The East Coast: An Introduction

Sri Lanka's east coast, off limits until recently because of the war, is much touted as an undeveloped tropical beach heaven. It's certainly a tropical beach heaven, at least between April and September - but more hotels are under construction. Now is therefore an excellent time to visit and take advantage of the new high quality accommodation while the beaches remain relatively empty.

The closest resort to the Cultural Triangle and Kandy is Passekudah, with its fantastic sands, diving, and little development. Also well located is Trincomalee, the main city along this stretch of coast, and one of the island's main Tamil-speaking communities. The city's famous Koneswaram Temple is Hindu, unlike many of the temples you'll visit in the Cultural Triangle, and is perched on a rocky coastal outcrop above the city. A beautiful spot with an ancient history, the elaborate temple contains shrines to Vishnu, Ganesh, Murukan and Ambal-Shakti.

Other attractions include the old Dutch fort by the harbour, and hot springs just outside the town, but the most universally attractive aspect of Trincomalee has to be its tree-lined beaches, which are beautifully clean, fluffy and golden, with shallow waters that are excellent for swimming and snorkelling.

Trinco’s surrounding waters are also well known for great surfing, fishing, fantastic diving, and rewarding whale-watching. Boat trips leave on a regular basis, and many whale species visible from the shore, especially where the harbour is deep. A 3,000 metre deep submarine canyon starts just outside it, and local conditions generate plenty of plankton, which attracts blue whales, sperm whales, orca, pilot, sei, false killer and Bryde’s whales, along with dolphin and squid - although these last are more likely seen by divers than anyone on land! 

Typical Sri Lankan fishing boat

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  • Population: 20.5 million
  • Capital: Colombo
  • Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee
  • Language: Sinhalese, Tamil
  • Religion: Buddhism
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