The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
For a tropical holiday during the European spring and summer, Sri Lanka’s East Coast glistens with possibilities. Passikudah Bay has beaches to rival the Maldives; Arugam Bay possesses a marvellous chilled-out vibe, and Kumana and Gal Oya national parks have a serenity that will appeal to the traveller seeking to get off the beaten track. We have designed two days in the Cultural Triangle en route and, at the end of the tour, return west, depending on your preference either by Galle or Kandy. The best East Coast weather is from March to September, although out of season also has its rewards. Surfing season in Arugam Bay is from about June to August.
Relax after your flight in one of our favourite hotels or villas within an hour of the airport, enabling you to rise fresh the following day.
Explore the ruins of Anuradhapura – Sri Lanka’s first capital and once the greatest monastic city of the ancient world. Anuradhapura was a royal capital for more than 100 Sri Lankan kings, and was also home to thousands of monks from dozens of monasteries. Anuradhapura is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The ancient Bodhi Tree, originally a branch of the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. On your second day in the Cultural Triangle visit Mihintale, the cradle of Buddhism, and discover the forest monastery of Ritigala, hidden among wooded hills.
Depart early so you can spend the morning exploring Trincomalee town. Visit Fort Frederick, first used by the Portuguese in 1624. At the northern tip of Fort Frederick is Swami Rock with breathtaking views of what Captain Cook described as one of the finest natural harbours in the world – Koneswarum Kovil sits on top of the rock. You will then transfer to a beach hotel further down the coast.
Immerse yourself unapologetically in the beach life of Sri Lanka's East Coast which houses some of the island's finest beaches – quite an accolade. Beach days can be spent just north of Trinco around Nilaveli, but this tour opts for Passikudah where the glinting, white beaches have often been compared to the Maldives. If you are feeling active, consider a sailing trip on a private, fully-crewed catamaran or take a whale and dolphin spotting excursion into the deep seas.
About three hours and 150kms south along Sri Lanka’s East Coast lies the chilled-out beach town of Arugam Bay, which first attracted attention as a beloved hippie surfing haunt and which still lays back as well as anywhere in Sri Lanka. Peak season is June until August, the waves are at their best and parties go on forever. For the rest of the year (apart from November to January), the weather is still good and the waves and the parties have disappeared, bringing a different kind of appeal. Clamber up Elephant Rock and visit Whiskey Point to stretch your legs.
On your final day based in Arugam Bay, change the mood by taking a day trip into Kumana, the more remote – and much quieter – section of Yala National Park. Our east coast holiday really comes into its own for those yearning to escape the crowds. Seek our elephants and leopards with barely any other safari jeeps in sight. This is also a bird-watching paradise thanks to the presence of a natural mangrove swamp.
Time to start heading back west. You’ll spend much of the day on the road, and there are two preferred options. In Option 1, we’ve chosen to journey through a serene and lightly-populated landscape, past the western fringes of Gal Oya national park and then, gloriously, through the Knuckles mountain ranges; stay two nights in an eco-lodge to the west of Kandy to keep the driving time in check. As an alternative, Option 2 takes you on the coastal route and you can spend two nights near Galle: the choice is yours.
If you have chosen the interior route back west, take a quick look at the hill country capital of Kandy en route to your final night’s stay near the airport. If you travelled via the south coast, make sure you have taken a look at Galle Fort before heading for that final night’s stay. Whatever option you choose, Red Dot will ensure meticulous planning to suit your requirements.
Casa Heliconia is an exquisite holiday retreat on a fruit and vegetable estate only 45 minutes from the airport. It consists of just two chalets, a swimming pool pavilion and a lounge pavilion, all of which are immersed in lush tropical gardens. Sister property of the acclaimed Kandy House.
Rajarata is a 40 bedroom hotel located in the heart of Anuradhapura with easy access to the historical sites scattered around the area. Rooms have their own private balcony or veranda and there are two pools, one designed with children in mind.
Anilana Pasikudah is a luxurious beach hotel with minimalist interiors and an expansive pool on the picturesque Pasikudah Bay.
Jetwing Surf is an eco-friendly luxury hotel just out of Arugam Bay town, perfect if you are looking for a good spot of surfing or just a relaxing stay by the beach.
Polwaththa Eco Lodge is a rustic nature retreat situated on an 11-acre fruit and vegetable plantation in the remote village of Wepathana, which is about 45 minutes north of Kandy. Accommodation is in five simple earthy cottages. This simple spot, with no mains electricity, is in great walking country.
Nestled amongst acres of beautifully manicured gardens, this colonial manor house, or Wallawwa, is now a luxurious boutique hotel. This old and new concept provides guests with unrivalled setting and style just 15 minutes from the airport. 18 bedrooms, Asian fusion cuisine, Z spa and The Wallawwa’s swimming pool – all set amongst one of the finest private gardens in Sri Lanka.
Red Dot selects only the best accommodation in Sri Lanka, in its particular price range. Please suggest which of the three categories might most appeal to you. (You can tick more than one box).
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