EXPLORE THE EAST COAST of Sri Lanka IN A DAY
If you’re planning a shorter stay in Sri Lanka but would like to hit up the island’s east coast, have no fear! This guide should help you travel through the east coast within the span of a day, covering hotspots for history, religious sites, and the ever-present beach life!
When’s the Best Time to Visit the East Coast
The best time to visit Sri Lanka’s east coast is between the months of May and September, when you can relax in the warmth of the balmy, sunny weather and enjoy a dip in the calm, azure sea.
Our journey begins in Trincomalee, a resort city on the island’s east coast that is situated more than 230 kilometres away from Colombo. The city is said to be one of the oldest cities in Asia, with a history to match.
One major stop to include on your tour of Trincomalee is the Koneswaram Temple, also known as the Temple of a Thousand Pillars. This temple complex is the most sacred of the Pancha Ishwarams in Sri Lanka, which are a group of five ancient coastal kovils located around the perimeter of the island dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It is thought to have first been built before the year 400 BC.
Other attractions that can be visited in Trincomalee are the Kanniya Hot Springs, Fort Frederick, and the Velgam Vehera. Head to the Nilaveli for a swim or to Pigeon Island National Park for an exciting snorkelling excursion after touring the other attractions in Trincomalee.
Your next stop is – Batticaloa, which should take you 2.5 hours to reach by car. Located south of Trincomalee, the city is probably best known for its lagoons and nearby sandy beaches.
The most famous of the district’s three lagoons is the Batticaloa Lagoon, which is its largest, with a length of more than 50 kilometres, that is spread over an area of more than 160 square kilometres. The area surrounding the lagoon is used for cultivating rice, coconut and other crops, as well as for farming shrimp. There are beautiful mangrove swamps within the lagoon that attract different species of water birds, so try and keep an eye out for them! There are several smaller islands within the lagoon, such as Buffalo Island and Bone Island, with bridges built to across the area to connect these landmasses.
There are numerous other attractions in Batticaloa to visit too, from the Kallady Bridge, Lighthouse, and the Batticaloa Fort. While you’re in town, partake in a few family-friendly excursions that your kids are bound to enjoy.
Finally, we head to Arugam Bay, which is 2.5 hours away from Batti. We’ve saved the best for last, so that after your day of wandering around Sri Lanka’s east coast, you can look forward to some time to sit back and relax.
Located nearly 120 kilometres south of Batticaloa, Arugam Bay is the island’s most popular surfing destination, and the only international surf competition venue in Sri Lanka. It is consistently rated as one of the top surfing destinations in the world, but is home to a population of just a few hundred people – meaning that you’re not going to be disturbed, even at the busiest of times. While surfing is definitely one of the highly recommended and popular activities for the whole family, there’s a range of other experiences in Arugam Bay your kids will enjoy too, like a Pottuvil lagoon safari or a visit to Kumana National Park.
If you’re surfing with kids, here’s a guide to the best surf breaks that are family-friendly.