Unawatuna Beach is NICE!

That may sound like a strange title, but let me explain:

When I was researching where to go in Sri Lanka, Unawatuna came up a lot. But in reviews and blogs the comments about the beach were rarely positive. It also seemed, from what I read, that Unawatuna was especially touristy and built up.

In amongst the good, the bad and the ugly, was always the same comment reiterated over and over again: the beach at Unawatuna is not very nice.

The Lonely Planet is very dismissive of Unawatuna, writing it off as spoilt and overcrowded, practically suggesting that it is hardly worth a visit.

Many blogs I read mentioned that there was hardly any beach left as at one end it was all rocks and at the other end the bars had been built so close to the sea that there was literally no sand to walk on, let alone sunbathe on.

Here is one such account from Where’s Phil blog titled ‘Paradise Lost’.

Why Visit Unawatuna, then?

Unawatuna was on my list because it was geographically on our route back up the south-west coast towards Colombo and also for its proximity to Galle, a place I wanted to visit but didn’t want to stay at. But I really didn’t have high hopes for Unawatuna based on what I’d read.

So imagine my surprise the first time I went to the beach at Unawatuna and I found myself strolling on a wide, sandy expanse where I had my choice of sun lounger and beach umbrella. The view of a calm, turquoise sea and a deliciously refreshing breeze.

unawatuna beach is nice

None of what I had read was true!

Not anymore anyway.

I’m sure it must all have been true at the time of writing (just like those that had said that Mirissa Beach was relatively quiet!). But many of the blogs I’d read about Unawatuna were recent and the Lonely Planet book was from 2015. So how was it possible that they were all wrong? Could it be me? And yet there I was on this wide, open, sandy beach, the evidence in front of my eyes.

Unawatuna Beach Cleanup

I got talking on the beach to Nandika, one of the cheeky sarong sellers that traipse up and down the beach with Ikea bags full of brightly coloured fabrics. She mentioned something about them recently having brought truckloads of sand and filling out the beach and that the bars illegally occupying the beach being pushed back or shut down.

A few days later, a regular visitor to the island was saying in a restaurant that only the previous year, tons and tons of sand were brought in from elsewhere to make this amazing beach. So that confirmed what the sarong seller had said.

And the result is a truly stunning beach at Unawatuna.

Don’t get me wrong, the beach is not perfect: the new sand is coarse and shelly, like the sand on Tangalle’s beaches and you can also see where the new sand gives way to the original soft, white, powdery sand. But I have to say, it’s pretty good.

And guess what; Unawatuna, though touristy, is really calm and relaxed and is a great place to chill for a few days. Unawatuna was nowhere near as busy as Mirissa and there are many more budget options for food and accommodation at Unawatuna.

We were so happy there that we ended up staying a few more days than planned.

So if you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka and are put off by the negative things you’ve read about Unawatuna, ignore them and go take a look for yourself! I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Have you already been to Unawatuna? What’s your opinion?

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