Whale-watching around Sri Lanka
Whales hold a powerful fascination for many people: ancient and beautiful, formidable yet graceful, and incredibly vulnerable to human actions. A chance to see these ocean giants at a responsible distance is a bucket-list-topping experience, achieved by way of a boat trip close to their migration path off the Sri Lankan coast.
What to expect on a Sri Lanka whale-watching trip...
Many remarkable species swim through the waters around Sri Lanka, including blue, killer, minke and sperm whales, as well as dolphins, flying fish and turtles. Getting up close to just one of these extraordinary creatures is enough make your heart beat faster, but with such a wealth of wildlife in this stretch of ocean - along with the expertise of your local whale-spotter - you have an excellent chance of seeing quite a few.
As Sri Lanka sits within an internationally recognised marine sanctuary, you can be reassured that responsible whale-watching here is always done under strict ecological guidelines which have the whales’ safety and protection at the fore.
Curving smoothly into the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka’s popular southern resorts are perfect for embarking upon boat trips to witness the whales, many of which migrate north from their Antarctic feeding grounds to breed in warmer waters.
Southern Sri Lanka is a relatively new destination on the whale-watching scene (having only been identified as being on a major migratory route following research in 1999) and yet it is definitely one of the world’s most spectacular. The popular resort of Mirissa has fully embraced this new interest and offers various guided tours out into the open sea from November to April.
Many of the guides used to be fishermen and have excellent knowledge of the waters and where to go for the best whale-spotting each morning. If you’re visiting between May and October then head for the East coast town of Trincomalee: a top dolphin-watching hotspot for many years, and more recently a prime location for seeing whales further off-shore.
Awe-inspiring blue whales, the largest mammals ever known to have existed, are especially frequent visitors to these waters and can sometimes even be spotted near to shore from the rugged headland at Swami Rock.
Location: Off the coasts of Sri Lanka
Duration: 2-6 hours
Accommodation: Your choice of Sri Lanka hotel or wildlife camp
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'As if Sri Lanka didn't have enough wildlife on land, its marine habitats are bursting with life as well. You'll have a whale of a time! (sorry)'
It probably goes without saying that the boat trips are best suited to those who don’t suffer from sea-sickness, as it can get choppy out on the open ocean, especially if you are fortunate enough to witness a whale in full breach - but for those with strong sea-legs it can be the experience of a lifetime.