Sri Lanka Island is a paradise for scuba diving enthusiasts. With exceptional wrecks, dazzling coral reefs and, of course, extremely rich marine flora and fauna…!
Are you thinking of wearing your scuba diving suits? If the ocean has many hidden secrets, fishes, and corals, then the experience is worth it. We know the perfect destination that offers all this and a lot more! A true pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a land of aquatic landscapes to discover while scuba diving. Some reefs are full of majestic corals while others offer artificial reefs thanks to historic or more recent wrecks.
Whether you are a beginner or more experienced diver, shipwreck enthusiast, macro or big fish enthusiast and marine mammals, you will find your happiness to dive in Sri Lanka!
Here is an elaborate post that tells you everything you need to know about SCUBA DIVING IN SRI LANKA. Yes, you heard that right! We will tell you about the best season, the best spots, and what all you can spot underneath. Additionally, we love giving tips to avid travelers and adventure enthusiasts. Are you ready for this? Since this is going to be a long and informative post, gear up for the adventure!
How does a Dive Go in Sri Lanka?
First of all, it is customary to dive in the morning, so you will have to go to the chosen diving club around 8am/8h30. Remember to book in advance if you can in order to be sure to have an instructor available.
Before diving, the team will ask you your level and what your expectations are. If you have practiced for a long time, they will then ask to do some basic exercises before going under water, as the one to remove and put his mask back in the sea. It will help you to recall the basics of scuba diving.
It is really important to choose a diving club that will listen to you. Diving, whether it is for the first time or not, can be a little scary. We must therefore feel confident, reassured and with professionals. After the initial brief, you will prepare and test the material that will be used. Combination, bottles, mask at the right size, weight for the belt, fins, floater vest, everything will be tried and tested.
After that, you will go to the sea and be ready for moments of underwater magic! Do not hesitate to communicate with your instructor or your “buddy” (your diving partner) and follow the instructions given. You are also advised to be as calm as possible under water, because it will allow you to dive longer! Indeed, your air flow will be less important, so the bottle will drain less quickly.
Diving Conditions in Sri Lanka
The visibility does not rival that of the neighboring Maldives, but you can expect between 15 and 30 meters.
Sea currents: No very violent currents in Sri Lanka, however, pay attention during periods of full moon or black moon.
Required level: There is enough to satisfy all levels of divers with very deep dives for the most ambitious.
The water temperature is fairly constant throughout the year from 27 to 29°.
Best Time / Season to Go for Scuba Diving in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka the tropical climate alternates between monsoon and dry periods. The rains gradually sweep all the regions of the island, always leaving a dry region. The best time to dive in the west and the south is from December to March. For the eastern part, the months of May to September are more suitable to benefit from the dry season.
Cost of scuba diving in Sri Lanka
Checkout our previous post with all the details on this topic. Click Here
The Best Diving Sites In Sri Lanka
You will find multiple diving sites in Sri Lanka. There are diving schools at these spots where you can learn the adventure sport. Even if you do not hold a diving license, you can get in touch with the operators or the diving schools. The famous diving sites are:
- HMS Hermes
- Bull Dog Reef
- Barracuda Reef in Hikkaduwa
- Gorgonian Gardens
At Unawatuna, you will spot different colors of tropical fishes. The starting price of diving here is USD 55. In total, there are ten dive spots around here.
If you are heading to Trincomalee, you have to make way to Pigeon Island. There are beautiful and colorful coral reefs around here. You will also witness the beauty of anemone. Well, it will bring back memories of the famous movie, ‘Finding Nemo.’ You might even spot a clownfish around here. Irakkandy shipwreck is the highlight! You must see it with your own eyes.
Mirissa has a total of five dive spots for keen adventurers. Although it is known for its whale watching and dolphin spotting adventure, but you can also enjoy snorkeling and diving around here. British Sergeant is the famous wreck in Passikudah. If you are making way to this destination for a diving tour, don’t forget to catch a glimpse of the famous wreck. Ideally, take a camera with you because the wreck is quite stunning.
Here’s a video that will give you a quick glimpse of British Sergeant wreck. You can find the beautiful batfish around the wreck. Taking pictures and videos of this fish is a must!
We found another video for our readers! It showcases the true beauty of the British Sergeant Wreck.
Don’t forget to watch the whole video. Actually, the true beauty can be felt once you visit the diving site yourself. If you want to dive with the whales, head to Weligama. You will also find a wide-ranging variety of fishes down here.
How to Get There?
Most travellers land directly at Colombo Airport from India or another country. The cruise ships to Sri Lanka set sail either at the port of Colombo on the west coast of Sri Lanka, or at Trincomalee on the east coast for the Tek diving routes. Check your itinerary for more details. Boats leave the port on Saturday and return the following Saturday.
Suggested Diving Schools in Sri Lanka
If you opt for scuba diving in Sri Lanka, it is likely that you will find so many schools that offer you this experience. We have chosen two of the well reputed centers for you:
Poseidon Diving Station
Galle Road – Hikkaduwa | +94 91 720 1200
Poseidon Diving Station is famous for being the first diving center in Hikkaduwa, established in 1973 under the combined effect of the combined passion of two tourists fallen in love with Sri Lanka and an expert in scuba diving marine that was recommended to them as a guide to the most spectacular sites. They became the first PADI Five Star center in Sri Lanka.
You can take a variety of courses: beginners, in open water, including night diving and digital underwater photography. Instructors speaking English, Danish, Russian, Swedish and Norwegian are also available!
They have now three dive centers on the island, each offering a different selection of dive sites to explore.
The one in Trincomalee on the northeast coast is particularly recommended because, in addition to being a fantastic diving school, it has huge dive sites in the surroundings, such as Swami Rock. You can see moray eels, pinched lips and colourful parrot fish among many other species.
International Diving School
Coral Sands Hotel – Hikkaduwa | +94 71 725 1024
Based in the marine sanctuary of Hikkaduwa, this school is located in a favorite place of magnificent dive sites, suitable for all levels. The famous conch wreck, one of the world’s first oil tankers sunk in 1903, is also located just 20 minutes from the school! With a depth not exceeding 14 to 20 m, it is an ideal dive for beginners.
Kirala Gala, Bubble Rock and Coral Garden are other places where you can admire spectacular lion-fish, barracudas, turtles, gallows and octopus among many other animated species, all at a depth that suits all levels.
Boat dives (equipment included):
- 1 dive: 40 USD
- 2+ dives: 35 USD
- 5 dives: 165 USD
- 10 dives: 330 USD
- Discover Scuba Diving (2 hours), a 2 meter dive + a 12 meter dive: 75 USD
- Discover Scuba Diving (1 day), one dive of 2 meters + two dives of 12 meters: 100 USD
- PADI Open Water, 3-5 days/ 4 dives max. Depth 18 meters: 375 USD
- PADI Advanced Open Water, 2 days/ 5 dives max. Depth 30 meters: 310 USD
Getting Around in Sri Lanka
It is impossible to stay static during a trip to Sri Lanka. If you want to travel to Sri Lanka and take a tour, there are several ways to travel to Sri Lanka. Thanks to well-maintained roads, renting a car is undoubtedly the best way to discover the island in freedom. In some cities, you can also rent a motorcycle or a scooter, but beware of the risk of accident!
For the shortest journeys, we can only advise you to borrow tuk-tuk, these quick and easy-to-use scooters. For long and punctual journeys, you can go for the train or the bus. These two means of transport are the most used by the locals and represent a travel experience in its own right!
Most Beautiful Shipwrecks in Sri Lanka
Do you like wrecks? Would you like to experience an exceptional diving experience? Then go for scuba diving in Sri Lanka! You will be served! Sri Lanka has many wreck dives, the most famous of which are:
Wreck of the British Sergeant
Located near Kayankerni, it is the most famous wreck in the country. It is a steam tanker sunk following an air raid by the Japanese army during World War II in 1942. The wreckage, 122 meters long, lies upside down at a depth of 24 meters. As you venture around or into the bowels of the ship, you will see many species of fish such as barracudas, carrangues, platax, torpedo rays, emperors, scorpion fish, lion fish but also many nudibranchs and molluscs.
The GMS Hermes aircraft carrier
Another renowned wreck in Sri Lanka, the GMS Hermes aircraft carrier is located near Batticaloa. It was sunk at the same time as the British Sergeant’s ship. What makes it special?
This is the first aircraft carrier designed in the world! Due to its depth (50 m), this dive site is intended only for experienced divers (PADI Tecrec training type). The lucky ones can cross eagle rays as well as white-tipped sharks.
The MV Cordiality
It is from Trincomalee that you can discover this impressive cargo ship. Loaded with a load of limonite, this pavilion was stormed by a commando of the Liberation Tigers movement of Tamil Lam in 1997.
With a depth of 18 meters and a length of 198 meters, you can dive on this site several times without ever getting tired. You will come across schools of tuna, fusiliers, snappers or carrangues but also some species of flying rascasses, butterfly fish or nudibranches… The good news is that the wreck MV Cordiality is accessible to all levels of divers!
In the following video, you will get to see the famous shipwrecks. But, you must visit Sri Lanka to experience it in real. Nothing can be better than real life experiences! It is a short life, and one must travel and see the hidden secrets of Sri Lanka! There is a rich history attached to these wrecks. Some of them are good to hear and others are tragic. By the way, Dharshana Jaywardena is a wreck as well as cave diver. In this video, he takes you through the famous wrecks in Sri Lanka.
Since Sri Lanka has the most beautiful aquatic life and hidden secrets, it would be a pleasure to become a marine biologist. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to explore the ocean every single day of your life? There is something new to discover every passing day.
The Most Beautiful Coral Reefs
Kalpitiya coral reefs
Are you fond of coral reefs and marine life? Here are the dive sites that you should not miss during your scuba diving experience in Sri Lanka: In Kalpitiya, the dives are in the heart of the coral reefs that await you. They are among the most important and beautiful in Sri Lanka and host exceptional biodiversity.
There are diving spots for all levels! These waters are known for the presence of large marine mammals such as blue whales, humpback whales and sperm whales. To hope to see them, the ideal season is from November to March.
Here’s a video of the coral reefs in Kalpitiya. You will be pleased to find a number of colorful fishes and rich vegetation inside the water. Spotting a tortoise is quite easy here! However, make sure you and the kids are not troubling the aquatic creatures, especially the massive tortoise.
The most beautiful reef of Kalpitiya is probably the one of Bulldog where one can meet strange eels with white eye and crocodile fish. The others, nearby, also offer beautiful dives where it is not uncommon to cross a turtle, rays and balists. These waters host different species of dolphins, whales and whale sharks according to the seasons. One more reason to try your luck and see them diving or participate in a boat excursion to observe them in the dry.
Trincomalee coral reefs
For another stunning experience of scuba diving in Sri Lanka, you can choose Trincomalee. Accessible at 24 meters, it is particularly appreciated by divers as you can venture inside. It is covered by corals, gorgonians and many fish such as snappers, barracudas, platax and jacks have taken up residence.
Even if you are not a scuba diver, you can get snorkel gear and explore the underwater world. However, the scuba tour allows you to get closer to the aquatic life. If you are going to Trincomalee, don’t forget to take a good look at the Pigeon Island. It is stunning!
Quick Tips to Remember
When you see animals diving in Sri Lanka or elsewhere:
- Do not touch them! NEVER! Unless they come to touch you.
- You need to put mineral sunscreen, which does no harm to corals and fish with creams toxic to them
- You do not touch the corals, so you also pay attention with your fins.
- No waste is left in the water (that goes without saying)
Measures Related to COVID-19
To comply with local legislation, the latest health and safety recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you need to take some measures into consideration. More specifically, scuba diving activity responds to the following measures:
- The safety distance of one meter between you and other shall be maintained as far as possible.
- Wearing a mask is mandatory.
- A hydro-alcoholic gel will be provided before, during and after your scuba diving sessions in Sri Lanka.
- The capacity of the means of transport is reduced to 50% of the maximum capacity.
- The presentation of your voucher in mobile or electronic version may be sufficient; you may not need to print it.
Tips for Successful Dive in Sri Lanka
To dive in good conditions, here are some tips that you need to apply. These tips are valid for diving in Sri Lanka or elsewhere.
- Remember to hydrate, to drink water.
- Eat between 2 dives to regain energy.
- Take Mercalm if you are seasick: between two dives, you sometimes have to wait a little.
- Never, and NEVER, panic! Be relaxed because it is a hobby
- Go down at your own pace, especially if your ears are hurting. It is useless to speed, better to go down slowly, go up a little to depressurize the ears and go down quietly.
- Be reassured by the management team if you need it, and do not hesitate to ask them your questions.
- Do not fly within 24/48 hours of your dive.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking the night before.
- In case you have any open wound, skip diving. If you are still up for the diving adventure, cover the wound before going inside water. You can wear a wetsuit before jumping into the water.
- Never hold your breath while diving. The instructors will tell you all about the technique. Listen to them carefully when they are giving diving instructions.
- Check the diving equipment. Majority of the equipment is going to be heavy because it takes you down into the water.
- Breathing inside water is challenging. Hence, they give the appropriate gear. A professional diving company will teach you the right breathing technique inside the water.
- Start performing yoga before your diving tour. It helps you to control your breathing pattern.
Just in case you feel pressure in your ears, ask the professional diver to get you up immediately. Your health is of utmost importance.
Note – Do not dive into the water with the underwater camera in the beginning. Learn the technique of diving and then move forward with a camera. Divers get distracted by the camera and tend to get too busy to get a shot underwater. First master the art and then use a camera.
We hope you found all your answers here!
The price of the scuba diving package goes up during peak season. In case you want discounts, consider going in a group. Getting a group discount is easier because that way the tour operator does not lose extra bucks. Please note that scuba diving is an experience of a lifetime. It will bring you closer to a calm, serene, and different world. The aquatic life is extraordinary! You can swim with whales, say hello to the fishes, and even swim through caves underneath.
In case you a certified driver, it is advisable to carry your own diving gear. In case you want to get certified, there are a number diving schools that will teach you how to dive and will give a legit certificate.
Generally, it will take 3-5 days to get the diving certificate. Be ready to pay anything up to $500 to get certified. But, it is a good investment considering you will learn all the techniques. Perhaps you could stay in Sri Lanka and teach diving to avid travelers. Learning a skill always helps! You could be anywhere in the world and still use those same diving skills.
Scuba diving in Sri Lanka can be extremely fun and memorable. All you need to do is choose the right operator for the tour. If you choose an amateur, the diving tour will never be safe or memorable. A good tour operator knows the best spots to dive and they will ensure that you have a wonderful experience.