Not many tourists visit the north-east of Sri Lanka. The reason is poor infrastructure and recent war in the region. Since we were visiting Anuradhapura, we decided to go to Trincomalee, just to search for some interesting places.
We stopped for the night at a hotel at Nilaveli (there are several hotels on the coast). The price was surprisingly high, $70. This is, of course, a little money for Europe, but in Sri Lanka we stayed in many modern hotels for $40-50. I will not recommend the hotel, as there was no hot water and the toilet was leaking :)
The beaches here are huge and empty. For kilometers around, we were the only people on the beach! Therefore, the beaches of the east coast can be considered a natural landmark in Sri Lanka. I would not go here for a week, but it's a good place to stay for a day or two while traveling around the country. Just keep in mind the strong waves in the ocean.
We planned to go by boat to the coral Pigeon Island, but there were big waves and we could not go there. This island is a great place for snorkeling, you can even see the sharks there. From the only normal hotel on the coast, Nilaveli Beach Hotel (room price starts from $120), the boat goes to the island for about 10 minutes, the cost is $10-15 per boat.
Next we went to Trincomalee, which is just 6 km away. Here we visited an interesting Koneswaram Temple. It is located in the Fort Frederick (1623), which is still used by the military, but the passage to the temple is open. The temple has a very picturesque location and unusual architecture, we strongly recommend visiting it.
Area around Trincomalee is sacred both for the Hindus and Buddhists. Therefore, the recent war here was particularly fierce, as the Tamils and Sinhalese could not divide it. The Koneswaram Temple is a Hindu temple and a place of pilgrimage for the Hindus (8% of the population). The Portuguese destroyed the temple in 1622 and used its pillars for construction of the fort. Many artifacts from the temple were taken to the Museum of Lisbon.
On the outskirts of Trincomalee we saw deer! Imagine wild deer not in the woods, but almost near houses. We feed them, the deer didn't run away. One of them had an injured foot, maybe that was the reason why they stopped at that place. This animal behavior is unusual even to the locals, even a regular bus stopped.
Not far from Nilaveli, we stopped in one very non-touristic place, Kanniya Hot Water Wells (location). People there looked at us like we were aliens. In Sri Lanka everyone looks at you with big eyes, but in the north-eastern part the eyes are twice bigger :)
This is a holy place, the wells previously belonged to the Buddhist monastery complex. It is believed that the water is useful for skin and heals rheumatism. There were many Sri Lankans here.
Getting to Nilaveli and Trincomalee: Trincomalee can be reached by bus from Colombo in 7 hours, there are also buses with air conditioning (6 hours). The buses run frequently. You can get there by night train in 9 hours (the train runs once a day). There is also a train from Kandy.