Crammed with fascinating ancient sites, shaded tea plantations and incredible food, it’s easy to see why Sri Lanka tops the list of so many travellers’ must-visit destinations. From palm-fringed beaches and multi-faith pilgrimage towns, whale watching to exploring luscious jungles and colourful art, this tropical island truly packs a punch that makes for a fascinating and unforgettable visit.
Head out on a whale-watching tour and it's extremely likely you’ll be rewarded with sightings of blue, sperm, Humpback and Bryde’s whales. In fact, Sri Lanka ranks in the top two or three countries in the world to see them.
Do you want to go whale watching? Check our itineraries and make the most out of your trip.
Wondering why it’s such a prime spot? Aside from the tons of krill around here that the whales feast on, there’s an annual migration of blue and sperm whales between the Bay of the Bengal and the Arabian Sea, via the coast of Sri Lanka. Originally plotted by British marine biologist, Charles Anderson, back in 1999, the migration is now hailed as one of the greatest cetacean migratory routes in the world. Read on to discover the best spots to go whale watching in Sri Lanka.
There are plenty of tour operators (mostly at Mirissa Harbour) who offer dolphin- and whale-watching excursions, setting off from Weligama Bay. There are also a few touts who offer tickets at cheaper prices, but it’s important to choose a reliable operator for the most eco- and safety-conscious trip. Some boats cater for eight or so people, others over fifty. Tours start early at 6am, and during the three to four hours you’re out on the water, you’re likely to catch sightings of blue, sperm and possibly even a Humpback whale.
Best time to visit: December–April
The majority of hotels, camps and guesthouses in Kalpitiya can easily arrange whale-watching tours for guests. Most trips start at sunrise and can last up to three hours. The best time to visit is outside of the monsoon season, when the sea should be at its calmest.
Best time to visit: November–March/April
Just 1km off the coast from the small village of Nilaveli sits Pigeon Island National Park, home to live coral and tropical fish. Local tour operators can arrange snorkelling around here – if you’re lucky, you might find yourself in the company of a turtle, or even a whale.
Best time to visit: March/April–August/September
Top image: Blue whale diving in south of Sri Lanka © Shalom Rufeisen/Shutterstock