Introduction: Why water sports in Sri Lanka?
As an island nation, Sri Lanka is no stranger to water sports. Whether you are touring the coastal areas or inlands, there’s always some fun and action in water! From exploring the beauty of marine life to surfing over waves with a kite or jumping off a cliff into a river, different season in all corners of Sri Lanka create special spots for water sports Sri Lanka at each location. While the western coast is ideal for kitesurfing, the east and south are best for surfing, and inlands are more suited for river and waterfall activities such as rafting, canyoning, kayaking and so on.
Below, we discuss in detail the wide array of water activities in Sri Lanka and where best to try them out.
1. Boat rides
Almost every lake in the middle of a city offers scenic boat rides, with nearly negligible safety concerns, which means anyone and everyone can enjoy it! Speed boat rides are also offered in the turquoise water of Sri Lankan beaches and are an exhilarating experience of the ocean wind rushing on your face and sweeping your hair away.
2. Banana and Tube rides
Available in Bentota and Negombo, these ecstatic speed boat enabled water sports such as banana and tube ride are a low risk, yet high entertainment activity suitable for those looking for group water sports. The banana ride is a long banana shaped boat, in which about 8 people can sit, and is pulled by a motor boat at a high speed, giving guests a thrilling experience. In a tube ride, you and your family will be sitting on top of an inner tube which is towed by the speed boat across the water. Both these rides are done on lagoons or lakes as opposed to the ocean due to safety concerns. Although available all year round, October to April would be the best time to do these activities as these months are peak season for the southern and western coast.
Surfers enjoy the long waves that hit against the western and southern shores of Sri Lanka. Destinations such as Hikkaduwa in the south and Arugam Bay in the east have waves that never really flatten out at any time of the year, and surfers can experience swells as high as eight feet during the peak season. Whether you are a beginner to surfing or a master with years of experience, you can find breaks to suit every skill level. April to November is a good season for the east coast (Arugam Bay) while December to March is peak season in Hikkaduwa.
4. Whale watching
Mirissa in the south-west, Kalpitiya in the north-west and Trincomalee in the north-east are three destinations that offer whale and dolphin watching in Sri Lanka. Guests are advised to reach the harbor by 6.00 am, as the boats depart early morning – which is the best time to catch sightings of whales and dolphins. Sri Lankan coasts offer views of ten different species including the fin, Bryde’s, minke, humpback, sperm, and of course a plethora of dolphins. The marine Meister – the Blue Whale though can only be spotted between February and March, and that too if you make sure to not blink!
5. Scuba diving
Sri Lanka offers a wide spread of diving spots all across the island. All levels of divers can enjoy underwater views of natural reefs and sunken ships. Dive stations will provide PADI certifications that include training programs. So even if you are just a beginner, diving is a possible activity for you! Hikkaduwa in the south, the Bulldog Reef in the west (Kalpitiya) and the Gorgonian Gardens in Colombo are some of the favorite diving spots across the island. The best time to dive varies according to the season in each region and tour operators will be able to assist you with the same.
In the bygone days, Kayaking and Canoes were modes of transportation used by fishermen. Sri Lanka has an abundance of rivers, lakes and rainwater tanks, all of which make perfectly safe destinations for kayaking. Experience a ride down any of the rivers and observe wildlife along the shore, explore rainwater tanks, and meet a wild elephant. The Kalu Ganga is a good option for kayakers as there is plenty of flora and fauna due to the river being close to the Indian ocean.
Anytime is ideal for kayaking in Sri Lanka as this activity is available in many parts of the country. If one region is having bad weather, you are sure to find another area with favorable weather for kayaking. It is a very safe water activity that makes it do-able for guests of all ages.
Hikkaduwa, Weligama, Kirinda in the south and Trincomalee Pigeon Island in the east are popular destinations to enjoy a thrilling snorkeling experience in Sri Lanka. The Bar Reef is the largest in Sri Lanka and can span for 3 nautical miles in a length. Be delighted with underwater scenes of the tropical fish, colored coral reefs and shipwrecks. Depending on which coast you want to snorkel in, the best time to indulge will vary. December to May is good for the south while June to November is best on the east coast.
8. Jet skiing
Jet skiing is an amazing water sport to try in Sri Lanka, especially for those who want to race against the strong tides and experience a rush of adrenaline. Bentota in the south-west coast is well known for the many water sports centers that have established there, offering jet skiing and many other options for an exciting day out. Negombo, in the west coast, is also well known for jet skiing and is located in close proximity to the Bandaranaike International Airport. October to April is a good time to visit both these locations for jet skiing.
9. White water rafting
Kelani River in Sri Lanka is the most popular white water rafting destination in the country. A 5km long section makes up about 5 major rapids and 4 minor rapids, offering a thrilling water sports experience to the rafters. A raft can hold a group of 6 adults and anyone above the age of 8 years can whitewater raft with the necessary safety equipment. There are several rafting service providers lined up on the streets of Kitulgala town who offer a complete experience with the necessary equipment and a professional guide to assist with each boat. Rafting can be enjoyed almost all year round, except for periods of heavy rain as it can then be dangerous.
Canyoning often comes with the white-water rafting package where the guides take you to perform confidence jumps and stream slides. They will first perform the activity and show you, after which you will follow their instructions and jump at their call. If done right, canyoning is a fun and interesting water sport.
The south west coast in Sri Lanka is very famous for deep sea fishing. If you have a fetish for fishing, get your hands on appropriate fishing gear and catch some huge fish to cook for your next meal! You can also explore the exotic marine life in this region – Jack Trevally, Spanish mackerel, skipjack tuna, yellow fin tuna, sail fish, marlins, and frigate tuna. In order to avoid the southwest monsoons, December to April are the best months to go fishing in Sri Lanka.
Surf through a sailing board on the clear waters of Sri Lanka’s attractive coastlines and experience the adrenaline rush of swinging with the wind and flowing with the waves. Also known as the ‘surfer’s paradise’, Arugam Bay is a popular location for surfing. Bentota and the Colombo Sailing Club on Bolgoda Lake are the more advisable places for beginners to go to learn the sport whereas destinations such as Hikkaduwa and Arugam Bay are challenging conditions preferred by experienced windsurfers.
Seasoned kitesurfers are sure to love the west coast of Sri Lanka, but there are also other places where you can catch the wind and fly. Kalpitiya is ideal for a beginner wanting to learn through certified instructors and professional training schools. You can also rent out the equipment during your stay, making it convenient to kitesurf at any time of the day along the coasts of Kalpitiya. Approximately 3 hours from Colombo, November to March is a good time to visit the west coast, and the best time of day to kitesurf is the afternoon, which is when strong winds are blowing.
Wakeboarding in Sri Lanka offers a unique experience – a combination of water skiing, surfing, and snowboarding. Break through the warm waters of the Indian Ocean for some ultimate fun! And if you don’t know how to board, do try a beginner’s level as this is one activity you must not miss! Negombo and Hikkaduwa are two popular locations for wakeboarding as the water conditions are ideal.
Waterski camps are available in all popular watersports’ destinations in Sri Lanka. So, learn the sport and experience an adrenaline rush as you race through the mighty waves of the ocean. From November to April is ideal for waterskiing on the south-west coast, while March to November is the best time for visiting the East coast. Hikkaduwa, Bentota and Kumudu Valley are some destinations that offer waterskiing experiences for beginners as well as experts.