Whale Watching in Sri Lanka
Famous for its wildlife, every year thousands of tourists are drawn to the scenic island nation of Sri Lanka set on witnessing the abundance of wildlife that it is home to. Most are enticed by the chance of seeing the world’s largest land mammal, the elephant, which inhabits the island in large numbers. However, the wildlife goes beyond the land and into the sea, with Sri Lanka and the surrounding Indian Ocean also the best location to spot the world’s overall largest mammal and sea creature, the blue whale. It is not just the blue whale, but a wide range of aquatic creatures that are often sighted off Sri Lanka’s shores that makes the island a hotspot for ocean safaris.
The most popular location to go whale watching is off Sri Lanka’s southern coast, and particularly Mirissa, a small fishing village found between the towns of Galle and Matara. Depending on the season, you could be in with the chance of seeing blue whales, Bryde’s whales, sperm whales, fin whales, and sometimes orca, or killer whales as they are also known. It is not just whales that can be spotted on these tours, with there also being a high chance of you seeing different types of dolphin, including common dolphins, bottlenose Dolphins, spinner dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and striped dolphins. It is also possible to seem some interesting fish like the Bluefin tuna and flying fish, as well as sea turtles which often come ashore in Sri Lanka to nest. With so many different species inhabiting the waters, a boat trip off Sri Lanka’s south coast is sure to be an exciting and eventful experience.
For optimum chance of seeing the whales and other marine animals it is best to travel between the months of November and April, which is known as whale season. During this time the waters are warm and calmer, making it much more likely for you to be able to spot the creatures. Calm seas also mean you can spot the ‘blows’ or ‘spouts’ of the marine mammals, as well as the splashing of dolphins at a much greater distance. It is therefore a much more yielding and rewarding experience to go whale watching during this peak period. We recommend staying at a local hotel such as Cape Weligama, or slightly further afield at Aditya Resort, where you will be within easy distance of the coast and where whale watching trips are conveniently offered by the resorts.
While Mirissa is the prime location to go whale watching, Trincomalee on the Eastern coast is also rapidly emerging as another key whale watching destination. Here the whale watching season begins earlier in the year, commencing in May and lasting until October. If going on an excursion during this period, blue whales and sperm whales can commonly be seen around 30 minutes off the coast. We recommend staying at Jungle Beach Resort which is situated right along the coastline of Trincomalee, and again whale watching is offered by the resort saving you the hassle of having to research and organise a trip yourself.
As anyone who has been on one of these excursions will tell you, it is an unforgettable experience. The anticipation that builds as you wait for a sighting, followed by the rush of adrenalin and emotion when you manage to spot one makes whale watching a thrilling and moving experience. Whether you choose to go out with a group on a large observation boat, or opt for a more exclusive experience on a smaller speedboat, the image of one of these majestic creatures breaking the surface of the ocean, appearing as if out of nowhere, is one that will stay with you for life.