Deadvlei from above (the famous dead trees are the dark spots at the far end)
Deadvlei from above (the famous dead trees are the dark spots at the far end)
We couldn't even put a dent in the complimentary minibars
We couldn't even put a dent in the complimentary minibars

Nilaveli Beach

Asia, Sri Lanka Comments Off
Sep 152011

Nilaveli, one of the better-known beaches along Sri Lanka’s northeast coast is still trying to get back on tourists’ itineraries. The area was ravaged by the tsunami in 2004 and was a hot-spot in the Sri Lankan civil war for many years but things are changing now.

The biggest difficulty we faced in visiting Nilaveli was finding an affordable place to stay. Many of the hotels and resorts were destroyed in the tsunami and were never rebuilt, in fact you can see the decaying remains of many of them along some parts of the beach. There were a limited number of high-end resorts that were still operating but these were largely out of our price range. We were seeing rates of $100 and up per night – crazy expensive by Sri Lanka’s standards!

Amy eventually turned up a midrange option called the Seaview that had availability for our dates. We paid 3,600 rupees (US$34) per night for a fan “garden view” room. The room definitely wasn’t one of our best-value digs in Sri Lanka but it was adequate.

The beach itself was gorgeous. Nice soft sand that went on for miles and miles with hardly a soul. The area directly in front of our guesthouse seemed to be pretty popular with domestic tourists and, much to my surprise, there was even a lifeguard!

Pidgeon Island National Park, named for the birds which nest there, is just offshore from Nilaveli. We hired a boat and made a day trip out there for some snorkeling. I saw a black-tip reef shark, some lion fish and quite a few eels. The small harbor where most people snorkel was nice because the bottom drops away rather quickly and much of the coral hasn’t been trampled.

Seeing the sunrise was something we enjoyed each day of our stay. It seemed quite popular with the Sri Lankans as well. One morning while we were out for a sunrise walk a boy who was maybe 12 or 14 struck up a conversation with me. It quickly went from the usual “Where are you from?” to “Can I have you watch?” and I started to wonder if this little brat was going to rob me. Eventually some older folks walked over and I surmised that they were his family and they were all here on vacation on a village near Kandy. He behaved himself after that and the only other thing they asked me for was a group photo.

A family on vacation insisted that I take their photo.
A family on vacation insisted that I take their photo.

In the end we only stayed two nights at Nilaveli. The beach was really nice but food options were quite limited and, honestly, Amy and I aren’t the type to lounge for days on end at the beach. We return to Trinco on our third day and caught a bus back inland to Anuradhapura in the cultural triangle.

Nilaveli Beach
Crows are everywhere in Sri Lanka.
Crows are everywhere in Sri Lanka.
A family on vacation insisted that I take their photo.
A family on vacation insisted that I take their photo.
How about this stylin life jacket?
How about this stylin life jacket?
A dung beetle!  That's nearly a tennis-ball-sized ball of poo.
A dung beetle! That’s nearly a tennis-ball-sized ball of poo.

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