THE EAST



The East
Beautiful Beaches

After being isolated for long periods during the Civil War and battered by the 200 tsunami, the East Coast is welcoming visitors once again. Although the scars of both still remain, the area is now in the midst of a revival. The tourism potential of its beautiful coastline has been recognized, and major plans are underway to improve the infrastructure. Along with exploring unspoiled beaches and jungle-covered ruins, visitors can enjoy whale-watching, wreck-diving and surfing.

Located in the dry zone, the East Coast is one of Sri Lanka’s most ethnically diverse areas, with a mix of Sinhalese, Muslim and Tamil communities. Most of the area’s population resides in towns and small fishing villages along the coastline, while places inland remain less developed and sparsely populated. The principal town on the East Coast is Trincomalee, which shaped much of the area’s early history. Famous for its deep-water natural harbor, the town was the island’s trading hub during the Anuradhapura and Polannaruwa eras until the Colonial times.

The East began to decline when trade was diverted to the new ports at Galle and then at Colombo. The area’s fortunes further diminished when it found itself enmeshed in the violent struggles between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Army during the civil War. The war ended in 2009, and since then much of the East Coast has opened up to tourists. The area is now peaceful, although there is a still a military presence in many of its towns and villages.

Most visitors come here for the idyllic stretches of sand, such as the beaches of Uppuveli and Nilaveli as well as those of Passekudah and Kalkudah. However, surfing enthusiasts head for Arugam Bay, which offers the best surf in the country. Inland, the countryside is largely wild and home to several national parks, of which Kumana is a particular draw for birdwatchers. The area around Maduru Oya National Park is where the original inhabitants of the island, the Veddahs, still try to maintain their traditional way of life.

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EXPLORING THE EAST

The East Coast is home to beautiful beaches and is also considered to be one of the best places in Sri Lanka for surfing. Trincomalee, the capital of the province, is famed for its impressive natural harbor, but the majority of visitors base themselves at the peaceful beaches afford superb opportunities for snorkeling, sport fishing and whale-watching. Further down the coast, Batticaloa offers one of the island’s best wreck-dives to the HMS Hermes that lies off its shores. A short distance north stretch the formerly war-torn beaches of Passekudah and Kalkudah, which are now experiencing a resurgence in popularity among tourists. The surfing hotspot of Arumugam Bay, at the southern end of the coastline, offers the best waves and also serves as a good base for trips to the Lahugala and Kumana national parks as well as the Kudumbigala Hermitage. more

Getting Around

Although public transport is easily available in the East, visitors looking for a quicker means of transportation are advised to hire a car and a driver to get around. Road conditions are slowly improving across the area and there are plans to build new routes to cut journey times. Buses travel regularly to, as well as along, the coast, train services run to both Trincomalee and Batticaloa, but visitors will have to change at Gal Oya, if travelling between two towns. Note that travelling south of Panama can still be difficult, as the road here is in poor condition. The towns of Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Arugam Bay are all compact enough to walk around. However, visitors will need to rent a three-wheeler to explore further afield.



The East

Trincomalee


The capital of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, Trincomalee is famous for its deep-water natural harbor. Said to be one of the finest in the world, the harbor was bitterly fought over.....


Uppuveli and Nilaveli


North of Trincomalee lie the villages of Uppuveli and Nilaveli that are known for their tranquil beaches. Among the island’s most popular beaches before the Civil War, Uppuveli.....


Commonwealth War Cemetery


Located within walking distance of Uppuveli, the impeccably kept Commonwealth War Cemetery makes for a somber.....


Pigeon Island


About 1 km offshore from Nilaveli is the marine national park of Pigeon Island, named after the blue rock pigeons that nest here. This rocky island has two small beaches and is.....




Kanniya Hot Wells


The Kanniya Hot Walls comprise seven warm natural springs enclosed in seven square-shaped wells. The spring water is thought to have therapeuctic properties; those with.....


Batticaloa


Popularly known as “Batti”, the town of Batticaloa was out of bounds to visitors during the Civil War, when it was the site of violent strife as the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE.....


Passekudah and Kalkudah


Before the Civil War, the beaches of Passekudah and Kalkudah along the East Coast of Sri Lanka were a huge draw for tourists. But the devastation during the war and the.....


Gal Oya National Park


Covering an area of 540-sq km, the picturesque dry-zone reserve of Gal Oya is situated in a part of Sri Lanka little visited by tourists. At the centre of the park is the Senanayake.....




Monaragala


Monaragala, meaning “the rock of peacock landing”, derives its name from the imposing and densely forested Peacock Rock that it nestles beneath. A typical Sri Lankan town,.....


Maligawila


The village of Maligawila is home to two enormous Buddhist statues that stand hidden among the trees of the unspoiled lowland jungle. Carved out of limestone, the impressive.....


Arugam Bay


Famous for its surfing, Arugam Bay offers much to tempt even those who are not keen to ride the waves. With its laid- back atmosphere and rustic beachside huts, the village is.....


Lahugala National Park


Located within easy reach of Arugam Bay, this small national parks offers the chance to see a wide range of aquatic birds as well as elephants. Of the three reservoirs here, the.....




Kudumbigala Hermitage


Hidden away among thick jungle, the beautiful forest hermitage of Kudumbigala is a tranquil and atmospheric spot. Spread over an expanse of 47-sq km,.....


Kumana National Park


Formerly known as the Yala East National Park, the Kumana National Park was closed for a large part of the Civil War before reopening in 2010. Located on the pilgrimage route.....


Maduru Oya National Park


Maduru oya was designated a national park in 1983. The entrance to the park lies in the village of Dambana, located 25 km northeast of Mahiyangana. The park was created to.....