Prior to the severe destructions by a cyclone in December 1964, it was the terminus of a ferry service to India across the very shallow Palk Bay. The ferry service was part of the Indo-Lanka Railway service, where passengers were ferried between Talaimannar and Dhanushkodi on Rameswaram island in India. The pier was served by a station of the Sri Lanka Government Railway. The train services are currently discontinued and the track abandoned up to Medawachchiya junction. Presently, work is being done to resume the service by rebuilding the rail line from Talaimannar to Medawachchiya.
The town can be reached by a road from Mannar which links the island to the rest of the country through a causeway.
Talaimannar is about 18 miles East of Dhanushkodi. A chain of sand shoals between Talaimannar and Danushkodi, has the only land border between India and Sri Lanka, which is the smallest in the world, being just 50 yards in length on a sand dune.