Best Time to Visit: May- October ; ill-advised: December – February
Sri Lanka’s east coast is unquestionably beautiful, but was off the tourist trail for many years due to the long-raging civil war, compounded by the damage wrought in the 2004 tsunami. However, in the years following the civil war's end in 2009, there has been slow and steady reconstruction and the region is now finally looking to the future with renewed confidence. Its major towns – Trincomalee and Batticaloa – are bustling with life and commercial activity while ongoing development promises to finally start unlocking the massive tourism potential of the superb coast – albeit at the inevitable cost of changing its formerly remote and magically unspoilt character for ever. Check out Passikudah Bay for some of the best new hotels.
Further South along the east coast is the small surfer village of Arugam Bay, packed in high season with a younger crowd, an abundance of accommodation. Lovely Arugam Bay, a moon-shaped curl of soft sand, is home to a famed point break that many regard as the best surf spot in the country. It's a tiny place, with a population of a few hundred, and everything is dotted along a single road which parallels the coast.
If you’re not a surfer, there are plenty of other draws: beachfront guesthouses, oceanside restaurants and a mellow, swing-another-day-in-a-hammock kind of vibe, that’s totally removed from the brash West coast beach resorts. Arugam Bay also makes a great base for several adventures in the surrounding hinterland. During the low season (November to April) things get very quiet and some places shut up shop altogether, but it can also be a beautiful time to visit, with few tourists and glistening green landscapes.