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aerial view of waves rolling onto beach with jungle behind in Sri Lanka.

4 beaches to visit in Sri Lanka - artist edition

Sri Lanka is a beautiful island full of the most incredible, vivid colours, both natural and man-made. This post looks at four coastal areas to visit and how nature’s colours change between them. The colours you'll discover are ones I love to be surrounded by in my own home, from deep ocean teals, vibrant sea blues and greens to soft and creamy sands.

Sri Lankan Beaches

Negombo beach with boat on sand.

The seaside landscape changes depending on which part of the coast you’re on, not just between the wet and dry zones, but all along the island.

East coast: Nilaveli

Nilaveli beach, Sri Lanka, with soft sand and muted sky.


We began our trip in Nilaveli, just north of Trincomalee on the East coast. A less developed part of the coast, the beaches here are still truly unspoilt. The soft, sandy beaches are creamy rather than golden, set against a backdrop of lush jungle greens. The warm ocean appears in pale blues and greys - when we went in mid-July, the seas here were calm and gentle and the only one we could swim in as the others were all too rough with red flags.

Things to see around Trincomalee include Kanniya Hot Springs, a sacred site with seven wells; Trincomalee British War Cemetary (sobering, peaceful and tranquil); and the Koneswaram Temple.

South coast: Tangalle


As we moved to Tangalle on the South coast, the colours and landscape changed again. Think picture-perfect tropical paradise - leaning, swaying palm trees in light, bright greens, deep turquoise waters, sands still as soft but more golden.

Tangalle was our base for rest and relaxation before moving on to Bentota via a few hours in Galle.

West coast: Bentota & Negombo

Bentota beach, Sri Lanka, at early evening with clouds and pale pink sky.

Bentota, Sri Lanka

Looking along Negombo beach Sri Lanka with ocean waves rolling in.

Negombo, Sri Lanka

As we moved along the coast to the West, first to Bentota and then Negombo, the colours and climate changed yet again. Heavy and humid in Bentota with thick clouds in shades of moody blues and greys that would roll in just as the sun started to set, to a much lighter feel in Negombo with soft pastel pink and yellow hues across the skies as the sun disappeared. We were surprised at the dramatic differences across the island.

Bentota was our base for a river water cruise and a turtle conservatory hatchery.

Negombo is close to the airport - great for a final bit of relaxation before heading home.

Bring tropical colours into your home

A collage of photos of Sri Lankan beaches, overlaid with 6 painted brushstrokes. Each brushstroke is a different colour of interiors paint inspired by the beaches.

To bring a flavour of a tranquil, tropical island paradise into your home, consider colours like Little Greene Paint Company’s Mazarine Blue and Paint and Paper Library’s Teal - rich, deep blues and teals that remind me of the tropical ocean waters seen from above. For a lighter touch, I like Fenwick & Tilbrook’s Morston. Little Greene’s Stone, Paint and Paper Library’s Caddie and Fenwick & Tilbrook’s Hare’s Tail bring those warm sandy tones.

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