Snorkeling in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is an amazing island offering breathtaking views both on land and under water. The coastal area abounds with coral reefs, which are ideal for snorkeling. Colorful fish, nimble mollusks, important predators live at a shallow depth, which allows you to consider marine life in detail.
A number of hotels on the south coast have their own home reefs, located directly on the territory of the complex. It takes only a couple of minutes to plunge into the fantastic underwater world: you just need to put on a mask, flippers and enter the water.
The best time for snorkeling on the east and northeast coasts is from May to October. On the western and southwestern parts of the island, the most favorable months are from November to March.
Here are 7 of the best places to explore the underwater world of Sri Lanka.
Trincomalee Reef Shark
It is the capital of the Eastern province and the main port on the entire coast, located about 180 km from Jaffna. The city stands on a peninsula that forms the outer and inner harbor.
Trincomalee or Trinko, as the locals call it, is famous for excellent places for snorkeling. One of the best places is on Pigeon Island (Pigeon Island), which lies about 1 km from Nilaweli Beach. Being part of the National Park, Pigeon has preserved its pristine nature. The island consists of 2 land areas, which in themselves are quite full-fledged islands.
The large island is surrounded by a coral forest 200 meters long and 100 meters wide. The shallow water here makes swimming with fins and a mask extremely entertaining. Hundreds of species of fish and turtles live here, even black-feathered sharks are found.
The small island is bordered by a stone rocky ridge. From the point of view of snorkeling, it is not of great interest.
Pigeon is open for visits from 6:00 to 17:30. Paid entrance. Adults – 10 USD. Children – 5 USD. Group trip – 8 USD. Payment is made at the box office of the island.
How to get to Trinkamali
From Colombo to Trinkamali there are taxis (150 USD), buses (from 400 rupees), trains (from 270 rupees). Travel time from 7 to 9 hours, depending on the type of transport.
From Trinkamali you need to take a bus or tuk-tuk to Nilaweli beach. There is a Nilaveli Private Boat Service boat station where you can rent a boat that will take you to Pigeon Island. The price is approximately 1,500 rupees for 2 people.
You can also swim to the reserve on a sightseeing boat, which makes regular trips from Uppuveli.
The town is located on the east coast of Sri Lanka, about 300 km from Colombo. There are plenty of places for great snorkelling south of Pottuvil. The Great Basses and the Little Basses reefs located in the Arugam Bay area are of particular interest. Places for diving are indicated by real lighthouses, so it is simply impossible to miss.
Many types of corals grow on reefs, including black, which is considered to be very rare, as well as brains, fiery and soft. The ichthyofauna is very diverse. Here meets grouper, barracuda, stingrays, snappers, reef sharks, tuna and colorful fish of various shapes. Caves, ridges formed as a result of prehistoric seismic activity are of great interest for research.
How to get to Pottuville
From Colombo to Pottuville you can get to a taxi (about 170 USD) or by bus. The road will take from 6 to 8 hours.
From Pottuville to Arugam Bay buses run with air conditioning (from 1200 rupees) and without air conditioning (from 600 rupees). Also accessible by tuk tuk. The price ranges from 150 to 200 rupees.
Kalpitiya (bar reef)
This city, located 130 km north of Colombo, is not in great demand among tourists, and therefore has retained its pristine natural beauty. Near Kalpitiya, about 1 hour by boat, is the largest reef in all of Sri Lanka – Bar reef. Its length exceeds 5 km, and its width reaches 1.5 km. Here live 156 species of coral and more than 280 species of tropical fish. During an underwater walk you can easily find Manta ray, reef sharks or turtles.
Bar reef consists of a complex of smaller reefs stretching from Kalpitiya to Portuguese Bay. The most picturesque spots for snorkeling are Trevally Pass, Kalpitiya Ridge, Moray Ridge.
How to get to Kalpitiya
There is direct bus number 7 from Colombo to Kalpitiya. There are several buses, their schedule is unpredictable.
Alternatively, you can first take a bus or taxi to Negombo (travel time is approximately 1 hour). From there, buses run to Kalpitiya every 15-20 minutes (travel time 2 hours).
Translated from Sinhala, Hikkaduwa means “city of corals”. This tourist paradise with excellent tourist infrastructure is located 100 km from Colombo.