Trincomalee is located on the east coast of Sri Lanka, and it is home to one of the finest natural harbours in the world. In addition to the harbour, Trincomalee is best known for its pristine, unspoiled beaches, with the azure blue ocean stretched as far as the eye can see. Trincomalee is also popular for surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, whale and dolphin watching, and many interesting places to visit, such as Fort Fredrick and Kanniya Hot Springs.

Here’s our guide for top 8 things to do in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.

1. Surfing and Windsurfing in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

  • Entrance: Free

Trincomalee is popular among surfers for its less crowded beaches. Even though Trincomalee is not as well-built a point break as Arugam Bay over in Batticaloa, surfers would still visit Nilaveli and Uppuveli for a light surf. Nilaveli and Uppuveli are also famous among windsurfers.

Interested about more surfing points in Sri Lanka? Check out our Surfer’s Guide to Sri Lanka!

2. Whale Watching in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

  • Entrance: $$

Whale watching season in Trincomalee begins in March and lasts until August. Which means, if you missed whale watching in the South coast of Sri Lanka, you can still get the experience in the opposite season at Trincomalee. Blue whales and dolphins are a delightful, common sight during the season, and just a few miles off shore. You will find many boat services along the shoreline that would take you whale watching for a small fee.

Find out all about Whale Watching in Sri Lanka in our guide here!

3. Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Pigeon Island, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

  • Entrance: $
  • Diving Equipment/Snorkeling Gear: $$

Pigeon Island National Park is a must-see place while you are in Trincomalee. Snorkeling at Pigeon Island is a hot topic among most locals, as well as foreign tourists. In addition to the surrounding picture-perfect, white sandy beaches and clear blue ocean, Pigeon Island also has one of the best coral reefs in Sri Lanka, which makes it a great place for scuba diving.

The island itself is about 20 minutes away from the mainland, and you need to buy a ticket to enter the Pigeon Island National Park. There are a lot of places around the area that would offer day tours to Pigeon Island, along with a tour guide, to safely take you to and from the island for a small fee.

The clear, shallow waters allow you to see colourful corals and a plethora of multicolored fish and other marine life. There are plenty of places to rent snorkeling kits for a small price around the area. Some diving centers and dive resorts even offer advanced online booking for diving lessons and tours with accommodation.

Popular Diving Centers in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

If you’re ever in Trincomalee, don’t miss out on this wonderful experience.

4. Nilaveli Beach – Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

  • Entrance: Free

Beaches in East Coast of Sri Lanka are most popular for its unspoiled serenity. Nilaveli beach is one of the more famous spots in Trincomalee among locals for its clean, white stretch of beach. You can rent a scooter for less than USD 10 per day, to roam and explore the untouched beaches around Nilaveli. Try and spot the narrow roads that lead to the beaches because they would undoubtedly bring you to a secluded stretch of beach where you can chill and catch up on your tan without any disturbance from anyone else.

Note: Pigeon Island is just 1km away from Nilaveli beach. You can also take a tuk-tuk instead of renting a scooter. Read all about Tuk-ing in Sri Lanka in our guide here!

5. Fort Fredrick – Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

  • Entrance: Free

Built in 1623 by the Portugese, Fort Fredrick was constructed for military use, on top of a destroyed Hindu Temple named Koneswaram temple. The Koneswaram Temple is also a famous and equally important landmark in Trincomalee, where the remaining parts were built back later, and the temple now resides inside Fort Fredrick. Both the Dutch and the British took over Fort Fredrick in their reigns, and you can see the indications of all three invasions on this construction. Also, remember to keep your eyes peeled for the friendly packs of deer roaming freely inside the Fort!

Note: Fort Fredrick is now used by the Sri Lankan Military as a detachment for one of its regiments, but you can still explore most of it. If you would like a photo of the soldiers out and about inside the Fort, please do ask before taking photos.

6. Koneswaram Temple – Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

  • Entrance: Free

Residing inside of Fort Fredrick is the Koneswaram Temple, or The Temple of a Thousand Pillars, which it was before being demolished by the Portugese. The temple that stands today is what was built in the 1950’s, in an attempt to restore Koneswaram to its former glory. The giant statue of Lord Shiva at Koneswaram is a significant landmark in Sri Lanka, not limited only to Trincomalee.

The temple is located on top of a steep cliff which gives stunning views of the overlooking Indian ocean. Lover’s Leap is another rocky cliff located just before entering the Koneswaram Temple. Despite the obvious and unfortunate reason that brought the name Lover’s Leap, the view from the cliff is staggering.

Note: No footwear is allowed on the temple premises, so make sure you avoid the hot day time when visiting Koneswaram. You wouldn’t want to find out how it is to walk barefoot on a blistering-hot rock, trust us.

7. Sri Pathrakali Amman Kovil – Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

  • Entrance: Free

Sri Pathrakali Amman Kovil lies a few kilometers down the road to Koneswaram. It is another hindu shrine devoted to the Hindu Goddess Kali, and it has survived the invasions and the civil war that once afflicted the east coast of Sri Lanka. Sri Pathrakali Amman Kovil proudly stands in all its glory with most of its original construction intact, with beautiful and multi-coloured sculptures and paintings, and enormous halls. It’s well worth a visit on your way from Koneswaram.

8. Kanniya Hot Springs – Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

  • Entrance: $

Kanniya Hot Springs are believed to be built by the ancient King Ravana of Sri Lanka. They are located on the same route as Koneswaram Temple, approximately 9km away from the temple. The Hot Springs lies ahead of some ruins of a destroyed hindu temple. The springs consists of several wells that consist of hot or warm water, a different temperature in each well.

Devotees bathe in these springs in order to cleanse themselves before visiting Koneswaram, so it can get crowded during weekends and festival seasons. Despite having visitors constantly throughout the year, the place is badly maintained. The wells are not very clean, and the floors are mossy and slippery. Therefore, bathing here is not recommended.

Note: The entrance ticket is very cheap, and a dedicated car park is there for visitors of the hot springs. You may have to pay an additional parking fee or a small tip to the workers there. Also, avoid visiting the hot springs around noon. With the hot water along with the sun, the heat would be unbearable.

For more information on how to get to Trincomalee, restaurants in Trincomalee, and accommodation in Trincomalee, check back our blog for a complete travel guide to Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.

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