Setting off from Colombo at 4:30am meant that reaching the Nilaveli Beach Hotel, 13km north of Trincomalee, in time for lunch was a real possibility. 280km later we pulled into the driveway of the hotel after 6 hours of driving and many an iPod playlist. The journey between Dambulla and Trincomalee, one which I hadn’t experienced before, is fantastic – parts of it felt like we had either been transported to an African safari park or to a drier version of the New Forest on the English south coast.
After six hours in the car it will come as no surprise that we were delighted to reach our destination, The Nilaveli Beach Hotel. The 35 ensuite bedrooms, 2 restaurants, a large swimming pool and a plentiful supply of hammocks scattered between the trees of the shady, sandy garden couldn’t have been more welcome. The hotel is also situated on, without doubt, the best beach I’ve been to in Sri Lanka. The beach itself is about 40 metres wide and it’ll take a good 30 metres walking out to sea until you’ll find the water up to your shoulders. When the sun is shining it’s advisable to wear flip-flops to the water’s edge to avoid burning the soles of your feet on the sand – it really does get that hot. It’s also important not to get fooled by the gentle breeze – don’t forget your suncream, a hat and sunglasses.
For those wanting to try a local excursion I’d recommend the 15 minute boat ride to Pigeon Island – great for a change of scene and a snorkel over the reef.
The Nilaveli Beach Hotel is not 5* deluxe – it is, however, an exceptionally well run hotel with tremendous staff, comfortable, air conditioned rooms and an extremely friendly atmosphere. It’s also on one of the most stunning beaches I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. For anyone willing to endure a few hours on the road, and several security check points on route, I would highly recommend it.
The best season to visit this area is April to September – the climate is dry and the sea calm (until late afternoon when there’s a fairly strong current). Regardless of the season, in my opinion, now is the time to visit – before too many people get wind of just how fantastic Nilaveli Beach is.