Whale watching in Sri Lanka is best done off the shores of Kalpitiya and Dondra Point/Mirissa, which are famous beach cities in the island. The island-nation of Sri Lanka is found in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, connected to the Indian subcontinent only by a very faint land bridge.
Whale watching, as well as dolphin watching in Sri Lanka began in 2000 and initiated by the world-famous Eco Team in association with the International Dolphin Watch. The Bay of Bengal and this part of the Indian Ocean is protected by the International Whaling Commission, since the area has been identified to be the home of 26 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins). For some reason, whales and dolphins love the waters off the southern Indian subcontinent, which makes whale watching and dolphin watching in Sri Lanka extremely rewarding.
Marine experts verify that the deep waters off Dondra Point/Mirissa are a favorite spot of Blue Whales and Sperm Whales since Dondra is the southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent, the farthest piece of land just before the deep open ocean. This part of the Indian Ocean has the most likelihood for whale sighting. The chances are even higher in the early mornings from December to April. Of the two kinds, Blue Whales are most commonly seen; most probably they are on migration to their feeding grounds in the Arabian Sea. The average sighting is four whales a day.
Sperm whales are seen a bit farther offshore, near the shipping lanes where the continental shelf is less than three nautical miles. Other cetacean species sighted around this area are Bryde’s Whale, Dwarf Sperm Whale, Beaked Whale, Striped Dolphin, Spinner Dolphin, and Bottlenose Dolphin.
The chances to see whales in Kalpitiya, on the other hand, are not as high compared to Dondra, but it is one of the best places for dolphin watching in Sri Lanka. The ever smiling and chirping dolphins often put up a show here, and on very good days, watchers will be treated to seeing hundreds to even thousands of spinner dolphins. Aside from these friendly marine animals, tourists visit the humble town of Kalpitiya to see the old Dutch Fort and St. Peter’s Church, taste the delicious array of seafood dishes, and experience authentic Sri Lankan living in a local fishing community. The best months to visit are from November to April.
When whale watching in Sri Lanka, watchers must observe these important safety guidelines. They should avoid feeding the whales and dolphins. Although they seem very friendly, they are still wild animals and one whisk of their flippers could mean serious disaster. Safety rules set forth by the crew must always be followed. They are the professionals and they understand the sea and whales more than anybody else on the boat. Tourists must wear plenty of sun protection since the sun is unforgiving in the open ocean. A wide hat and sunglasses are also very helpful. It is also good to bring along refreshments – cold water or soda.