Emerging over the last few years as a newly developing tourist destination, Trincomalee and more specifically its beaches, Uppuvelli and Nilaveli, are quickly becoming the most popular destinations on the East Coast. Whilst Trincomalee town itself has little to offer, the surrounding areas of pristine white sandy coastline, clear sea, and some of the best scuba diving spots in the country are what really make this place worth visiting. What Trincomalee lacks in tourist infrastructure, it more than makes up for it in natural beauty, and if you can drag yourself away from the beaches, there are plenty of interesting historical and religious sites to see too.
Things to see and do:
There are various surf spots including Arugam Point, Pottuvil Point, Crocodile Rock and Panama Point but we particularly like Whisky Point where there is a great cafe on stilts to chill out in once you’ve finished surfing.
Spot elephants and birds at Lahugala national park, one of the smallest in Sri Lanka which is a 20 minute drive from Arugam Bay
Enjoy a fantastically tasty meal at Gecko located on the main street
Stretch those limbs with a yoga session at the Stardust Hotel, run by Kevin Kutter, which runs from April to October. Taking place in an open air pavilion on the beach it is the perfect location to enjoy a session to the sounds of the waves with an excellent instructor
Enjoy an early morning or late afternoon game drive in the relatively close by Yala, Sri Lanka’s most popular national park.
Go in search of the little know Mudu Maha Vihara temple. This lovely little 2000yr old site, partly submerged in the encroaching sand dunes, features a fine 3m-high standing Buddha statue and two petite Bodhisattva figures. It is best to visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon as it can get really hot and there is little shade
The fishing villages of Pasikudah and Kalkudah located north of Batticaloa and south of Trincomalee were once popular tourist destinations which saw a fall in numbers due to Sri Lanka’s civil war. Since 2009 the area has undergone an upgrade and the coast is now positively littered with up market boutique hotels. Pasikudah is now a popular tourist destination once again for both locals and tourists. This is mainly due to its long stretch of shallow coastline and the relatively weak current compared to the rest of Sri Lanka.
Arugam Bay sits so far south on the east coast that it managed to avoid many of the complications of war and has been a buzzing tourist destination for years. Extremely popular with surfers due to an excellent swell, and yearly surf competitions, the town is well set up for visitors with plenty of accommodation on offer and a wealth of different activities to keep you entertained. The surrounding area of jungle, mangrove swamps, hidden beaches, and grassy plains is also well worth exploring.
Things to see and do:
Lounge by the pool with a good book!
Many hotels have bikes that you can borrow to explore the local area
Max out on the sun and surf by indulging in some watersports
Visit the village of Vakarai, about 45 minutes away, and take a canoe ride on the lagoon to spot various species of endemic birds
Things to see and do:
Whales and dolphins live en masse in this area, making it the perfect spot to do a whale and dolphin watching boat trip
Back in the 70s Pigeon Island was one of the best places for scuba diving and snorkeling in Sri Lanka. 30 years of war left it off limits to tourists, allowing the coral reef and marine life to grow dramatically. Nowadays Pigeon Island is open again for business, and its bio-diverse surroundings are simply spectacular
The many Hindu temples in the area are well worth visiting, particularly at sundown when you can join the locals in prayers and chanting
Nearby the town, Fort Frederick is a strange mix of imperial influence. Built by the Portugese, adapted by the Dutch, and finally re-decorated with insignia’s by the British, this Fort really encompasses the melting pot of international influence in the area
Just past the Fort is Swarmi Rock, known locally as ‘lover’s leap’. Whilst we don’t recommend the 130m jump into the ocean, it is an excellent place from which to view the surrounding area