After 2.5 weeks of traveling on a high pace through Sri Lanka we decided it was time for some relaxation on the beach. We stayed in Trincomalee for 4 nigths to relax and enjoy the beach and after went to Arugam Bay for a week to improve our surfing skills. Even though we were very active, we really were able to relax and clear our busy minds.
This small but busy town can be explored in a day or so but the beach is not that nice. That’s why a lot of people stay in Uppuveli or Nilaveli, both north of Trincomalee. We decided to stay in Uppuveli, only a 10 minute tuktuk ride from Trincomalee, as Nilaveli only offers a couple of resorts with not much to do (or places to eat) and is much further away from Trincomalee. Uppuveli offers a nice beach and calm sea (completely different from the beaches in the South!). The restaurants and resorts located on the beach offer sunbeds for free and you can rent a matrass for 300 RP per day (or have drinks/lunch and you’ll have them for free as well ;-)). They also have cabanas so that you can hide in the shade during the sunny peak hours. Really make sure to avoid the sun during the peak hours because you won’t be the first sun-burned tourist strolling down the beach.
Even though most of the people come here for the beach, there are actually some activities you can do. The most popular activity in Trincomalee is Pigeon Island, a little island near Nilaveli where you can go snorkling. You’ll encounter beautiful fish and despite the coral reef being dead for most of it as people step on it (so sad to see :’-( ) you’ll be able to spot some spots that are still alive. Tip: there are two sides where you can go snorkling. The side where you enter the island by boat is the side where you’ll be able to spot sharks (they’re not that big and harmless!) and sea turtles. The other side is very shallow with many fish but therefore also very crowded as there are many people who cannot swim. You can buy tickets at nearly any hotel and will cost you 3000-3500 rupees for 3 hours (which is more than enough). Another good activity is to rent a scooter so you can explore the surroundings of Trincomalee. We drove along the coast but first we went to Trincomalee itself and went to Koneswaram Kovil, a hindu temple and marine base on top of a cliff. After we drove North all the way to Pulmoddai. In between we stopped at the some places that we passed by. Pulmoddai was a bit disappointing as there is nothing much going on but it is fun to see local life and the locals are really not used to such blonde people going around. Be aware of the police though, we were stopped and when we showed our Dutch driving license, they didn’t except it. For sure they were expecting money, but we didn’t give in and were allowed to resume our trip but just to be sure it would be a good idea to get an international drivers license at the airport.
There are plenty of places to eat in Uppuveli. For breakfast Preni restaurant has the best English breakfast for only 350 rupees and Cafe on the 18th has coffee as we know it from back home and tasteful breakfast/lunch options. We usually skipped lunch but for dinner there is one of the best restaurants in the whole of Sri Lanka, namely Rice ‘n Curry. The small but cozy place offers a curry buffet with 8 different curries, which consist out of vegetarian and fish curries. You can pass by the buffet as many times as you want but after 2 times you’re probably stuffed. This is a must visit in Trincomalee!
Ceylon Seafood Cafe looks better during the night than in daylight. The restaurant is build around a pond and has a relaxed atmosphere. Sometimes too relaxed and the waiters tend to forget you. They serve fresh fish, lobster, jumbo prawns that are grilled and topped with their homemade garlic sauce. The food is a bit expensive but so is most of the restaurants in Trincomalee (3500 RP for a small fish that can be shared with two).
For drinks, Fernando’s is a good one, especially the swing chairs and lounge seats at the upper deck. Don’t bother to get dinner here, it’s very overpriced and not that good. One tip: the only ATMs are in Trincomalee so make sure to stock on cash when going to Uppuveli.
Something we had been looking forward to since the moment we arrived in Sri Lanka was to go surfing. Arugam Bay is the perfect spot to find the laidback surfing and backpack vibe. For a week long, all we did was wake up at 7am, go surfing, have breakfast at 10am, chill near the pool and read a book, go surfing again, have dinner, sleep and repeat. We already did some surfing before and so we decided to just rent some boards and give it a try ourselves. There are a couple of surfbreaks and we stayed at one of them, Wisky point, which is actually not in Arugam Bay but located even North of Pottuvil, a little town North of Arugam Bay. We liked the fact there was nothing to do over here and that everything was located at our resort. We stayed at Paper Moon resort, a perfect spot to lay back and relax with the kindest employees and good (healthy) food of homegrown products. There is a restaurant located next to it, called Sababa. This is the place to go to on a Friday night, parties last until (and even after) sunrise.
Besides surfing, there was nothing other we did than eating. Mainly at Paper Moon, but we went to Arugam Bay for two nights as well. Go to Hideaway for great cocktails during happy hour and a nice vibe, and Tandoori Hut for the best Massala in the whole of Sri Lanka. It was so good we ate there twice. Don’t forget to try their mango lassi or bring your own beer.
We really liked the East coast as we were able to relax and clear our minds, despite it being very touristic. We definetely recommend you to go surfing in or near Arugam Bay if you have the time, it was one of our highlights! Let us know what your thoughts are of the East coast in the comments below!