Sri Lanka is surrounded by the pristine blue waters of the Indian Ocean, which harbours many a wonderful and diverse marine life. Time to time, Sri Lanka gets many visitors from the deeper parts of the ocean: dolphins, seeing eye fish, manta rays, and even sharks. What attracts the most attention is the visits paid by the whales.

Sri Lanka is globally renowned as one of the best places for whale watching in the world. Many local and foreign tourists flock to the popular whale spotting places as the whale watching seasons begin, longing to catch a glimpse of the world’s largest mammal. While the most common type of whale that is being spotted just off the coast of Sri Lanka are blue whales, if you are lucky, you can also spot sperm whales, Bryde’s whales, fin whales, and Orcas (killer whales). Peak months of sightings are January, April, and December.

False killer Whale ~ Mirissa, Sri Lanka. (Image Credit - Anuruddha Mapulage)
False killer Whale ~ Mirissa, Sri Lanka. (Image Credit – Anuruddha Mapulage)

Even though whale watching is possible in different locations around the island all year round, Sri Lanka has three main places that guarantee the experience of watching the gentle giants of the ocean: Mirissa, Trincomalee, and Kalpitiya.

Whale Watching Season in Sri Lanka – Best Time

The whale watching season in Mirissa Sri Lanka is usually from November to April / May. And in Trincomalee, the usual time is from June to October, As during the rest of the year, the sea will be too rough sail because of the Monsoon. The best place to spot whales is Mirissa, One of the most popular and easily accessible spots for whale watching in Sri Lanka.

Whale Watching in Mirissa Sri Lanka

  • Fee: Approx. USD 55-60 per adult
  • Best time to visit: November to April
  • How to get there: Mirissa is just 4 hours south from Colombo. And it is an approximately 40-minute drive from Galle.

Mirissa is one of the most popular and easily accessible spots for whale watching in Sri Lanka. From November to April, blue whales and dolphins can be seen off the coast of Mirissa, and if you are lucky, sperm whales, fin whales, and even orcas (killer whales).

There are plenty of boat services around Mirissa that will provide the facilities for whale watching. Most of the tours provide snacks and beverages on the tour so you won’t need to bring any. There are even whale watching cruises on the peak seasons if you prefer the tour to be extra comfortable.

Whale Watching, Mirissa
Swimming with Blue Whales in Mirissa . (Image Credit – @ohh_tsubo )

Recommended Whale Watching Tours in Mirissa Sri Lanka

Fancy checking out Mirissa Sri Lanka? Find all you need to know in our Complete Guide to Mirissa Sri Lanka.

Whale Watching in Trincomalee Sri Lanka

  • Fee: USD 40-60 per adult
  • Best time to visit: May to October
  • How to get there: Trincomalee is located on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka, and you can reach there by:
    • bus (approx. 4 hours from Colombo),
    • train (9 hours from Colombo), or
    • Air Taxi (domestic air line – 1 hour and 15 minutes from Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport).

Trincomalee Sri Lanka is one of the world’s deepest natural harbours and is known for its unspoiled, less-crowded stretches of beaches. The formation of the natural harbour of Trincomalee has made the area to be a mating ground of blue whales and sperm whales. As a result, whales can be spotted to the east of the coast of Trincomalee, as close as 6-8 nautical miles.

Sperm Whale Fluke - Trincomalee (Image Credit - Upekha Hewavithanage)
Sperm Whale Fluke – Trincomalee (Image Credit – Upekha Hewavithanage)

Recommended Whale Watching Tours in Trincomalee Sri Lanka

Whale Watching in Kalpitiya Sri Lanka

  • Fee: USD 40-60 per adult (on sharing basis)
  • Best time to visit: February to April
  • How to get there: Kalpitiya is a 3.5 hour drive north from Colombo, so you can reach there by bus or a taxi. You can also take a taxi or bus to Kalpitiya directly from Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake, as well, and it would be a 55-minute drive (approx. 42 km).

Kalpitiya, located in the Puttalam District, North Western Province of Sri Lanka, approximately 165km north of Colombo, is a peninsula set between the Indian Ocean in the west and the Puttalam Lagoon in the east. Kalpitiya is popular for its boundless sand dune beaches and the vastly diverse marine life it inhabits, including mangrove swamps, flat coastal plains, salt marshes, and the largest coral reef in Sri Lanka, known as Bar Reef.

As an added bonus, whales and dolphins are a common sight in the surrounding oceans of Kalpitiya. Kalpitiya is infamous for dolphin watching; leaping and dancing pods of spinner and bottlenose dolphins reign the shoreline. While the dolphin watching season falls from mid October to May, blue whales and sperm whales occasionally make guest appearances during the dolphin season as well, though February, March, and April  are considered as the whale watching season for Kalpitiya.

Dancing Dolphins of Kalpitiya Sri Lanka. (Image Credit - Evarts Photography)
Dancing Dolphins of Kalpitiya Sri Lanka. (Image Credit – Evarts Photography)

Recommended Whale Watching Tours in Kalpitiya Sri Lanka

General Tips

  • Whale watching tours start early in the morning: around 6.30am – 7.00 am; and lasts for about 4 hours. So you might want to get to the town the day before and catch a ride to the tour starting point in the morning.
  • Check the details about meals/snacks/beverages or other facilities available with the tour operators beforehand. Most tours offer breakfast and beverages.
  • Don’t forget to bring your camera, shades, plenty of sunscreen, and dramamine if you are prone to get sea sick.
  • Carry a ziplock bag or something similar to cover your phone, camera, or other belongings to protect them from sea spray.

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