A WEEK OF SUNRISES: 7 DAYS AROUND THE EAST COAST of Sri Lanka
The intense darkness just before dawn, the sound of the world around waking up to a new day, a speck of telltale light, the growing anticipation, until finally— a rose-gold ball emerges from the horizon and the whole world is doused in golden light. Yes, sunrises definitely have a certain romance to them.
If you are planning a romantic getaway, you must consider visiting Sri Lanka’s eastern province. Although the southern sunsets often overshadow everything else the country has to offer, the east has a certain charm that cannot be found anywhere else on the island. Here is an itinerary for getting the most of your week on the island’s east coast.
Day 1 & 2: Arugam Bay
Arugam Bay has established itself as an ‘it’ holiday destination. Found on the south-east coast of the island, this small town is a surfer’s paradise. One of the best things about Arugam Bay is that it has many great surf points, and to get to them you will often have to climb a rock before you reach a somewhat secluded beach.
Picture this: having a picnic atop Elephant Rock – one of the town’s best surf breaks – while watching the sun rising over the turquoise waters. Soon after that, get your surfboards and surf some of Arugam Bay’s world-class waves and enjoy an almost empty beach.
Things to do in Arugam Bay:
- Go on a boat safari in Pottuvil Lagoon
- Drop by Lahugala National Park to spot some elephants
- Visit Muhudu Maha Viharaya, an ancient Buddhist temple
Day 3 & 4: Batticaloa & Pasikudah
These two seaside towns perfectly complement one another. Explore Batticaloa for history and culture, and visit Pasikudah for beautiful beaches and azure seas. Batticaloa is scattered with remnants of the colonial era, including the Batticaloa Fort which was built by the Portuguese. The fort is a wonderful place to watch the sunrise, as it is surrounded by lagoons, and the still murky waters beautifully reflect the rising sun. Pasikudah Bay is another great place to watch the sunrise while sitting on the white palm-fringed beach, hand in hand, and with your toes in the sand. Pasikudah is also great for swimming or enjoying thrilling watersports.
Things to do in Batticaloa and Pasikudah:
- Visit the Batticaloa Fort and Batticaloa Lighthouse
- Go on boat safari around Batticaloa Lagoon
- Do some water sports on the glassy waters of Pasikudah
Day 5: Polonnaruwa
About an hour and a half drive inland from Pasikudah you will arrive in Polonnaruwa. Entrenched in history and royalty, Polonnaruwa is one of Sri Lanka’s most fascinating towns as it was the location of the country’s second ancient kingdom. Watch the early morning sun bathe in light the many well-preserved ruins that showcase both the country’s opulent monarchy as well as its long connection with Buddhism. Watch the sunrise over the Parakrama Samudra, which is a large reservoir built by King Parakramabahu I who ruled during the 12th century, and is a testament to the kingdom’s advanced engineering. You can make the experience truly special by taking to the skies in a hot air balloon and gliding over the countryside.
Things to see in Polonnaruwa:
Day 6 & 7: Trincomalee
Situated on the northeast coast of the island, Trincomalee is the best whale watching destination on the east. Unlike the south coast, the beaches here are almost bone-white due to the surrounding coral reefs, so when you get to the beach while it is dark and the sun has not yet risen, it seems that the sand glows in the dark! Once the sun begins to rise, the whole sky becomes a kaleidoscope of colour; the clouds turn a bright orange with flecks of pink, and gradually the sky turns from a deep blue to lilac to light blue.
Trincomalee is certainly a must-visit destination, and what makes it so special is that despite attracting many visitors, it still has a laid-back beach vibe.
Things to do in Trincomalee:
- Snorkel at Pigeon Island National Park
- Go whale watching
- Visit Koneswaram Temple, one of the island’s most sacred Hindu temples
Tips Before You Go:
- The best time to visit the east coast is from April – September, as this is when the weather is at its best and you can participate in all the fun outdoor activities.
- While you can take public transportation like buses and trains, for a more comfortable experience hire a car and a driver.
- Take plenty of sunscreen and mosquito repellent with you.