For many of us, watching whales leaping acrobatically at sea is an experience of a lifetime. Sri Lanka is one of the world's best places for whale watching. Here is some information about when and where to go for whale watching in Sri Lanka.
Best Places for whale watching in Sri Lanka
The best places for whale watching in Sri Lanka are off the coast of Mirissa and Trincomalee. Here is a Google map to give you a general idea of their locations.
Map data © 2016 Google
Whale Watching in Mirissa, South Coast
Mirrisa is the most reliable place for whale watching in Sri Lanka because of a ninety percent chance of seeing whales in right season and a well-developed infrastructure.
How to get there: Mirissa is a lovely coastal village on Sri Lanka‘s south coast situated between the Galle and Matara. It is a tourist hot spot and attracts many whale watchers and beach lovers from all over the world. It is approximately a 40 minutes' drive from Galle (a popular beach destination that is also home to World Heritage Site Galle Fort) and 4 hours' drive from Colombo (the capital, the major gateway to Sri Lanka).
What to expect: Most of the whale-watching boat trips start at 6:30 am in the morning. Trip duration varies daily, depending on the weather and sea conditions on a particular day. In average, the round trip takes 3-5 hours, including 40 minutes - 1 hour whale-watching time.
Accommodation: Whale watching requires an early morning start, so it is preferable to stay at least one night at or near Mirissa where there are lots of hotels. Some travelers also choose to stay in a beach resort in Galle and drive 30-40 minutes to Mirissa in the morning to catch the boat.
Cost: around 45 USD per person, mostly including whale-watching, pick-up from nearby hotel, breakfast and water.
Whale Watching in Trincomalee (Trinco), Northeast Coast
Trincomalee is another great place for whale watching. It is one of the deepest natural harbors in the world where the blue whale & sperm whales choose to come to mate. During the months between June and October, blue whales can be seen around 6 to 8 nautical miles east of Trincomalee (about 30 minutes by boat), and can sometimes be spotted from the land. However, permit might be required for entering Trincomalee as it is a High Security Zone in Sri Lanka.
How to get there: Trincomalee is a port city on the northeast cost of Sri Lanka. It is about 2 hours' drive from the famous ancient city of Sigiriya (Lion Rock).
What to expect: Most of the trips will leave the Trincomalee Harbor at 6 am or 7 am. From here you will take a boat and travel about half an hour out to sea, and you have a 90% chance of seeing blue whales, dolphins, turtles and sometimes even sperm whales. There are short harbor cruises (1 hr), short cruises (3 hrs) and long cruises (5 hrs).
Accommodation: Trincomalee has a wide range of hotels to suit every price range.
Price: around 38 USD per person, mostly including whale-watching, pick-up, breakfast and water.
When is the best time for whale watching in Sri Lanka?
It depends on where you head to. In Mirissa, the best time for whale watching is from November to April next year; in Trincomalee, the best time is from May to September as whales continue their migrations around the island from the south coast. Out of these months December, January and April are the peak months of sightings.
Whale watching is possible all year round in different locations of Sri Lanka; however, coming at the best time you will have a higher chance of watching whales.
Tips for Whale Watching in Sri Lanka:
Carry your own water and light snacks if possible (Some boats may provide simple breakfast and drinking water).
Don’t drink alcohol the night before and get a good night’s sleep, and you will be better the next day.
Take seasick pills on the morning of the trip (about 1-2 hours before you enter the boat) and bring some with you in case you may suffer from sea sickness. You can find them in every pharmacy in Sri Lanka.
Charge your camera and bring spare batteries.
Protect them well. Bring a coat/ jacket as it gets a bit cold out at sea.
Bring your sunglasses, hat and sun cream!
How to Book Your Whale Watching Tour in Sri Lanka?
For a tailor-made Sri Lanka tour including whale watching, feel free to reach us directly at , we will be more than happy to help you arrange your visit. However, if you are looking for simply a day trip for whale watching, booking with your hotel is more recommended.