Best Snorkelling Spots In Sri Lanka
Are you looking for the best snorkelling spots on the island that will make your romantic holiday more memorable? With a countless variety of nature parks and wildlife reserves to visit in Sri Lanka, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Grab your snorkels and get ready to explore the colourfully vibrant world that flourishes beneath the warm, glistening ocean waters; just a few steps away from the tanned shores.
Hikkaduwa National Park
Hikka, as it’s better known, is a popular holiday destination for locals and tourists alike, as its sun-kissed shores have been a beach lovers getaway for years! The Hikkaduwa National Park is set just off the coast of the island, and the only way to access it is by a quick boat ride. The area was declared a national park in order to protect the damaged coral and encourage rehabilitation. Today, it is home to over 60 species of the coral and is teeming with a variety of colourful marine life. Set out in the morning to explore the thriving waters, as the waters are calmer and there’s higher visibility compared to the afternoons and evenings. The ideal time to visit the beaches on the south coast (which includes swimming and snorkelling in them) is between the months from November to April.
Devil’s Island (sometimes referred to as Devil Rock) is located off the coast of Weligama. The ‘Sandy Village’ is a southern town just a 30 min drive from Galle and is a seaside paradise, with golden sandy beaches and clear blue water. Although most popular as a surfing destination, it is also a great snorkelling destination. Devil’s Island is a few meters away from the mainland which is surrounded by rocks that have now been overrun by corals, making for a wonderful snorkelling point.
Pigeon Island, Nilaveli
Situated about 1km away from Nilaveli beach in Trincomalee, Pigeon Island is the country’s best known marine national park. Although it was declared a national park to protect the Blue Rock Pigeons who roost on the rocky island, today Pigeon Island is perhaps the country’s premier snorkelling point. The park has some of the best remaining coral reefs which attract a myriad of fish as well as the occasional sea turtle and reef shark. The multicoloured coral set against the blue water is extremely beautiful and might even be tempting to touch, but remember that this could be fatal to the corals! During your snorkelling excursion, respect the wildlife and always keep a safe distance from marine life.
Mirissa is best known for being the country’s number one site for whale watching, but a little known fact is that it’s also a great place for snorkelling. The season to visit Mirissa is from November to April, and this is when the sea is at its calmest which makes it perfect for swimming and exploring the world beneath the ocean surface. A great spot for snorkelling is around the small rocky outcrop known as Parrot Rock. Surrounded by colourful corals that are home to a plethora of marine life, snorkel with your partner here, but remember to bring your own gear too. If you’re looking for other date nights to take your partner on, check out this guide.
2km off the coast of Kalpitiya, you will find Bar Reef which is the largest coral reef and protected marine area in Sri Lanka. Since it doesn’t get as many tourists as the other reefs, Bar Reef remains relatively untouched and it makes for a great snorkelling experience without the crowds. These pristine waters boast some of the best coral species on the island, and you will also get to see some of its interesting inhabitants like sea turtles, manta rays, and the occasional reef shark. The best time to visit is from December to March, where the two of you can easily enjoy a romantic snorkelling excursion.
One of Pasikudah’s key characteristics is that it has one of the longest stretches of shallow coastline, making it an ideal place for a lazy beach swim, as you could walk nearly a kilometre into the water and still be able to stand! There are two reefs which the two of you can visit; Pasikudah Reef and Mushroom Reef. To make this excursion even more romantic, rent a private boat and set sail to your snorkelling excursion. Also, if you are more adventurous couple, check out the remnants of the HMS Hermes, a World War II shipwreck, which is an excellent diving spot.