A few metres into the sea, pastel yellow butterflies flutter over contrasting bright blue waves and little fish playfully skip above the soft waves. The scene is positively surreal, but the motorboat speeds further into the ocean towards something more exciting that lies in wait for us. A wildlife expert, the motorboat driver and I, are cutting through the crystal waters of the East coast off Trincomalee to be exact.
Heading towards Pigeon Island, we pass more than seemingly ethereal fauna. From remnants of bombed buildings along the coast- a reminder of the recent war, to relics of solid stone British bunkers built during the Second World War dotting the ocean, unyielding as waves crash upon them.
Thankfully with the end of the war, the coast that was closed to the public has been reopened, giving people the opportunity to see a part of the island rich in scenic beauty, history and aquatic life. The peak of the rocky hilltop of Pigeon Island rises into view and the boat speeds up. Soon we’re on the white sand of the island and a breakfast buffet is laid out on the shore. It’s 8 a.m., and the spread of bite-sized rottis, kimbula bunis, croissants, doughnuts and slices of fresh fruit, is more than enticing. After a satisfying beach breakfast organised by Chaaya Blu Trincomalee, the hotel staff escorts us to the bay where I snap on snorkelling gear and dip into the shallow water.
After a thrilling underwater experience, I’m back in the motorboat in search of whales and dolphins this time. The sea however is getting rough and the expedition is cut short for safety reasons.
That was the morning of day one at Chaaya Blu- Trincomalee. With friendly and experienced staff and some activities available for the more adventurous, the resort certainly offers more than accommodation. There’s snorkelling, whale watching, excursions to the Trincomalee fort and joining the fisherman in casting the maadala (a unique local mechanism of fishing) and plans are being made to include more activities to provide guests a more exciting Trinco-experience.
Previously known as Club Oceanic, the John Keells Group has completely renovated the old hotel at a cost of Rs. 450 million. It is now of four star quality, and has a chic and energetic design. Revamped by well known architect, Channa Daswatte, the resort is predominantly white with a splash of denim blue which represents the ocean and a hint of orange which represents the sun.
Its groovy 70’s feel, will have you wish you had packed your bellbottoms and clogs. The 70’s ambience is particularly discernible in the lobby where large circular pillars are covered in neatly arranged square pieces of mirror, instantly reminding you of disco balls.
Explaining his design Channa says that having been built in the 70’s, the architecture of Club Oceanic was influenced by that era. “I tried to pick up the spirit of that period of design,” he says, elaborating “I didn’t want to reconstruct the hotel. The biggest changes were to the roof of the restaurant and the swimming pool. “
He adds that the pool was designed in such a way that it obstructed the view of the ocean for those swimming in the pool, and that the present design will draw eyes to the beautiful Trinco sea.
While the sea is enough reason to visit the area, Chaaya Blu is striving to provide guests with a full experience of Trincomalee, looking beyond the white sand and bright sparkling ocean. For more information visit the Chaaya Blu website: http://www.chaayahotels.com/ChaayaBlu.htm