Trincomalee, Nilaveli and surrounding beaches

Trincomalee, Nilaveli and surrounding beaches

In this post you will gain insights about Sri Lanka’s beaches surrounding Trincomalee (or “Trinco” how the locals call it), the biggest city at the East Coast. More particularly, we will share the experiences we made at Nilaveli Beach during our stay in May 2016.

We highly recommend to spend some days in this corner of Sri Lanka. However, please bear in mind the seasons! Best time to visit Sri Lanka’s East Coast is from April/May to September.

Most well-known beaches surrounding Trincomalee are Uppuveli Beach and Nilaveli Beach north of the city. We also read about Marble Beach, a beautiful beach south of the city and managed by the army. As it’s a private beach with a small entrance fee and apparently, this one can be quite populated.

Most locals we met and also other blogs recommended to go to Nilaveli Beach, which is where we ended up.

Nilaveli Beach

Why go there?

  • It offers picturesque, sandy, empty and quiet beaches with calm, turquoise water.
  • It’s not yet full of tourists and gives you an authentic, unspoiled insight into Sri Lanka.
  • You will find time to relax and simply enjoy the sunny weather and read a book.

But don’t expect multiple sports activities, animation, or European food. Also, there are no shops in walking distance as far as we know. In Uppuveli, there are already more hotels and aIso more restaurants.

The whole area was heavily affected by the civil war, but tourism is growing quickly and there is a lot of construction going on (which doesn’t negatively impact your stay though).

It definitely still is a (little touristy) hideaway! We recommend to stay for a couple of days in case you are traveling through Sri Lanka, because it’s an amazing place. But after some days, it’s good to continue traveling as you might get too bored otherwise.

What to do?

  • Sleep, relax, stroll around the beach or read several books.
  • Watch the sun rise over the sea.
  • Make a day trip to Trincomalee, in order to go grocery shopping or to visit the beautiful  Koneswaram Temple on top of the city (scroll down for details).
  • Go snorkeling at Pigeon Island.
  • Get up early in the morning to go whale / dolphin watching.
  • Apparently, it’s also possible to go windsurfing.

Our experiences in Trincomalee, Nilaveli and surrounding beaches

Perfect summer weather awaited us in Trincomalee (despite heavy rain in Colombo and Kandy area). When you want to stay at the beach, we recommend to directly get out of the city and go to Uppuveli or Nilaveli Beach. The tuk-tuk is approx. 700 to 900 rupees from Trinco to Nilaveli and takes up to 30 minutes.

We stayed two nights at Nagenahira Beach Villas at Nilaveli Beach. We recommend this boutique hotel: It offers a tasteful interior with a very comfortable bed. The bathroom is adventurous with its outdoor shower. Occasionally, we found a cute frog or a less cute spider. The hotel staff took good care of it and eventually caught the animals and maneuvered them outside of our bungalow.

Sri Lankan breakfast and dinner was delicious. It was no issue to get veggie meals.

The beach

The highlight definitely is the beach:

There is a private beach area with sunchairs, with a mesmerizing view over the Indian Ocean, with Pigeon Island in front of you. Moreover, the sea is like a bathtub: calm, shallow, turquoise and relatively clean. It would also be very suitable for kids. Although, we didn’t see any lifeguards. This leads us to the next unbeatable advantage of this beach: You will be amazed how little touristy it is! It’s very empty, only a couple of beach chairs now and then. There are more cows strolling around the beach than tourists 😉 Furthermore, you might even get the chance to witness how the locals fish. They put a big net into the water in the morning, and it seemed like the whole village helped to collect it in the evening.

We enjoyed some calm days in Nilaveli Beach. There would be the option to go snorkeling at Pigeon Island. It’s apparently perfect for snorkeling with its shallow reefs and colorful fish. However, you need to pay quite horrendous prices, in order to go there with a boat and pay the entrance fee to the island. We asked others who said it’s not worth to pay so much money. As we are not too much into snorkeling, we didn’t end up going there.
Other hotel guests went on a boat ride with a local guide, in order to do whale watching. You need to leave early in the morning, and it’s quite costly. Thus, it’s cheaper when you find other tourists to accompany you. Not sure if more than 4-6 people fit on the boat though. We were told that although they didn’t end up seeing whales, at least there were a lot of dolphins.

This was definitely one of the least touristy places we have been to in Sri Lanka, however tourism is increasing, as a lot of construction is going on. But contrary to the area of Kalkudah / Pasikudah, where there are a lot of big luxury hotels, we mostly only saw smaller boutique hotels in Nilaveli Beach.


The city of Trincomalee has some sights to offer. It’s worth to spend half a day there.

Majority of inhabitants are Tamil, therefore the city is also dominated by Hinduism.

In particular because it’s not so touristy yet, we recommend you dress accordingly (long pants/skirt and shoulders). Also when swimming, you will feel more comfortable wearing a shirt.

You will find such a stunning Hindu temple (Koneswaram Temple) on top of the cliffs of Trincomalee. You reach it by a nice walk through the fort (or by tuk tuk, of course). On the way up to the temple there are lots of vendors, in case you get thirsty. There is no entrance fee, but you need to take off your shoes (and can store them for 20 rupees or so).

First of all, the Hindu temple is very beautiful, with all its colors and the big, blue Shiva statue sitting enthroned on top of it. Also, we were lucky to observe a ceremony and marvel at the beautifully dressed visitors.

Secondly, the view from the temple area is unbeatable! You will see the ocean, but also the bay of Trinco. Maybe you make it there at sunset, it will be terrific.

It’s a pity though that there is so much litter, for example almost right next to the temple.

Trincomalee is also known for its huge natural harbor, which once was an important port. However, we didn’t do further research on this subject.

While this post became a bit longer, we encourage you to go to Trincomalee, Nilaveli and surrounding beaches.

Have you already been to Trincomalee or any of the surrounding beaches? We are eager to hear about your experiences. Let us know in the comments below!

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