Still largely untouched by tourism, Sri Lanka's east coast is a glorious swathe of pristine golden sands, fringed by palm trees, laid-back fishing villages and meandering lagoons. Kalkudah Beach is its poster child, a 12km stretch of shoreline sprinkled with coconut plantations and cashew groves, and at the time of writing there is only one hotel here - the blissfully low-key Karpaha Sands. Trincomalee is the coast's capital, a small, colourful town with a handful of Hindu temples; further south, Batticaloa is a sedate colonial Tamil town ringed by lagoons. Passikudah is the busiest spot, a well-developed bay home to high-end resort-style hotels, offering a range of watersports. Also known as the 'sunrise' coast, the east's monsoon season is in direct opposition to the west's; Jan-September is the dry season, and May-August is the very best time for flat seas, coastal swimming and blazing sunshine.