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North East Coast

Snapshot
Sri Lanka’s equivalent of the Maldives, with never-ending white sandy beaches, coral islands and shimmering blue seas, the North East coast is distinctly different from the coastal areas of the rest of the island. The North East Coast covers Trincomalee and Pasekudah in Batticaloa. This region has a long season that extends from March to October when the seas are at their best. Bask in the sun on the secluded beaches of Trincomalee and Pasekudah Bay, go snorkelling and discover the magnificent marine life around the coral reefs, or take a whale-watching expedition. It is not all about the sun and surf on the North East Coast. Explore ancient Hindu temples dating back centuries, and the breathtaking views of the Trincomalee harbour – the world’s deepest and largest natural harbour.
Don’t Miss
White sandy beaches of Uppuveli, Nilaveli and Kuchcheveli in Trinco
Snorkelling around Pigeon Island in Trinco
Whale and dolphin-watching expeditions off the coast of Trincomalee
Ancient Koneswaram Kovil and Fort Federick
Breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean and Trincomalee harbour from Swami Rock.
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Getting There
The beaches of Uppuveli, Nilaveli, and Kuchchaveli in Trincomalee can be reached on the A6 route via Dambulla and Habarana and takes about 2.5 hours. The coastal village of Pasikudah can be accessed via Polonnaruwa and Giritale on the A11 route. The coastal road from Trincomalee in the North East all the way to Arugam Bay in the South East (A 15 route) is also now fully developed making it convenient to explore this region. Those staying at the Uga Escapes holiday retreats in Trincomalee and Pasikudah have the option of booking their air taxi which minimises road travel.

Useful Drive times: Colombo to Habarana (4 hours); Habarana to Trincomalee (2.5 hours); Polonnaruwa to Pasikudah (1.5 hours); Trincomalee to Pasikudah (1.5 hours); Pasikudah to Batticaloa (one hour); Trincomalee to Arugam Bay (5 hours).

Historical Background
Trincomalee, referred to as `Trinco’ is blessed with beautiful beaches and the worlds deepest and largest natural harbour. Trinco has been the envy of many a colonial power which has battled for this strategic port beginning with the Portuguese in the 17th century followed by the Dutch and the British. During World War II Trincomalee was established as a naval base by the British and still continues to be used by the Sri Lankan Navy. This beautiful region has undergone much hardship in the past as a result of the 26-years of terrorism waged by the LTTE as well as the devastating Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. Terrorism was eradicated from the North and the East of Sri Lanka in May 2009. Recovery in these areas is now underway with renewed efforts at rebuilding lives and regaining the glory of this beautiful region making it once again an appealing holiday destination.

Sights
Most travellers head for the white sandy beaches north of Trincomalee in Nilaveli & Uppuveli. These secluded beaches that stretch for miles are different to the coastal areas of the rest of the island and is more similar to the beaches of Maldives. The coral reef around Pigeon Island, located a short boat ride away is ideal for snorkeling. Trincomalee’s natural harbour is considered to be the finest in the world and can be viewed from the Konewswaram Kovil & Swami Rock situated on a rock outcrop. Pasekudah located south of Trincomalee is a coastal fishing village that was at one time a popular beach destination with several small beachside guesthouses. Pasikudah bay is fast being developed once again with many upmarket hotel options. It is not only the beaches that are attractive in this region. The landscape and cultural heritage of this region is very different to other parts of the island. Discover the villages of Kalkudah and Pasikudah with its inland lagoons, paddy fields and fishing villages. Bird watching in Vakarai lagoon located about 45 minutes north of Pasikudah is rewarding. One hour south of Pasikudah is Batticaloa, a bustling coastal town which is a half way point on route to Arugam Bay. Batticaloa’s 17C Dutch Fort; the local Market on Lady Manning Drive where villagers sell their home grown vegetables and fruits; bird watching by the Batticaloa Lagoon and Kallady Beach are some possible activities in Batticaloa. The best time to visit the North East is from March to about September before the rains and when the seas are in season.

Accommodation
Trincomalee: Nilaveli Beach Hotel offers comfortable a/c rooms with all modern conveniences. Relax on the pristine white sands of Nilaveli situated just by Pigeon Island - an excellent site for snorkelling. Anilana Nilaveli, opened in 2014 is an up market beach hotel in Nilaveli offering accommodation in pool chalets and luxurious rooms. Chaaya Blu is located in Uppuveli just south of Nilaveli and has an international dive centre that conducts PADI certified diving courses as well as other watersports activities. Whale and dolphin spotting excursions are also offer at Chaaya Blu. Jungle Beach located in Kuchcheveli 30 minutes north of Uppuveli, is an up market eco-retreat set on 10 acres of shrub jungle leading to a secluded bay. Accommodation at Jungle Beach is in 48 luxurious cabins thatched with Illuk grass and immersed in nature.

Pasikudah Bay: There are several up market resorts fronting the Pasikudah Bay including Uga Bay, Amaya Beach and Anilana Pasikudah. The mid-range Maalu Maalu Resort & Spa opened in June 2011 was the first beach resort to be developed on the bay after the dawning of peace in 2009. The resort is designed along the lines of a `wadiya’ or fishing village with the public spaces and accommodation in the form of eco-friendly timber chalets with thatched roofs. Amethyst Resort also on the bay, offers value for money accommodation by the sea.

Food & Drink
Trincomalee: Chaaya Blu serves Sri Lankan and international cuisine buffet style for breakfast, lunch and dinner at their main restaurant. The speciality seafood restaurant by the beach, offers a range of fresh seafood dishes, especially crab, prepared to your liking.  The Nilaveli Beach Hotel has an indoor restaurant that serves a set menu of Sri Lankan and western dishes and is laid out in buffet style. The poolside garden restaurant opening out to the sea has an a la carte menu and serves a range of light snacks and seafood specialties.  Both Chaaya Blu and Nilaveli Beach Hotel organises beach BBQs on Saturday nights under a starlit sky.   If you are up for sumptuous Italian food, then Palm Beach guest house in Uppuveli is a must.

Pasikudah:  For authentic home-made local cuisine, dine at the New Land Resthouse & Restaurant on the Main Road in Kalkudah. All the hotels on the bay including Maalu Maalu Resort & Spa, Uga Bay, Amethyst Resort, Amaya Beach, and Anilana Pasikudah serves a range of seafood specialties, Sri Lankan and international cuisine.

Shopping
Trincomalee town has small shops and markets where drinks, groceries and basic personal care products can be purchased as well as a few internet cafes and banks. Fresh seafood can be purchased directly from the fishing boats in the mornings as they come ashore after a night of fishing. For local handicrafts made of Palmyrah Palm which is found in abundance in this region, head to Batticaloa which is about an hour south of Pasikudah. Colourful handloom sarongs, bags, baskets and hats made from the Palmyrah palm are hand made by the local villagers and available for sale at the government handicrafts centres in Batticaloa. Browse the Battcaloa market on Lady Manning Drive for fresh seafood, home grown vegetables and fruits.
Activities
Fort Frederick
High above on a rock outcrop in Trinco staring into the Indian Ocean is Fort Frederick. Originally built by the Portuguese in 1624, this Fort was used by subsequent colonial powers as a naval base. Currently the Fort is used as barracks by the Sri Lankan Navy, but visitors are permitted to pass through to visit the Koneswaram Kovil a Hindu Kovil located at the end of the spit.
Koneswaram Kovil & Swami Rock
Past Fort Frederick is Swami Rock also refereed to as 'Lover's leap' – a shear cliff which is about 350 feet above sea level and looks straight down into the ocean below. It is said that the name `Lovers Leap’ was coined after an incident involving a Dutch Officer's daughter who had leapt into the sea at this point following a broken love affair. At the end of the spit which leads to the pinnacle of the rock, stands the newly built Konesvaram Kovil. The original ancient Hindu Kovil that stood here is said to have been destroyed by the Portuguese. At dusk each day, poojas (religious services) are conducted here. The views of Trincomalee’s natural harbour and the Indian Ocean are magnificent from here.
Swimming & snorkelling in Trinco
The beautiful white sandy beaches north of Trincomalee in Nilaveli & Uppuveli stretch for miles and is safe for swimming during the season from May to October. The coral reef around Pigeon Island, located a short boat ride offshore from Nilaveli is ideal for snorkelling.
Pigeon Island
Consisting of two small islands covering an extent of off the coast of Nilaveli in Trincomalee, is a protected National Park under the Department of Wildlife & Conservation. A breeding site for Blue Rock Pigeon, these islands are surrounded by coral reefs and soft coral which are ideal for snorkeling. The Pigeon islands are only a short boat ride off the coast in Nilaveli.
Whale and dolphin spotting
The waters around Trincomalee are inhabited by dolphins and whales including the gigantic Blue Whales, Bryde’s Whale and the Sperm Whale as well as spinner and bottle nosed dolphins have been spotted here. Whale and dolphin spotting excursions are offered during the season from May to October when the waters are sufficiently calm to go into the deep seas.
Boating and Snorkelling in Pasekudah Bay
Join a fisherman on his catamaran and wade through the turquoise waters of Pasekudah Bay. Visit the nearby uninhabited coral island and spend a few hours snorkelling. The coral reef that surrounds this island is home to colourful coral gardens and exotic species of reef fish.
Birding in Vakarai Lagoon
Located about 45 minutes north of Pasikudah Bay is the village of Vakarai scattered with mangrove lined lagoons. Take a canoe ride along the tranquil lagoons where numerous species of birds can be spotted.
Batticaloa town
Spend a morning’s excursion in Batticaloa which is about an hour south of Pasikudah. Interesting activities include a visit the 17C Dutch Fort bordered on two sides by a lagoon and the Indian Ocean; the Batticaloa Market on Lady Manning Drive; shopping for colourful handloom sarongs, baskets and hats made from the Palmyrah palm by the local villagers; and a visit to a colourful Kovil especially during a sacred pooja which is accompanied by chanting and drumming.
Polonnaruwa’s ancient temples & ruins
Located just 1.5 hours west of Pasikudah, Polonnaurwa was Sri Lanka’s royal medieval capital for nearly a century from 1073. It remained Sri Lanka’s capital until the late 13C, but became increasingly susceptible to Chola invasions and it became lost to the jungle once more as the capital drifted south-west. Today, the ancient city’s ruins remain in remarkably good nick, and are a fascinating site to visit. The most impressive are the ancient sculptures of Lord Buddha at the Gal Viahara cut into Granite stone dating back to the middle of the 12th century. Visit Polonnaruwa’s Archeological Museum before you head out to see the archeological sites. The thoughtfully laid out exhibits and clear explanations giving a good insight into the ancient kingdom of Polonnaruwa.
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