Marble Beach Airforce Resort.

The best beach in Sri Lanka. That’s a bold claim but I’ll stand by it. I’ve been beach hunting in out of the way parts of the country for years and I’ve never found anything that surpasses Marble Beach. On a clear day during the east coast season not Hawaii or even the Maldives is better. Equal maybe but you cant really beat perfection. This is simply the post-card perfect, castaway beach from your imagination incarnate. Crystal clear, dazzlingly blue water with gentle transparent waves rolling towards powder-white sand. Lush scrub jungle reaches from the edge of the sand up the adjacent hill. The proximity of a living forest means you can see monkeys and peacocks even as shoals of brightly colored fish swim around your ankles – an experience the Maldives will never match. You also aren’t ever going to be alone on a Maldivian-resort’s stretch of sand, while you still stand every chance of being the only person on Marble beach.

From childhood memories of paddling in the calm, shallow water enthralled by the angel and butterfly fish you can see just meters from shore to last season’s experiments with scuba-gear this little cove is the repository of all my best memories of the sea. What makes the place so unique – a still, clear bit of sea in a island where, relatively, big surf is the norm, is the fact that it’s located within Trincomalee’s expansive natural harbor. So it’s sheltered without being lagoon-flat. That it’s located within the Trincomalee Airforce base also means its been off-limits or very difficult to gain access to for years- inconvenient, but its kept the place utterly pristine.

So when I first heard that the Airforce was developing a hotel on Marble Beach I literally couldn’t sleep for fear that a concrete monstrosity was about to shatter this piece of tropical perfection.
Fortunately, however, the airforce has, to it’s eternal credit, built a small number of comfortable chalets that take little away from the beaches absolute perfection. Clean, air conditioned with modern bathrooms and cute white-washed verandas that look out over the turquoise bay and the islands beyond, the air force-resort’s rooms are pretty much hotel standard. Though we aren’t talking Kandalama resort standard or anything.

The service, as its largely provided by air-force personnel, is also not quite typical for a hotel but the young cadets, and lieutenants are efficient and enthusiastic. The food is inexpensive and really quite good. I suspect youre eating what air-force officers eat and air-force officers eat well. Prawns, thick hunks of honey glazed pork, copious quantities of feather-light string hoppers served with a galaxy of different sea-food oriented curries.

The location is unbeatable – the only hotel on the best beach in an island blessed with many excellent beaches, and while the facilities aren’t quite posh resort-standard they are fine and the food is good. At rs 11 000 for a double room with breakfast you are paying just under resort prices for not quite star class resort rooms but that’s really not the point. You are being admitted into the little fraternity of Marble Beach – it would be worth it at double the price. These days a room in the Maldives is $500.

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