Whale Watching with Friends? Here’s What You Need to Know
Gather your girl gang or the boys for an exciting day out in the big blue. Set sail on a private yacht or a boat ride in search of the giants of the sea, like whales, dolphins, sea turtles and a whole host of other exotic marine life. Whale watching is one of the most popular activities, as the island is blessed with a heap of wildlife, whether you’re on land or sea. However, before you grab that sunscreen and set sail with your buddies, here’s everything you need to know about whale watching in Sri Lanka.
You can embark on a whale watching excursion at anytime and no matter where you are (as long as you’re near the coast, obviously!) on the island. This makes it the sole reason to plan your whale watching trip to Sri Lanka. As the season for each coast – west or east alternates based on the monsoon season, you can catch these magnificent beasts on any side of the country.
There are three main locations where you can go whale watching:
The monsoon cycle doesn’t affect the whole island all at once, instead, it takes turns on each coast; so, when one coast is being hit by torrential rains, the other basks in the warm sunlight. Whale watching in Mirissa is best experienced in December or January, while Trincomalee’s whale season peaks in
These are the seasons for each coast:
- West Coast – November to March/April
- East Coast – March/April to August/September
- South Coast – December to April
What will you see?
Whale watching in Sri Lanka will be extremely rewarding since you are almost guaranteed to have at least one whale sighting. There are quite a few whale species which frequent these warm blue waters as well as other marine life.
Here are some creatures that you are likely to encounter:
- Blue whales
- Humpback whales
- Sperm whales
- Bryde’s whales
- Orcas and whale sharks are also seen but not as frequently
- Green turtles
- Leatherback turtles
- Spinner dolphins
- Risso dolphins
Where can you get tickets from?
Since whale watching is such a popular activity, there are loads of tour operators that provide this service. However, always ensure to pick a reputed operator; one that respects the distance between the gentle giants and has your safety in mind too!
Here are some recommended tour operators:
- Mirissa – Raja and the Whale
- Kalpitiya – Visit Kalpitiya
- Trincomalee- Nilaveli Diving Centre
What should you take?
Tour operators provide you with the necessities such as life jackets, but it is recommended that you take your own water bottle, sunblock, hat, sunglasses, motion sickness medicine, and of course your camera! Just a warning, the sea can sometimes be quite choppy so take your motion sickness medicine at least half an hour before embarking on your journey.
How long does it last?
The best time to go whale watching is early in the morning, as boats normally set out to sea at around 6 am. You should aim to be there latest 20 minutes before your departure so that you will make it in time for a safety briefing. The whole tour should last about 3 hours and you will be back ashore by 10 am.