Blessed by one of the world’s finest natural harbours, Trincomalee (or ‘Trinco’ as it’s commonly known) was contested for centuries by European powers. Its strategic importance on the island’s northeastern coast saw it evolving into a vital British naval base during the Second World War. The recent ‘peace dividend’ (resulting from the demise of the Tamil Tigers) means Trinco and adjoining regions finally seem set to leave behind their ethnically-fraught recent past.
The island’s dry east coast has always been sparsely populated and something of a world apart. Yet here stretch some of Sri Lanka’s emptiest and most idyllic beaches, among them Nilaveli which, at around 5 miles (8km), is among the longest on the island. Accessible by boat, nearby Pigeon Island provides added interest for snorkelers and divers. In the town itself, the 17th century Portuguese fort (now called ‘Fort Frederick’), Swami Rock and a cliff-side temple along with the views from Orr’s Hill provide plenty of agreeable distraction from days of endless relaxation on the beach.