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Ideal Places for Marine Life Sightings in SL

Sri Lanka is host to some of the most exquisite flora and fauna, and in particular, a fantastic variety of marine animals. Among these are a few rare species which, if you’re lucky, you could spot in the seas encasing the tropical island.

Knowing when and where one must be in order to spot them is essential, as some of these marine animals migrate along the coasts year-round, whereas others only swim into Sri Lanka’s waters during certain months of the year.

Here are five great spots to visit with your family and enjoy Sri Lanka’s thriving marine life.

1. Kalpitiya

Along Sri Lanka’s western coast lies the Kalpitiya peninsula, a tiny stretch of land porturing away from the rest of the island. It is positively teeming with marine life, to which the Bar Reef is a major contributor. Boat rides are available for the curious visitors to explore the reef, where the various tropical fish dot the water with iridescence.

For those who are a little more adventurous, taking a swim with the world’s largest fish is an option. Whale sharks have been sighted in the area before, particularly between March to May and November to January. Alankuda Beach is the best choice for those eager to spot whales, and dolphins sometimes arrive by the hundreds along Kalpitiya. But avoid the windy seasons if you do want to sight dolphins as rough seas tend to keep them away.

2. Mirissa

The town of Mirissa is a popular tourist destination because not only is it lively and beautiful, but the abundance of marine life in its waters makes for a fulfilling trip. But most importantly, Mirissa is known for its whale-watching yours.

The boats usually leave early in the morning, and sightings of spinner dolphins, blue whales and sperm whales have been noted many times. Occasionally, a stray orca makes its way into the waters, and to see these energetic individuals swim alongside the vessel is enough to make anyone’s day. The best season for sighting whales in Mirissa is between November and April.

3. Hikkaduwa

While whale watching is possible in Hikkaduwa, it’s a great place for those who would like to see sea turtles and their hatchlings. Sri Lanka doesn’t have any resident sea turtles, but they do drop by every now and then to lay their eggs, which is why turtle conservation is valued in the country.

There are five types of sea turtles you can find in Sri Lanka: Olive Ridley, Leatherback, Hawksbill, Green, and Loggerhead. Loggerheads are quite rare and they usually arrive at the southern shores of the island between September and March to nest. You can glimpse them all or most at the Hikkaduwa Sea Turtle Hatchery. Another worthy visit would be the Coral Sanctuary, where you could see small sharks, groupers, and more idling along the corals.

4. Trincomalee

Trincomalee is known for its surf spots and rich history, but it’s also excellent for those who are eager to witness giant blue whales, bottlenose dolphins and even orcas in their natural habitat. The Nilaveli and Uppuveli beaches in Trincomalee are the ideal spots for this, whereas the right season to catch sight of these majestic creatures is between May and October.

Of course, feel free to catch some waves at Arugam Bay afterwards, as Trincomalee has some great ones that work for surfers of all skill levels. A snorkeling trip in the adjacent Pigeon Island is highly recommended as the colourful corals and interesting marine life won’t fail to mesmerise you.

5. Dondra

Dondra is located at the southernmost region of the island and it is known for the large number of blue and sperm whales that can be found in the waters aligning it, particularly from December to April. This makes it the area with the longest season for spotting these gentle giants.

The continental shelf is its narrowest around the island at Dondra, meaning you’re more likely to sight whales and dolphins at the southern tip than other areas of the island—especially if your aim is to spot blue whales.