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Exploring Sri Lanka’s east coast

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Summer is when Sri Lanka’s east coast is in season with dry, sunny weather and calm seas. Whether you want beach relaxation, exotic experiences or a blend of both, it’s guaranteed to be the highlight of a Sri Lanka summer vacation. Discover the main locations and their varied highlights that await when exploring Sri Lanka’s east coast.


Exploring Sri Lanka’s east coast

Coming from the Cultural Triangle, the first stop of an east coast tour is Trincomalee.

Boasting a deep natural harbor that’s been coveted by colonial navies over the centuries, Trincomalee has a rich maritime heritage. Climb to Fort Frederick and look out across the expansive sea harbor that’s one of the largest in the world, picturing the immense ships that once sat here defending this coastal stronghold.

Further up from Fort Frederick is Swami Rock, known as ‘Lover’s Leap’ because of the role it plays in local folklore. It was here that British writer and explorer Arthur C. Clarke led an underwater archeological expedition and uncovered ancient Hindu idols from the seabed along the shoreline. The original clifftop temple was destroyed by the Portuguese 500 years ago, but the kovil was rebuilt and stands as a colorful beacon of Hinduism, one of the main religions practiced in this region.

Just north of Trincomalee are secluded beaches with bright white sand that have earned the area a reputation as Sri Lanka’s equivalent to the Maldives. The highlights are Uppuveli, Nilaveli and Kuchchaveli, and Pigeon Island where you can snorkel amongst corals with sea turtles, reef sharks and vibrant fish.

Our favorite hotel on the north-east coastline is Jungle Beach in Nilaveli. Situated away from Trincomalee and the main hotels, this is a private and peaceful stay beloved by honeymooners.


Exploring Sri Lanka’s east coast

Travel south down the shoreline and you’ll reach Passikudah, a livelier beach location with plenty of opportunity for water-sports. A sprawling shallow bay is this town’s crowning glory, attracting families with younger kids where beach days are spent paddling and swimming close to shore.

Further out to sea, whales and dolphins roam in pods between May and September. You can join a group boat or set out in a private vessel accompanied by an experienced guide. Love being on the water? Charter a yacht for a day of sunbathing on deck, discovering remote coves and snorkeling and stand-up paddleboarding on the azure water.

Just inland from the coastline are a host of remote national parks little-visited by tourists where you’ve got a great chance of observing exotic animals uninterrupted. Elephants are a highlight at Wasgamuwa and Gal Oya where they can be seen swimming between islets at sunset.

Wondering where to stay in Passikuah? Look no further than Uga Bay, an upmarket hotel of exceptional design where excellence is guaranteed in terms of service, food and facilities.

Arugam Bay

Exploring Sri Lanka’s east coast

Surf’s up! The south-east of Sri Lanka is the place to be if you’re after world-class waves – and the barefoot lifestyle that comes with it.

A’ Bay, as it’s fondly known by locals and surfing enthusiasts everywhere, is counted amongst the top surf spots in the world. Annual competitions are held here at the most popular points which offer rides that will challenge even the most experienced surfer.

You’ll find breaks suitable for beginners here too, along the main bay and at nearby coves. We’re happy to advise on the best beaches for surfing, but up-to-date information based on the trends of the season is best sought from locals during your stay. As with all water-sports, check the tides and safe areas before setting out and ensure there’s a lifeguard on standby.

Surfing not for you? Further south is two of Sri Lanka’s best national parks: Kumana and Yala. Kumana is an important breeding ground for birds with rich mangroves that flow seamlessly into the ocean. Yala boasts the highest density of leopards of anywhere in the world as well as a healthy number of sloth bears, elephants, crocodiles and a wide variety of birds.

To the north is the Muhudu Maha Viharaya, an ancient Buddhist temple with weathered statues and the Kudumbigala Monastery which sits atop a towering rock surrounded by undisturbed wilderness.

How to make this experience a part of your itinerary?

Our vision for our blog is to build an invaluable resource for independent inquisitive travelers wanting to travel to Sri Lanka in a way that goes beyond the conventional and takes people further and deeper both physically and emotionally. It’s about having a fuller, richer, more meaningful trip. We also want to be a practical resource. Every article is ‘actionable’, you are able to make it part of your itinerary in some way. For tips on how to make any of these tips part of your journey send us an enquiry

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