30 Awesome Things to Do and See in Trincomalee

Trincomalee is known as one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world.The minute you arrives and realise the atmosphere is so chilled, the beaches long and perfect for a relaxing walk. Plenty of history to discover at Trincomalee.

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1. Koneswaram Hindu Temple

The Koneswaram Hindu Temple in Trincomalee is beyond fascinating. Located within Fort Frederick, beside one of the finest harbours in the world, the Koneswaram Temple sits on top of a gigantic cliff known as Swami Rock, facing the Bay of Bengal and the eastern coast of India. The Koneswaram temple was attacked by the Portuguese and was rebuilt during the 17th century. This revered temple sits on a huge cliff known as Swami Rock making it a notable landmark of Trincomalee and a popular attraction that attracts many tourists apart from devotees. The temple is enriched with South Indian Dravidian architectural features and Hindu styles. Temple holds the traditional Hindu chariot festival or Vel Perahera during April and May


2. Nilaveli Beach

Nilaveli beach is considered one of the purest white sand beaches in Aisa and the beach is relatively less crowded than most beaches in Sri Lanka. Nilaveli beach is located nearly 10-15 km from the city of Trincomalee in the north-eastern part of Sri Lanka. You will find many small shops or various other traders. Although this makes it ideal to relax and beach hotel is the oldest and the most prominent hotel near the area. . Most people who can’t afford a stay in a luxury hotel prefer to stay in small houses and small hotels in the nearby area. There are plenty of these around so you won’t have trouble finding the right place suite for you. Check hotels nearby through  traventy.com


3. The Pigeon Island National park

The Pigeon Island, fringed by a coral reef, off Nilaveli beach was designated as a National Park by the WLCD under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance in 2003. It is unique in the sense that it is the only national park in the country to harbour a colony of the beautiful Blue Rock pigeons and contains some of the best remaining coral reefs in the country. Over 100 species of corals and more than 300 species of reef fish have been identified from the Trincomalee area, and many of these species are found within the Pigeon Islands National Park,  which consists of around five hectares of land and about 1000 meters radius into the sea with the coral reef as the national park boundary. The island is visited by boat and it was opened for tourism in 2002.


4. Pathirakali Amman Temple

Pathrakali Amman Kovil is one of the most spectacular Hindu temples you will see in Sri Lanka. It’s a large complex of connected shrines located in the Trincomalee Konesar Malai area.

The kovil is very impressive with its colourful look and plenty of stories visualized in the sculptures. Not only does the temple have such an amazing interior design, but it is also a place with an interesting history.

It’s a marvellous experience for visitors, watching devotees pray for their needs by breaking coconuts in front of the temple. At 11.30am they have prayers and even non-Hindus will feel very welcome. You will be blessed with dots on your forehead, a remarkable experience you will never forget.


5. Whale and Dolphin watching

Thomas Kelley

Trincomalee is rapidly emerging as another internationally important whale-watching destination. Blue whales in particular (plus smaller numbers of sperm whales) can regularly be seen around six to eight nautical miles east of Trincomalee (about 30min by boat), Dolphins (mainly Spinner) are also regularly seen. Most sightings occur between March/April and August/September, as whales continue their migrations around the island from the south coast (where they mainly congregate from December to April)  this means that Sri Lanka offers around ten months of continuous whale & dolphin watching annually at different points around the coast.


6. Scuba diving and Snorkeling

When the southwest monsoon prevents diving on the west coast from May to October, head over to the mystical east coast of Sri Lanka. Unexplored until a decade ago the east offers uncrowded beaches, a relaxed pace of life and plenty of dive sites just off the coast.

Diving in Trincomalee,(Located 265 kilometres from Colombo) explore shallow coral reefs with colourful reef fish around Nilaveli or drift dive along the rock cliffs around Swami Rock. With lots to see in shallow depths, gentle currents and dive sites close to shore the east coast is perfect for those looking to experience scuba diving for the first time or experienced divers looking for some relaxed diving mixed in with lazy afternoons by the beach. Learn to dive with a PADI Open Water Diver course or try diving for the first time with a PADI Discover Scuba Diving program or learn more about the underwater environment with the PADI Underwater Naturalist course. With interesting macro subjects such as nudibranchs, octopus, harlequin shrimps, pipefish, seahorses, frogfish, scorpionfish and flying gurnards the east is also great for macro photography.

Trincomalee – Reefs & Critters Season –May to September

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7. Girihandu Seya Temple

The story behind the Girihadu Seya is a fascinating one; Thapussu and Balluka, two traders from North India built the stupa after their encounter with the Buddha himself more than 2,500 years ago. It is said that this was the first stupa in Sri Lanka. Up to the present time, located atop a 212ft rock, near the Yan Oya estuary, the Girihadu Seya still stands magnificent and proud.

The sacred place of worship and wonder is surrounded by panoramic views of the picturesque haven. Climbing your way up towards the rock, you would come across stone slab inscriptions called the ‘Thiriyaya stone inscriptions’, dictating the origins of the stupa.

A peaceful and spiritual environment unfolds itself as you finally see the ‘vatadage’ and the remains of the ‘Buddhu gey’ (image house) and its stone pillars and bricks with its reclining Buddha statue.


8. Sober Island

Emerging from the water, a little island, a short distance away from the Trincomalee harbour is the beautiful Sober Island.  Away from prying eyes for many decades Sober Island is steeped in history and has been a well-kept secret.

Inaccessible to the public during the war, the Government as part of its development drive has now made Sober Island a holiday retreat that is very capably run by the Navy.

The history of Sober Island is fascinating and dates far back in time. In 1775 a teenage Midshipman name Horatio Nelson arrived in Trincomalee aboard the HMS Sea Horse.

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9. Fort Fredrick

Fort Fredrick in Trincomalee is also known as “the Dutch Fort” and additionally “the Trincomalee Fort’, built by the Portuguese in 1623 and was captured by Dutch in 1639. Later this was captured by the British in 1795 and it kept on being a British fortress till 1948. Inside this fort, the famous Koneswaram temple is located. This Hindu temple earlier knows as the temple of thousand Pillars. Fort Fredrick is presently possessed by Sri Lankan military and government authoritative structures, but you can go through it and visit the Koneswaram temple.


10. Hoods Tower Museum

This is a naval museum located at Fort Ostenburg in the Trincomalee peninsula derived its name from the Hoods tower which is an observation tower named after the Vice-President Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, Commander of the East Indies Station. It is located on a high hill overlooking the entrance which leads to the inner harbour of Trincomalee within the SLN Dockyard. The location of this place derived from the small fort named Ostenburg built at the entrance of the inner harbour of Trincomalee. The museum houses a wide variety of weapons, equipment and weapon systems that are used by the navy. Also, the captured Sea Tiger attack, crafts, suicide crafts and LITE weapons are showcased inside the museum.


11. Arisimale beach

Arisimale beach is one of the beautiful and rare beaches because the sand of this beach is almost like a bowl of rice. if we take to the hand it looks like rice, an amazing place surrounded by trees and a nice environment, an awesome place to visit in Trincomalee.


12. British War Cemetery

Established in 1948. Located in Nilaveli, Trincomalee. This cemetery has a magnificent green lawn, strewn with gravestones of many brave men, of different nationalities who fought and fell in the Second World War. Falling under the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, this place in Trincomalee is one of 11 burial grounds strewn across the island and each with a similarity in terms of landscaping, headstone structure, layout and a significant cross that looms over each cemetery, known as the Cross of Sacrifice.


13. Army Museum

The open-air Museum, perhaps the first-ever largest of the kind in the country brings refreshing memories to life as this architectural marvel, situated atop the popular, ‘Orr’s Hill’ overlooking picturesque and soothing Trincomalee harbour which provides a breath-taking view of the sunset, is an exceptional exhibition site, lying on a rare natural wealth, surrounded by the blue seas.

Specific separate exhibition areas, segmented as Infantry weapons, Armoured vehicles, Artillery guns and a resource person-manned audio-visual room, offer the visitors a wholesome picture of the exhibits, some of which have relevance even to the colonial times. Similarly, the exhibits on display at the location were mostly the weapons that were used against terrorists during the peak of the humanitarian operations before May 2009.


14. Kanniya Hot water spring

Kanniya Hot Springs is a famous hot well in Sri Lanka from the past. There are seven wells in a square shape. Wells are only 3–4 feet deep and you can clearly see the bottom. The temperature is considerably high but varies from one spring to another. Wells run out of water when 10-15 buckets of water are taken out.

The pre-history of the Kanniya Hot water spring goes back Ravana era and the first written references to the Hot water spring is found in the epic Ramayana. According to the notice board displayed by the Pradeshiya Saba describing this hot water, spring is connected with Hindu culture.


15. Sailing at Trincomalee

Sailing in the area of the white sand coast of Passikudah bay, guests will enjoy the palette of blue colours of the Indian Ocean while relaxing with drinks and snack refreshments served by our crew. The yacht anchors in the middle of the bay to allow guests to enjoy a relaxing swim or try to stand up paddleboarding. The extensive East coastline offers vast unexplored golden beaches, a perfectly laid back setting for travellers looking to step off the beaten path. The East coast offers the beautifully situated seaside port of Trincomalee.

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16. Seruwaila Mangala Raja Maha Vihara

Seruwaila Mangala Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient temple that is among the sixteen holiest Buddhist shrines (Solosmasthana) in Sri Lanka.

It is reachable both from road and sea. The Sea route begins at Trincomalee to Muttur on the boat and another 16 km by road. The land route is via Kantalathe. It was only in 1922 that the dagaba was re-discovered by Ven. Dambagasare Sumedhankara Thero and assisted by the Archeological Department, restored the Stupa using remains of ancient structures that still survive around the Stupa to conjecture the conservation work. The conservation was completed in 1931. Stupa – Origin 2nd Century B.C.


17. Uppuveli Beach

At a distance of 5 km from Trincomalee, Uppuveli Beach is a serene beach situated at Uppuveli, Trincomalee. Along the coast of the Indian Ocean, it is one of the popular beaches in Sri Lanka and among the prime Trincomalee Tourist Places.

Uppuveli is a long, sandy beach with clear emerald waters. It attracts a bigger crowd than Nilaveli Beach as there is more going on in the area. Uppuveli Beach is lined with lots of restaurants and bars. This makes it the perfect place to head to for the day and enjoy a meal and drink by the ocean.


18. Kokkilai Bird Sanctuary

The Kokkilai Bird Sanctuary is situated along the Kokkilai Lagoon and is home to an abundance of exotic migratory, resident, and endemic bird species. Explore this aquatic habitat for a glimpse of the rare and endangered Black-Necked Stork or the large number of pelicans that feed here regularly.


19. Velgam Vihara

The ruins of the little-known ancient monastery – Velgam Vihara – lay hidden in the dense jungle near the quaint Periyakulam Tank. Its ancient stone inscriptions testify to the fact that both Sinhala and Tamil Buddhists venerated this site for generations. when you visit the Kanniya hot springs nearby makes for the perfect combination, as the hot wells are believed to be part of a spiritual network, giving rise to tales of its magical properties.


20. Gokanna Vihara

Sanjaya Jayarathne

The Gokarna Viharaya lies inside Fort Fredrick on the North of the point close to the fort entrance of the fort. Few Buddhist artifacts which have been unearthed at various times have found a home in n this new temple.


21. Lover’s Leap

Lover’s Leap is one of the many breathtaking views of Trincomalee. You could find the famous lovers leap, on route to the Rameswaram temple. The legends say the Lovers Leap, which is a cleft, was formed by the action of Ravana when he had lifted the rock temple, Lord Shiva has made him drop his sword. Therefore, the clash has formed the cleft, while some believe that the fame of the cleft has been attained when a girl named Francisca van reed dropped from the cleft as she missed her lover who sailed away on a ship.


22. Kayaking around the Mangroves

Pete Nowicki

Pillaikulam Aru, a sentinel of luxury in a stunning landscape of calming sunrises and psychedelic sunsets, caressed by the breezes that waft across the still waters of the river, serenaded by a bird the call and the swishing of oars, bathed in a glow that the only paradise can offer you.

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23. Salli Muthumariamunam Kovil

Marie Yannick Gallays

The Salli Kovil is also known as Muthumariamunam Kovil is at the northern end of the Uppuveli beach, a mere walking distance from Amaranthé Bay across the Pillaikulam Aru river. It is an important temple to the local Hindus, who regularly visit it for prayers and hold colourful festivals. Men with pierced tongues and women holding pots of milk are common sights during festival times. During festivals, drummers and dancers are also a common sight, but most striking is the devotee.


24. Marble Beach

This particular stretch of water looks like marble when seen from above and hence its name. It is a place where one can enjoy the scenic beauty of Trincomalee while basking in the history of this strategic town, boasting of one of the largest natural harbours in the world. Air Force Resort Marble Beach, located not very far from the newly built Kinniya Bridge, the longest bridge in Sri Lanka is built around Marble Beach.


25. Trincomalee Fish Market

it is well worth visiting the Fish Market with its 50+ stalls and frantic, noisy activity that begin as early as 4.00 AM, every day of the week. Fish, freshly caught from the East Coast is hauled in here, sorted, cleaned, primed and readied for dispatch to various parts of the country including the South, at times.


26. Eagles’ Golf Links

Eagle’s Golf Links

Scenic and challenging, Eagles’ Golf Links is located on the east coast of Sri Lanka, near Trincomalee Harbour. This 18-hole course offers nearly seven kilometres of challenging, enjoyable and unique rounds of golf for a par of 72, routed through picturesque, undulating Bermuda grass fairways and Tifdwarf greens, replete with magnificent trees. Views of sparkling waters, bays and coves enhance the experience, creating a stunning environment for an unforgettable game of golf.

Eagles Golf Links is blessed with warm to the hot weather year-round, assuring golfers of warm sunny days much of the year, except the North-East Monsoon from November to February, when afternoon showers are common.

The course overlooks the scenic Clappenberg Bay and Malay Cove and is a 15-minute drive from the pristine and beautiful Marble Beach.

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27. Inland & Deep Sea fishing

The inland bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and lagoons, and the ocean also provide Trincomalee’s with one of their main sources of protein in the form of fish and other seafood. For this reason, Trincomalee is now beginning to become a hotspot of inland and Deep sea fishing on your holiday.


28.Kinniya Bridge

The bridge that connects Trincomalee and Kinniya is the longest in Sri Lanka. This enables civilians to cross the Kinniya lagoon to reach Kinniya and Muttur areas by the A15 highway. The bridge was completed and declared open on 20 October 2009.


29. Diamond Hill Hiking

The “Diamond Hill”, named so by the British and bearing no materialistic connection to the precious stone, is another magnet for the expeditious adventurer. The remnants of the long lost days of World War II offer a window of perspective as to what life would have been in and around the Trincomalee harbour nearly seven decades ago. The advantage of elevation at the top of the hill resulted in the construction of a signal tower. The remnants of this and the anchor points of the cables remain enveloped in dense greenery. Further away an underground bunker lies in ruins sans its top covers. Scattered throughout the hill many such remains are visible as they stand against the tests of time living as relics of a long lost legacy. These wonderful sights are accessible through a hiking route that has been carefully carved through the vegetation. The hike itself is an adventure as you scramble along the rocks with only the trees to hold onto.


30. Maritime and Naval History Museum

A grand 18th-century Dutch colonial building has been renovated and turned into a museum. Displays on the ground floor cover Sri Lankan naval history back to Marco Polo’s time. Upstairs there’s a lot of useful info on the flora and fauna of the east coast, especially that of Pigeon Island. Wide porches are fine places to pause and take in the views.

Also, Discover 20 Awesome Things to See and Do in Nuwara Eliya 

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