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Scuba Diving in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s western, southern and eastern coastal belts are prime spots for scuba diving. Swim through the alluring turquoise water in the shallows and watch colourful tropical fish dart through the intricate corals, before heading out to the deeper waters of the Indian Ocean and diving in search of exotic marine creatures and looming shipwrecks. Many of the reefs are located offshore and you will need to head out to sea with a boat and a licensed guide to find the best dive spots. The monsoon weather patterns in Sri Lanka ensure that one half of the island’s coastal waters are always in season for diving, snorkelling, and swimming with good underwater visibility (which ranges from about 50 to 100 feet).

Scuba diving in Sri Lanka is immensely rewarding off the north-west coast near Kalpitiya, around Hikkaduwa and Bentota and along the south coast all the way up to Yala. Scuba diving in these locations is possible during the season between December and May. There is also the opportunity to do scuba diving in Trincomalee, a coastal town in the north-east which boasts beautiful beaches of white sand and azure waves. This is possible between May and September when the east coast seas come into season.

North-West Coast

Negombo

The diving sites are divided into two sections in Negombo – those that are just 8km from the shore, and the site known as the ‘Third Reef’ which is almost three times as far out. At both sites numerous species of fish, marine turtles, Moray Eels and sting rays can be spotted.

Kalpitiya

The best time for scuba diving in Kalpitiya is between February and April. Visit The Bar Reef and explore its nooks and crevices which are home to Moray Eels, large groupers and sting rays.

West Coast

Beruwala

There are two diving sites in Beruwala (Shark Point and Baracuda Rock) which are located just half an hour away from the shore. The currents can be strong here, so caution is advised.

Bentota

Bentota has a large dive site called Canoe Rock which is home to beautiful corals and exotic fish.

Hikkaduwa

There are about 20 dive sites in Hikkaduwa – the most interesting to explore are Deep Rock, Kiralagala and the shipwreck of the ‘SS Conch’. There are also PADI dive centres in this youthful beach town where, if you stay long enough, you can get your diving licence.

South Coast

Unawatuna

Scuba diving in Unawatuna is excellent – explore sites of striking rock formations, black coral and the many shipwrecks in the area, all of which are frequently visited by tropical fish.

Weligama

This coastal area is wonderful for both snorkelling and diving. Go scuba diving in Weligama (and in the surrounding areas) and explore the beautiful underwater rock formations and varied marine life at Mirissa Point, Bridge Rock, Yala Rock and the Prince Heinrich Patch. There is also a 40km-long reef known as The Basses which stretches from Kirinda all the way below Kumana that is home to sandstone reefs, ravines, pillars, pinnacles, caves and crevices and haunting shipwrecks. This is considered to be the best of all the diving sites in Sri Lanka.

East Coast

Trincomalee

April through October is the best time to dive here. There are several dive sites in Trincomalee including Swami Rock, Eel Rock, Sitanampara, Coffin Ray Point and Pigeon Rock to name a few. You can also go snorkelling at Pigeon Island. Numerous species of marine life can be seen at these spots, including sting rays and Moray Eels. The ‘Irrankandy’ shipwreck, which is about 40 minutes offshore, is surrounded by schools of exotic species of fish.

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