Trincomalee, fondly called Trinco by locals and tourists, was my first stop while beach hopping along Sri Lanka’s gorgeous east coast. I’d heard rumors of long stretches of silky white sand that kissed the shore of flat turquoise waters, roaming sea turtles and baby blacktip sharks. Trinco did not disappoint as I discovered all of that and more. Here’s where to explore, eat, and stay in Trincomalee.
WHAT TO DO IN TRINCOMALEE
UNWIND ON THE BEACH
Nilaveli in the north of Trinco is said to be quieter but the season hadn’t quite started in the more popular Uppuveli beaches in early July so I stayed local as the beaches were calm and tropical. The beach is peppered with resorts and cafes along the shore. There aren’t many sun chairs but you can choose a sunny spot anywhere on the shore to enjoy the sun for the day. If you’re at the beach alone like I was I recommend buying a juice from one of the beachfront businesses and asking if you can keep your valuables there as you swim to avoid being robbed. The beach was incredibly calm in early July and would have been perfect for a floatie.
AVOID PIGEON ISLAND
Pigeon Island is said to have the best reef to snorkel in all of Sri Lanka. Sadly, the reef here is almost entirely bleached. Overtourism is a serious issue here, even though it’s meant to be a sanctuary. Boatloads of travelers flock here daily, they walk on the coral, wear damaging sunscreen in the water, and feed the aquatic life. If I had known about the harm that had been caused here I wouldn’t have visited and honestly don’t recommend that others go. The locally operated boats that take tourists in hoards to the island collect a conservation and marine park fee but don’t bother to explain the proper tactics for snorkeling in the area without damaging the underwater eco-system. I did have a few lone moments with a beautiful sea turtle and had a mild freak out as two-foot-long blacktip sharks swam by me.
If you wish to explore the incredible sea world off of the pristine coast of Trincomalee it’s better to go on a snorkeling trip in open waters with an accredited organization. Other than sea turtles and blackfin sharks you can also swim with a colorful assortment of fish including my favorite neon beauty parrot fish! Keep an eye out for many varieties of butterfly fish, banner fish, angelfish, blue-spotted rays, eels, and more! I didn’t have a GoPro yet so I wasn’t able to capture any of these aquatic beauties to share with you.
WHERE TO EAT IN TRINCO
There are many beach front restaurants with wonderful views and terrible food. Don’t miss a sunset and a fresh juice while chilling on a beach swing at the ultra-hip Fernando’s bar but take your meals further inland. For a quick snack do as the locals do and enjoy roti, chana dhal masala vadai, or the local comfort food – Kutthu, at the many stands on Nilaveli Road. The main street behind the shore, Sarvodaya Road, houses an array of seafood restaurants and stalls for fresh-pressed juice. Be sure to try my favorite Asian fruit, mangosteen! Be Cool Juice Bar is an awesome spot that serves fresh juices in coconut shells. If you prefer to dine indoors and want to enjoy cuisine influenced by the west head to the tiny but delicious Cafe on the 18th.
My absolute favorite spot not just in Trinco, but in all of Sri Lanka, was Rice n’ Curry. The food here is incredibly fresh, focuses on local flavors and traditional dishes, and it is wildly affordable. Seriously, look at the size of these King prawns! The plate didn’t even cost $10. I went back to Rice n’ Curry for all of my meals. At night they do a buffet style dinner with over 10 different curries that were mainly vegetarian.
WHERE TO STAY IN TRINCO
I was invited to stay at Alass Ga Guesthouse
and loved the local experience. A mother-son duo run the turquoise-hued hued homestay. Each morning they prepare a massive breakfast of local specialties including my favorite, coconut hoppers, and honey. They live in the adjacent building and are available to help you organize your time in Trinco. They were even kind enough to bike me over to the ATM when I ran out of cash. There is no ATM within walking distance so make sure to bring enough cash with you as most places do not accept cards. The sweet single story home was surrounded by the famous Sri Lankan greenery. Palms, mango trees, and banana leaves provided shade over the breakfast table while a litter of sweet kittens played in the flower bushes.
Thank you, Alass Ga Guesthouse, for inviting me to experience your wonderful homestay. All opinions and photos are my own. This post contains affiliate links, please read the Miss Filatelista disclosure policy for more information.