East Coast Sri Lanka holiday highlights

The town of Trincomalee has played an important role in Sri Lanka’s history due to its deep water harbour. First it was occupied by the Portugese, then the Dutch, French and English as each strove to control this ideally located port. Since the end of the fighting, the west coast has started to appear on tourist radars all over the world. This said, it is still relatively untouched when compared with the east coast.

Due to its deep harbour, Trincomalee is an ideal destination for those with a love of the sea. Boats of all sizes are scattered throughout the bay and beyond and many offer day trips and excursions to nearby islands like Pigeon Island. You can also enjoy a multitude of watersports including surfing, diving and snorkelling as well as enjoy whale watching excursions with opportunities to see the largest mammal in the world, the blue whale.

Within and around Trincomalee you’ll find a plethora of things to see and do. Within the town there is the fort, built by the Portugese before the Dutch ousted them as well as the famed Koneswaram temple. Outside you’ll find the ruins of various temples, settlements and monasteries as well as statues and inscriptions. There are also seven hot wells of varying temperatures just outside of Trincomalee.

Passikudah is a coastal town famed for its wonderful stretch of beach with one of the longest shallow coastlines in the world. Here you can wade out into the sea for kilometres before it becomes deep which is ideal for families, especially as Passikudah and the rest of the east coast have similar seasonality to the UK, meaning its best weather is during our summer months.

It’s an up and coming resort, with plenty of new hotel offerings as well as some bars and restaurants. It’s also close to the town of Batticoloa, which is where you’ll fly into if you choose a domestic flight with Cinnamon Air and is also home to a historic Dutch fort.

Out to sea you’ll find some great diving opportunities, including the wreck of the HMS Hermes, which was a British naval ship sunk in World War II and some beautiful reef gardens. Back on dry land you have the nearby Maduru Oya National Park which is famed for its elephant sightings, as well a collection of Hindu temples.

East Coast Sri Lanka key facts

Time difference

GMT +6 hours


Sri Lankan rupee

Flying time to destination

10¾ hours


Sinhalese. Tamil and English are also widely spoken, and newspapers are printed in all three languages.

East Coast Sri Lanka good to know


Dialling code
+94 52

Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity.


Typically a 10% service charge is included in the bill, even in markets. If not, tip 10-15%.


Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity.

Food & drink

You'll find an array of restaurants serving Indian, Sri Lankan and western cuisine.

Don’t drink the tap water. Most hotels offer boiled and bottled water, so stick to this instead.