Jaffna Islands

Stretching out into the waters of the Palk Strait, the Jaffna Islands lie to the west of the Jaffna Peninsula. A trip to this string of small islands can feel like journeying to the end of the earth- they are sparsely populated, with white sand, blue sea and palmyra trees. Kayts, Karaitivu and Pungudutivu are connected to the mainland by causeways, whereas Nainativu and Delft can only be accessed by boat. For a relaxing day on the beach, Karaitivu or Kayts are the best opinions, while the more isolated Delft is the place for those seeking to get away from it all. Besides providing a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of the cities, these islands also offer some superb bird-watching.

  • Delft

The most remote of Jaffna’s inhabited islands, Delft is known for its wild ponies, descendants of horses first introduces by the Portuguese. West of the ferry dock stand the ruins of a coral Dutch fort, while to the dock’s south is an immense baobab tree. The island also has some peaceful swaths of sand.

  • Nainativu

This island is great religious importance to Hindus as well as Buddhists. The Naga Pooshani Ambal Kovil is a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Ambal. The Buddhist Nagadipa Vihara features a silver dagobathat marks the spot of the Buddha’s second visit to Sri Lanka. Across the road by bo tree is a seven-headed cobra fountain, where pilgrims often pose for photographs.

  • Kayts

The largest of these islands, Kayts is the nearest to Jaffna. South of the island is the Chatty (Velanai) Beach, a popular stretch of sand. To the northwest is Kayts town, from where are ferries to Karaitivu. The town also affords excellent views of the off-shore Hammenhiel Fort, which dates from the 17th century.

  • Karaitivu

The highlight here is Casuarina Beach, which lies on the north end of the island. Popular with locals and foreign tourists, this beach is safe for swimming. Basic facilities such as changing rooms and toilets are available on the beach.