In common with Wilpattu and other northern and eastern areas, Trincomalee and Nilaveli were off limits during the war against the Tamil Tigers. Now they are once more firmly on the map, offering more attractive beaches than the southwest coast, whale watching, cultural sites and good snorkelling.
Trincomalee has the second largest natural harbour in the world, which made it ideal as the base for the combined Allied East Asian fleets during WWII after the fall of Singapore. The town also has the colonial Fort Frederick, and the Hindu Koneswaram temple constructed atop Swami Rock. At 426 feet above the Bay of Bangal, Swami Rock is also known as Lovers Leap in reference to the attempted suicide of the lovelorn daughter of a Dutch general in colonial times. Fort Frederick illustrates the changing colonial conquests of Sri Lanka (and much of the East): it was built by the Portuguese in 1623, captured and restructured by the Dutch in 1639, then taken by the French in 1672 and finally captured then rebuilt in 1803 by the British.
Further up the coast is Nilaveli and environs, an area of beautiful sandy beaches, good resorts and coral reefs. Diving and snorkelling can be enjoyed on the offshore reefs and at Pigeon Island, as well as swimming in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. In season, March to August, blue whales can be seen offshore on dedicated boat trips.