Or, even better, with shops/restaurants/accommodation on one side of the road, and the beach on the other like in Unawatuna.
What we have found here in Sri Lanka however, is that most of the time, it's not quite like that.
Resorts/ hotels seem to own the beach. So unless you are staying there, it can sometimes be really difficult to even get to the beach. And if, heaven forbid, you wanted to eat somewhere else, or go shopping, you have to get a taxi to take you.
It's clever marketing on the side of the businesses, but really inconvenient as a traveller (unless you have a tuktuk like we do.)
What we found was, really different. When we finally did find it!
If it wasn't for a tiny tiny sign advertising a guesthouse that we had read about in the guidebook and knew to be on the beach, we would have driven straight past and missed the beach!
Nilaveli was so spread out, it was almost impossible to even locate the accommodation, let alone try to find somewhere different from the hotel to eat!! If you want seclusion, and a private beach resort holiday where you really don't need to move further than between your room, the restaurant and the beach, well Nilaveli is for you! The beach is beautiful that's for sure.