The beaches of Sri Lanka have so much to offer. This relaxing 5-day trip takes you around to key coastal destinations, including Tangalle and Mirissa, for snorkeling, swimming, whale-watching, and the chance to observe turtles laying their eggs on the sand at night. You'll also view an incredible variety of birds on a boat tour through Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary and squeeze in some cultural sightseeing at the Dutch-style old city in Galle before catching a flight out from the capital city of Colombo.

Highlights

  • Snorkel and swim in the clear waters of Tangalle 
  • Search for whales on a dedicated tour off the coast of Mirissa
  • Watch turtles coming ashore after dark on Rekawa Beach
  • Go on a boat ride through Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival & Beach Day in Tangalle Tangalle
Day 2 Visit Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary & See Sea Turtles at Night Tangalle
Day 3 Relax on the Beach in Mirissa Mirissa
Day 4 Whale-watching Tour in Mirissa Mirissa
Day 5 Tour Galle, Shop in Colombo & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival & Beach Day in Tangalle

Sunrise over the ocean in Tangalle

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Begin in Tangalle, a small fishing port with reminders of the Dutch colonial era of the 18th century. Its beautiful villas look out over the shimmering beach of Seenimodera. Protected from the ocean by a reef, the palm-fringed bay and pristine coves are a natural treasure. Five species of marine turtles come ashore to nest here, and they can be observed throughout the year in their natural habitat. Unlike the turtle hatcheries on the west coast, the eggs are left undisturbed in the sand here. Even though there is no guarantee that the marine turtles will come ashore every night, you'll have fun waiting for them on one of the world's most beautiful beaches. 

Day 2: Visit Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary & See Sea Turtles at Night

Hawk Eagle at Kalametiya
Birdwatching at Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary

Board a boat in the morning and make your way to Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary, one of the oldest bird sanctuaries in Sri Lanka. It was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. Your catamaran ride takes you around a beautiful lagoon and mangroves, home to 150 species of birds, 20 species of mammals, 41 species of fish, and 38 species of reptiles. 

In the afternoon, swim, sunbathe, and walk along the coast, exploring charming coves and quiet beaches, or opt for a half-day excursion to one of many interesting attractions nearby. These include the plateau at Ussangoda, the Hoomaniya blowhole, the Buddhist shrines of Wewurukannala, and the rock temples of Mulkirigala. After dark, head to Rekawa Beach once more to look for marine turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs.

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Day 3: Relax on the Beach in Mirissa

Mirissa
Towering palms by the beach in Mirissa

Mirissa, surrounded by rubber and coconut plantations, ancient temples, and spice gardens, is famous for its long whale-watching season. It still retains the charm of an idyllic fishing village, and the stunning crescent beach is a real paradise for anyone who loves the sun and the sea. Go surfing — you can take lessons if it's your first try — or relax on the quiet sands of Secret Beach. Rent a motorbike to explore the coastline, or go for a ride in a colorful tuk-tuk. If you're especially interested in wildlife, you could go see cobras at a local snake farm or detour to nearby Polhena Beach (also known as Turtle Beach) to swim in a calm bay and look for the turtles who live here. Go for a seafood dinner in one of Mirissa's many restaurants before getting some rest. 

Day 4: Whale-watching Tour in Mirissa

Whale-watching in the waters around Mirissa

The south coast of Sri Lanka is one of the world's very best places to see blue whales. From November to April, when the whales are on their annual migratory route from the Horn of Africa up to the Arabian Sea, they can be easily seen in the waters around Mirissa. Sperm whales and various kinds of dolphins may be spotted, too, on your whale-watching boat ride off the coast. After the day's excursion, enjoy the sunset and a seafood dinner on your last night in Sri Lanka.

Day 5: Tour Galle, Shop in Colombo & Depart

Galle Dutch Fort
Galle Fort

After breakfast, you'll head to Galle in the south, Sri Lanka's first international commerce and trade center, for a guided city tour. The ancient port city is famous for Unawatuna Bay, a lovely cove protected by a reef. The Galle Fort overlooking the ocean is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built by the Portuguese in 1587 and reinforced again by the Dutch. The fortress is surrounded on three sides by the ocean, its ramparts protecting the harbor.

Take some time to explore Colombo, a lively city rich with cultural sights and Buddhist temples. Take a drive through the city's commercial center, where grand colonial-era buildings stand alongside modern hotels and office structures. Explore the vibrant markets and bazaars in Pettah to pick up some last-minute souvenirs. Then it's off to the airport to catch your flight out. Safe travels!

More Great Sri Lanka Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Sri Lanka? Check out these other 5-day Sri Lanka itineraries with wildlife, beaches, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

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