Explore the Eastern Maritime Province (EMP)

 
Places of Interest

Eastern Maritime Province (EMP) consists of the districts of Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara. The province is called Nagĕnahira Palāta in Sinhala and Kilakku Mākāṇam in Tamil. 

 

The east coast of Sri Lanka is unique as it differs from stretch to stretch along the more than 300km coastline from the Kumbukkan Oya in the southeast to Kokkilai in the northeast. The EMP coast is dotted by estuaries and lagoons, the largest being Batticaloa Lagoon, Tambalagam Bay, Kokkilai Lagoon, Upaar Lagoon and Ullackalie Lagoon. The eastern seaboard with the most number of submarine canyons attracts oceanicc marine life closer to shore than other parts of Sri Lankan waters. It is the most magnificent and quietest coast, and offers several superlative maritime sights and activities.

Kokkilai

Kokkilai is located in Mullaitivu District and Trincomalee District, north-east Sri Lanka. The town is situated on a sand bar between Kokkilai lagoon and the Bay of Bengal. Kokkilai Lagoon Santuary is a vast estuarine lagoon and a paradise for bird watchers.

 

Sights & Activities

Kokkilai Lagoon | Bird Watching.

Pulmodai

Famed for its minearl rich beaches, nearby caves and recent shipwreck. The mineral rich sand is totally black and contains minerals like Ilmanite, Magnetite and Rootile. Two light towers provide safe navigation path indicators for incoming vessels.

 

Sights & Activities

Pulmodai Beach | Arisimalai Beach | Pulmodai Jetty | Caves | Swimming | Two Light Towers | World Class Shipwreck with large artificial Reef.

 
 
Trincomalee

Trincomalee (ත්‍රිකුණාමළය or திருகோணமலை) is the major resort port city in the EMP with one of the finest natural deep-water harbours in the world. Due to its strategic location in the Bay of Bengal, Trinco as its fondly known is steeped in maritime history from before the 6th century. It is one of the most interesting and magnificent places in the country.

Located at the mouth of the Mahaweli Ganga, the longest and largest river in Sri Lanka, Trinco's is renowned for Fort Fredrick, the largest fort in Sri Lanka. Swami Rock on the tip of Fort Fredrick's promontory is one of the most famous landmarks and covered in legends and history.

 

Sights & Activities

Pristine Beaches | Whale and Dolphin Watching | Snorkelling | Diving | Coral Reefs | Wrecks | Sunken Temple | Fort Fredrick | Swami Rock | Swim with Sharks and Turtles | Trinco Harbour Tour (Pepperpot Jetty) | Fort Ostenburg | Great Sober Island Fort and Sanctuary | Harbour Lighthouses (Foul Point, Round Island, Elizabeth Island and Ostenburg) | Hoods Tower Naval Museum | Residence of the Dutch Naval Commissioner (Museum) | Fisheries Harbour, Cod Bay | Pigeon Island National Park, Nilaveli (overexploited) | Nilaveli, Kuchcheveli and Uppaveli Beaches | Red Rocks.

Some of the finest beaches in the country are found in the Trinco area such as the bays in the outer harbour and beaches at Kuchcheveli and Nilaveli. Close to Nilavel is Red Rocks with its reddish boulders along the beach. With one of the world's largest canyons, Trinco is one of the best places for diversity and abundance of marine life closest to shore.

 
Kalkudah & Passekuda

Kalkudah located 42km north of Batticaloa faces the east and has a calm reef-protected sea. Nearby Passekudah is a shallow bay protected from the ocean, with a flat and sandy bed extending 150 to 200 meters from the shore. The bay is known for its safe beach, crystal clear waters and corals in the outer bay.

 

Sights & Activities

Coral Reefs | Snorkelling | Scuba Diving | Shipwrecks | Watersports | Whale and Dolphin Watching.

Batticaloa

Batticaloa is situated on on a flat coastal plain bounded by the Bay of Bengal in the east and occupies a central part of the EMP. The town borders the immensely picturesque lagoon and several islands within but the main wonder of the lagoon are the singing fish. 

 

The beaches are sandy and located along a 4 km shoreline in the city and further extends north to neighboring towns. They include Kallady beach, Passekuda and Kalkuda. Batticaloa is often skipped for the pristine beaches of Passekuda and Kalkuda.

 

Sights & Activities

Batticaloa Lagoon | Lagoon Boat Safari | Kayaking | Water Sports | Valaichchenai Lagoon | Vakari (Panichchankerni) Lagoon | Puliayantheevu | Buffaloa Island | Bone Island | Singing Fish | Lady Manning Bridge, Kallady | Kallady Lagoon (at full moon) | Batticaloa Lighthouse | Batticaloa Fort | Wreck Dives | Whale and Dolphin Watching | Submarine Canyon.

Oluvil

A commercial and fisheries port city located south of Batticaloa and Kalmunai. The port was opened in 2013. A submarine canyon is located 7.4km from shore. Whale sharks are present.

 

Sights & Activities

Oluvil Port | Lighthouse | Seabirds | Whale Sharks | Submarine Canyon | Whale and Dolphin Watching.

Kalmunai

Located north of Oluvil. There is a noteworthy submarine canyon located 10km from shore and nutrients are fed by Andella Oya.

 

Sights & Activities

Submarine Canyon | Beaches | Seabirds | Whale and Dolphin Watching.

Okanda to Kumbukkan

Located in the southeast corner of EMP, Kumana National Park is the most picturesque area of the dry zone coastline of Sri Lanka and has been declared a wetland of global importance. To most the very name Kumana conjures visions of abundant wealth of avifauna in all its plumed splendour but it is more, much more.

 

The flowing waters of the Kumbukkan Oya, that forms a boundary on the southern side, contrasts with the roar of the surf along the sea coast that flanks Kumana to the east. A succession of saline lagoons along the same coast, each surrounded by extensive plains is a treat to wildlife lovers. A turtle hatchery is located at Kirigalla Bay. Land-based sightings of dolphins and occassional whales are reported along Kirigalla Bay to Okanda.

 

Conditions are good for diving at the Basses only during a brief window during the two intermonsoons. It is best from mid-March to mid-April when winds and undercurrents are at their minimum. The surge and currents can get quite strong here so it is only recommended for fairly experienced divers.

 

Sights & Activities

Kumana National Park | Kumbukkan Oya | Turtle Watching | Seabirds | Land-based Whale and Dolphin Watching | Diving | Coral Reefs | Submarine Canyon | Little Basses Lighthouse | Shipwrecks.

 
 
 
 
 
Lanka Patuna

Lanka Patuna is located 40km south of Koddiyar Bay, Trincomalee on the coastal belt. One of the oldest Buddhist temples “Samudragiri Viharaya” is located here by the beach on fifteen acres of land. The temple overlooks the magnificent ocean, bay and lagoon. It is believed that the Indian Prince Dhantha and Princes Hemamala landed here in the 4th century CE carrying the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha from Kalinga in India.

 

Sights & Activities

Temple | Swimming | Snorkelling.

 
Arugambay

A world renown surfing location and laid back tourist resort just south of Pottuvil in the Ampara District on the southeast coast. The picturesque bay has a wide beach overlooking the surf point. Calm seas are from March - April to October - November. Peak season is May to August.

 

Surfing hot spots in and around Arugambay:

  1. The Point or Arugam Point, is a long right-handed break at the Arugambay headland  which has up to 2m waves and a 400m ride.

  2. Whiskey Point for even beginners. Ten minutes north of Arugambay by tuk-tuk.

  3. Pottuvil Point is a bit smaller than Arugam Point, breaks off a long sandy beach which is capable of providing an 800m ride. About one hour north of Arugambay by tuk-tuk.

  4. Crocodile Rock is a fine spot for beginners and intermediate surfers whenever there’s a sufficient swell. Thirty minutes south of Arugambay by tuk-tuk and a twenty minute walk.

  5. Okanda located near the entrance to Kumana National Park. Forty five minutes south of Arugambay by tuk-tuk.

 

Sights & Activities

Surfing | Swimming | Coral Reef | Snorkelling | Seabird Watching | Crocodile Rock | Kumana National Park | Turtle Watching | Dolphin Watching.

Caution! At Arugam Point it can be dangerously shallow at low tide over the coral reef.  It is advisable to wear booties and if you ride all the way through the best option is to paddle to the beach and walk back out along the beach to the entry point.

 

Eastern Fishermen-at-work

© Howard Martenstyn

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Kuchcheveli Beach

© Howard Martenstyn