Best Snorkelling Spots In Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, fondly referred to as ‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, is unbridled in its wildlife and natural beauty. While the island itself is incredibly beautiful, being home to a variety of animals- elephants, leopards, and sloth bears to name a few- its seas also host some of the most amazing reefs and aquatic life. There are many great spots for snorkelling, but here are the best of the best for you and your partner to enjoy.
Hikka, as it’s better known, is probably Sri Lanka’s most famous beach and it is a popular holiday destination for locals and tourists alike. While most visit Hikka for its beaches, it is also home to one of the country’s two marine national parks. Hikkaduwa National Park is situated off the coast of the island, and the only way to access it is by a quick boat ride. The primary purpose of the park was to help protect the damaged coral, and today it is home to over 60 species of the coral and is teeming with a variety of colourful fish. The best time to visit the park is in the morning when visibility is at its highest, between November and April.
Weligama, which translates to ‘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. Most people visit Weligama since it is one of the premier surfing locations on the south coast, but it is also an excellent snorkelling destination. There is a small islet- called ‘Devil’s Island’- a few meters away from the mainland which is surrounded by rocks which have now been overrun by corals, making for a wonderful snorkelling point.
Pigeon Island, Nilaveli
Situated about 1km away from Nilaveli beach, 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 it is as though you have entered another world.
Mirissa is best known for being the country’s number one site to go whale watching, but a little known fact is that it’s a great place to go snorkelling. The season to visit Mirissa is from November to April, and this is when the sea is at its calmest making it ideal for swimming. A great spot for snorkelling is around the small rocky outcrop known as Parrot Rock. This islet is surrounded by coral and the clear water makes it perfect for snorkelling since visibility will not be an issue.
2km off the coast of Kalpitiya, you will find Bar Reef which is the largest coral reef and the largest 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 period to visit is from December to March, and you and your partner are guaranteed to enjoy this snorkelling point as it will be far more intimate.
Koggala is another beachside town on the south coast of Sri Lanka, and while it has some amazing- uncrowded- beaches, Koggala is a great snorkelling point. While you’re there you can ask your hotel to recommend a tour agency who will organise everything for you. You could also go on a river safari along the Koggala River as it has some of the best mangroves.
One of Passikudah’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 because you could walk nearly a kilometre into the water and still be able to stand! There are two reefs which you and your partner must visit when you’re here; Passikudah Reef and Mushroom Reef. To make this excursion even more romantic, rent a boat just for you and your partner. Also, if you are a more adventurous couple you could check out the remnants of the HMS Hermes, a World War II shipwreck, which is an excellent diving spot.