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Eastern beaches report

Ticino
Level Contributor
74 posts
Eastern beaches report

Hallo, killing time in Batticaloa on a terrible sandstormy afternoon and not much to do except Internet, luckily I found one station working, apparently the only one in town?! It is called "Wisdom Communications" and located near the Commercial Bank, other side of the road, black sign.

Coming back to the beaches I saw these three days: for a budget traveller like me, I would recommend Kalkudah-Passikudah against Trincomalee-Nilaveli. In Passikudah there is a beautiful beach in the Passikudah gulf, after passed all the fishing boats, just in front of what is left (only the skeletons) of two large hotels. Hotels that, I was told, closed down in the 1980's, as a consequence of the war, and were later "achieved" by the Tsunami.

The beach is not huge in size, but big and wide and clean enough, and the water is the best for swimming I've seen in Sri Lanka until now. Very smooth, with the bottom declining very mildly, quite clear water (although not really transparent), looks like a giant swimming pool for children.

Walking down south from that point, pass all the fishing boats again, and you will start seeing some coral reef formation not far from the coast; but there, there is virtually no beach and the bottom of the sea becomes rocky and bad, impossible to walk on. From that point I witnessed a beautiful sunrise this morning.

Another advantage in Passikudah is that you have economic accommodation available at hand. One guesthouse in Passikudah itself, the last house on the road before reaching the gulf, dark blue building with red roof, cannot miss it. They offered me a room with bathroom, small and basic but tidy, for 600 RS. I managed to include also the use of a bicycle in it (important to get to the nearest town: Vallaichchennai). As usual, they can cook on demand. The name is Kokula's, the owner Mr. Taran, the address: Beach Road (an extension of the main Kalkudah road), Passikudah (Kalkudah), the numbers: 060 2641431 or 065 2257484 or 077 6327842 (mobile). That is the nearest to the beach.

If you are not happy with it, or find it full, there are at least two more in Kalkudah: New Land, Mr. Runi, Kalkudah Rd. (the main road there), tel. 065 5680440 or 077 9231403 (mobile). Decent rooms with bathroom, very clean, from 500 RS. Or Simla Inn, Mrs. Victoria, just a little bit more down the road, tel 077 6031272, currently under renovation but she told me that they will re-open soon with rooms starting at 500 RS. Between these two, another one which appears to be closed right now, but I copied the info from the road sign: New Pearl Inn, tel. 2257987 (no area code indicated).

Whatever your choice, make sure to include the use of a bicycle in the deal, because Kalkudah is not always served with buses from Valaichchennai, which stays some 4 or 5 km away, really too much to walk it everyday. From Valaichchennai there are many buses to Batticaloa or Polonnaruwa, and the train too (not many trains stop there though: you will need to collect the full information at the ticket window). This morning I came to Batticaloa by bus: 32 km in one hour, including 2 checkpoints where everybody had to get down.

Be informed also that the area there is quite well guarded by lots of military and police. I think that it has been one of the main troubled areas in this war... So consider this matter, too.

As to Trincomalee: in the town itself I saw a quite nice beach from the bus, not opening on the China Bay gulf, but directly on the ocean on the eastern side, near the stadium and central bus stand. I saw some people there but not too many. Problem is I could not find and decent accommodation at a reasonable price in Trinco town. Going up North, the extension of Trincomalee called "Allens Garden", towards Uppuveli, offers a group of cheap guesthouses all owned by the same family. The exact location of this group is "French Gardens". One is called "Anton's", another one "French", the third one "Sampran" or something like that. They are all almost adjacent, but I saw poor rooms not so well maintained, starting from 600 RS. Then there are other accommodations around but immediately up to 1'200 and more (much more). One is the New Sea Lord Hotel, ask about it, everybody knows it. It is the only middle of the way solution (1'200 RS without AC). For those who can afford it, there is an Italian-run guesthouse called Palm Beach. Rooms starting from 2000 RS, owners nice people. But the problem there, besides the accommodation, is the beach: long and nice natural setting, but dirty, lots of garbage around, and water not clear, full of little weeds while I was there.

Much better beach up in Nilaveli. Huge in length, very wide, cleaner than the one just described (but not perfectly clean, garbage here and there), and water a little better too (but not perfectly clear, neither). Good beach for families and children, similar in quality to the Passikudah beach, where the water however looks better to me.

If you choose Nilaveli, be sure to select a hotel that will fulfill all of your needs, because up there you are really isolated, there is nothing around, you are even far from the road 1 km or so, you will have to depend almost entirely on the hotel. You can catch a bus to Trinco on the main road, but then you will have to go trhough all of those checkpoints. That is why I don't see it as a good option for budget travellers. Anyway, I spent one night in a "Mauro" hotel where I was the only guest. The rooms were just acceptable for the 1'000 RS they charged me (after bargaining). They have a nice little swimming pool, too. Tel: 026 4920633, or 4595323.

Regards, Ticino

Ticino
Level Contributor
74 posts
1. Re: Eastern beaches report

Hallo, the day after writing the above, I "discovered" Kalkudah beach. It was a bit complicated by the fact that the direct access is currently blocked by armed forces, so I had to ask for instructions and find my way around to get there.

WOW! It was really worthy. If Passikudah gets my personal best-water-in-SL nomintaion until now, Kalkudah gets the best-beach nomination for sure. Perhaps 30 m. wide, of which ab. 20 m. dry white sand with almost no human-made garbage around; plus ab. 10 m. wet sand (water-flowing area), clean, just a very few little green weeds here and there. Lenght: to the north, maybe 7 or 8 hundred m. from the point where I accessed it, until you rich the remains of a bridge or peer made of big stones. After that, the beach virtually disappears and the coast becomes ugly again, I suppose until you go around the headland and reach the Passikudah gulf from there, with some coral reef at a short distance from the coast, as I witnessed the previous day coming down from Passikudah. To the south: as far as the look can go. Nobody around except a very few scattered fishermen you may meet from time to time. Some dogs, some nice birds flying in from time to time. Water: quite clear like in Pasikudah, but streaming in much faster, many waves with white foam, not ideal for swimming or for little children (excepet the large water-flowing area). An evidence that the water in this area is clearer, is given by the fact that the sand of the beach does not show any black shades of dirt like I saw almost everywhere else (from Waeligama to Unawatuna to Hikkaduwa and even a little in Nilaveli).

The dry part of the beach, however, is scattered with natural debris such as coconut shells and dried-up cows' defecations. Good material for a night fire...

After seeing also this beach, I personally promote Kalkudah-Passikudah to the best beach area I've visited in Sri Lanka until now. If you add the availability of cheap but decent accommodation and food in the guesthouses nearby, it makes it almost an ideal place for isolated vacations. You will be out of the world for a while. The nearest town, Valaichchenai, is 3 or 4 km. away and nothing more than a market street with a couple of banks (not sure if they have ATM). No working Internet point right now there: the only available one is down. The railways station is another 2 km. further, on the main road. The nearest big town is Batticaloa, only 32 km from Valaichchenai, but it may take up to 2 hours to get there by bus, due to traffic and check-points. And in Batticaloa there is not much more than in Valaichchenai, as I could judge. I hardly found one working Internet point. More banks with ATM, yes.

And, as I said in another topic, it is not so quick and simple to get there by public transport, from Colombo. Probably the best way would be taking the Intercity train Colombo-Batticaloa (I think there is one daily, maybe somebody can confirm?), and then a bus from Batticaloa, if possible all the way to Kalkudah (there are but they are sporadic), or else to Valaichchennai town, from where you may have to resort to a three-wheeler.

Kalkudah and Passikudah were not always that much abandoned and isolated. They had their golden age of tourism, especially Passikudah, brutally ended by the war in the '80s. All the hotels there had to close down in 1985 because the authorities had closed the area to tourists. A man-made disaster for the area, which paved the way to total distruction through the natural catastrophe that followed 20 years later. There were 3 hotels, I was told: two in Passikudah, and you can observe their ruins from the beach; one in Kalkudah, but I could not locate it. People in their 50's whom I met there, cherish their memories of the golden age. Some of them used to work in the hotels and showed me discolored pictures of their foreign tourist friends, or an old hotel brochure kept like a holy relic.

Auckland, NZ
Level Contributor
22 posts
6 reviews
2. Re: Eastern beaches report

Keep posting please Ticino62, your observations and the info relayed is keenly observed by this "soon to be there" traveler.

Ticino
Level Contributor
74 posts
3. Re: Eastern beaches report

OK Balinova so take note that the "New Pearl Inn", mentioned in the opening post, is definitely closed: they took down the sign from the street the day after I posted their phone number here... Perhaps somebody should inform Lonely Planet about that, as I saw that this guesthouse is mentioned in their latest edition.

On the other hand I found myself very well also at

"The New Land", where, due to the economic price of the room, I could afford a half board and was happy with it. The owner, Mr. Runi, has some working experience in hotel industry (he is one of those nostalgic ones who were working in the Passikudah hotels) and you can feel it. Rooms are very modest though, in line with the price: don't expect luxury! In addition, "The New Land" is further from the beaches than "Kokula's"; yet, it is closer to the town: depends what is more important for you.

And one more thing, about the beaches and the water: they are very good, but still not quite the perfect tropical beaches with crystal-clear water and blinding white sand... Just getting closer to it. Based on the old photos and brochure I saw, the beaches were better at that time, during the golden era, because taken care of; and they were even wider, as it seems that after the Tsunami, the sea has eaten up a few meters of beach.

And I forgot to mention that there are now rumours, according to which one of the hotels will start rebuilding from next year. It should be the most famous of the three, named "Imperial Oceanic". The other two, if I understood well, were named "Sun On Fun" and "Suntan Beach" (?!?). Here a picture I found on the Web of Passikudah beach with the remains of the hotels: …flickr.com/1283/552627207_c9e92063a1.jpg…

Notice that while I was there, the water was much smoother that it looks in this photo: no waves at all.

Finally, on the old, abandoned road that leads from Kalkudah to Passikudah, the road that used to serve as access to the hotels, I saw another guesthouse, apparently closed, but I memorized name and number from the road sign anyway, just in case...: "Pasikudah Inn", tel. 077 6985361 (hope it's right, I did not have my notebook with me at the moment). This just to complete the information.

Regards, Ticino

Preston
Level Contributor
491 posts
7 reviews
4. Re: Eastern beaches report

This is by far the best recent account of this area that I have seen anywhere on the internet, really first rate.

I made a brief visit to Batti last year and want to spend some more time along this coast in December 09 so everything you've write is very useful.

Thank you

Mark.

Preston
Level Contributor
491 posts
7 reviews
5. Re: Eastern beaches report

correction: I want to do this coast this December (08)

6. Re: Eastern beaches report

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