Wondering what a harbor town can offer to someone who wants the perfect beach holiday? Read on to find out.
Best known for its fine natural harbor, Trincomalee is overlooked when it comes to tourism and exploring, but it has some amazing memories in store for you.
Overlooking the harbor and open seas, the picturesque Dutch Bay attracts many, with its rich history, recent war stories, and medley of people.
Close to the mainland is Pigeon Island, and the chance to experience a true desert island in the Indian Ocean.
The beaches near the city of Trincomalee are said to be some of the cleanest and untouched in all of Sri Lanka.
The waters are very calm, making it perfect for exploring the waters and the treasures hidden within.
Close to the beach, you can find several upscale resorts as well as budget priced hostels.
If an old world, quaint and charming town by the beach paints a serene picture to you, Trincomalee is your vacation destination.
Things to Do
1. Experience Whale Watching
Whale watching, a must-try activity in Sri Lanka, is also available in Trincomalee, which is the eastern coast seaside region in the country, and no visit to the city would ever be completed without spending a few hours in the area where you can watch distinct species of whales, dolphins, and other marine creatures.
The perfect time to hit the land of Trincomalee is from March to September (Preferably April and August), and the popular species you can view in the city include Blue Whale, Bryde’s Whale, Sperm Whale, Spinner Dolphin, Risso’s Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, and Striped Dolphin.
You can occasionally watch Killer whales, too. It all depends on your schedule and time to travel to the place.
You can rent a boat to watch aquatic animals for $60 (around 6000 LKR), and the boat tour agency will give you everything you need, including breakfast or brunch. Though you can book your tour in advance, however, you should hire on the spot so that you can negotiate with the seller.
With turquoise and shallow waters, sandy beaches, picturesque views, gorgeous sea mammals, and appealing atmosphere, no doubt whale watching in Trincomalee will make your trip memorable.
Duration: 4-5 hours | Cost: 6000 LKR (Expected amount) | Opening Hours: 24 hours (Preferably Morning) | Address: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: Get a three-wheeler to reach the beach
2. Beat the Heat at Nilaveli Beach
Sri Lanka is a tropical land, and it can be quite hot on its brightest days, so if you’re living there for a while, you can beat the heat with ease by exploring Nilaveli Beach, which is Trincomalee’s most visited place.
Its clean and refreshing environment lures people from all over the universe, and it intrigues tourists to hit the site as soon as they reach the city.
Nilaveli Beach is a point where you can view the most famous snorkeling land, Pigeon Island, and you can take a cruise/boat to reach that place from the beach. Moreover, you can swim at any time there, because the blue water of Nilaveli is perfect for swimming and other water sports.
Its pearly white-sand increase the charm of the site, and to watch the beautiful sea creatures, you can take a boat tour, too.
From Blue Whales to Spinner Dolphins to small fishes, you can discover various common and rare species of aquatic animals with ease.
It is an ideal destination to spend holidays, and many restaurants are also working there to entertain and provide comfort to visitors and sightseers.
Rent a sunbed, buy some refreshing local drinks, and enjoy breathtaking views of Nilaveli Beach.
Duration: 3-4 hours | Cost: Free | Opening Hours: 24 hours | Address: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: Call a cab/rickshaw to reach the location
3. Learn Scuba Diving
Learn scuba diving in Trincomalee, which is one of the hubs of water-related activities, and you can even get a PADI certification.
Explore the vibrant marine life of Sri Lanka’s eastern coast’s waters, and make sure to visit the city between May and October so that you can take maximum advantage of the place.
Trincomalee has plenty of PADI Training & Diving Centers, so you can get the help of any institute as they all are highly qualified and professionals.
Moreover, the charges of training and diving are reasonable, too. When it comes to diving sites, there are two significant spots in the city, and they are:
Perfect location for beginners, Pigeon Island National Park, is the right place to learn some scuba diving techniques, and the depth of the North Reef is only about two to ten meters, which is quite manageable for divers.
Filled with vibrant and bright coral reef, your diving experience at Pigeon Island South Reef will be among the best ones for sure.
If you try Pigeon Island East and West Reefs, the seven to the eighteen-meter deep area is famous for viewing eels and rays, and you can also explore the formation of rocks.
Swami Rock area is a multi-level diving site, where you can dive and watch beautiful species of Stingrays and groupers. It is the most suitable location for intermediate and advanced divers.
So, take the help of some diving center, plan your tour, and enjoy a breathtaking scuba diving adventure in Trincomalee.
Duration: 3-4 hours | Cost: 3000-10000 LKR (It depends on tour agencies and packages) | Opening Hours: 24 hours | Address: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka |
How to get there: A three-wheeler would be a perfect choice to visit the site for scuba diving
4. Snorkeling in Pigeon Island
Quite close to the city of Trincomalee, there is a beautiful location for snorkeling, and everyone calls it Pigeon Island National Park, which is one of the only two marine national parks in Sri Lanka, and it’s a breathtaking site to explore.
Though you can also do scuba diving, however, it’s not that good for divers, but snorkelers couldn’t find any place better than this for sure.
You can visit the island by hiring a boat from either Nilaveli or Uppaveli Beach, but it’s quite near from the former one, so if you’re in that area, it will be indispensable for you to skip Pigeon Island National Park as it only takes 10 minutes to reach the place.
Hire some tour agent/agency for visiting the location, and it will take you there at a reasonable price with all the snorkel gears and tools.
It is a paradise for snorkelers because of bright coral and tropical fish species, such as turtles and black-tip reef sharks.
Useless to say, many other animals are also living in the waters that make biodiversity and marine life beautiful and worth exploring.
Some of them include Parrot Fish, Cornetfish, Moray Eels, and Starfish. Though the 2004 tsunami also affected this part of the city, still, the charisma of the place is unmatchable.
Try to visit the destination between April and October, because it’s the perfect time to enjoy water sports.
Duration: 1.5-3 hours | Cost: 4000-5000 LKR (rates may vary) | Opening Hours: 24 hours | Address: Pigeon Island, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: Talk to a three-wheeler driver to visit the site
5. Spend a Day at Uppaveli Beach
Almost 15 minutes away from Nilaveli Beach, there is a stunning masterpiece of nature that can mesmerize visitors for moments.
Yes, it is Uppaveli Beach, which enhances the beauty of Trincomalee, and it’s perfect for people who want to meet new friends as it is quite a crowded one.
Lined with a plethora of bars and resorts, Uppaveli Beach is a utopia for beer and cocktail lovers, and if you’re one of those, make sure to grab this opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones by drinking your favorite liquor and absorbing picturesque scenery of the place.
Useless to say, it has clean and clear water with a sandy beach, and you can swim there if you want to.
Never forget to hang out at Fernando’s Bar, which is probably the best spot there to stay for a while and to refresh yourself with a couple of drinks.
It serves delicious food, including local and continental, and you can even spend nights at Fernando’s.
So, pack your stuff and go to the beach, which is a heartbeat of Trincomalee.
Duration: 2-4 hours | Cost: Free | Opening Hours: 24 hours | Address: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: Hire a tuk-tuk to reach your destination
6. Deep Sea Fishing
Sri Lanka’s ancient practice and profession, fishing, is among the significant occupations in the country, but do you know you can enjoy deep-sea fishing adventures, too? Well,
Trincomalee provides you this opportunity at its waters, so pack your stuff and visit the city to cherish unforgettable moments.
Trincomalee Harbor is the right place to take a boat for fishing, and even you can book your deep sea fishing tour in advance because many centers in the city also provide all the required equipment such as rods and reels at less pricey rates.
All you need is to do a little research about the institutions, and if you plan your trip to this tropical land between May and October, it will be more exciting and enthralling because of a peak season.
The waters of Trincomalee offer various aquatic species to discover, including Kingfish, Indian mackerel, Tuna, Barracuda, Spanish mackerel, Jackfish, Trevally, Grouper, Bonefish, and many more.
Almost all the beaches in the city are worth trying and perfect for deep-sea fishing adventures.
Duration: Up to 4 hours | Cost: 3000 LKR (It may vary) | Opening Hours: 6:00 am-4:00 pm (preferably morning) | Address: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: A rickshaw/tuk-tuk will be the right option
7. Fascinating Koneswaram Kovil
Lies at the head of Konesar Malai (Swami Rock), on the Gokarna Bay, there is a stunning ancient Kovil dedicated to Shiva, the Hindu god, and the temple sits so high above the bay that the picturesque scenery will melt your hearts.
Koneswaram Kovil, a religious pilgrim temple, is a vibrant place, and it’s one of the five abodes of Shiva that erected in coastal areas of the country.
The purpose was to honor the supreme god of Hinduism, and this ancient complex in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka draws tourists from all over the universe.
The interior of the building is mesmerizing, and you will witness many eye-catchy murals, paintings, and statues inside the Kovil.
There is a giant sculpture of Shiva, too. If you’re interested in learning the religious history of Hinduism, you should not ignore this temple.
This temple inside the Fort Frederick is a very traditional one in Sri Lanka that no one knows the accurate date of its creation, and its surroundings are highly fascinating to view.
You have to give 20 LKR to the person who collects the shoes of the visitors because it’s a rule to enter the Kovil barefooted. Furthermore, you should cover your arms and knees there.
Duration: 1-2 hours | Cost: Free (20 LKR for shoes) | Opening Hours: Early Morning | Address: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: Take an auto-rickshaw to get to the temple
8. Fort Frederick Area
A landmark in Sri Lanka, Fort Frederick, which is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Trincomalee, first erected by Portuguese in 1623 to protect a vital strategic port of the country, but later, Dutch Government rebuilt it.
And even though the building faced severe damage before, it still lures tourists from all around the globe.
Fort Frederick has beautiful and worth seeing temples inside it, such as Koneswaram Kovil and Gokanna Raja Monastery.
When it comes to the former one, it is a gracefully adorned Hindu temple with vibrant paintings, murals, and various statues, including a giant Shiva sculpture.
You need to take care of the rules of the place, so cover your knees and arms while entering the building, and don’t forget to take off your shoes, too.
While the latter one is a less visited location, but never think of it any inferior than the Koneswaram because it has its charm that will not fade away no matter what.
The highlight of Gokanna is Buddha Statue, but it also allows visitors to view the hypnotic scenery of beaches from the top of the Kovil.
The fort also has delightful small restaurants for refreshments, and the food is quite affordable at the site.
Well, if you have time, you can also explore the nearby area of Dutch Bay, where you can discover various artifacts and exhibits at the Maritime Museum.
Duration: 1-2.5 hours | Cost: Free | Opening Hours: 9:00 am-5:00 pm | Address: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: Hire a three-wheeler to reach Fort Frederick
9. Sri Pathrakali Amman Kovil
A vast complex of connected shrines, Sri Pathrakali Amman Kovil, which is a Hindu temple dedicated to goddess Kali, lies at the Konesar Malai area in Trincomalee, and it is among the hot-favorite kovils in the city.
Not only the building but the surroundings are worth exploring, too.
When it comes to the appearance of the place, it showcases glorious artwork outside the temple that attracts millions of sightseers, and even those who don’t find time to hit the location from the inside, adore the exterior of the site.
No doubt, the façade of the Kovil is outstanding with all the paintings, murals, and pictures.
Moreover, if you go there at 11.30 am, you will witness Hindu devotees and worshippers who pray at that time. The overall atmosphere of the temple is exceptional.
The interior is 10x times prettier than the exterior, and the most prominent feature of the place is its vibrant and bright artwork, which also depicts some history of the site. Every image displays details and depth, so add Sri Pathrakali Amman Kovil to your bucket list.
It will enhance your knowledge about other religions, and it will also make your day with ease.
Please, make sure to take off your footwear before entering the temple and try to conceal your body parts (arms, thigh, knees, etc.) with clothes while you stay there.
Duration: 30-45 minutes | Cost: Free (You can give donations) | Opening Hours: Dawn to Dusk | Address: New Moor St, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: You can visit the site by taking a three-wheeler
10. Trincomalee Harbor – A must-see
Right in the heart of the Indian Ocean by Trincomalee, there is a gorgeous seaport in Trincomalee Bay, and its name is Trincomalee Harbor, which is the heartbeat that lies on the northeastern coast of the country.
This place is quite crucial for not only for the town but for Sri Lanka, too.
It has faced many battles in the past, and various nations tried hard to control the port so that they can weaken the strength of the country, but all were failed badly.
Today, it is a tourist attraction, but there are few things to keep in mind.
The location is under the control of the Sri Lankan Navy, so one must have to take permission first or inform them about the tour, and SL Navy will arrange a boat for visitors to explore the waters of the land.
If you are ready to discover one of the largest natural harbors (as per the sources, it is the third-largest) in the world, don’t think twice and hit the area of Trincomalee Harbor.
Sri Lankan Navy will also help you in increasing your knowledge about the place.
You will also see many anglers there because fishing is one of the major occupations in Trincomalee.
The harbor comprises of 5261 hectares of land and 1630 hectares of water, and the entrance channel to the seaport is about 500 meters wide.
This area promotes trade, and that is why it is a commercial port in Sri Lanka.
Duration: 2-3 hours | Cost: Free (You can hire a boat) | Opening Hours: 9:00 am-2:00 pm (Mon-Fri), 9:00 am-5:00 pm (Sat-Sun) | Address: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: Take an auto from your hotel/accommodation to reach there
11. Enjoy the Lovely Place in Trincomalee, Kanniya Hot Springs
Who doesn’t familiar with Kanniya Hot Springs in Sri Lanka? Well, everybody knows about this outstanding tourist attraction, which is famous for hot water wells that are seven in number.
It emerged as the sightseeing destination after World War II, and it now draws visitors from everywhere in the universe.
The area was once the complex of Buddhist monasteries, and the hot water wells were the part of those kingdoms.
It goes back to the Ravana era, and there is written about these beautiful springs in the holy book of Hindus, Ramayanaya. Situated around eight kilometers away from Trincomalee town, this tourist attraction has many mind-blowing facts that can surprise you, and it is getting fame with every passing day.
Talking about the unbelievable facts about the place, Kanniya Hot Springs that consist of seven hot water wells are unique because every well has a different water temperature, and many people believe the water has some healing power from numerous illnesses and diseases such as fever, cold, etc.
The depth of these springs is only three to four feet, and you can even see the bottom of the well. Furthermore, these squared holes run out of water when you take ten to fifteen buckets out of it.
Duration: 30 minutes | Cost: 50 LKR | Opening Hours: 7:00 am-7:00 pm | Address: Kanniya, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: Take a public vehicle to get there
12. Increase Your Knowledge by visiting Hoods Tower Museum
Beautifully nestled at Ostenburg, in the Trincomalee peninsula on a high ridge facing the passage to the internal Trincomalee Harbor, Hoods Tower Museum is a beautiful naval museum that belongs to Sri Lanka Navy.
In the museum, you will discover the ammunition used by the Sri Lankan Navy and other exhibits related to navy, including tools, equipment, and weapons.
All you need is to get yourself listed at the entrance of the site, and an officer will give you a company during your entire tour of the building.
It also offers historical information on colonial times and the battle with the LTTE.
You will love to view the guns, British gears, and military weapons that played a significant role in history.
Not only British equipment and weapons, but you will discover Dutch and Portuguese artifacts, too. Furthermore, the best part of the museum is its tower, which is probably the highest point in the city.
If you ever climb to it, you will get a chance to view the breathtaking scenery of the surroundings.
Duration: 1-1.5 hours | Cost: 1200 LKR | Opening Hours: 2:00 pm-5:00 pm (Monday-Friday), 9:00 am-3:00 pm (Saturday-Sunday) | Address: Ostenburg, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: You can get there by hiring a tuk-tuk
13. Explore the Bustling Fish Market
The hub of the fishing industry in Trincomalee, the fish market is the most bustling place in the city, and it provides fishes to the entire region.
If you can’t stand crowded areas, you should stay away from this market because it’s the busiest land in Trincomalee.
Avoid visiting the place in the morning so that you don’t have to encounter too many people.
Visit the location to learn how sellers cut and clean a myriad of fish, including squid, barracuda, tuna, and others.
You will get to know the procedure of how they catch these delightful sea animals in this coastal region of Trincomalee.
Duration: 1 hour | Cost: It may differ | Opening Hours: 7:00 am-7:00 pm | Address: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: Hire an auto-rickshaw to get to your desired destination
14. Learn about British War Cemetery in Trincomalee
Take 15 minutes from your schedule to visit British War Cemetery located on the northern edge of Trincomalee, because it is one of the significant landmarks in the city, and you can call it a resting place for the causalities of World War II.
British War Cemetery is a well-preserved location that there is a beautiful garden in it, and it is even prettier than many parks in the country.
A vast history behind this place is present, and every citizen is proud of the lives that martyred during the war in preventing a Japanese invasion of the region.
The city of Trincomalee was the Air-Force and Naval Base of the British powers during WW II, and in 1942, it became the target of Japanese, but soldiers bravely attacked and destroyed the enemies.
However, around 365 lost their lives, and many of them buried in this cemetery.
Beautifully adorned with flowers and carved phrases, the graves of the soldiers are so attractive that you can’t stop yourself from staring at them for a few moments.
If you want any information regarding the incident, you can ask the caretaker of the cemetery.
It has the graves of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus, so whenever you be there, make sure to pray for them.
Duration: 15-20 minutes | Cost: Free | Opening Hours: 7:00 am-4:00 pm | Address: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka | How to get there: Visit the site by taking a three-wheeler
15. Another Masterpiece by Nature in Trincomalee, Marble Beach
Serenity at its best, Marble Beach, the calmest place in Trincomalee, is among the top-notch tourist attractions in the city, and it is even better than Hawaii Beach at its day.
You will witness a marble-like surface, and that is why its name is Marble Beach.
Located at the Marble Bay, it is about 30 to 45 minutes away from Nilaveli Beach, and you can’t miss this place.
It is on Sri Lankan navy land, and it has two parts; the public side and the navy restaurant side.
The former area is for commoners and the popular one, too. However, the other part has comfortable hotels, bars, and restaurants, where you can have mouth-watering food at reasonable prices, and don’t forget to take part in water sports such as swimming, surfing, and fishing.
Moreover, get ready to watch gorgeous species of colored fish in the crystal-clear, dazzling waters of Marble Beach, and nobody could ever ignore the lavish jungle, which is quite near to the location.
You will not find any place better than this beach for snorkeling because of exotic marine animals.
The views and scenery are beautiful; it will be the best site to capture some memorable moments in the camera for a lifetime. Never miss it.
Duration: 2-4 hours | Cost: Free | Opening Hours: 24 hours | Address: Trincomalee, Sri Lanka How to get there: Take a tuk-tuk to visit Marble Beach
Where to Eat
The options to eat when in Trincomalee are also fabulous and numerous. From local seafood to delectable international cuisine, everything is served to you at the highest rated diners of the place.
We have here few trusted places in both Trincmalee and Nilaveli that are budget or more expensive for you to get your grub on.
1. The Crab
Upuvali, Trincomalee | 026 2 222307 | www.cinnamonhotels.com/trincoblubycinnamon/dining/the-crab
Why go for a vacation by the coast if you don’t experience the beauty of dining by the beach? At The Crab, you can dig your toes into sand while you go on a gastronomical journey with their perfectly cooked, juicy dishes.
Priding themselves on serving some of the best seafood in town, this place takes dining and luxury to the next level.
2. Café on the 18th
No. 18 Alles garden, Sarvodaya Rd, Trincomalee
Café on the 18th will take you to Europe right on the roads of Trincomalee. Their porridge and honey garlic shrimps are the most raved about dishes.
For the health conscious eaters, they also serve vegan food and for a very reasonable price too.
Pizzas being their specialty, they pride themselves on serving the best in town. The unique taste and mouthwatering aroma makes the pizza worth every penny.
Nero Kitchen offers a variety of vegetarian pizzas too. If you ever venture into Trincomalee, this should be on your list, because it’s just not something that should go untasted.
3. Rice ‘n’ Curry ($)
Sarvodaya Road, Alles Garden, Uppuveli, Trincomalee
One of the best restaurants in Trincomalee, this place is also vegetarian friendly and offers gluten free dishes. Famous for fried rice with seafood curry, this is a must try place if you want to experience authentic and delectable Sri Lankan food.
4. Anna Poorani Veg Restaurant ($)
Dockyard Road, Trincomalee
A reasonable priced dining place for all vegans, this place serves traditional Sri Lankan and South Indian food. Breakfasts here are a must have, with their idlis, pooris, and dosas. This is a cultural experience and a delicious restaurant.
Or check our complete list of best places to eat in Trincomalee and Nilaveli for more delicious options.
Where to Sleep
From the economical to the posh and panache, there are a myriad of options for you to choose from at this harbor town., as well as a wide range of options to stay on the exotic beaches. Listed below are some of the top hotels we scoured from the location:
1. Amaranthe Bay Resort
A tailor made luxurious resort to suit every price range, Amaranthe Bay Resort is the essence of luxury with stunning landscape and excellent service.
Wake up to serenades of bird calls, the sounds of the ocean and let the feeling of paradise engulf you. Truly magical and luxurious to point, this will be a memorable vacation resting spot.
2. Trinco Blu by Cinnamon
They have gotten the retro theme down to perfection. Seated in the heart of Sri Lanka’s coastal towns, this place has a view that is every water baby’s dream to wake up to.
The rattan furniture, bleached wooden decks, and denim trimmings take you back in time, while the luxury and comfort brings you back to modern times.
3. Sea Lotus Park Hotel
Wake up to miles of sun kissed beaches and golden sands in this hotel. Luxury and modern comfort fused with old age charm and Sri Lankan culture, this is the place to stay at if you want to complete your vacation with an amazing experience.
4. Pearl Oceanic Resort
This is a relatively new property in Trincomalee. You can enjoy sunny skies and the untouched beaches while you relax in the cool and serene waters at your stay in this piece of heaven.
5. Anantamma Resort
With excellent room service and great food at its restaurants, this hotel steals your heart without much ado. An ideal place for a holiday by the beach, this hotel lets you choose from a variety of rooms with the views making it all worth your while.
When to Go
Best Time to Visit: From May to September the climate is enjoyable for outdoor attractions and beach activities.
Time to Avoid: From October to January is when the North-East Monsoon hits, and most outdoor water activities are reduced or cancelled.
A quaint town by the beach that is bustling with activities and business from the beautiful, massive and highly important natural harbor, this is a vacation spot that is often overlooked, but should not be.
Rich in history and full of hidden surprises, Trincomalee is a treat for anyone looking to have the picture perfect holiday.
From fishing, bird watching, whale spotting, and dolphin chasing, to exploring old forts, walking through streets, playing in pristine sands, lazing on the beaches and swimming, you have so much to choose from to give you, your family and friends, a vacation to remember.