ocean.
Our picks will take you from the famous resort strips of the west coast all the way to the lesser-known beaches of the far east coast of Sri Lanka. Best places for honeymoon trips also await in the historic towns and in the high-perched central mountain chains, where more adventure-hungry couples will find trekking paths and waterfalls and more.
Before we begin, it’s worth remembering that Sri Lanka has two distinct high seasons. Anywhere on the east coast and in the north is better from May to September, while the southwest beaches and Ella are better in the dry season that lasts from November to March, which also happens to be the top time for surfing and whale watching in those parts.
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If you’re the sort of couple who likes to have salt in your hair and sand on your feet, then Hiriketiya Beach is bound to be a doozy of a honeymoon pick. Until recently, this horseshoe bay on the far south side of the island was pretty unknown. But it’s been buzzing with life in the last few years, with more cool cafés and elegant hotels popping up every month.
The main draw is the surfing. Hiriketiya Beach offers a very mellow beach break where you and your other half can learn the craft of wave riding together. It’s one of the best learner waves on the island, in fact. But there’s also something more challenging on the reefs at the eastern end of the bay for those who want something higher level.
When you’re not surfing in Hiri (as the little town is known to the locals and the returnee travelers), you can enjoy a shimmering stretch of white sand backed by sea grapes, walks through monkey-filled coast jungles, and even potential sightings of sea turtles in the water. Pick one of the fancy hotels close to the coast – the best are CasaVana ($$), a new house with uber-friendly owners and rooms with outdoor showers, and Jasper House ($$-$$$), a breezy pad with four-poster beds and a pool.
Weligama is the place to go for couples who want to learn to surf together on their honeymoon. Set in a wide, well-protected bay on the southwest shore of the island, the town gets reliable waves between November and March (which also happens to be the peak season in these parts). And it’s never too big – the breaks in Weligama are the most beginner-friendly in Sri Lanka.
There are some acclaimed surf camps in the region that do packages that include rental and lessons, all based in relatively stylish accommodation within walking distance of the beach. And when you’re not surfing, you can enjoy safaris up the Polwatta Ganga river or spa sessions in Good Spa, which is rated one of the best on the whole island.
Yes, Ella has managed to elevate itself to something of a backpacker hub. However, it’s much more than just a highland getaway for shoestring travelers. It’s also a cracking place for active honeymooners who want to hike the mist-gathering mountains of the Sri Lankan Central Highlands and visit legendary tea plantations while they’re at it.
Skip the ramshackle rambler hostels that dot the heart of the town. Instead, choose to go to the outskirts. We’re talking resorts like the EKHO Ella ($$-$$$), a four-star retreat with a grand piano and hot tubs in the garden overlooking the tea fields, or Chille Ville ($$), which has suites that open onto balconies with sweeping panoramas of the jungles.
Ella can be as chilled or as active as you want it to be. Feeling pumped? Pull on the boots and hike to the Pride Rock-esque lookout of Ella Rock. Or trek through the bamboo thickets to the Nine Arch Bridge, one of the most romantic photo spots on the island. There are also tea workshops and spas, so plenty for once the trekking is done and dusted.
Kandy is the cultural capital of the island. It sits just under 100 clicks from the commercial capital in Colombo, on the cusp of the rising Knuckles Mountains and the tea-covered Central Highlands. The trip in is a journey in itself, as you bid farewell to the tuk-tuk-crammed lanes of the big city and wave hello to ridges dressed in verdant forest.
When you get here, be sure to settle into one of the hotels that rise on the hill to the south of the center. They’re in a serene part of the town and are known for having fantastic views of Kandy Lake and the totemic religious shrines that lie below (more on those in a moment). There are also some even-more-luxurious choices in the woods on the outskirts, including the Kings Pavilion Luxury Hotel ($$$) and the Golden Crown Hotel ($$$).
Your first port of call in Kandy should surely be the Temple of the Tooth. It’s the most important religious shrine on the island and holds a revered relic of the Buddha. There’s also a high-perched Buddha statue that has amazing views of the town, and a whole nature park filled with deer and monkeys.
Bentota is one of the original resorts of the now-uber-popular Sri Lankan west coast. Just an hour’s drive south of the airport, you can be here in a jiffy after stepping off the plane. But what does “here” mean? Well…how does glinting gold-white beaches, the snaking Bentota Ganga river, lagoons fringed by palm trees, and see-through Indian Ocean waters sound? We thought so.
Bentota now excels on the luxury hotel front. It’s got some seriously nice resorts that spill down right to the sand, but still offer infinity pools and spacious villa accommodation. Some of the best there are the exquisite Cinnamon Bentota Beach ($$$), a five-star joint with a whiff of the colonial era about it, and the Taj Bentota Resort & Spa ($$$), which sits on the headland to offer unrivaled sea views.
Most of your time in Bentota is likely to be taken up with sunbathing on the long arc of Ventura Beach. However, there are some moments of cultural enjoyment. They come with visits to the heady – and pungent – Aluthgama fish bazaar and stops at the nearby Benthara Buddha Statue.
Unawatuna occupies a series of lovely inlets and coves just south of the town of Galle on the western shoreline of Sri Lanka. It’s got all the ingredients you’d expect of a tried-and-tested beach hub: Hotels just a stone’s throw from the lapping waves, curry houses that spill onto the sands, palm tree gardens that shimmer red and yellow and orange when the sun sets.
What we love about Unawatuna is that you can also hitch a ride in a tuk-tuk to see Galle itself. The city is very old indeed, with a Fort area that was settled by the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the British. It’s now a symphony of colonial-era architecture that’s lost in time, and something of an artist’s colony (think galleries and art cafes on almost every corner).
Back in Unawatuna and there’s lots of R&R to be done on the shoreline, not to mention snorkel and surf trips down to the breaks of Ahangama and Kabalana, and the coral reefs of Dalawella Beach. If you can’t find anywhere to stay right on the shore, look a little inland. The hills there are awash with boho-cool resorts with just a handful of rooms and on-site pools.
Mirissa is the whale-watching mecca of Sri Lanka. That means you can scoot this way to start married life by ticking a line off the bucket list together. You’ll find adverts for whale tours all over the town all of the time, but the best season is usually between November and April, when the biggest pods migrate up from the Southern Ocean.
Mirissa also isn’t only about whales. The main beach is a long arc of powdery sand with a surf break at its western end. That’s now packed with bamboo beach bars and reggae clubs, which offer some of the wildest nightlife of any of the main resorts along the southwest coastline.
On top of that, Mirissa offers access to a few stunning coves and bays. You might have to work a little for them, though. Check out Secret Beach, which isn’t quite so secret anymore since they put up signs to point the way. However, it still gives a glimpse of lanky coconut trees casting shade over an azure swimming spot. Then there’s nearby Weligama, now hailed as a top place to learn to surf.
When it comes to the Sri Lanka best places for honeymoon trips for the months between May and June, the beaches that fringe the town of Trincomalee are a very good option. They’re east-coast beaches, which means they’re in season when the more popular southwest coast – places like Hiriketiya, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna – are getting the full brunt of the monsoon.
The sands here are also downright gorgeous. We’re talking long, uninterrupted runs of scintillating white powder with regimented rows of palm trees swaying in the trade winds just behind. The areas of Nilaveli and Uppuveli are two of the best to stay on, but the protected marine reserve of Pigeon Island is where they really hit a zenith.
You should find an overload of hotel resorts right by the water’s edge all up and down the coast of Trincomalee. But honeymoons here aren’t just about lazing on the sand. They can also be about bathing in the hot springs of Kanniya, seeking out rare deer on the Fort Peninsula, scuba diving and whale watching.
Culture-loving travelers can make for the UNESCO-tagged town of Galle. It sits on the southwest coast of the island, between many of the most famous beach resorts. But it’s not the white sands that take center stage here, it’s the history…
Surrounded by centuries-old fortifications raised by the Portuguese way back when, Galle is surely the most European feeling of all the cities in Sri Lanka. It has cobbled lanes and pretty lighthouses, all interspersed with palm trees and breezy cafes.
These days, it’s also a bit of a hub for boutique hotels. You can bed down in historic hotels like The Fort Printers ($$-$$$) or the Mango House ($$) to enjoy lavish stays in vintage settings. There are also some urban beaches – try the one on the far southwestern edge of the town beneath the fortifications.
Sri Lanka best places for honeymoon trips – our verdict
This guide to romance in Sri Lanka, best places for honeymoon and minimoon trips, really just scratches the surface of what’s on offer on the stunning Teardrop of India. There are also soaring mountain ranges for serious hiking pairs, safaris to see rare leopards in the bush, yoga retreats, and more intrepid surf expeditions. Generally speaking, we’d say that the island is one of the top places to celebrate getting married in all of South Asia. It’s relaxed, it’s exotic, and it’s downright beautiful to boot. Mhmm…there are stacks and stacks of Sri Lanka best places for honeymoon trips!