Sri Lanka Diary: Things To Do in East Coast - Arugam Bay, Yala National Park, Udawalawa, Passikudah

By 11:11 , , , , ,

East Coast
Passekudah, Trincomalee, Arugam Bay, Batticaloa, Nilaveli, Kuchchaveli

Trip route: Negombo-Galle-Mirissa-Arugam bay- Passikudah-Nilaveli-Sigiriya-Colombo
Total Trip duration: 9 days
Type: Family with Kids, leisure
Average Cost: 75k INR (1250 USD approx) excluding flights

Read Here
Day 1 - What to do in Negombo
Day 2 & 3 - Sri Lanka West Coast Beaches


Unlike many other Asian destinations, Sri Lanka is a true year-round holiday destination. You just have to know which side of the island to focus on in any given month, and this is never more important than when planning your beach destination. For that, you can break the weather in two zones. The south-western monsoon brings rain to the south-west of Sri Lanka between May and September, while the dry season in this region runs from December to March. In contrast north and eastern coastal regions of the country, the weather is influenced by the north-eastern monsoon, which brings wind and rain between October and January, and drier weather between May and September.

As with many South-East Asian destinations, the period from December to mid-April is considered the peak season for overall weather and therefore overall visitor numbers. Though that remains a fact you can still choose transition periods often providing the best of both worlds; namely great weather and lower visitor numbers (Bargain deals on Hotels)

Travel Journey (Day 4-6)

Our next leg of travel was still developing East Coast of Sri Lanka. With the are still being commercialised and many places having minimal facilities it promised less crowded pristine beaches all to us. Though the weather forecast was not in our favour what I have learnt during my travels is don't trust the forecasts a lot. I called up my hotels in Arugam Bay area and they confirmed that rain is very minimal this year. The journey time from Mirissa to Arugam Bay is around 6 hours and we thus planned to have a halt in between. There are few major gorgeous destinations in between and one should definitely try to visit them.

Udawalawe National Park

Stretching over a land of 30,821 hectares, Udawalawe National Park is famous for its large population of elephants. Hence, this national park is ideal to observe the herds of marvellous Asian elephants in their unique natural habitats. It is known that about 400 elephants in total are sustaining here while about 250 of them are considered as permanently resident and the probability of encountering one such herd is higher as compared to any other parks in Sri Lanka. We also met one and offered them Bananas which they gleefully obliged by devouring all of them.

Average cost of Jeep Safari for couple: USD 95
Accommodation: Not many good options, better to stay in Galle or Mirissa and take a jeep from there

Sinharaja Rain Forest

Sinharaja Rain Forest (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), is the last viable remnant of Sri Lanka’s tropical lowland rainforest spanning an area of 18900 acres. It a wonderful conserved rainforest which gives tourist two trails to enjoy the place to its full though beware of leaches :). The forest is densely crowded with tall trees growing in close proximity and winding trails make the trekking a paradise. Small streams of crystal-clear cool water, that is home to a variety of fish, toads and crabs, crisscross the trails being home to mixed species of birds. As we heard a moderate difficulty level fo treks we decided to skip this for the time because of the kids.

Sinhagala Nature Trail

Trailhead: Entrance to the protected area, Kudawa Conservation Centre, Weddagala, Kalawana
Trail end: Sinhagala Peak
Length of the trail: 2.4 km
Rise in elevation gain along the trail: 300m at Trail Head: 473m at Trail End
Approximate time: 5-7 hours
Hiking Season: Best months are December to April

Mulawella Nature Trail

Trailhead: Entrance to the protected area, Kudawa Conservation Centre, Weddagala, Kalawana
Trail end: Mulawella Peak
Length of the trail: 2.4 km
Rise in elevation along the trail: 457m at Trail Head to 758m at Trail End
Approximate time: 1-2 hours
Hiking Season: Best months are December to April

Yala National Park

Yala is an ideal place to spot the “big four” of Sri Lankan wildlife, the elephants, the sloth bear, the elusive leopard and the wild buffalo. We also saw roaming elephant herds at the small-scale reservoirs. According to recent studies, Yala is said to have the highest concentration of the elusive Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya). The Sri Lankan leopard is also known to be the biggest of the eight known species of leopards’ world over, with the possible exception of Amur leopards. The leopards are more elusive and primarily nocturnal in other countries but are easier to spot in Sri Lanka than any other place in the world due to the lack of any other predators’ presence.

When to visit?
Throughout the year but best in June to September
Park opening hours
6 am to 6 pm
Mode of Game Drive -
by Jeep cost, approx 150 USD for a safari could be shared by 6-8.

The park is huge and could be roamed only by a 4-wheel drive due to muddy roads. Although our driver was a decent one and was trying best to avoid potholes still if you are with Kids it is very tiring for them and should be avoided.

Arugam Bay:

We reached our hotel in Arugam bay - The Bay vista around late lunch time. The hotel and town as such were completely deserted on account of it not being the peak season and which was good as we could roam around the town very leisurely as well as bad because that meant most of the eateries were closed. There are some very good hotels nearby with their own private beaches and should be a better catch the hotels like Roccas which has a well maintained swimming pool overlooking the sea. As the area is still gaining popularity so the government is yet to invest more in this area which was quite evident as beaches in front of our hotel were crowded by fishermen and their boats. The main beach of Arugam bay was not very clean although the high waves at evening made us realise why this has emerged as the most famous surfing destination in the country.

What to See?

Own the Road - Arugam Bay
we ventured to see some offbeat beaches and got the feeling that even now this sleepy town has many areas under control of Military camps reminding how critical its position was during Wartime. Almost all the famous surfing points as mentioned below have direct access blocked by Sri Lanka military but you always have shortcuts to the place but that could be accessed via Tuk Tuks only. This though has the advantage that beaches are relatively clean and not commercialised. The main destinations we covered were the following one -

1. Arugam bay Point:  this is the surf spot actually located in Arugam Bay.  Every morning you’ll see dozens of surfers out there catching some quality waves.  This is recommended more for intermediate to advanced surfers.

2. Whiskey Point:  About a 15-minute drive from Arugam Bay is this famous surf spot.  It’s a really beautiful beach as well and can provide some excellent waves for beginner surfers.  You’ll also notice heaps of people on surfing lessons.

3. Peanut Farm:  As per us the most beautiful of all and well maintained by Army. Only about 25 minutes from Arugam Bay this is awesome tucked away beach/surf spot.  Very popular, and highly recommend.
4. Panama Tank: Believe it or not but its a surreal site to drive through a narrow road with water on both sides and get this filled with crocodiles, yes you heard it right this place is famous for real-life crocodiles. Any night drive should be avoided for obvious reasons.
5. Panama Beach: A very direct to approach and clean beach with crystal clear water and stone cropping making this one of the most picturesque ones out of all available ones. The drive time was around 30 minutes but in opposite direction to Peanut Farm beach. The waves are less strong here as compared to Arugam Bay and ideal for a family outing with kids.


 No entry ticket for any of the beaches
Tuk-Tuk rides are around 500 rupees one-way to Whiskey Point & Peanut Farm.

Where to Stay?

The place has limited high-quality hotels as compared to the western side of Sri Lanka but you hardly feel the difference as you are hardly inside the hotel. The best of the lot are Bay Vista, Roccos, Spice Garden and Blue Wave. All of them have decent rooms and access to the beach is within few minutes. The food is also decent and you might get your hand on Indian food in this area quite easily.

Another option which I came to know while talking to the locals is the availability of Beachfront villas and bungalows which at less than half the price give you private beaches along with an excellent stay option. The only challenge being you will have to arrange for your own food from nearby restaurants.


One of the most famous destinations of eastern Sri Lanka and is dotted with all the major hotel and resorts. all the hotels have their own private beaches and are thus the most famous destinations on this side of the Srilankan coast. Though all this tranquillity and beauty comes at a steep price, but I guess when you are on a holiday you can splurge a bit. 
This place lies exactly between Arugam-Bay and Trincomalee and is an ideal spot for a break if you are on a road trip across this like us. We enjoyed the beach which was though filled with people but even then was very pristine. The waves are also not very high and it makes an ideal spot to build sand castles with your kids. 


Food choices in this area are limited by the resort you are staying in as there is hardly any other good alternative. But even the resorts know it and hence they have all the cuisine in their in-house restaurants.

Where to Stay

As I mentioned the place has a plethora of good choices including - 

You Might Also Like