Sri Lanka Ultimate East Coast Beach Itineraryby: 1111 1111
Sri Lanka Ultimate East Coast Beach Itinerary
If you love beaches but want to escape the crowds, why not try out the East Coast Beaches. Relatively undeveloped and unspoiled, you can find pristine little pieces of paradise you can keep all to yourself. This 9 day itinerary will outline the 3 most popular and easily accessible beaches of the East Coast- don’t worry, they might be the most popular but they certainly aren’t overcrowded.
When to Go
Due to the complicated monsoon period, when you go to Sri Lanka will vastly determine where you go. May to August is the best time to visit. Not only is this the low season in Sri Lanka, meaning you can get great deals on accommodation, it’s also the dry season so you can leave your waterproofs at home and enjoy clear skies and sunny days!
Getting Here- There are a few different options to get to Arugam Bay from Colombo Airport. The easiest, but most expensive would be to hire a driver. If you take a bus from the airport to Colombo city centre, you will dropped at the bus terminal. From here, you can take a local bus or train to Batticaloa. From Batticaloa there are buses to both Pottuvil and Arugam, which are a short tuk-tuk ride away from Arugam Bay.
Where to Stay- Arugam Bay has accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. Along the beach front you’ll find resorts, cabanas and hotels. You can find most budget accommodation along the main road- don’t worry, you’ll only be a short walk away from the beach. If you are on a budget but want to stay ON the beach, get a hut and skip the air con- you probably won’t need it anyway with the breeze from the sea coming through your windows.
Day 1- Arrive in Sri Lanka/ Travel to Arugam Bay
Day 2- Scoot
Your first day in Arugam Bay is the perfect time to get a taste of the local area. Hire some scooters and explore your surroundings. Whisky Point, which is 12km away from Arugam Bay, is a rural stretch of beach famed for its perfect surf conditions. Even if you don’t surf, this is a pretty nice spot for sunbathing and chilling out- which is just what you need after a long day of traveling. On the way back, you’re sure to see a variety of wildlife and different landscapes, so go slow and enjoy the view.
Day 3- Surf
It would be a real shame to come to Arugam Bay and not surf- even if you have never dreamed of getting on a surfboard before. Along the main street you’ll find plenty of surf instructors happy to take you out for a lesson regardless of your ability. Even I managed to catch a wave, so I’m sure you will too!
Day 4- Safari
One of the most unique things about Arugam Bay is its proximity to amazing national parks. Yala National Park is the second largest park in Sri Lanka and the perfect place for a day trip. Expect to see elephants, crocodiles, numerous species of birds and even a leopard if you’re really lucky. For the best rates, speak to a few of the operators along the main street.
Getting Here- To get from Arugam Bay to Nilaveli many people choose to hire a driver which is convenient, yet expensive.
If you’re trying to stick to a budget, do it like the locals. First you should take a tuk-tuk (10 minutes) to the bus terminal in Pottuvil. From there you can take a local bus (c2 hours) to Batticaloa, where you can catch another local bus (c2.5 hours) to Trincomalee. In Trincomalee, there will be plenty of tuk-tuk drivers waiting to take you to your hotel. It will definitely be a bit less comfortable than taking a driver, but also much more exciting and easy on your pocket.
Accommodation- As Nilaveli is not on many people’s radars, the variety of accommodation is limited. There are several resort-style hotels that line the beach but if you’re looking for budget rooms or hostels, try looking on the main road. During my trip, I stayed at a lovely cottage a 20-minute walk away from the beach. This not only saved me money but was an extremely peaceful place to sleep at night. As there are not many restaurants in the area, the owner of the cottages prepared us some amazing homemade Sri Lankan food every night for dinner. The table would be filled with different curries, meat and veg dishes for us to try. A great, warm, friendly environment that made my trip so special!
Day 5- Travel from Arugam Bay to Nilaveli
Day 6- Swim and Relax
Nilaveli is the perfect, sleepy beach to relax on after a long journey. If you’re lucky, you might not even have too many people to share it with. If you missed swimming in Arugam Bay, you’ll love floating about in the crystal clear, calm, turquoise water here.
Getting Here- Uppuveli is just 12km away from Nilaveli. Ask your hotel to hire a tuk-tuk for you to get the best rates.
Accommodation- Much like Arugam Bay, there is a wide range of accommodation here. There is even the option to sleep in a hobbit hole on the beach, if you’re not too claustrophobic! Again, if you’re on a budget, skip the air con and sleep away from the beach. The town is small so you won’t be too far away.
Day 7- Snorkel
One of the things you must do in Uppuveli is check out Pigeon Island. Just a short boat ride away, you’ll find this tiny Island which is surrounded by the most magnificent coral reef. The sea life here is abundant and the water is perfect for snorkeling. There is a really high chance of seeing sharks- don’t worry, they won’t bite! And you might even see a turtle.
Note- tour operators can take you from either Uppuveli or Nilaveli but I found that the rates were much less in Uppuveli, even though it’s slightly further away.
When you’re finished snorkeling, head over to Fernando’s Bar, grab a glass of arrack (Sri Lanka’s famous coconut rum) and watch the sunset.
Day 8- Sightseeing
Many tourists overlook Trincomalee, choosing to stay at the beach instead. If you’re feeling like you need to get off sand and back on land, this port city is an interesting place to spend the day. Only recently open to tourists, Trinco has a rich and fascinating history. You can also go on whale watching trips between June and October.
Getting Here- The easiest and most convenient way to get from Uppuveli to Negombo is via the overnight train from Trincomalee to Colombo. I recommend the overnight train to help you save some time. From Colombo, there are frequent buses to Negombo, taking around 1 hour.
Accommodation- The town is full of family run guesthouses offering visitors a comfortable place to rest their head before their journey home, for a reasonable price.
Day 9- If it’s time to go home, but you’re not ready to leave the beach, you’ll be glad to hear about Negombo- the beach town that is closer to Colombo Airport than Colombo itself! This is the perfect chance to soak up more sun and get to the airport conveniently. Definitely a better option than sleeping in an airport hotel at the side of a motorway!
So, as you can see, Sri Lanka’s East Coast Beaches have plenty of variety for the adventurous backpacker. 9 days is the perfect amount of time to enjoy surfing, safari, snorkeling, spotting sharks, and of course, relaxing in a sun lounger with a nice arrack cocktail! I hope you decide to explore these relatively unspoiled and undiscovered beaches for yourself.
Is Sri Lanka on your bucket list? Where would you like to go? Leave a comment and let me know!