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Amazing Pigeon Island

The East Coast â€" Nilaveli

Pigeon Island At Nilaveli

The East Coast - Nilaveli


During the Summer Season from May – September, the East Coast Beaches of Sri Lanka can justifiably lay claim to being some of the best in the entire world.


The famous beach at Nilaveli lies about 10 KM to the north of Trincomalee, the legendary maritime base with a history spanning visits by the Duke Of Wellington and Horatio Nelson to an audacious attack by Japanese Zero fighters during the Second World War.


Quality Of The Beach

Nilaveli is the closest that Sri Lanka gets to the Maldives. The beach is composed of fine, powdery white coral sand where you can wade out to sea at waist height for hundreds of feet in places!


The long stretch of beach starts from the hamlet of Uppuveli, just to the north of Trincomalee and continues through Nilaveli to Kuchchaveli after which the jungles of the north of the island take over.


Watersports, Diving And Snorkelling

Pigeon Island off Nilaveli on the East Coast is one of Sri Lanka’s best known snorkelling spots. If you want to avoid the hoards of day trippers who crowd this uninhabited island, head off to Coral Island, a few kilometers away.


Coral Island offers the best snorkelling in Sri Lanka. A few kilometers north along the coast from Nilaveli is an outstandingly well-preserved array of live reef including cabbage coral, home to a dazzlingly colourful collection of tropical fish.


The sea around Trincomalee is littered with ship wrecks as well as remains of Japanese Zero fighters which bombed the massive fuel silos near the harbour during WW2.


Well known dive spots at Trincomalee include the area at the base of the very ancient Swami Rock Temple, Eel Rock which is a good place to see at least 5 kinds of different Moray Eel species and Grouper Rock, an uneven rocky terrain fully covered with beautiful hard and soft coral that appears very colorful at this shallow depth.


For Windsurfing, Uppuveli to the north of Trincomalee provides a fantastic East Coast alternative for when the monsoon brings strong winds and rough seas to the South West Coast of Sri Lanka.


Best Time To Go

Summer Season: May – October

During the Summer Season, Nilaveli is fabulous. The sea is calm, the weather is fine and watersports are possible.


Winter Season: November - April

The sea tends to be slightly rough and the hotels experience low occupancy. A good choice if you want to get away from it all on a deserted beach.


Getting To The Airport

You need to think about a stopover night at Negombo near the Airport prior to your departure as it’s a long journey back to Colombo from Nilaveli (4 or 5 hours), unless you leave very early morning by vehicle to catch your return flight.

If you have the budget, there are scheduled Seaplane Transfers from China Bay Airport (Trincomalee) to Colombo Airport by Cinnamon Air.

If you have a sense of adventure you can return to Colombo Railway Station by Expo Rail from Trincomalee Railway Station (overnight journey).

Trincomalee - Colombo (Tuesday / Friday / Sunday)
DEP: Trincomalee: 19.30 Hrs
ARR: Colombo: 04.05 Hrs

If you really have a large wallet you can hire a helicopter for a return transfer.

Top Tips For A Beach Stay At Nilaveli

Pronounciation: Neela-Veli

1. Nilaveli is not yet a ‘resort’; it is more a collection of hotels on a long stretch of beach that stretches northwards from Uppuveli to Nilaveli and Kuchchaveli. People wishing to go out in the evenings to bars and beachside restaurants will be disappointed. Going Half Board is therefore a good option for hotels at Nilaveli.

2. There is a fairly diverse collection of beach properties at Nilaveli. Nilaveli Beach Hotel (3 Star) and Chaaya Blu (3 Star +) were two of the original East Coast beach hotels. These have now been joined by the up-market Anilana Nilaveli and the unique eco-luxury of Jungle Beach at Kuchchaveli.

3. The East Coast has a feel that is very different from the rest of the island. The population is predominantly Tamil and the Palmyra palm replaces the Coconut. The landscape is arid and very dry, giving a somewhat ‘Arabic’ character to the countryside.

4. A boat trip to the uninhabited Pigeon Island is the most popular excursion at Nilaveli. The island gets over-crowded during weekends and holidays. Even at other times it is best to go there early in the morning before hoards of other visitors arrive.



Local Excursions

• Trincomalee is one of Sri Lanka’s hidden gems. The natural harbour at Trincomalee is second only in size to Sydney Harbour in Australia and was a great naval asset of the British Empire. Fort Frederick oozes with maritime history. Herds of deer graze around Wellesley House where the Duke Of Wellington once stayed and recuperated. The whole fort has a great ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ feel!


• The Swami Rock Temple is located on a headland at the far end of the fort. The temple origins are lost in the mists of time. It is a very sacred place of pilgrimage for Hindus from all over Asia. From the top of the rock you can observe exquisite views of the natural harbour and the sea that lies down a sheer cliff 300 feet below. Highly recommended.


• Whale Watching at Trincomalee Harbour is possible from May to September. The Sri Lanka Navy has a fast passenger boat called The Princess Of Lanka that ventures into the deep seas of Trincomalee during the Summer Season (Saturdays and Sundays only).


• Marble Beach is a stunning location that very few foreign tourists (or even locals) know about. It lies on the actual Trincomalee Bay, to the south of the Navy Base. Here the jungles actually touch the shore and a heavenly beach with very shallow water is to be found with views of tiny islands in the distance – completely idyllic!


• The Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks are about 1 hour away from Nilaveli. These reserves are some of the best locations in Sri Lanka for watching Elephants as the animals come regularly to feed on grasses by the edge of the beautiful lakes after which the parks are named. Between July and September there occurs a phenomenon called the Gathering Of Elephants where the largest herds of Asian Elephants come together in one place, sometimes numbering well over 300 individuals.


• If you are adventurous, you can travel north through wild landscapes past Kuchchaveli to the hilltop ruins of Thiriyaya, which contains a perfectly preserved image house (vatadage) dating from the 8th Century A. D.


  • Pigeon Island Beach Resort

    Pigeon Island Beach Resort

    A good 3 star beach hotel at Nilaveli with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere at the northern end of the beach. Delicious cuisine including a variety of superb seafood dishes combined with very good management makes for an excellent and affordable stay on the East Coast.
  • Nilaveli Beach Hotel

    Nilaveli Beach Hotel

    One of the original beach hotels on the East Coast with a prime location on Nilaveli Beach directly facing Pigeon Island. You can choose from the fairly basic Standard Rooms or the higher category Beach View Deluxe Rooms that are of a very good standard.
  • Chaaya Blu

    Chaaya Blu

    Located on the wonderful beach at Uppuveli. Originally built in the 1980s in the shape of an ocean liner and now renovated in retro-chic style with lots of blue and white. Beach Chalets are amazing - you can simply walk out into the very shallow blue warm crystal clear water.
  • Anilana Nilaveli

    Anilana Nilaveli

    A brand new, stylish hotel that has done everything to perfection from very welcoming, attentive staff to spacious rooms with designer interiors. Open kitchen with top international chef. Right in front of a beautiful beach with shallow, blue water and calm seas.
  • Jungle Beach

    Jungle Beach Resort

    A unique eco-luxury beach hotel that is located on the very secluded beach at Kuchchaveli. Get the feeling of the jungle with a gorgeous beach and hardly a soul! Incredibly friendly staff and excellent service makes this hotel outstanding.

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