Sri Lanka is an ideal destination if you’re a snorkelling fan. With its beautiful coral reefs, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life, this country is a paradise for snorkelling enthusiasts. Here are the 20 best places for snorkelling in Sri Lanka:
Snorkelling in South Sri Lanka ( December to April )
The southern coast of Sri Lanka is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and diverse marine life. Here are some of the best snorkelling spots in the region:
Hikkaduwa is a famous beach town located about 100 km south of Colombo. It is known for its vibrant coral reefs and colourful fish, making it a popular spot for snorkelling and diving. The best time to visit Hikkaduwa for snorkelling is from November to April, when the water is calm and clear.
Unawatuna is a beautiful crescent-shaped beach located about 5 km south of Galle. It is known for its calm waters, golden sand, and rich marine life. The coral reefs in Unawatuna are home to various fish, including parrotfish, angelfish, and clownfish.
Mirissa is a small fishing village located about 150 km south of Colombo. It is known for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and whale watching. The coral reefs in Mirissa are also home to a diverse array of marine life, including sea turtles, moray eels, and reef sharks.
Weligama is a famous beach town located about 30 km east of Galle. It is known for its surf schools and its beautiful coral reefs. The coral reefs in Weligama are home to a wide variety of fish, including butterfly fish, puffer fish, and octopus.
5. Polhena Reef
Polhena Reef is a small beach located about 2 km west of Matara. It is known for its vibrant coral reefs and clear waters, making it a popular spot for snorkelling and diving. The best time to visit Polhena Reef for snorkelling is from December to April.
Koggala is a small coastal town located about 15 km south of Galle. It is known for its stunning beaches, lush mangrove forests, and diverse marine life. The coral reefs in Koggala are home to a wide variety of fish, including triggerfish, lionfish, and boxfish.
Bentota is a famous beach town located about 65 km south of Colombo. It is known for its stunning beaches, clear waters, and rich marine life. The coral reefs in Bentota are home to a wide variety of fish, including angelfish, barracuda, and snappers.
Kirinda is a small village located about 12 km south of Tissamaharama. It is known for its pristine beaches, clear waters, and ancient temples. The coral reefs in Kirinda are home to a wide variety of fish, including unicornfish, triggerfish, and parrotfish.
Snorkelling in East Sri Lanka ( April to October )
East Sri Lanka is a region that is less explored than its western counterpart but has some of the most beautiful and secluded beaches in Sri Lanka. It’s known for its unspoiled nature, ancient ruins, and laid-back lifestyle. So if you’re looking for a quieter and more peaceful beach vacation, East Sri Lanka is the perfect destination.
Passikudah is a beautiful bay on the east coast of Sri Lanka, about 35 kilometres north of Batticaloa. Its clear and shallow waters make it a perfect spot for swimming, snorkelling, and diving. The beach is also famous for its long stretch of golden sand, lined with palm trees, and the calm and peaceful atmosphere. It’s an ideal destination for those who want to relax and unwind.
10. Arugam Bay
Arugam Bay is a popular destination for surfers around the world. Located on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka, it’s known for its picturesque beaches and consistent waves throughout the year. The laid-back vibe, relaxed atmosphere, and abundant surf shops and schools make it an ideal destination for beginners and experienced surfers. And also best for snorkelling and diving.
Trincomalee is a port city situated on the east coast of Sri Lanka. It’s known for its natural harbour, white sandy beaches, and the ancient Koneswaram Temple. The beach town of Nilaveli, situated north of Trincomalee, is a popular destination for snorkelling and diving. Pigeon Island, located off the coast of Nilaveli, is a protected marine park and an excellent spot for snorkelling and diving.
Batticaloa is a coastal town situated on the east coast of Sri Lanka. It’s known for its long sandy beaches, lagoons, and the ancient Batticaloa Fort. The beaches of Batticaloa are perfect for swimming and water sports such as snorkelling, diving, kayaking and windsurfing. In addition, the calm and peaceful atmosphere and the stunning natural beauty make it an excellent destination for families and couples alike.
13. Pigeon Island
Pigeon Island is a small island located off the coast of Nilaveli in eastern Sri Lanka. It’s a protected marine park and a popular spot for snorkelling and diving. The island is home to over 100 species of coral and various marine life, including turtles, reef sharks, and colourful fish. The crystal clear waters and abundant marine life make it an ideal destination for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts.
Snorkelling in Western Sri Lanka ( November to April )
Western Sri Lanka is known for its stunning beaches, historic landmarks, and vibrant culture. It’s home to some of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, including the capital city of Colombo.
Negombo is a coastal town located just north of Colombo. It’s known for its long stretch of golden sand, lined with palm trees, and the vibrant fishing village. The beach is perfect for snorkelling, diving, swimming, sunbathing, and water sports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing. Negombo is also famous for its seafood; plenty of restaurants serve fresh seafood dishes.
Kalpitiya is a small fishing village on the northwest coast of Sri Lanka. It’s a popular kitesurfing, windsurfing, and dolphin-watching destination. The beach is also famous for its shallow waters and coral reefs, making it an ideal destination for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts. Kalpitiya is also home to the Wilpattu National Park, known for its wildlife and bird watching.
16. Mannar Island
Mannar Island is a small island located on the northwest coast of Sri Lanka, connected to the mainland by a causeway. It’s known for its pristine beaches, ancient ruins, and the Adam’s Bridge, a chain of limestone shoals that connects Mannar Island to India. The island is also home to the Talaimannar Pier, which was once a central transportation hub between India and Sri Lanka. one of the ideal spots for snorkelling and diving.
17. Mt. Lavinia
Snorkelling is the perfect activity for you if you’re looking for an exciting and unique way to experience the beauty of Mt. Lavinia’s coastline. With various underwater landscapes to explore, from sandstone platforms to coral banks, boulders, and rock cliffs, you will have a dynamic and thrilling experience.
One of the most appealing aspects of snorkelling in Mt. Lavinia is the abundance of tropical marine life, colourful coral reefs, and even mysterious shipwrecks to discover. Whether a seasoned diver or a beginner, you’ll find plenty to explore beneath the sea’s surface.
The waters around the island are also perpetually warm, providing ideal conditions for snorkelling. These conditions are governed by the two monsoons, the northeast and southwest, which allow for calm seas and clear waters along the south and western coastline from November to April.
Snorkelling in North Sri Lanka ( April to October )
If you’re an avid snorkeler or just starting, North Sri Lanka is a fantastic destination to explore the underwater world. The region boasts an array of marine species, from colourful corals to exotic fish, all of which can be spotted while snorkelling.
18. Delft Island
Delft Island is a small, uninhabited island located off the coast of Jaffna in Northern Sri Lanka. The island is known for its stunning beaches, clear waters and abundant marine life, making it a snorkeller’s paradise. Delft Island offers several unique snorkelling spots, including a shipwreck site and a natural coral pool. The shipwreck site is home to a sunken ship that attracts a variety of marine life, while the coral pool is a shallow area surrounded by coral formations.
19. Casuarina Beach
Casuarina Beach is a secluded beach located in the coastal town of Karainagar in Northern Sri Lanka. The relatively unknown beach offers excellent snorkelling opportunities with crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life.
The waters of Casuarina Beach are crystal clear, making it easy to spot marine life even from the surface. The beach is also relatively quiet, meaning the water remains undisturbed, improving visibility.
The marine life at Casuarina Beach is abundant, with colourful corals, sea turtles, rays and various species of fish. The impressive coral formations offer a unique underwater landscape for snorkellers to explore.
Casuarina Beach is a quiet and secluded spot, perfect for those looking to escape the crowds. The beach is rarely busy, and snorkellers can enjoy the peaceful surroundings while exploring the underwater world.
20. Kankesanthurai Beach
Kankesanthurai Beach in Jaffna is an excellent location for snorkelling in Sri Lanka. The beach is located in the island’s northern part and is relatively untouched by tourism. The clear waters of the Indian Ocean make it an ideal spot for snorkelling, with a diverse range of marine life and coral reefs to explore. The best time to visit Kankesanthurai Beach for snorkelling is from May to September, when the water is calm and clear. Snorkelling gear is rarely available for rent from local vendors; therefore, organising equipment beforehand is advisable. If you’re looking for a unique snorkelling experience in Sri Lanka, Kankesanthurai Beach is worth a visit.
Best time for Snorkeling in Sri Lanka
The best time to visit Sri Lanka for snorkelling depends on your chosen location. The sea around the island is warm all year round, but the northeast and southwest monsoons influence the conditions for snorkelling. The calm seas and clear waters are usually present from November to April along the south and western coastline, making it the best time for snorkelling in these areas. On the other hand, from April to October, the conditions are favourable for snorkelling along the island’s eastern coast.
Therefore, if you plan to snorkel in the southern and western parts of Sri Lanka, you should plan your visit between November and April. But if you want to explore the eastern coast’s underwater beauty, you should visit between April and October. However, remember that weather conditions can change, and it’s always best to check with local experts before planning your snorkelling trip.