Diving in Sri Lanka
Diving in Sri Lanka is always accompanied by a comfortable water temperature (+26 … + 31 ° C), good visibility (about 30 m) and a wide variety of sites with wrecks. In general, there are three most popular regions for diving on the island: western, southern and eastern.
The best time for diving is from November to March, the best sites are at Negombo, Kalpitiya, Beruwells and Bentota.
Three large reefs run parallel to the coast near Negombo. If the first and second – just great, then the third reef – one of the best in the whole country, especially in the period February-March. Reefs are a rocky ridge located 20 km from the coast, all covered with coral gardens. The ridge stretches for several kilometers, the minimum depth of the reef is 18 m. Here you can find: snapper, red mullet, sweet-lipped, napoleon fish and moray eels.
North of Negombo lies the western peninsula of Kalpitiya and the country’s largest reef Bar Reef (Bar Reef). Due to the size of which (five kilometers long and about two kilometers wide), you can see almost all kinds of fish that live in these waters, as well as mantas, reef sharks and turtles.
South of the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, there are two famous beach resorts – Beruwela and Bentota. Here are unique rock formations located at different levels under water, where you can see flocks of snapper, sweet-lipped, barracuda, trevally, triggerfish and bannerfish. The reef lies 40 minutes from the coast, at a depth of 20-31 m.
As well as in the west, it is better to dive here during the period of November-March. The most popular dive sites are located off the coast of Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna, as well as separately lying Great and Little Basses. Less well known are Dodanduwa, Gintota, Medagala, Ralagala, Weligama, Mirissa, Matara, Polhena, Dondara, and Tangalle.
The resort of Hikkaduwa, the diving capital of Sri Lanka, is located 99 km south of Colombo and is considered the best davi-base in the country. Here you can find not only a huge number of licensed dive operators, but also all kinds of accommodation, restaurants, shops and cafes. In addition, quite a few ships sank near here, which now represent a “tidbit” for divers. Over 20 local wrecks can be easily visited by boat in less than an hour. As a rule, these are the ships of the 19th century, but there are constantly more “fresh landmarks of history” (well-known trade routes pass by Sri Lanka). One of these wrecks, SS Conch, was the world’s first oil tanker. Also of interest are the Earl of Shaftsbury trading ship and the ship Norsa, which sank in 1889.
Unawatuna is located just 20 km from Hikkaduwa and, according to the Discovery Channel, is considered one of the best beaches in the world. Here it is worth diving to the SS Rangoon wreck (depth of 32 m), the once beautiful steamship built in 1863. In addition, both Hikkaduwa and Unawatura are great for snorkelling.
In the very south of the island, where nothing can stop the harsh monsoon winds and downpours, is the Great Basses Reef reef ridge. Diving in this area is possible only from mid-March to mid-April. Boats to the reefs are sent, as a rule, from the town of Kirinda (Kirinda). The waters around them are literally “filled” with wrecks. At one time, not one boat sank here, having fallen on one of the Great Basses Reef rocks. Now in the vicinity of these places is prohibited navigation for large vessels. One of the most interesting wrecks is the ship of the great Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, which was opened in 1961. Diving is allowed only for experienced divers, the current is strong, the depth is 12-14 m.
In addition to wrecks, there are amazing canyons, ravines and rocks, black corals and a variety of sea sponges. You can find: red mullet, snapper, fusilier, angel fish, wrasse, groupers, tuna, large gray sharks and stingrays.
Diving on the east coast is better from March to May (whale watching is especially popular this month) and from August to December. Popular dive sites are off the coast of Trincomale and Batticaloa (Batticaloa), less well-known are Kalmunai, Tirukkovil, Punnakudah, Kalkudah, Paskudarai (Paskkudah) and Vakkarai (Vakkayah)
Trincomale (or Trinco) is not only beautiful beaches, but also the right winds for surfing, great opportunities for whale watching and just a “paradise for divers”. The sea around Trinko is full of all kinds of wrecks that appeared here after the Japanese air attack during World War II. However, some submerged areas of the city are controlled by the Sri Lankan Navy, therefore diving may require permits. The most popular dive sites are Swami Rock, Sitanampara and Small Grouper Rock. 12 km from Trincomalee there is the beach of Niaveli, on the coast of which no permits are required, and interesting places – no less.