Bask in the sunshine, feast on fresh seafood and sip a cool, crisp glass of wine in good company. Amble down to the beach in the evening to see the glittering lights of the fishing boats bobbing out on the water.
– Saskia, visited in December 2017 and April 2019
Eight bright bedrooms centred around a funky open-sided courtyard just metres from the beach, Amanta is a relaxed retreat with a focus on fantastic food. French-Sri Lankan owner Tharuka has constructed a small, intimate hideaway on the least developed side of the island, and offers guests a fascinating insight into a quiet corner of Sri Lanka.
Twenty kilometres from historic Trincomalee town and just along from the buzzy beach bars of Uppuveli and Nilaveli, this is an ideal spot to unwind, explore and feast on myriad local delights.
Set around the shared courtyard sitting area and pretty plunge pool, Amanta’s spacious blue-and-white bedrooms ooze beachside chill. Cosy four poster beds take centre stage, facing small private terraces screened off from one another with cinnamon wood fences. Rinse off under the outdoor shower after a paddle in the pool, or perch on the built-in bench with a good book.
Smart polished concrete bathrooms come with rain showers, thoughtful storage spaces and cute toiletries in refillable ceramic containers. Fans and air conditioning keep spaces fresh and cool and in-room kettles ensure there’s tea aplenty — and friendly staff are always happy to make a pot or a mini French press coffee for you.
We’ve always stayed in the comfortable bedrooms of the main building, but the recently built Family Suite offers sleeping space for four people, and a private pool — ideal for those travelling with children.
Do ask owner and manager Tharuka about the hotel’s construction — he designed and built much of it himself using local materials and feels strongly about sustainability and plastic management in the area.
Drinking & dining
Amanta takes its food seriously, with days culminating in convivial candlelit dinners. Breakfast is served in the open-sided restaurant whenever you’re ready — because holidays are for relaxing, not clock-watching — and guests are treated to omelettes, fresh bread with homemade mango jam, fruit platters and excellent tea and coffee.
Grab lunch at the beach-side pavilion or sip smoothies throughout the day, before congregating at the quirky bar for cocktails in the evening. Tharuka delights guests with tall tales of life in France and Sri Lanka from his side of the bar — crafted from a polished aeroplane wing — as tunes waft through the night air.
Every night here is a feast: delectable dishes make the most of local ingredients — including an abundance of seafood — and fabulous flavours abound. The menu changes daily and guests eat at the same time in the restaurant, with Tharuka introducing each course as it appears. This table d’hôte ethos is one of Amanta’s real gems — and made for an incredible Christmas for us here in 2017.
Amanta itself is made for chilling out: hide away on your little terrace, take a dip in the courtyard plunge pool, or catch some rays on the beach before retreating into one of the pretty beach cabanas. You’ll have the turquoise sea to yourselves, and there are acres of sandy beach to wander along — empty save for the fishermen counting their catch.
Explorers and adventurers should find plenty to busy themselves with, too. Head to nearby Pigeon Island for a half-day of snorkelling amongst stripy tropical fish and reef sharks, or take Tharuka up on his offer of a visit to the edge of the jungle at sunset. Here, you’ll taste fruit and follow tracks in the sandy dirt as you skirt the sides of a lake filled with lotus blossoms and birds — with the occasional (slightly unnerving) glimpse of a slinking crocodile. Especially recommended if travelling as a family, this is a seriously cool insight into the magic and magnificence of nature.
A tranquil fishing town centred around the world’s fifth largest natural harbour, Trincomalee (20km away) makes for a lovely wander. Marvel at the morning fish market, lose yourself in little streets lined with brightly painted houses. and sidestep spotted deer trotting along in the shade. Venture beyond the military base on Swami Rock to glimpse the ruins of seventeenth century Fort Frederick and the multi-coloured masterpiece that is the Koneswaram Kovil, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Cool off with a swim in the balmy waters of dazzling Dutch Bay, before heading back to Amanta for a cocktail.
Things we love
• Tharuka’s table d’hôte style and creative cooking make evenings a highlight of every day at Amanta.
• The chilled-out vibe: you can be as sociable or reclusive as you like.
• All the little touches, including a tote bag with towels for the beach
• Tharuka spent years living in France so speaks fluent French: a rare treat for any French holidaymakers in Sri Lanka.
Things to note
• Amanta is secluded: you’ll need to take a three-wheeler or a car into Trincomalee or to other beach spots. This is easy to arrange through Tharuka and his team!
When to visit
Sri Lanka’s east coast is in season from June to September. The hotel is open year-round, but the island is at its hottest in April and the off-season sea is likely to be too rough to swim.
Location & information
The journey from Bandaranaike International Airport to Amanta takes around 6.5 hours by car and 8 hours by train – or you can take a short 1hr15m domestic flight to Trincomalee airport.
No.5 Kumpurupiddi, 31000 Nilaveli, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka