Whale & Dolphins Watching – Sri Lanka
Blue whales are the largest living mammals on earth, and a chance to see them is certainly an experience of a lifetime! These magnificent creatures are part of the Sri Lankan “Big 4”, famously named so by wildlife enthusiasts. While 3 of them (Sri Lankan sloth bear, elephant, and leopard) are endemic to the country, these amazing marine creatures are frequent visitors of the waters of the Indian Ocean just off the coast of Sri Lanka.
Dolphins are another spectacle of these tours, and you are sure to catch sight of more than just a few! These friendly marine mammals are a big hit amongst kids and adults. They may even put on a good show for you, as they love swimming alongside dolphin-watchers' boats, leaping out of the water, doing little twists and twirls to the delight of everyone.
Best Whale & Dolphin Watching Locations in Sri Lanka
Whale and dolphin watching tours are typically conducted in certain parts of the island, where it's most likely that you'll spot more of these fascinating marine mammals. They are generally located in the southern, eastern, and western regions of the country. Where you choose to go will have to depend on what you're most excited to see, and the time of year you will be visiting. This is because certain weather conditions are necessary for a safe sea tour, and because these marine mammals prefer warm waters.
Here are some of the most popular whale and dolphin watching spots in Sri Lanka:
Best time to visit: November – December, March - April
Kalpitiya, located in the Puttalam district in the Western peninsular, is the most popular destination for dolphin and whale-watching enthusiasts. This fishing town is a haven for sea food lovers, and the gorgeous beaches with clear waters aren't too bad either.
The waters of Kalpitiya are teeming with dolphins. In fact, dolphin watchers frequently get to witness large pods of dolphins, even thousands at a time! The dolphins of Kalpitiya were discovered only about a little more than a decade ago, when large pods of Spinner dolphins were spotted in an area parallel to the reefs of Kalpitiya. This region has now come to be known as the appropriately named “Dolphin Line”.
Whales are also a common spectacle at Kaplitiya. There are five species of whales circling the ocean off the coast of Kalpitiya, including the two of the world's largest kinds of them. Sperm whales, the second largest species of whales, are the most commonly sighted of them. Other kinds of whales that exist here include the Minke whales, Melon-Headed whales, and Dwarf Sperm whales. If you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the largest of them all, the blue whale!
Best time to visit: November – April
Located in the Southern province, Mirissa is a quiet coastal town with beautiful beaches. The town has been gaining quite a bit of attention lately, largely thanks to the whale and dolphin watching tours. Although Mirissa has been getting a few new additions in the form of restaurants and beach houses, it still remains unspoilt and fairly less crowded than the more tourist-driven places of the island.
A whale and dolphin watching tour will take you through the calm waters off the coast of Mirissa, where you could spot a variety of our finned friends. There is said to be around 26 different species of whales in the waters of Mirissa. Some of the most notable are Fin whales, Sperm whales, Killer whales (orcas), and Bryde's whales! As for dolphins, you can expect to spot varieties like Common dolphins, Risso's dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, Striped dolphins, and Spinner dolphins. Other fascinating marine creatures that may appear during your tour include the manta ray, flying fish, Bluefin tuna, sea turtles, and maybe even a couple white sharks!
Best time to visit: May – October
Trincomalee, located in the Eastern Province of the island, has always been a favorite getaway spot for locals and tourists alike. With its picturesque beaches, turquoise waters, luxury beach resorts, and incredible seafood, there's no wonder people love to vacation here! Whale and dolphin watching tours are a fairly recent spectacle, but Trinco is one of the top spots in Sri Lanka for it.
A few miles off the coast of Trincomalee, you'll be able to catch sightings of dolphins. Spinner dolphins are the largest in numbers, but other varieties like Bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and Striped dolphins also exist in these waters. Although not as ideal for whale watching as some of the other places, pick the right season, and you'll catch the migratory whales that visit this part of the ocean. Some of the kinds of whales you can expect to see include the Blue whale, Sperm whales, Bryde’s whale, and maybe even the rare Killer whale!