Jul 22, 2011

More East Coast Beaches: Kalkudah & Pasicudah

From Arugum Bay, we spent an arduous day travelling northward by bus.  The first 1.5hrs we stood like sardines, with our backpacks stuffed in with us in a hot sweaty crowded bus, while our poor kids squatted on the floor around us.  After a bit of a wait for a bus change, it was another 5hrs before we reached our next destination, Kalkudah Beach.  Once again, it was a hassle to find accommodation, this time due to the fact that it was Saturday when we arrived, and the area was flooded with the ‘weekenders’.  And once again, we eventually found a great place to call home for a few days, a place which really made all the difference to our time here.

We stayed at ‘The New Land Guest House’, which incidentally was highly recommended in the Lonely Planet, but we hadn’t noticed before we got here!  The owner, Mr Runi had clean well priced rooms and was very hospitable.  His palm-tree’d front garden seemed to be a great place for the girls to play as well as offer a nice tranquil environment.  Of course, after a while we got to talking with Runi and he spoke freely of his tsunami experience.  It turns out that he too had a beach front property and house at Kalkudah Beach, but in the early 1980s, the military acquired it as a matter of ‘’national security” for the next 24yrs, without any rent or monetary consideration to him.  This was during the early days of the war with the LTTE.  As such, he moved 1km inland.  On the 26 December, 2004, he was working at a nearby guest house when he noticed a crowd of people on the main road in front of him, running towards the nearby town of Valechchenai.  He initially thought that there was some sort of sporting event going on and even called on some of the local children to join in.  Then the military told him that the ‘sea water’ was coming their way.  Instead of joining them and running away, he ran toward the oncoming water to find his family.  Luckily they were already on their way, and soon they were all safe in Valechchenai, which was 3km away inland.  The sea water had just stopped short of the town.  The military, who had been occupying his house, were killed and he knows that if it weren’t for them, he and his family would be too.  Now the entire beach front of Kalkudah Beach is void of any building and many of the properties, including Runi’s (as the military returned it to him after the tsunami), is up for sale and still littered with remains of the houses that once stood there.  He says that it’s too close to the beach.  After the tsunami, he was able to buy 1 acre of land 1.5km from the beach for a ‘tsunami sale’ price; it is here that he and his family live and have a guest building with 4 rooms and a restaurant.  His wife is renowned for her cooking and we all ate extremely well in our 3.5 days there.
The ruins of a beach-front house at Kalkudah Beach

Kalkudah Beach itself is quiet stretch of beach which has since been flattened by the tsunami.  You can’t help but notice that the shore and the beach are nearly completely flat as is the adjacent beach front land.  Large waves are known to go almost to the grassy edge.  Not many tourists frequent this beach for some reason unknown to us—we found it to be very peaceful as a result, although the waves there could be too strong to comfortably swim in.
Around the point from Kalkudah Beach was the more popular Pasicudah Beach.  Before the war, this beach was a real popular spot with the Sri Lankans and many hotels could be found here.  Tourism was very strong.  During the war, this area was pretty much ‘off limits’, being right in the middle of Tamil country.  Foreigners were not allowed into the area, and even the Sri Lankans stopped coming.  The hotel business dried up; the tsunami wiped out what was left.   The giant waves (a series of 7) also broke up a lot of the reef which lies at the mouth of the bay and the beach is still littered with broken coral along with rubble from destroyed buildings.  But the water is warm and relatively clean and still, so our girls enjoyed swimming in it along with the locals who are now once again flocking here especially on weekends.  Many foreigners are also catching on to this place already; in our time here, we saw about 6 couples and a family of 5 from Belgium.
Pasicudah Beach

Pasicudah Beach

While at Pasicudah Beach one morning, Jim happened to speak with a security guard who was working at the soon-to-be opened ‘change room facility’ at the beach.  He spoke of his life before the tsunami:  he had a beach front property over at Kalkudah Beach and also had a few huts on it which he rented out.  On the morning of the tsunami, he was inland taking one of his 3 children to school.  His wife and 4yr old son were swept away; luckily they found his 7yr old clinging to a coconut tree.  He lost his family and his livelihood in the tsunami and now makes $3 USD/Rs300 per day (12hr day).  He also has this beach-front property for sale as he says that residential homes are not allowed to be constructed there anymore although commercial properties are exempt.  In fact, there are currently 14 hotel projects underway in Pasicudah Beach alone at the moment.  The Maaluu Maaluu Resort, which was just opened at the beginning of the month is currently the only waterfront property here.  Its 40 double-occupancy rooms, which range in price from $350 USD to $450 USD each per night, were completed in just 11 months.  It’s scary to see what the beach front will look like this time next year.
Maaluu Maaluu Resort

Locals heading home and inland at the end of the day.
While there is still a military presence here at Kalkudah and Pasicudah Beaches, it’s fairly low-key and typical to elsewhere in the region.  Although the ceasefire only happened 2yrs ago, they are quickly anticipating a revitalisation in tourism--already the number of guest houses in these past years has triple.  But again, it’s the hotels that are to be found lining the beaches; the locals all live inland now.


  1. A very interesting post Jess, thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for your feedback and your interest!!

  3. really very interesting!