The relatively undiscovered east coast is home to some of the best beaches in Sri Lanka, so now is definitely the time to visit before the inevitable development. For now the east remains primarily a region of fishing villages, seemingly endless swathes of sandy beach, hidden bays, crumbling colonial forts, ornate temples and bustling markets.
The vibrant town of Trincomalee (or Trinco as it is affectionately known) is the east's major town and is renowned for its deep-water natural harbour, one of the finest and largest in Asia. The bay is dotted with fishing vessels and larger ships along with boats offering excursions to nearby Pigeon Island, where there's good diving or snorkelling, or for whale watching trips (particularly between May and October). Most visitors make a beeline for the unspoilt beaches of Nilaveli and Uppuveli where you'll find broad tree-lined expanses of soft white sand lapped by the warm Indian Ocean and plenty of scope for snorkelling over the colourful coral. The town of Trinco itself has a distinct understated charm, with an historic Portuguese fort, the famed Hindu Koneswaram Temple and sleepy backstreets lined with pretty colonial villas.
The small coastal village of Passikudah is known for its golden bay and crystal clear shallow waters where it's possible to wade into the sea for over 300 feet before the water is waist deep, making it ideal for families. Further out to sea there are some beautiful reef gardens teeming with brightly coloured fish and, for diving enthusiasts, a wreck of a British naval ship sunk during World War II. For those who prefer to explore on dry land, the nearby town of Batticaloa has an historic Dutch fort and colonial-era houses, or there's Maduru Oya National Park, which is also within easy reach and is best known for its herds of elephants.
GMT + 5.5 hours
Sri Lankan rupee. Travellers cheques are not accepted.
Trincomalee and Passikudah are approximately 6.5 hours by road from Colombo. Alternatively, it’s a 50 minute Cinnamon Air sea plane journey to either Trincomalee or Batticaloa (for Passikudah) followed by a 25 minute car transfer.
Sri Lanka’s east coast enjoys its best weather when the south and west is experiencing monsoon rains, so the best weather is from April to September, making it an ideal for a summer holiday option, however February and March also enjoy good weather. The monsoon on the east coast runs from October until January.
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