For almost 3 decades the east coast of Sri Lanka has been cursed with a civil war and almost completely inaccessible to not only tourists but also locals. But now the war is done and dusted and the east coast has since become a major attraction due to its vast natural resources and cultural history. Sri Lanka, known as the teardrop of the Indian Ocean has a very unique coastline. The talcum powder sand beaches that stretch embracing the island are rich in wildlife and beautiful scenery. Until now, the East Coast has barely been touched by tourism: a blissful undeveloped shoreline where even the footprint of another visitor in the talcum powder sands is rare. It’s where you should go to escape the crowds, and it’s an emerging luxury holiday destination.
Why visit the East Coast of Sri Lanka
If you are interested in visiting Sri Lanka, many tourist centers will direct you to a crowded place like Kandy or Galle. But did you know you can enjoy the same beauty and adventure with more freedom and space?
The solution is simple. Just hit the Eastern coast of the island where you can not only have a full tour of the beauty but also enrich your soul with the magnificent culture this amazing island has to offer.
Best Beaches on East Coast of Sri Lanka
The first and foremost reason to visit the east coast is obviously the stunning beaches. The endlessly stretching powdery sand strips are quite extraordinary.
Sri Lanka’s east coast isn’t as well-known as many of the long-standing resorts to the south and west of the country, however, the beaches to be found here are spectacular. If you’re looking for a tropical paradise with swaying palms, endless sandy beaches, a relaxed and easygoing vibe, and with water sports and lesser-known sights to explore, you’ll love Pasikudah Beach. Close to the sedate Batticaloa and its vast lagoon, its predominantly Tamil-Hindu culture gives the region its own warm, unique, and unforgettable flavor.
Nilaveli beach is not too far behind with its deserted sands and palm-fringed bays. Nilaveli Beach is located only a few kilometers away from the city of Trincomalee. This tiny town is perfect for those wanting a relaxed beachside stay in Sri Lanka. The pearly white sands, crystal clear water, and warm soothing sunshine make the attraction spot truly a paradise.
Arugum Bay, a moon-shaped curl of soft land is famed for having the best waves in Sri Lanka. The surfing fraternity is constantly attracted to this magnificent beach as it provides the thrill and adventure that surfers desire. Even if you are not a surfer, this beach provides the right lay-back and enjoy a kind of vibe with nice sunshine and cool winds breezing throughout.
Other Main Attractions on the East Coast of Sri Lanka
- Kanniya Hot Water Springs
- Trincomalee Fort(or Fort Fedrick)
- Batticaloa Fort
- Koneswaram Temple
- Pigeon Island
- Kallady Bridge
- Kumana National Park
- Maligawila Buddha Statues
- Gal Oya National Park
Kanniya Hot Water Springs
Kanniya Hot Springs is a site with hot water wells located in the Eastern Province, Trincomalee District of Sri Lanka. The average temperature of these wells is about 42 Celsius and the temperature is slightly different from one another. Here you can bathe and enjoy the warmth of the water and refresh your souls.
Trinco and Batticaloa Forts
Fort Frederick, also known as Fort Trincomalee was constructed by the Portuguese around 1624. Built in the year 1628 by the Portuguese, the Batticaloa Fort is one of the few remaining strongholds of what once was the result of rapid European expansionism that took place during the 17th century
Even today, many of the cannons and other colonial remnants lay scattered overlooking the main city of Batticaloa, which makes it possible to reimagine the glory days of when the island was a center for global trade and governed by a European powerhouse.
In addition to wildlife and natural beauty, the east coast is very much rich in culture and diversity. On a spectacular promontory overlooking one of the world’s largest natural harbors, there is an ancient temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery on all sides, the colorful Koneswaram temple sits high above the bay, a classical-medieval complex in the Eastern Province city of Trincomalee.
If you are expecting to visit the east coast, this Hindu monastery is a must-visit. You can soak in the rich culture and enjoy the fabulous artwork and architecture.
Gal Oya National Park
Gal Oya National Park in Sri Lanka was established in 1954 and serves as the main catchment area for Senanayake Samudraya, the largest reservoir in Sri Lanka. Thirty-two mammalian species have been recorded in the Gal Oya region, with the most prominent being the gray langur, the endemic toque macaque, leopard, sloth bear, elephant, wild boar, water buffalo and three species of deer. More than 150 bird species have been observed in the region including endemic species such as the red-faced malkoha and the spurfowl.
Kumana National Park
Located in the southeast corner of Sri Lanka, the 18,149 hectares Kumana National Park is a well-known eco-tourism attraction and bird sanctuary. It is home to species of birds such as pelicans, painted storks, spoonbills, white ibis, herons, egrets, and little cormorants.
These parks are the ideal place if you want to embark on a wildlife safari and get yourself immersed in nature.
Maligawila Buddha Statue
Maligawila is a village in Sri Lanka and is a well-known site for several important archaeological pieces, including a free-standing 11 meters (36 ft 1.1 in) or 12 meters (39 ft 4.4) tall limestone statue of Buddha. This is said to be the tallest free-standing statue of Buddha in the world. The East coast is a cultural epicenter for both Buddhism and Hinduism and these remnants of buddha statues highlight that fact.
Drifting in the midst of the dazzling blue Indian Ocean only 1km from shore Pigeon Island is loaded with fine powdery sands and sparkling coral gardens. A nesting area for rock pigeons, the island is beautiful enough, with rock pools and paths running through thickets, but it’s the underwater landscape that’s the eyecatcher. The reef here is shallow, making snorkeling almost as satisfying as diving, and it’s home to dozens of corals, hundreds of reef fish (including blacktip reef sharks), and turtles.
Activities on the East Coast of Sri Lanka
If you’re just not into sightseeing and want an action-packed gateway, well.. we can offer you that also. The East coast is sure to tickle your adventure buds and provide you with a thrilling experience.
Widely considered one of the best-surfing destinations in Asia, if not the world, life in Arugam Bay is built around this exhilarating sport. During the surfing season, from May to September streets swell with the cheerful, eager surfing crowd. From experienced surfers to those just getting their feet wet, all are welcome and the area has several surfing points to cater to everybody.
With a host of international surfing competitions, this magnificent beach will no doubt satisfy your thirst for adventure.
Surfing in Sri Lanka – Find out more
Diving and Snorkeling
Fully geared with a mask, snorkel, and fins you can dive into the waters of Sri Lanka and exhilarate in the beauty and vibrancy of the world under the sea which would be an experience with unforgettable memories. The east coast of Sri Lanka provides perfect spots for diving, scuba diving, and snorkeling. The deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean have many species of marine life and exquisite coral reefs. There are many shipwrecks dotted around the coasts which have occurred during different periods of time and swimming through the wrecks can be a thrilling adventure.
Therefore, head out to sea with a trained and licensed crew to explore the best diving spots for thrilling scuba diving holidays in Sri Lanka.
Pigeon Island tour
If snorkeling does not fall under your topic of interest, the speedboat ride here is worth a trip itself. You can enjoy swimming on the other side of the island or even go fishing in the ocean. Windsurfing is another secondary activity you can do at the Pigeon island beach but you have to be lucky enough for the waves. The boat ride to this island itself is very enjoyable and you can travel through the pigeon island national park and soak in the wildlife experience.
Diamond Hill hike
If you’re the type of person who wants to stretch their legs, then look no further because this is the best place for you. A mountain hike that is bound to give you an adrenaline rush is right around the corner. Visit the diamond hill and climb up to the peak to enjoy a stunning view of the eastern side of the island.
For many of us, watching whales leaping acrobatically at sea is an experience of a lifetime. Sri Lanka is one of the world’s best places for whale watching. You are provided with the deluxe experience of hopping on a boat and taking a tour through the magnificent waves in an attempt to scout the biggest animals in the ocean.
The cultural diversity of the East Coast
What makes Sri Lanka a beautiful country is its blend of diverse cultural richness that is predominantly derived from the various religions. The east coast is an epicenter of a cultural pool with rich traditions, food, and festivals.
The magnificent artwork at the Koneswaram temple, the impressive Buddha statues at Maligawila, and the unique cuisine highlight this fact.