Kalkudah & Passekudah

To the north of Batticaloa, two fine curves of swimming beach nuzzle either side of the palm-tipped Kalkudah headland. Long touted as the east coast’s touristic crown jewels, they had been recovering from years of civil-war damage when the 2004 tsunami obliterated everything. One day this lovely area is likely to be redeveloped, but for now the few who venture out here have virtually the whole place to themselves.

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The smaller, safer, if less majestic, beach is Passekudah, to the north. There’s a ghoulish fascination in exploring the concrete skeletons of two former resort hotels that had been sabotaged by the LTTE during the civil war to prevent their use as army strongholds. They’re probably free of land mines but it definitely pays to be cautious.

The longer, creamier-coloured Kalkudah Bay Beach is one of those paradisal postcard-perfect scenes dotted with occasional fishing boats and backed by palm plantations. The easiest beach approach is now blocked by an army camp at the end of the Valaichchenai–Kalkudah road. To reach the sand, bypass the camp and use the partly rebuilt beach-access lane 800m further southwest.