With the war finally a thing of the past in Sri Lanka, great excitement and interest is being expressed towards areas which were previously deemed ‘off-limits’ by various travel advisories. It is surely a matter of time before the British Foreign Office revises its stance on travelling to certain areas of the island.
Fishing restrictions for the north and east were also formally removed last week for the first time in 20 years meaning the area is likely to see considerable growth and much-needed development…
The beaches of the eastern coast of the island are one such area. Their addition to travel itineraries will mean that Sri Lanka really can boast to be a year-round destination, with fabled paradise beaches in season at any given time (the island’s two monsoons affect the north & east and the south & west coast beaches at different times).
I was fortunate to visit some of the key beaches and towns of the east recently on a couple of trips I made. With infrastructure rapidly improving (roads were under construction across the region) the area looks set to make a major comeback.
The port city of Trincomalee has been an important place for centuries, its natural harbour being of huge strategic and geopolitical importance. A few kilometres north of this vibrant and ethnically diverse city are the fabulous beaches of Upaveli and Nilaveli, long famous among Sri Lankans. Their fine white sand and sweeping bays. I stayed at the recently refurbished Nilaveli Beach Hotel and had a ball. I last stayed there during less peaceful times and the atmosphere is quite different now.
I also visited Batticaloa District and the amazing beaches of Pasikudah and Kalkudah. Both these beaches have apparently attracted great interest from developers and it seems now is the time to visit if you want to see them in their pristine condition. Pasikudah is famous throughout Sri Lanka for its slow gradient which means that in the right season you can walk out for almost a kilometre without getting out of your depth.
Kalkudah was my personal favourite, reminiscent of Bentota and Tengalle – a huge long palm-fringed bay with great sand and excellent swimming. Accommodation options were limited in the area but we found a great family-run guest house. I expect this will change very soon.
Driving south throughout the Tamil and Muslim towns and miles of deserted coastline you finally arrive in Arugam Bay, a kind of Mecca for the global surfing community. The beach has some of the best waves in Asia and the area is bordered by wild jungles (Elephants are a common site). The town is very surfer-orientated with a lot of laid back guesthouses to choose from.
The east coast is sure to receive much interest in the coming years and I look forward to visiting more frequently. The highlight for me personally was the vibrant and charming Batticoloa town – a place I have always wanted to visit. The area is still heavily militarized but this should ease over the coming years as normalcy returns. Experience Travel will obviously never send our clients to areas against foreign office advice, but we will be in right place to direct you when the advisories are revised.