Trinco as it is fondly called by the locals is located in the North-East coast of Sri Lanka and has a rich cultural heritage going back many centuries. Trincomalee is also without doubt the best coastal area in this small island nation with its crystal blue waters and long stretches of white sandy beaches. Whale and dolphin watching along with diving and snorkeling are popular in the area.
Trincomalee has one of the best deep water natural harbours in the world. Over the centuries it has been coveted by many world navies and was attacked by the Japanese in 1942. Several ships and an Aircraft Carrier was sunk during this raid. There are lots to explore and do in Trincomalee and the surrounding areas including the many pristine beaches such as the Manayaweli Cove and Marble Beach, Fort Fredrick, the Martime and Naval Musuem and the old Temple. We suggest spending at least 4 – 5 days to really get the best – however a 2 – 3 day trip will also give you time to savour the best of Trincomalee.
There are excellent hotels and guest houses to suit any budget and is really a one-stop destination for travellers who want to experience and idyllic holiday in one of the best beachside locations in Sri Lanka. The people are warm and hospitable and the food is influenced by the years of colonisation and by the local folk. All hotels in the area offer a delightful spread of both western and local dishes to suit any palate.
It is roughly about 4-5 hours drive from the capital city of Colombo. Access to Trincomalee is by road and train in the main but you could also catch a domestic flight if needed. The distance from Colombo is around 260 kms but the journey by bus or car could take as much 4 – 5 hours depending on traffic and animals (yes wild elephants) on certain stretches of the road. Avoid travelling at dusk unless you want to see wild elephants roaming the roads and fields as you pass by. Train is by far the best option but generally takes around 8 hours – it is also very cheap and you can enjoy the countryside without worrying about traffic and wild elephants.
Places to Stay in Trincomalee
Hotels & Resorts
Amaranthe Bay Resort & Spa
Coconut Beach Lodge
- JKAB Beach Resort
- Trinco Blu by Cinnamon
- Skandig Beach Resort
- MRD Beach Hotel
- Amigos Inn
- Pidgeon Island Beach Resort
- Jungle Beach by Uga Escapes
- Anilana Nilaveli
- Nilaveli Ocean Condos
- Beach Paradise by Oceanfront Condos
- Pearl of Ocean Front
- Casamia Oceanfront Condos
- Araliya Oceanfront Condos
- Nilaveli Oceanfront Condos
- Nilaveli Ocean Front Apartments
Our pick of places to visit in Trincomalee
Pidgeon Island National Maritime Park – Pidgeon Island is a must visit place if you are into snorkeling and diving – the coral reefs make it quite spectacular.
Maritime and Naval Museum –This is a relatively new museum and attempts to portray the country maritime history through several displays and exhibits.
Fort Fredrick and Fort Ostenburg – There are two forts which are must visits spots during your stay in Trinco. They were built by the Portuguese and Dutch and eventually controlled by the British during Sri Lanka’s 443 years of colonisation.
Marble Beach – This beach is operated by the Sri Lanka Navy and is an excellent and safe spot for families with children to chill out on the beach and frolic in the shallow and beautiful and clear blue waters.
Nilaveli Beach – This beach is undoubtedly one of the best beaches you could find in Sri Lanka. It is almost 32 kms long and many of the water related activities and excursions operate off this beach.
Manayaweli Cove –An unspoilt stretch of beach where you could enjoy some quiet time. There are no beach activities in the area.
Trincomalee War Cemetery –The war cemetery is not far from the town centre and honours the fallen from World War 2. The graves of around 364 fallen soldiers from various countries are enshrined at this cemetery.
Koneswaram Temple –This temple is within the walls of Fort Fredrick and is perched high on Swami Rock which is a huge cliff top. There are great views of the Bay of Bengal from this vantage point.
Hot Springs – While not high on the list of must visit locations due to the presentation of the site. It is nevertherless worth considering if you are into using the hot mineral waters for its supposedly healing properties.
Things to do in Trincomalee
Glass Bottom Boat rides – Pidgeon Island Marine National Park is one of two marine parks in Sri Lanka. The other is in Hikkaduwa which is on the west coast of Sri Lanka. Most tours take around 8 hours and Pidgeon is a wonderful area to observe and see up close the many species of coral fish and beautiful corals. Most excursions start off from Nilaveli Beach.
Whale and Dolphin watching – There are many species of whales and dolphins you could observe in close including the Blue, Sperm and Bryde Whales and the Bottlenose, Spinner, Risso and Striped Dolphins. Many good and reputable operators offer both half day and full day excursions from Trincomalee Harbour.
Watch local fisherman at work – Walking on the beach in the afternoon or early morning you be able to watch the local fishermen – working in teams – haul their large nets back to land.
Snorkeling & Scuba Diving – There are many good dive and snorkeling sites in the area including Nilaveli, Pidgeon Island and the Swami Rock. There is also a ship wreck about 35 – 40 minutes by boat from Nilaveli Beach. The ship wreck is of unknown originality although the locals call it the Irrakandy Ship Wreck. This is a great dive site due to the many small nooks and crevices created on the wreck through the ravages of time which provide a great home to various fish species. Best times of the year to visit if you are into diving is May to October. Trincomalee has many top class diving centres and it is great place to take a Scuba Diving course at very reasonable prices.
How to get to Trincomalee
Train – The train is the best mode of transport from Colombo. The night train leaves the Colombo Fort Railway station at 2130 hours and reaches at 0530 hours the next morning – total of around 8 hours. There is an option to also take the express day train to Gal Oya and then change over to the Trincomalee train. Be aware that the train timetable changes on a regular basis – so check the local train timetables when planning your trip.
Bus – Travel by bus is safe and relatively comfortable. Many private bus companies provide a regular and reliable service to Trincomalee from various locations in Colombo. If you want a bit of luxury, book the private air conditioned coaches – at prices which are extremely reasonable.
Road – The journey by car or taxi is around 5½ hours from Colombo. There are many reputable car hire companies where you could hire a self drive car. We also recommend engaging a driver as they would be able to show you some of the must see places along the way.