Blessed with the title “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”, and well recognized around the globe as magical paradise, Sri Lanka is a host to a wide range of natural beauties. Truly, it is a land of unbeatable beaches, wonderful cascades, amazing wildlife, pleasant weather and climate, and many other natural marvels. Thus, it is no secret that Sri Lanka welcomes people from all across the globe to explore the gifted treasures of this land. However, Sri Lanka not only creates ample opportunities for the visitors to witness the miracles of nature, but also to indulge themselves in a number of amazing activities. Of course, Sri Lanka is ideal for surfing, hiking, camping, and going beyond, snorkeling in Sri Lanka is a must-do for any marine life admirer who would love to dive deep and swim alongside marine life.
Precisely, the majority of humans enjoy the ability to connect with animals up close. The primary objective of visitors is to view animals in their natural habitat, which includes both land-based and water-based settings. Furthermore, Safari, bird watching, marine wildlife watching, and great ape watching are some of the most common wildlife tourism offerings in Sri Lanka. However, ocean life, in particular, has won a great position in people’s hearts. Hence, besides its natural beauty, Sri Lanka is famous for its tropical snorkeling spots, which are perfect for discovering the world underneath the waves.
Hence, we thought of unveiling you the delight of snorkeling in Sri Lanka through this read. Excited, isn’t it? Keep calm! Here we go snorkeling, deep into the marine wildlife.
What is Snorkeling?
Swimming on or across a body of water while wearing a mask, snorkel, and swim fins to adore the underwater environment is snorkeling. Moreover, snorkeling is a common leisure activity than a sport, mostly in tropical tourist hotspots. Snorkeling does not quite necessitate any special preparation, expensive equipment, or strenuous physical exertion. It helps one to appreciate the beauty of the underwater environment while still providing incredible health benefits. Snorkelers use this equipment to view underwater captivations for lengthy stretches of time with little energy and to breathe while laying one’s facedown at the surface. Due to the little effort snorkeling requires, it appeals to people of all ages.
Snorkeling is a stand-alone activity as well as a complement to other activities like breath-hold diving, spearfishing, and scuba diving, as well as other competitive underwater sports like underwater hockey and finswimming. Clearly, using a snorkel makes it easier to breathe when floating on the surface and watching what’s happening underneath the water.
Best Environments for Snorkeling
Snorkelers prefer shallow reefs with a depth of 3 to 13 feet. The snorkelers can notice the shallow structure from the sides to observe if there is enough water to swim on the surface without kicking the bottom. Moreover, exploring deeper reefs is possible, but the need for frequent breath-holding to dive to such depths restricts the number of professionals and increases the fitness and ability standard desired. The risk of death rises as the depth and length of breath-hold tours from the surface increase.
Besides, snorkeling is an adventure sport, with people joining the water from a beach or a cliff. However, a boat can be necessary to reach some locations that are far from the shore. Moreover, many agencies provide day or half-day snorkeling tours all over the world, allowing snorkelers to visit places like barrier reefs, islands, and cays. Snorkeling spots include rocky areas, seagrass meadows, lagoons, and mangroves. Moreover, specific underwater caves, fissures, lakes, and even rivers, provide unforgettable snorkeling experiences.
Snorkeling in Sri Lanka
Snorkeling is an enjoyable underwater activity that is not only simple and easy to do, but also suitable for people of all ages. One can engage in it as a family, ranging from children to adults. Indeed, snorkeling is one of them. It enables one to have marine adventures easily and without any danger. However, snorkeling in Sri Lanka is a pleasant and enjoyable activity that is very different from the beauty of life on land. Thus, there is no wonder that Scuba diving and snorkeling at the best snorkeling spots make the most of one’s beach vacation.
Particularly, in Sri Lanka not only one can discover the world underwater but can engage in unique activities such as snorkeling with whales which is an exciting and adventurous experience. Between November and April is the ideal time to visit Sri Lanka for snorkeling while the recommended months to visit the east coast of Sri Lanka are from April to September.
The Best Places for Snorkeling in Sri Lanka
Blue waves at any corner of this tiny island of Sri Lanka, are ideal for many of the water activities, including snorkeling. Yet, following are a few of Sri Lanka’s best snorkeling spots.
- The Pigeon Island
- Polhena Reef
Counting days to witness the delight of snorkeling in Sri Lanka? If so, you will surely need more details about these places. Take it easy, because we are ready to share all about them with the below sections!
Hikkaduwa, the cultural beach centre, is at the top of the list of famous spots for snorkeling in Sri Lanka. This beach is just 98 kilometres south of Colombo, and is host to spectacular coral reefs and a variety of fish species. This location is ideal for both experienced snorkelers and inexperienced divers who can learn basic diving skills from PADI experts who are always on standby for a diving crash course or the odd rescue mission. On the contrary, the shallow waters in Hikkaduwa are great for the first-timers. Also, it is one of the best snorkeling spots in Sri Lanka owing to its brilliant coral reef and stunning underwater ecosystem. Besides, this beach provides great snorkeling facilities, very close to the shore, around 200 meters off the coast. Further, the recommended time to snorkel is from nine to eleven in the morning.
Striking Scenery in Hikkaduwa
Snorkelers can observe many spectacular visuals in Hikkaduwa, out of which are the colourful and bright living corals, huge silver-blue shoals of small fish, the hermit crab, the flowery looking anemones, and the clownfish that wanders confidently among the strands. Moreover, the shallow, clear turquoise-blue waters have excellent snorkeling visibility. Further, among the turtles and other fish, you can see a wide range of fish such as angelfish, pufferfish, moray eels, and sea cucumber.
Often, snorkelers carry an underwater camera, to capture beautiful moments. Moreover, snorkeling in Hikkaduwa includes a boat trip, which is 20 minutes long, along with provided snorkeling equipment, to witness the beautiful coral reefs.
Passikudah is another popular diving destination on Sri Lanka’s east coast. This resort area is 30 kilometres away from Batticaloa district. Besides, most of the attractions in Passikudah are also accessible from Trincomalee. However, this spot is highly popular for its longest stretches of shallow reef coastlines, and its sparkling blue waters and less crowded beaches. Thus, this beach is ideal for travelers who want to observe marine life while walking on the beach. And yes, this is the only beach that allows one to dive and snorkel straight off a yacht while admiring the stunning coral reefs.
When snorkeling in Pasikudah; Bengali snappers, Yellow striped goatfish, Trevally, Coral rock cods, and Stingrays are just a few of the incredible marine lives which are observable. Out of over 50 different coral species found in these waters, many belong to the Acroporidae, Faviidae, and other families. Darting Damselfish, Butterflyfish, and Cardinalfish habitat in the reef ecosystem.
Kirinda, is a picturesque village on Tissa’s southeast shore, which is around 10 kilometers away. In fact, this place offers everything one expects in a coastal vacation destination. The village has a beautiful beach and a Buddhist temple on the cliffs. Along with its breath-taking elegance, this diving spot is home to the wrecks of the little and great basses. The months of March and April are ideal for visiting these basses. The rest of the months does not appeal for a decent dive, as waters are much too choppy and muddy. Even though there are no diving centres in Kirinda, some in Hikkaduwa and Mirissa can take visitors to this unique diving location.
Mirissa, on the southeast coast of the island, is another diving hotspot in Sri Lanka. Certainly, Mirissa attracts visitors largely due to its excellent whale-watching opportunities. Nevertheless, over the years, the spot developed in gaining popularity for diving and snorkeling as much as whale watching. Moreover, Mirissa beach is great for both experienced and novice snorkelers.
The most thrilling feature of snorkeling in Mirissa is people being capable of snorkeling with blue whales, turtles and other marine animals, in approximately five diving spots. First-timers and experienced ones are both welcome, with training centres on hand to provide instructions. To ensure protection, PAD Instructors stay put at each location.
5. The Pigeon Island
Pigeon Island is only a few meters off the coast of Trincomalee. Initially, anyone remaining near Trincomalee or Nilaveli should take a snorkeling trip here. The Pigeon Island is just about a kilometre from Nilaveli, with its silky white beaches. One could see the stunning beauty of the coral reefs and spot a variety of sharks and turtles in these waters. Noticeably, Pigeon Island is the best snorkeling spot in Sri Lanka for intense adventure seekers. This remote island is indeed home to underwater national parks and a divers’ haven, which is one of the best in the country. Snorkelers need to take a boat trip that takes about 15 minutes to get to the Island. A part of the island is full of beautiful coral reef clusters surrounded by clear water. The cordoned-off area does not welcome divers, as it is a protected zone.
This city, which is in the district of Trincomalee, is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. The white beaches where visitors relax and chill on the soft powdery sand dominates the town. Moreover, marine enthusiasts explore the calm and clear underwater world in search of beautiful corals. The recommended time of the year to visit Nilaveli is from April to September.
This destination provides a tour to clean and clear waters where one can observe the uninterrupted amazing sea life of Sri Lanka, such as multi-coloured corals and fish. It is one of Sri Lanka’s best snorkeling spots. The whole of this underwater world will fascinate anyone, as one observes beautiful clownfish to colourful anemones.
Rock Island is one of Unawatuna’s most top attractions and a great place for snorkeling in Sri Lanka. One can immerse themselves in the aquatic environment at this place. The vibrant and colourful fish and corals that live in the clear waters off the coast of Unawatuna are sure to amaze their admirers. Snorkelers can get a glimpse of this rare and beautiful aquatic life in the clear waters of Unawatuna despite any expensive equipment or training. Also, the recommended time to snorkel in Unawatuna is from nine to noon.
9. Polhena Reef
Polhena Reef is among the finest snorkeling spots in Sri Lanka, despite its unknown location. Anyone who does not have a busy deadline can have a thought of visiting this beautiful place. The secured shallow lagoon by a reef is a visual delight, especially at low tide. Snorkeling in this area notifies visitors about the locals and environmental authorities’ active involvement in conservation projects on Polhena Reef. Besides, snorkelers can swim alongside green turtles and observe these gentle creatures in their natural habitat on this fascinating and educational tour.
The stunning wreck of the SS Rangoon in Galle is popular for snorkeling. The greatest feature of this Sri Lankan snorkeling spot is that it is on the easier side of the spectrum. With excellent visibility, snorkelers can dive to a maximum depth of 32 meters. Certainly, snorkelers highly rate this place for its rich flora and fauna. Moreover, snorkeling is one of the few water sports available around the splendid city of Galle.
The Taprobane East Wreck in Colombo is indeed one of the finest snorkeling destinations in the area, with stunning visibility of a shipwreck submerged. The location is conveniently reachable from Colombo. To prevent any needless inconveniences, traveling with a qualified diving instructor is important.
Kalpitiya is a small town in Sri Lanka’s Puttalam district that is a secret from the tourist crowd. The widest coral reef in Sri Lanka is one hour away by boat from Kalpitiya for passionate divers and snorkelers. This reef is home to a diverse array of tropical fish, as well as manta rays, reef sharks, infrequent turtles, and other tropical inhabitants.
Trincomalee is the treasure of Sri Lanka’s eastern coast and a snorkeler’s paradise. The Nilaveli beach, which is in this region, is famous as a launching pad for divers. Pigeon Island, which is only a few minutes away, is home to beautiful coral reefs full of colourful fish, anemone, nudibranch, and a diversity of other marine animals and plants.
Weligama, 30 kilometres east of Galle, is another wonderful snorkeling site in Sri Lanka. This destination, is also recognized as the Sandy Village which provides a Catamaran ride on the water’s surface. Moreover, it involves taking a ride and exploring the sea. During the months of early November to mid-April, enthusiastic snorkelers can dive deep and see several whales and sharks.
Koggala, found on Sri Lanka’s south coast, is one of the country’s least populated beaches. While this coastal town is still relatively unknown to tourists, its spectacular beauty and solitude make it the ideal place for a relaxing beach vacation. Apart from its beautiful waters, this location is perfect for snorkeling in Sri Lanka.
Why Should You Choose Sri Lanka for Snorkeling?
Snorkeling is an adventure anyone could easily experience. One does not have to be a scuba diver to appreciate the exciting world under the waves. Clearly, one can float on the water’s surface with a mask, snorkel, and fins in hand, watching the colourful coral reefs, rocks, and coral reef-fish, and many incredible marine habitats. Surely, it is a satisfying adventure full of magical moments. Indeed, Sri Lanka being an island surrounded by blue waters, is a delightful island that is popular not only for extensive wildlife, tourist hotspots, and marine ecosystems, but also for its coastal big blues. Visibly, exotic snorkeling spots are abundant in the country, making it perfect for exploration. Certainly, snorkeling in Sri Lanka is a lovely dive to explore the fascinating world underwater.
Guidance for Snorkeling in Sri Lanka
Snorkeling is a beautiful underwater adventure, but it can be problematic and dangerous if snorkelers do not follow proper rules. Out of numerous safety tips, a few are as follows.
- When choosing a snorkeling spot, a snorkeler should consider an appropriate destination.
- An update with the weather forecast before snorkeling is necessary. The official website of the Department of Meteorology, Sri Lanka will help you with regard.
- A snorkeler should choose a skilled instructor before diving and should never dive alone.
- Rather than diving into deep water on the first attempt, it is wise to train in a pool or a shallow field.
- Before diving into the water, snorkelers should ensure they have all of the appropriate equipment.
Seemingly, a variety of particular snorkeling equipment is necessary for snorkeling. Fins, a mask, and a snorkel tube are the most important snorkeling accessories required. Depending on the water temperature and sunshine conditions, this simple kit can combine with diving apparel or a suit.
Namely, a snorkel is necessary for breathing while a diving mask or swimming goggles are necessary for vision. Snorkelers use swim fins for a more reliable diving force. Furthermore, protection from the cold, sunburn and marine stings and scratches are also normal in the area, which forms a wetsuit, diving skins, or rash vest. Often, snorkelers use waterproof sunscreen lotions before snorkeling, out of which some are harmful to the environment. A weight belt or an inflatable snorkeling vest, a type of buoyancy aid, can be worn if necessary to encourage freediving or for protection.
For a better overview, let us go through a few of the snorkeling equipment’s specifications.
When the snorkeler is facing the water with the mouth and nose underwater, a snorkel is useful to breathe oxygen from above the surface. A swimmer’s snorkel is a tube curved into the shape of “L” or “J”. It is designed with a mouthpiece at the lower end, which is made of light metal, rubber, or plastic. The snorkel has a rubber loop or a plastic clip that clasps to the outside of the diving mask’s headband. Snorkels generate dead space in the lungs. When the person inhales deeply, some of the previously exhaled air that remained in the snorkel is breathed again.
Finlike accessories worn by snorkelers on the feet are Swim fins, fins, or flippers. They support moving through the water in water sports activities. They are normally made of rubber or plastic. Human feet are too tiny and incorrectly formed to provide much force, particularly when the wearer is carrying equipment that increases hydrodynamic drag. Swim fins help the user move through the water very easily. Freedivers use very long fins and monofins for underwater movement, which do not require high-frequency leg movement. This increases productivity thus lowering oxygen uptake.
A wetsuit is a waterproof jacket made of foamed neoprene with a knit fabric exterior, worn by people engaging in water sports and other water activities. It protects and provides thermal insulation, elasticity, and protection from breakage, ultraviolet exposure, and bites from marine organisms. The shielding properties of the material are by the presence of air bubbles within the material. The bubbles bring the wetsuit a low density, which helps it float in the water. The suit’s thickness, fit, and coverage all play a role in insulation. With the addition of a mask, gloves, socks, or boots, wetsuit safety also extends to cover the head, feet, and hands.
Cost of Snorkeling in Sri Lanka
Something interesting! When considering the rest of the best snorkeling spots across the world, the cost of snorkeling in Sri Lanka, is indeed cheap. The packages range between US$50 and US$100. However, the prices vary depending on how deep you want to go, how long you wish to snorkel, the place you choose, and the other facilities provided. Besides, most of the snorkeling packages in Sri Lanka include the equipment required, a snack, and a guide. Also, if you wish to follow a snorkeling course here on this beautiful island, you have ample opportunities to make that dream of yours come true for a cheaper price as well!
The Bottom Line
After all, the feast that the vibrant corals and the fish species offer to you under the clear blue waters in Sri Lanka is certainly something that you should never miss. In fact, the delight, excitement, thrill and the fun that it offers is simply second to none. Above all, there is surely one thing that all these facts prove to you again and again. Yes, you guessed it right! Snorkeling in Sri Lanka is one of the most astounding experiences, and is simply a must on this beautiful island. So, eager to arrive on this island, isn’t it? Yes, keep a step ahead, and plan your next travel to this magical paradise. It would certainly be a decision that you never regret. Happy and Safe Travelling!